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Author Topic: GL Stock (GraphicLeftover) - The state of the situation  (Read 2391 times)

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« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2017, 19:30 »
0
Some great points. "A lot of buyers have proven they will pay for quality images if they can find them...". To me that one is not only spot on, it's also the most significant - and exactly what I was talking about when I referred to chasing the wrong buyers. I am in touch with buyers. Many of my clients are buyers. In my case small ad agencies with client budgets, time constraints which preclude a custom shoot, and relatively discerning taste - so I understand exactly why some buyers are willing to pay more than a subscription blogger might for the same image. Any agency that can address the issues mentioned so far in terms of merit, quality, discoverability etc. AND focus primarily on those buyers would be one I would back exclusively if they would have me. It would probably never become another Shutterstock, obviously, but anything else at this point from a contributors point of of view is just further dilution which does nothing to address declining royalties.


 



« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2017, 20:52 »
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I have $ 16.64 of sales and I think it does not move from there.
It would be interesting what is the sales strategy that the Image Banks plan to sell their collections. They are almost always based on discounts for volume sales that we pay the tailors !!!

« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2017, 01:51 »
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There are other sites I use that pay 50% and have reasonable sales, like Pond5 and Alamy.  I don't believe the profit margins are that tight, if you sell enough.

Isn't some of that expected? Some sites sell video better, photos better or illustration better. Not saying that as an excuse because GL has probably been selling photos long enough that everybody knows they are there. Still, I chuckle a little when I see P5 in the top 4. I like P5 too, but it isn't the strongest seller for illustration. Alamy either, but they seem to be slowly finding their footing.
I would expect GL to at least keep up with MostPhotos and Stockfresh.  They pay 50% as well and I get a trickle of sales with them.  I've even sold more this year on FeaturePics  than GL and they've never sold much.

« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2017, 03:02 »
+1
Some great points. "A lot of buyers have proven they will pay for quality images if they can find them...". To me that one is not only spot on, it's also the most significant - and exactly what I was talking about when I referred to chasing the wrong buyers. I am in touch with buyers. Many of my clients are buyers. In my case small ad agencies with client budgets, time constraints which preclude a custom shoot, and relatively discerning taste - so I understand exactly why some buyers are willing to pay more than a subscription blogger might for the same image. Any agency that can address the issues mentioned so far in terms of merit, quality, discoverability etc. AND focus primarily on those buyers would be one I would back exclusively if they would have me. It would probably never become another Shutterstock, obviously, but anything else at this point from a contributors point of of view is just further dilution which does nothing to address declining royalties.


 
The problem is though they would probably pay less if they could get the same level of service......not great for contributors but I don't see a rosy future for "premium" images.

« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2017, 05:29 »
+1
You're making the incorrect assumption that the results of our marketing was yielding positive results on our old design. Wasting money on ineffective marketing is very different than spending money on marketing and seeing positive results.  In a completely saturated industry, it is very easy to burn through thousands of dollars with little to no results, and our old design was the perfect example of that.  That's a big reason why the previous owners never used paid traffic.  They relied on SEO traffic, yet by the time we purchased the site, the SEO rankings had dropped significantly from the years prior.  We still have a large amount of daily traffic from the search engines, but nothing like years ago.

Our old design yielded very poor results of marketing spend, converting visitors into sign ups.  With our new design, we are seeing a much higher conversion rate of visitors into members signing up.  Now, our mission is to increase our conversion rate from sign ups to paying customers.  So while the new design has yielded better sign up conversion rates, our new challenge is converting these sign ups into paying members.  That is where the pricing model has posed a challenge for us, and one we're working towards addressing.

Because our lifetime value of a customer is lower than our competitors, more important than throwing money at it assuming that is the solution, we need to make improvements that increases the LTV of our customers.  When your average LTV of a paying customer is $40 - $50, and your competition's average is anywhere from 3-10x higher, bidding on the same placements yields us net losses, and yields the competition net positives on the marketing spend.  So reaching the same customers via paid advertising as a company who frequently receives $2,000 sales makes it a lot more challenging for a company whose average sale is significantly lower.  It certainly helps them as well with their marketing spend that they only have to pay you guys 10% of sales, whereas we are paying 40-52%.

