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Author Topic: If you started a stock agency what would be your...  (Read 2455 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

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« on: December 22, 2011, 15:26 »
0
Key differentiators? Competitive advantage? So, what would you do or have that no other site has so buyers would spend tons of money with you instead of your competitors?

And since no site can have all of these things only one or two is probably realistic.

Lowest prices?
Aggressive discounting?
Best customer service?
Niche content? (military, medical, etc)
Best technical quality?
Most images?
Most aggressive sales team?
Tons of marketing and advertising?
Nothing (build it and they will come)
Other?


microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2011, 15:29 »
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Lowest prices? N
Aggressive discounting? N
Best customer service? Y, both for customers and contributors
Niche content? (military, medical, etc) Y, with good understanding of each niche (e.g., proper understanding of copyright and property laws in architectural photography instead of rejecting everything modern just to stay on the safe side; same is true for every other niche)
Best technical quality? Y, but in a smart way: being obsessed with even lighting without shadows and noise is not looking for quality, just looking forward to have a boring collection
Most images? Y
Most aggressive sales team? Y
Tons of marketing and advertising? Y
Nothing (build it and they will come) N
Other? Y: No LCV check, as a way to create an alternative library and let buyers decide if I must choose just one
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 15:37 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2011, 17:51 »
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Other? Y: No LCV check, as a way to create an alternative library and let buyers decide if I must choose just one
I think this is a great answer. If you don't make reviewers try to predict commercial value, and streamlined reviewing in other ways, then surely you could cut reviewing costs substantially. And letting the buyers decide what has commericial value is the best way to get a commercially valuable inventory.

For all of iStock's current problems, I think that one of their big mistakes beginning long ago was to reject tons of great vectors for crazy, senseless reasons. That left a big door open to IS's competitors, when most good illustrators had no choice but to go elsewhere to sell their most commercial images, and could never seriously consider exclusivity because of iStock's idiotic reviews of vectors.

« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2011, 18:00 »
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I wrote this some time ago. I'm not sure about the exclusive thing any more...but...

http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/if-i-had-to-start-up-a-new-microstock-site/

« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2011, 18:27 »
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I'm in the process of developing a business plan for a small RM niche stock agency as part of my 10-year business plan.  The plan is still in its infancy and launching an agency is dependent on a few factors coming into play, so who knows if it will ever happen, but for now the plan is to only focus on the niche and technical quality.   

« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2011, 18:35 »
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dont know how much buyers think of contributors cut but I would say a very fair agency, something like at least 50% with very good communication and impartiality, that would give higher motivation to create better content, keeping pictures fresh and strong.. too bad to achieve this some millions are needed

« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2011, 18:42 »
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My crystal ball tells me that exclusive niche images are the only way to make money in this business as thousands of new photographers and millions of new images hit the market every year. Google and other search engines will continue to improve and provide easier access to well key-worded images. I think the wise stock niche shooter who can tailor his or her site to those search parameters will be miles ahead of the competition and be able to build direct-to-end-user relationships.

« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2011, 02:54 »
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I think you left off one of the biggies - best search. Other than the quality and usefulness of the collection (niche or general) the ease of finding what you want is a huge deal.

I think this clearly does not mean a CV but something closer to google-like searching with very smart "more like this" "none like this" tools to help narrow the search based on image selections as well as keywords. I think it also means being really hardcore about keywording standards so you don't have the kind of spam or missing keywords that just ruins things for buyers. Case in point some of the Getty stuff on iStock: this image is of an elephant but doesn't have the keyword elephant. It does have rainforest which is wholly inappropriate.

There was a startup that did initial search results as an amazing grid of tiny squares where you could pick the ones you liked that would be used to refine the search. It was amazing that you could pretty quickly rule some things in and out from such a small thumb and refine the search in a better way. Not sure what happened to that technology.

If facebook and cameras can handle face recognition, how about stock engine search that can handle the people, how many, no people thing without keywords? That sort of thing

PaulieWalnuts

  • You talkin' to me?
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2011, 07:16 »
0
I think you left off one of the biggies - best search.

Yep, good one. This list wasn't meant to be a complete survey. Just providing examples to get an open discussion rolling.

ShadySue

« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2011, 07:55 »
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I think it also means being really hardcore about keywording standards so you don't have the kind of spam or missing keywords that just ruins things for buyers. Case in point some of the Getty stuff on iStock: this image is of an elephant but doesn't have the keyword elephant. It does have rainforest which is wholly inappropriate.

