Getting started selling stock vectors

In this article, I'll walk you through how to get started selling stock vectors.

In the article we'll go through:

  1. What is a stock vector
  2. What to expect when selling stock vectors
  3. How to set up your files
  4. Setting up a system to keep track of all of your files

What is a stock vector

A stock vector, is an illustration made with Inkscape or any other vector editing program. These include, but is not limited to: Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, Inkscape and CorelDraw.

I personally prefer to do mine in Adobe Illustrator, but it's an expensive app - and Inkscape (Free) and Affinity Designer (Relatively cheap) does the job just fine.

This guide mostly assumes you already know what a vector is. If you want a more technical explanation as to what a vector is, i suggest reading 'Vector Graphics' on wikipedia, which explains it well.

What to expect when selling stock vectors

Stock illustrations is not going to make you a millionaire, but it can be a fun side hustle if you find the right niche for you to sell in.

It's also not a next-day reward. It takes time to collect the data to see what sells, and what doesn't. When I started, I started uploading around january 2020, and only by july did i reach more than 10 downloads in a month.
- Which was probably lucky, and down to hitting a good niche first time around.

I did actually play with vector stock earlier than this, with no luck.

Between 2016-2017 I had a portfolio of about 20 vector cartoons on Colourbox. In that time i only sold about 7 downloads, and i'm pretty sure most of them was to a colleague.

Knowing what i know now, I believe it's down to not enough vectors in the portfolio, not high enough quality in the work and at a site that doesn't sell a lot, comparatively to some of the sites I use now.

It's all about a big portfolio

The way to get sales with stock vectors is to have a big portfolio.
You likely wont see daily sales, before you have at least a couple hundred files uploaded.

As of writing, I have about 500-600 files on each of the sites i upload to. With this portfolio, I still only make what I would consider pocket money. About 15$-25$ a month on average. My portfolio is focused on evergreen content in the shape of animal illustrations, but you may find other content that works for you.

I have a few other types of illustrations that occasionally sells, like maps and chat emotes. The chat emotes generally provide a higher royalty per download - bringing us to the next topic.

Variable payouts

Different sites have different customers. And different customers buy into different niches. For example, the chat emotes i mentioned, generally tend to sell more through Adobe Stock - and usually with a higher than average royalty payout, but they sell less frequently than the animals.

The higher royalties come down to customers being able to buy different package sizes, that each have different cost per download. Those with a higher cost per download obviously pay out more.
And to bring it home to the chat emotes: Assumably those that buy chat emotes through Adobe Stock, probably don't download 1.000 images a month, thus getting a higher cost per download.

Different sites also have different royalty levels. Some of the sites have options to earn more royalties per download, by opt-in to sell files exclusively on that site - On a file by file basis. I do not recommend to opt-in on exclusive deals, before having your own data suggesting it would be a good idea, as it locks you in to one site, with the selected files.

I sell stock vectors on these sites:

  • AdobeStock
  • BigStock
  • Dreamstime
  • Shutterstock
  • VectorStock

Links to join, in the bottom of the article.

Additionally I have stock vectors for sale at PantherMedia where I've seen a few sales recently, but they seem to be closing down or change operations, so i've set that on hold. I also have stock vectors up at Pond5, for which i have yet to see a single sale.

It's worth noting neither of the two sites have my full portfolio, which may affect sales.

Technical set up

How to set up your files for selling stock vectors

Different sites have different technical requirements.

I could go and find all of the different requirements and confuse you with them, but instead i'll do this:

Save each vector in the following files.

  • A EPS-vector* file, with artboard set to 4000x4000 pixels
  • A JPEG preview file, set to 4000x4000 pixels
  • A ZIP-folder with both of the above-mentioned files in it

* It's important that the EPS is compatible with Illustrator 10

It's IMPORTANT that each file-set have a different name, but each set must share same name. For example: vector-1.eps, vector-1.jpg, vector-1.zip. See Screenshot below.

Example of file structure

If you're using Adobe Illustrator, my guide on creating an action to save file-sets will help you save a lot of time saving files. Although, you'll still need to rename the files, and make it into a ZIP.

I've written a small guide on how to zip a folder on Mac and Windows.

Keeping track of your stock vector sales

If you plan to sell on multiple sites, which i highly recommend, you'll need to keep track of your sales in a spreadsheet or a similar tool.
I've created a template for this on Google Sheets, which you can download or copy to your google drive, if you have a google account.

In it's basal form, i keep a log of each sale.

I note down:

  • The date
  • The ID of the item that sold
  • The royalty / revenue

Outside of the log, I keep a spreadsheet to keep track of which ID correspond to which file. I also track the total revenue and download count for each vector file, so that I know where to put my focus.

View my product spreadsheet

Example of my product spreadsheet

Getting started selling vectors

Now, with the meat of the guide over, it's time to get started selling your vectors!

I've found direct links to where you register with 5 of the sites I use. Some of the sites have a FAQ attached to same page that you register, and some will have a seperate page that I've linked aswell.

Register to the sites, and you'll be able to start selling.

All of the sites are pretty easy to navigate, and have a clear "Upload" button somewhere in the administration dashboard.

Some sites require you to submit a portfolio of about 10-15 vectors, while some let you submit right away. All of them will review your vectors as you upload along the way.

You'll be required to have a PayPal account for most of the places to recieve payment.
You can register with PayPal here.

You'll need to fill out a taxform on each site, before you can get payment. Unfortunately I'm not in a position to guide on the setup for that, and you'll have to check up locally what rules apply.

Links!

I get a bonus for some of the links, when you register and/or make a sale. If you somehow don't like to support this guide, you can just google the sites and you should find them fairly quickly.

Tutorials

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