Again, it's not as simple as you may think.  We ARE currently running various marketing campaigns, and testing various sources, spending a lot of money relatively speaking.  Testing internet marketing campaigns is not something that can be analyzed on a daily basis, but done week over week, month over month, etc.  In the meantime, we are analyzing the statistics, and are collecting lots of data, optimizing campaigns, and working to figure out ways of increasing our users' average LTV.  The challenges I've mentioned above are what affects those LTV figures, and so there is no obvious solution to make overnight improvements while also keeping contributor commissions high. 

We get a lot of negative comments because sales are low, yet where sales are highest, all I see are complaints about commission structures for contributors.  We pay to host all of our contributors images, regardless of whether they sell or not, we pay for marketing, we pay transaction fees, etc.   To do this, and continue to offer some of the highest commissions in the industry leaves for very tights margins, which means a lot more out-of-pocket spending on marketing dollars than you would think.  So when I'm spending my money to try and yield better results for our contributors, it's difficult not to take the harsh negative comments a bit personally, but I try my best to brush them off.  I'm not a major corporation, we are a couple of people just like all of you.  If you want to have a friendly conversation, I'm all for it.  I'm always open to suggestions and friendly debate on the merits of what we're doing. 

To reiterate, we are testing and working towards finding ways for us to not only be a profitable company, but we are doing so in a way to make sure we are NOT like the larger agencies who are constantly cutting your commissions and devaluing your work.

I am here solely as representation, to show that we are here every day working on this and trying our hardest. However, I'm not going to get into an argument over a grammar mistake I made (and heck, I wouldn't be surprised if you can find one or two in this post as well...), and I'm not going to continue arguing over how hard we're working to make you more money, while trying not to undercut you at the same time.

If you'd like to make positive suggestions, we will take them into consideration.  I'd submit that your unhappiness with GLStock runs much deeper than just dissatisfaction with us, but more so dissatisfaction with the industy you work in.  That seems to be the common trend, and rather than caving into the constant negativity we see here, we press on and keep working on our project.  It's easy to kick a horse when it's down, but it doesn't make sense to kick that horse when you're asking it to ride you across the desert.  It would be easier for me to disregard these messages and just continue working on the project, but the only reason I am here is to put a face to our company, and to represent a small company that IS working hard every day to make improvements.  At the end of the day, we are not a public company, do not have shareholders, and are beholden to ourselves and our investment, which we are trying to turn into a positive one.

PS: A couple weeks of pausing marketing campaigns is really not a big deal.  We don't have a $50mm marketing budget that we evenly spread through 365 days a year.  We test, collect data, make optimization, and continue testing.

Dear agents, All you said is part of your 50% for which you are working... Do not be so biased towards your expenses only. You surely must be familiar with what expenses contributors are faced. Not to mention that there is oversupply of bad images because there is no withstanding math to produce only few perfect images. You know that there is mass-production present and anyone who tried to give quality against quantity lost the battle or struggle to survive in this business. Obviously is that cheap buyers now get what they are willing to pay for... For example some harsh shadows photos made with on-camera flash or even cellphone camera. Yeah, that is what they pay for! Time needed to produce top quality images is much more consuming than making snapshots here and there.
Contributors also have big problem which is being alone in their business. There is no syndicate or similar organization which would be able to force stock image agents to behave in mutual interest or to be able to change some laws. No, they behave in their own and in interest of their stock holders. As long as this is the fact there will be no visible profitable doing business for contributors.
As many other agencies you have nice site, good upload and editing... Problem lies in 10 cents buyers or agencies which are using "contributor is alone" situation.
So, this is me after a long while and I am back to where I jumped from.
Good luck to GL and even more luck to contributors because they need it more!

« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2017, 08:50 »
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I would expect GL to at least keep up with MostPhotos and Stockfresh.  They pay 50% as well and I get a trickle of sales with them.  I've even sold more this year on FeaturePics  than GL and they've never sold much.