Another reason I've not wanted to deal with Getty other than the double-tax-whammy and the 20%. They don't let you keyword your own files, so you get cr*p like this.

Which means, yes, great search would be the Killer App for any new site. BM2 had such great potential, but they abandoned it. Maybe it wasn't as great as I think it would have been, but I don't know why. It rewarded good keywording, punished spamming and the above image would soon have sunk to obscurity. EdStock's queleas are still 48 and 50 in the best match for African Elephant (and quelea isn't in the keywords), so the current best match would seem to have no bias towards keyword relevance.

rinderart

« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 11:12 »
0
Lowest prices? N
Aggressive discounting? N
Best customer service? Y, both for customers and contributors
Niche content? (military, medical, etc) Y, with good understanding of each niche (e.g., proper understanding of copyright and property laws in architectural photography instead of rejecting everything modern just to stay on the safe side; same is true for every other niche)
Best technical quality? Y, but in a smart way: being obsessed with even lighting without shadows and noise is not looking for quality, just looking forward to have a boring collection
Most images? Y
Most aggressive sales team? Y
Tons of marketing and advertising? Y
Nothing (build it and they will come) N
Other? Y: No LCV check, as a way to create an alternative library and let buyers decide if I must choose just one



Great answers. I agree.

grp_photo

« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2011, 11:22 »
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I'm starting my own next month my differentiator is regional content and personal contact.

lagereek

« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2011, 11:49 »
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In 1998, I set up my own RM agency, medium and large format drumscaned images. It really started as a feedback to dussins of clients and ad-agencies, etc.
Its an offline service really whereby clients and agencies can buy pictures as fillouts for annual reports, company-profiles, etc.

Today, its run almost like a traditional agency, digital ofcourse but still off-line. Its expanded and I have three employees.

Only advice I can give for something similar, today, is quality! the minute buyers go for RM, they expect the best also it must be nieched images, general shots hardly sell at all.

best and happy new year.

« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2011, 12:00 »
0
I think you left off one of the biggies - best search. Other than the quality and usefulness of the collection (niche or general) the ease of finding what you want is a huge deal.

I think this clearly does not mean a CV but something closer to google-like searching with very smart "more like this" "none like this" tools to help narrow the search based on image selections as well as keywords. I think it also means being really hardcore about keywording standards so you don't have the kind of spam or missing keywords that just ruins things for buyers.

Is the correct answer. The one thing buyers value even more than their money is their time. They don't like having it wasted by poor search results.

« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2011, 16:58 »
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Hi Largereek,

 Great to hear. Are you willing to share the name of your stock agency? I would love to see what you have created. It takes a lot of time and effort and to have been at it for so long you must be doing something right. Our newest agency is www.spacesimages.com if you want to take a peak. You can always PM me.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2011, 21:17 »
0
Hi Largereek,

 Great to hear. Are you willing to share the name of your stock agency? I would love to see what you have created. It takes a lot of time and effort and to have been at it for so long you must be doing something right. Our newest agency is www.spacesimages.com if you want to take a peak. You can always PM me.

Best,
Jonathan


Spaces is a great site Jonathan. I hope you are gaining some traction.

Christian is contributing at Warmpicture with several more of us. Very happy to have a portfolio as strong as Christian's representing us.

The first 7 months of Warmpicture have been grueling. We are almost at break-even per month  :), but the battle of getting us search position is one of the toughest I have ever fought online. I guess I have already put my money where my mouth is with regard to what I would like to see in a RF site:

1) Premium Collection. There are too many images on stock sites. A concentrated premium collection is what I am after.
2) Simple RF Licensing. Price the images on resolution, and include unlimited usage with the price. Since our collection is priced per the Corbis and Alamy models, we are able to completely remove the need for extended licenses.
3) No exclusivity, favoritism, or any other shenanigans. Image rankings within search are determined by performance, period.
4) Small roster of portfolios. We need to get larger, but I don't ever want ours to be huge. I like that our numbers are small enough that we can keep in close touch with each other through message boards and email, and discuss strategy. It keeps everyone on the same page. And anyone who has a good idea can contribute it without being lost in the masses.

We're going to make it. The portfolios at Warmpicture are so strong, it's just a matter of getting enough eyes on us.

lagereek

« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2012, 02:06 »
0
Hi Largereek,

 Great to hear. Are you willing to share the name of your stock agency? I would love to see what you have created. It takes a lot of time and effort and to have been at it for so long you must be doing something right. Our newest agency is www.spacesimages.com if you want to take a peak. You can always PM me.

Best,
Jonathan


Spaces is a great site Jonathan. I hope you are gaining some traction.

