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Author Topic: Exclusivity Vs. Multiplicity  (Read 4069 times)

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« on: June 26, 2007, 22:32 »
OK, I admit it, I've been a lurker: I've been here for several months and this is my first post  :-[

OK, so I'm with iS, SS, DT, and Ft. Though admittedly I don't upload much to Dreamstime or Fotolia anymore. I make about 60% of my microstock income from iStock, 30% from Shutterstock, and the rest from the other two. At iStock I am about to reach Silver and am considering going exclusive. I've done some calculations, using theoretical future earnings, and have found that at the Silver level exclusivity earnings would counter the loss of income from the other sites. The benefits for me are less time uploading, better licensing options, and the eventual possibility of working for Getty.

However, I could also go the route of joining more agencies. This would also produce increased earnings, but would also require much more time uploading and keywording. How do you get around this? I know some photographers hire assistants to do the keywording, what about the rest?

I am going to assume that most of the folks here are NOT exclusive anywhere (as if they were, they'd be over at their agencies forums and not here). What would really help in this ageold query is a rough percentile breakdown, like this:
Number of agencies you belong to - Name1 x%, name2 y%, name3 z%, etc. As I see it, with enough data, we could all benefit from seeing whether belonging to many agencies or going exclusive might be better than sitting on the fence with only a few agencies.

So, for me: 4 - IS 60%, SS 35%, DT 3%, FT 2%

« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2007, 23:08 »
Too tired to work up the numbers right now.... it's 12:09 am where I'm sitting... LOL
     I went  & rushed out and joined 11 sites...  now a year into the biz,  I've already dropped one (USPS) and will probably drop two more as soon as I have the time do to so.....  The ones to be dropped,  I'm not experiencing any significant sales even though the portfolio is nearly identical on all sites.  At the present,  I'm doing well with SS, DT, BigStock, and StockXpert. Two sites, LO & NLS, are new and  I do not expect any significant sales at either for some time. I'll wait on them to see if they develop.   IS, I'm new and only with a small folio there, however, I can see that if my current sales pattern continues,  IS will out run all of them in $$ and all the more so as I grow the folio.
     I still am not sold on exclusive.  For one, I sell a lot of mediocre pix that IS would never take but others do. I also market and sell on my own. Exclusitivity would not allow that, I am told.  I would agree that it is a lot less work.
     If I were ever to go exclusive,  at this time it would probably be IS  (if I were selling at LO, it might be a toss up between the two, however with only 23 sales in 10 months ..... it's a no brainer). 8)-tom
« Last Edit: June 26, 2007, 23:10 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2007, 01:32 »
I psot on my blog at the start of each month which sites earn me what %.  I also think there was a post last month were a few put in there numbers (why dont you start one at the end of this month?).

Keywording isn't more effort if you embed them into the photo before uploading.  Uploading takes longer obviously but with FTP, I set it and forget so I just have to go though and categorise (in this respect, iStock is the most annoying - sites like StockXpert, 13rf and OL are effortless).

« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2007, 02:04 »
if you are earning 60% of your income at istock it seems like you might do well exclusivly there.  I think i earn only 14% of my income there so I would never go exclusive.

A few nice things about NOT being exclusive is you are not tied to one boat.  If IS decides to change something that you do not like, or the search results get shuffled so your earnings are really affected negativly, there is not much you can do if you are exclusive.  I like have the option of not uploading to a site and still making money on the others.

« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2007, 12:44 »
My June income is split as follows:

SS: 37%
IS: 35%
DT: 14%
FT:  9%
StockXpert: 5%

Keywording isn't more effort if you embed them into the photo before uploading. 

This is something you definitely need to be doing. I do it when I'm editing using Photoshop, or prior to uploading using MS Photo Info.

I find it strange that you are getting so little income from SS and DT (and FT, to some extent). My gut-instinct tells me that the CV feature of IS is helping you with your keywording, and that not having this feature on your other sites is handicapping your sales. In any case, you should definitely investigate why your sales on your non-IS sites are so low.