I guess as an illustrator I have the different perspective of experiencing a lot of different agencies move into selling vectors and it taking time to see results for the new format while they continue on getting good reviews from all the original contributors. You don't see the reverse a lot, so I guess it is a new perspective for photographers.

« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2017, 08:54 »
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Some great points. "A lot of buyers have proven they will pay for quality images if they can find them...". To me that one is not only spot on, it's also the most significant - and exactly what I was talking about when I referred to chasing the wrong buyers. I am in touch with buyers. Many of my clients are buyers. In my case small ad agencies with client budgets, time constraints which preclude a custom shoot, and relatively discerning taste - so I understand exactly why some buyers are willing to pay more than a subscription blogger might for the same image. Any agency that can address the issues mentioned so far in terms of merit, quality, discoverability etc. AND focus primarily on those buyers would be one I would back exclusively if they would have me. It would probably never become another Shutterstock, obviously, but anything else at this point from a contributors point of of view is just further dilution which does nothing to address declining royalties.


 
The problem is though they would probably pay less if they could get the same level of service......not great for contributors but I don't see a rosy future for "premium" images.

It goes without saying that buyers will pay less if they can. It's human nature. But if they can't pay less because the image that perfectly fits their requirements is only available at one agency then cost automatically becomes less of an issue.Now if the cost of that image was reasonable to begin with, say 50-60 bucks with the contributor getting somewhere near half of that, then the economics begin to make sense to me. Even if that image only sells a handful of times over a year, it is still better than hundreds or even thousands of times elsewhere. Obviously I am approaching this from my own perspective based on my own experience with my own images. To be honest, way back a lifetime ago in industry terms (last year) I was still happy with my returns. Large EL's were fairly consistent and they buoyed my portfolio. Since those have for the most part dried up for me I am no longer interested in contributing to any subscription based model. I knew what I was getting into from the beginning yes, but it was the 80 and 120 dollar buys that kept me going in a sea of subscription sales. Frankly, today I cringe every time I see a 38 cent sale. That's why I am really interested in seeing a new agency emerge (or an existing one refocus) that really takes a hard look at that mid-micro range where both my work and expectations would be a better fit. I do custom work yes, so I am lucky to have a financial buffer, but I much prefer the freedom shooting stock affords and would love to be able to continue. But I agree, the future is not looking too rosy.

Sorry about the rant.

« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2017, 09:18 »
+4
Let's face it, GL is a small company trying to compete in a big world.  They will never yield any level of sales close to SS or even IS and probably even DP.  Look at Pond5, they supposedly got an infusion of cash to invest in the company and their marketing. I haven't seen any lift is sales.  Marketing is one thing, but effective marketing is another.  And marketing sustainability is yet another layer of difficulty to achieve because it costs even more money.  Very difficult to realize.  I applaud them for trying to stay in the game, but the probability of actually making a dent in the MS business is almost non-existent.

« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2017, 09:29 »
0
Exactly. Little fish in a big pond when it might make more sense to be a big fish in a little pond.

« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2017, 16:32 »
0
Some great points. "A lot of buyers have proven they will pay for quality images if they can find them...". To me that one is not only spot on, it's also the most significant - and exactly what I was talking about when I referred to chasing the wrong buyers. I am in touch with buyers. Many of my clients are buyers. In my case small ad agencies with client budgets, time constraints which preclude a custom shoot, and relatively discerning taste - so I understand exactly why some buyers are willing to pay more than a subscription blogger might for the same image. Any agency that can address the issues mentioned so far in terms of merit, quality, discoverability etc. AND focus primarily on those buyers would be one I would back exclusively if they would have me. It would probably never become another Shutterstock, obviously, but anything else at this point from a contributors point of of view is just further dilution which does nothing to address declining royalties.


 
The problem is though they would probably pay less if they could get the same level of service......not great for contributors but I don't see a rosy future for "premium" images.

