It’s been a little over 3 months since I launched Free Nature Stock and I want to share what has (and hasn’t) gone well, along with site statistics. Let’s dive right in.
Site Traffic and Audience
The project currently generates just under 30k pageviews/mo and has been featured on many sites, including some larger sources like Forbes. When I chose the name “Free Nature Stock”, I was concerned it might be too self-evident but the keywords have helped gain a high ranking in stock photo searches.
As far as marketing the site after launch, I spent a couple evenings asking similar sites to feature me and I commented on a handful of stock photo blog articles. That has really been it. The rest of the site’s growth has occurred on its own.
There are 230 Tumblr followers and that number slowly but steadily increases. Twitter hasn’t fared so well and has a meager 19 followers, while Instagram is only up to 28. In terms of trying to grow a social media presence, I have done absolutely nothing other than keep content updated regularly.
To date, Free Nature Stock photos have been downloaded around 15,000 times (woo-hoo!). The reason I don’t have an exact figure is because Bitly only allows me to see stats for the past 30 days unless I sign up for their Enterprise plan. That was a letdown when I learned of the limited data history but I can’t complain since I’m on their free plan.
However, Bitly does allow me to sort all links by most clicked and I can unequivocally say that people love star photos! With the exception of a couple mountain and foliage shots, all of the most downloaded photos were of starry skyscapes. Here are some of the top images:
Regarding keeping the site updated, I’m proud to say that I have personally taken every photo so far (most are from past camping and hiking trips). Eventually, I may start accepting submissions from other photographers but for now it has been easier to manage on my own and gives me a good excuse to keep exploring photography.
Also related to downloads, I have been using Amazon’s S3 service to deliver the files and have been impressed. It’s simple enough to use (read my previous article on how I configured it) and the monthly costs have been less than a couple dollars.
About a month ago, I decided to try monetizing Free Nature Stock to help generate some passive income. In the past, I have used BuySellAds but they declined this project (I’m guessing because the traffic is still fairly low but they didn’t give a reason). Instead, I tried out Google AdSense and it has been earning around $100/mo, which is better than I would have expected for a young site that is basically on autopilot.
Because the free stock photo market is getting saturated and based on my previous experience with freebie sites, I don’t expect Free Nature Stock income to grow much higher. However, it’s still a fun project and my goal of keeping the costs and upkeep to a minimum have worked out exactly as planned. At the end of the day, the site is generating some income and every penny helps me support my family and stay self-employed.