Selling photographs on microstock agencies is hard work. Especially if you can't come up with fresh ideas for images to shoot. However, there are a couple of effective solutions for this problem.
It's not a good idea to look for the most popular images and trying to duplicate them. These images may sell well, but competition is harsh and you most likely don't stand a change. Better way is to find your own niche or two and shoot things within niches chosen.
This not only helps you to boost your sales, it also helps you to come up with ideas to shoot. When you have only couple of niches, you can more easily come up with new ideas within the niches.
So, how to choose a niche? There is a useful tool called Picniche. It is an online stock photo market analyzer, which will definitely give you new ideas for niches.
Write your niche idea in keyword phrase box and it will give you some very basic but valuable information about number of images found with your keyword, total views, total sales, views per file and downloads per file. Finally it gives rating for your keyword, which will tell you if you have found a niche or not.
Basically rating under 10 is bad, don't bother with those, 10-50 is ok, 50-100 is good and over 100 is a niche. I recommend you to make notes from every keyword phrase over 50 and choose your niches from those. You will notice pretty soon what are niches and ones definitely not. This will help you to get new ideas and boost your sales.
Think like a customer
Maybe you came up with an idea, but soon you noticed it was not so good after all. Maybe they rejected you photograph or it just simply won't sell. You have to think like a customer. I know it is difficult, but if you want to success in your niche, you should make yourself an expert of that niche. Think who is potential customer within your niche and why that potential customer wants to buy an image.
You can use Google to find out what kind of business is around your niche. This will give you knowledge about the niche, and knowledge is a powerful thing in world of microstocking. Watch trends in your niche as well, you might find something that will spark new ideas for next well selling image, which continues to sell passively for years.
Convert your niche into ideas
Effective way to come up with ideas for photographs within your niche is mind mapping. You can break down your niche further and further and get literally hundreds of ideas within one single niche.
Put a little pressure on yourself. Set up an alarm clock and give yourself 15 minutes of time. In that time, brainstorm and brainstorm, don't stop no matter what. Don't even take your hands off your keyboard, just break your niche down until the time runs out.
It doesn't matter is it good idea or not, write it anyways. When you think about your niche from every possible angle and about all the things connected to it, after 15 minutes you have huge mind map full of ideas. The chart you produced from 15 minutes of brainstorming is enough for many great photo ideas.
You can change the amount of time depending how many ideas you want to come up with. Test different time limits and find one that is ideal for you. Oh, and do not do this too many times per day. I found out that by setting a rule of “Brainstorm only once per day”, you put much more pressure on yourself and it will force you to come up with something. It feels like it is the only chance.
I hope this helps you to come up with great ideas!