It goes without saying that buyers will pay less if they can. It's human nature. But if they can't pay less because the image that perfectly fits their requirements is only available at one agency then cost automatically becomes less of an issue.Now if the cost of that image was reasonable to begin with, say 50-60 bucks with the contributor getting somewhere near half of that, then the economics begin to make sense to me. Even if that image only sells a handful of times over a year, it is still better than hundreds or even thousands of times elsewhere. Obviously I am approaching this from my own perspective based on my own experience with my own images. To be honest, way back a lifetime ago in industry terms (last year) I was still happy with my returns. Large EL's were fairly consistent and they buoyed my portfolio. Since those have for the most part dried up for me I am no longer interested in contributing to any subscription based model. I knew what I was getting into from the beginning yes, but it was the 80 and 120 dollar buys that kept me going in a sea of subscription sales. Frankly, today I cringe every time I see a 38 cent sale. That's why I am really interested in seeing a new agency emerge (or an existing one refocus) that really takes a hard look at that mid-micro range where both my work and expectations would be a better fit. I do custom work yes, so I am lucky to have a financial buffer, but I much prefer the freedom shooting stock affords and would love to be able to continue. But I agree, the future is not looking too rosy.

Sorry about the rant.
Thing is I believe that the number of images that perfectly fit the brief on only one site is getting smaller and smaller. Where the likes of SS fail to meet customer needs is not that they don't have the images....their systems are not good enough to deliver them easily to the buyer but in all probability they are in there somewhere.

« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2017, 08:21 »
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Again, agreed. But in my mind making it easier for buyers to find those images does absolutely nothing to address the growing disparity between sales volume and earnings.

« Reply #36 on: November 11, 2017, 08:56 »
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Again, agreed. But in my mind making it easier for buyers to find those images does absolutely nothing to address the growing disparity between sales volume and earnings.
No it doesn't its just an observation of what's happening doesn't make me like it

« Reply #37 on: November 11, 2017, 11:10 »
0
Thinking about the idea that buyers no longer really care about 'quality' - well, maybe they just need some education.  What if a stock site started working with a really good designer, to put up some pages of design examples using stock photos?  The same content, text, layout, but one version with a 'good' photo and another with a 'poor' photo.  Similar subjects, but showing the impact of better composition, lighting, use of DOF, color balance.  Or maybe even a clever and surprising use of photo to make a point,  or a less gag-inducing photo of  apparently 'happy seniors'.   

Before you all jump in and say 'designers already know what they're doing',  think about some of the cringe-worthy stuff you've seen in print or on the web.

The people behind stock agencies presumably know something about photography and design.  Why not use that to sell the product in some more sophisticated ways,  not just a home page showing a bunch of typical stock photos?

« Reply #38 on: November 11, 2017, 11:57 »
0
Thinking about the idea that buyers no longer really care about 'quality' - well, maybe they just need some education.  What if a stock site started working with a really good designer, to put up some pages of design examples using stock photos?  The same content, text, layout, but one version with a 'good' photo and another with a 'poor' photo.  Similar subjects, but showing the impact of better composition, lighting, use of DOF, color balance.  Or maybe even a clever and surprising use of photo to make a point,  or a less gag-inducing photo of  apparently 'happy seniors'.   

Before you all jump in and say 'designers already know what they're doing',  think about some of the cringe-worthy stuff you've seen in print or on the web.

The people behind stock agencies presumably know something about photography and design.  Why not use that to sell the product in some more sophisticated ways,  not just a home page showing a bunch of typical stock photos?
I think that would be excellent. Canva comes close to it, letting people design templates. It's pretty cool.

For me and my stuff it is less useful since the vast majority of uses I have seen online have been articles and menus (for my images). I rarely see mine "designed". But then, there are so many different kinds of buyers, I am less fussed about the advertising and design section of them. More and more of mine are those bloggers everyone loves hating. :) I find buyers are as diverse a group as us contributors.

I do think some enterprising agency will forget about competing with the big agencies and find a different "pond" altogether. Kind of how micro came about in the first place isn't it?
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 12:45 by farbled »


 

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