Six Tips from Stock Vector Pros
The stock marketplace is an inspiring and profitable place, but also a competitive one. To succeed, you need to be strategic, focused, and committed. Four Adobe Stock vector and illustration contributors share their path to success and their tips for building a best-selling stock portfolio.
1. Develop a distinctive style
Having a distinctive style will help your content stand out from the search results. Rather than imitating what’s already out there, designer and Stock contributor Mike McDonald encourages developing your own style through trial and error. “To make stuff that’s interesting to customers requires experimentation, trying things out that may or may not succeed, and then modifying your strategy based on what’s worked for you,” he says.
Illustrator Natalia Hubbert works in two signature styles: a cartoon-like style with black outlines, and a soft, painterly style in watercolors. “Both have their audience and bring me stock buyers and new clients from around the world,” she says. Natalia has had great success with subjects she considers “essential to most of the modern world, like family, food, nature, seasons, technology, and fashion.”
2. Take advantage of seasonality and trends
Companies and brands build out their seasonal and holiday campaigns several months out, so upload content at least 3-4 months ahead of time. In addition to holidays and seasons that come around year after year, keep an eye out for trends on the rise.
“I love cute stuff, so I’m always checking out gift, stationery, toy, and home decor shops online and wherever I go,” shares California-based contributor JungleOutThere. “Doing that helps me spot a trend — like unicorns and succulents popping up everywhere. When you follow a trend, it almost guarantees your work will sell.”
When she noticed that llamas were gaining in popularity, she made a holiday set with llamas and uploaded it to Adobe Stock during the summer, about four months before the holiday season. Her strategy paid off.
3. Make art that’s easy for buyers to work with
Buyers are looking for content that is easy to edit and customize for their projects. Vector submissions should be on a plain background or on a layer that can be hidden or deleted. Elements should be intelligently grouped so they can be isolated, moved, or resized. Elements that look like lines should be strokes, not shapes with fills, so the customer can change the line weight. Shapes should be cleanly drawn (check it in outline view for errant bits and pieces), using colors in a swatch palette you create.
Copy space is important too, as many stock buyers are looking to add text to their final design, and Adobe Stock now offers a filter to be able to isolate images that allow room for adding copy.
4. Create sets and series
Bundling your creations into sets and offering variations can help boost sales. Mike’s label set has been sold over 1,800 times on Adobe Stock, and he attributes its popularity to the variety and flexibility it offers to buyers.
Natalia advises creating content in series because that increases the chances of buyers taking a liking to your work. “It can be zodiac signs, breakfast or other meals, sets of spices, or a shoe collection,” she says. “If a buyer likes and purchases one piece from your collection, there’s high chances that he/she will want to license the rest of the images as well.”
5. Keyword accurately
Great content is only one-half of the equation. “Make sure your keywords are on point — that’s how people are able to find your images,” says designer and vector artist Anne Bracker, who goes by bearsky23 on Adobe Stock.
Keywords must be in order of importance. You can have up to 50 keywords per submission, but that doesn’t mean you should fill up all the slots. It’s more important to be accurate and relevant. The Adobe Stock Contributor Portal automatically generates keywords, so all you have to do is check that they are in the correct order.
6. Upload consistently
As with any creative endeavor, patience and consistency are key when it comes to stock success. Mike encourages new contributors to upload consistently and not to be discouraged by low sales numbers at the start. “It takes time to build a portfolio with work that’s in high demand. Those early submissions aren’t going to generate much, but they will lead you to discover what will sell.”
Anne recommends setting a personal creation goal. Her goal is to create one stock submission a day. If she has a particularly busy week, she catches up over the weekend or the following week. Since making a commitment to upload content regularly, she has seen an exponential increase in sales.
In the end, the effort you put in will be proportional to the rewards you receive. If you dedicate your time, it will pay off. “Across all stock sites over my 10-plus years in the business, some of my images have been downloaded more than 10,000 times,” says Mike.