As far as exclusivity is concerned, I'll only begin considering it once I hit the Diamond level at IS, when my sales commission hits 40%.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 12:46 by sharply_done »

« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2007, 13:43 »
We all usually post our % at the end of the month so if you wait three days. (I made an excel file - see link below to make it easy!)

Personally its a question of eggs is baskets this month with a bad month on three sites as I had not uploaded for three weeks at SS.

Fotolia's downgrade which will probably affect JUly as well

and having my account frozen at another agency for three weeks so if I had my entire portfolio at just one of those agencies it could have been an even worse month.

With istock if you have managed to get your acceptance rate at a very high rate then it is a possibility but if not, there will be a lot of time wasted on taking and processing images that you can't sell.

April 2007 earning thread

There was one for May 2007 but it was mixed up with May 2006

« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 13:48 by fintastique »


  • IKOstudio
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2007, 14:36 »
Hi people...

I am in to many sites, maybe im tired of wasting time to upload my pictures to all of theme, but for now i win more this way then make me exclusive to one (Istock)... maybe because i donhave enough pictures on IS. On the others sites i have 1200pics. (more or less)

SS: 33% SX: 31% FT: 13% DT: 12% IS: 6% 123RF: 5%

« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2007, 00:04 »
Well I certainly can't make much of the numbers that I have been seeing. Spent a few hours the other day looking at the stats of the yuri's and andres' of the micro-world and can only conclude this: If you go the way of Ford and turn your micro-life into a factory job then you can do quite well as a non-exclusive, but for those of us who either; a, don't shoot enough, or; b, don't want to deal with that level of production than exclusivity is really the only way to go.  Well, for me at least.

« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2007, 00:41 »
Really now, I'd hardly compare life as a microstock photographer to that of a production-line worker.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2007, 00:59 by sharply_done »

« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2007, 12:19 »
Why not? Look at Yuri's profile. He's got several employees who take care of different stages along the assembly line. Each photo goes through a process from one person to the next. I see a lot of similarities there to a factory/assembly line. Not to say that he's not creative or anything but he's certainly turned his work into an industrial process

« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2007, 12:27 »
roughly, my overall numbers (not a certain month) from my newbielink: [nonactive], which i try to keep updated:

SS: 47%
IS: 25%
DT: 19%
BS: 8%

« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2007, 13:41 »
It's not unusual at all for commercial photographers to have staff members with specific responsibilities - I've nearly gone that route a few times, but am too laid-back and easy-going to be able to continue it for any length of time, which is why I've chosen to redirect my career to this niche of the industry: it allows me the freedom to work at my own pace on the things I want and avoid the hassles involved in traditional commercial photography (dealing with clients who aren't sure of what they want, networking, accounting and billing, printing, advertising, ...).

Hey, I think I just set a record: Longest sentence posted on this forum!

« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2007, 02:55 »
Here are my figures ...

IS    51.0%
SS   31.0%
DT    9.0%
BS    8.5%
CR    0.5%

But I have significantly fewer (about half as many) at DT and BS at the moment, and I've pretty much given up on Crestock. They are so amazingly picky, yet sell almost nothing of the ones that are accepted, I've given up submitting. I'll just let the existing ones ride and, maybe, in about 10 years, get a payout.

With regard to exclusivity, here's a quote from an article, from Photopreneur, that's given in another thread on this forum ...

Excepting special circumstances, youre never going to make more money being exclusive than contributing to multiple agencies, Lee explained. Therefore, exclusivity is only for people who use microstock for exposure or those who are time poor.

« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2007, 08:50 »
Don't overlook ProStockMaster as a tool to make the uploading process almost as simple to upload to 8 websites as it is to upload to 1.

Combine that with embedding your details in the IPTC data and your upload process is a snap.

Together, these two technologies almost eliminate the "time poor" factor.

The forgotten reason for exclusivity is community. Can you ever see Lise Gange or Hidesy dropping their exclusivity??

« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2007, 17:51 »
Hey, I think I just set a record: Longest sentence posted on this forum!
It shouldn't count when someone incorrectly places other characters for periods. "-" and ":" equal periods.  ;D :P


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