Christian is contributing at Warmpicture with several more of us. Very happy to have a portfolio as strong as Christian's representing us.

The first 7 months of Warmpicture have been grueling. We are almost at break-even per month  :), but the battle of getting us search position is one of the toughest I have ever fought online. I guess I have already put my money where my mouth is with regard to what I would like to see in a RF site:

1) Premium Collection. There are too many images on stock sites. A concentrated premium collection is what I am after.
2) Simple RF Licensing. Price the images on resolution, and include unlimited usage with the price. Since our collection is priced per the Corbis and Alamy models, we are able to completely remove the need for extended licenses.
3) No exclusivity, favoritism, or any other shenanigans. Image rankings within search are determined by performance, period.
4) Small roster of portfolios. We need to get larger, but I don't ever want ours to be huge. I like that our numbers are small enough that we can keep in close touch with each other through message boards and email, and discuss strategy. It keeps everyone on the same page. And anyone who has a good idea can contribute it without being lost in the masses.

We're going to make it. The portfolios at Warmpicture are so strong, it's just a matter of getting enough eyes on us.


Cheers Dan!  and a Happy new year!


« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2012, 14:43 »
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Hi Dan,

 So great to hear. I find if you can keep your overhead down and offer your photographers, strong market information, support, and respect and I think you will have a great collection. This is the direction agencies need to turn. Constant feedback and direction when asked for, art directors to help plan shoots, editing that is done asap and the best key wording money can buy with a 50/50 split. Add that recipe with a strong distribution model, solid niche collection plus excellent photographers and it is only a matter of time. Best of luck in 2012.

Cheers,
Jonathan

rinderart

« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2012, 14:52 »
0
Hi Largereek,

 Great to hear. Are you willing to share the name of your stock agency? I would love to see what you have created. It takes a lot of time and effort and to have been at it for so long you must be doing something right. Our newest agency is www.spacesimages.com if you want to take a peak. You can always PM me.

Best,
Jonathan


Beautiful Site Jonathan. It's obvious you want the best and it shows and i Congratulate you for the taste.

« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2012, 15:13 »
0
I think most contributors prefer sites that avoid excessive 'distribution'.  Better to have a strong core site than worry about having your money siphoned by distributing to distributing distributors.

lagereek

« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2012, 16:50 »
0
Hi Dan,

 So great to hear. I find if you can keep your overhead down and offer your photographers, strong market information, support, and respect and I think you will have a great collection. This is the direction agencies need to turn. Constant feedback and direction when asked for, art directors to help plan shoots, editing that is done asap and the best key wording money can buy with a 50/50 split. Add that recipe with a strong distribution model, solid niche collection plus excellent photographers and it is only a matter of time. Best of luck in 2012.

Cheers,
Jonathan

Hi Jonathan!

Very nice site!  clean and polished, superb layout, etc. Best of luck for 2012.

« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2012, 00:35 »
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I would choose a site where all the contributors are owners at egal level, so the company cannot be sold to some big shot corporation...

« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2012, 12:12 »
0
Hi Sean,

 Would you rather have your cola drinks sold by only Safeway even if they are the largest distributor? I would prefer Safeway and all the other stores carry our product we don't want to sell to just Safeway patrons. The larger audience you can get to see your images the more sales are made. I have clear proof from running another Multi distributional agency for the past 7 years that my sales there were bigger and still are bigger than my sales through the biggest stock agency in the business Getty Images because the other agency multi distributes, please share where your data is coming from I am curious. It seems to me with the exception of Istock exclusive that everyone in stock multi distributes, especially Micro shooters. Just a question no heat, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this.

Best,
Jonathan

ShadySue

« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2012, 12:29 »
0
Hi Sean,
 Would you rather have your cola drinks sold by only Safeway even if they are the largest distributor?
I'm not Sean, but taking your question at face value:
1. No, because when Morrison's bought out Safeway, they stopped stocking some popular lines that Safeway sold. Nada the suppliers could do about that. All eggs in one basket = precarious.
2. Yes, because if you sell the same stuff everywhere, there's a supermarket price war, or price-matching deals involving "exactly the same product bought elsewhere".

Conclusion: from the contributor pov, the best model would be 'image exclusivity'.

« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2012, 12:36 »
0
Thanks Lagereek and Rinderart,

 I appreciate all the support it has been a lot of work this past year but 2012 is looking like we have reached the peak and will be able to outsource more of our work and hire even more help. Everything is in place now and we have a great staff. Thank you again for the support.

Cheers,
Jonathan


 

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