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Author Topic: I'm going for the golden choker.  (Read 7321 times)

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« on: February 26, 2013, 00:39 »
+1
I foresee this post being shot down in flames, and then more. But I'm gonna go for it anyways, if only to see the response I get.

I just struck 250 downloads on iStock, and I'll probably be signing myself up for that golden crown soon (or, as it has been referred to many times in the past, the golden choker.) Yes, this is amidst all the current chaos and controversy surrounding iStock, and despite them. Here are my reasons why:

  • I currently submit to four sites, and my royalties on iStock is twice the amount collected on the three other sites. Theoretically, my income from iStock would go up by at least 60% when I go exclusive (current royalty rate 16%, exclusive rate 25%) which would nicely cover up the deficit.
  • As much as I'd like to stay non-exclusive, I find it a major pain to upload my work on multiple sites - and I'm only doing four currently! I have two jobs on the side, so I'd like to keep the time spent uploading down to the minimum. Granted iStock's uploading isn't the best, but I've grown accustomed to it so it's not so bad.
  • My experience with iStock's support so far has actually been pretty positive. None of my enquiries have yet been buried in their ticket system, my scout tickets were responded to promptly and comprehensively (and always in direct reply to the points I bring up in my ticket), and I've had no issues in terms of late payment whatsoever. On the other hand, while I'm in love with Shutterstock's FTP uploads, tools and that awesome world map that shows my latest downloads, my experience with their support has been downright appalling in terms of responsiveness and clarity. While I'm sure my experience is vastly different from what many of here have gone through, all that's happen makes it a deal breaker for me.

Well then, that's pretty much it. Apart from the aforementioned reasons, I find myself asking these questions too, given recent events.

Aren't I afraid that they'll take my work and pull another cash grab, as seen in the Getty/Google deal?

I honestly can't imagine how it feels like until it actually happens, but yes, I think I'd feel pretty betrayed if I find my vectors available for the entire internet to grab for free. The fact that I do stock as just a side gig will cushion that blow, but it'll still be pretty messed up nonetheless. But for me, the most important thing is whether or not exclusivity changes this. By uploading to iStock as an ex or non-ex, aren't I already subject to this happening? What do any of you think?

iStock treats contributors with disrespect. It's not something I've felt yet, but it'll happen soon - there's tonnes of evidence to support that eventuality. What happens then?

It depends on the infraction, I guess. I'm not a participant in their forums, which is why I've yet to suffer the brunt of their notorious moderators that often get special mention here in MSG. My biggest concern would be another drop of royalties -- if this happens, then I'd definitely consider dropping the crown. But apart from all these, their contributor support has been pretty polite with me so far as a non-ex. I don't think that'll change for the worse if I go exclusive, cause that doesn't make sense. Does it?

Why am I giving support to a company that seems to be ground-zero to so much controversy and misery?

I've been lurking in these forums for months and I've seen the horror stories. It does make me uncomfortable that I'm about to make a move that supports and endorses a company that evidence here has shown to be a lot less than perfect. And then I realize that it changes nothing - exclusive or not, I'm still someone who has been in support of keeping iStock afloat since I uploaded my first file. Going exclusive doesn't change that, right? And like many of you here who still upload there, I think the bottomline that iStock offers us is just too good to pass up, despite whatever unhappiness they're responsible for.

So there you have it, my thought processes and justifications laid out for all to see. Who knows, maybe in a couple months time I'd be coming in here with a new thread on how I'm no longer exclusive and it's a breathe of fresh air. Till then, I can't see a compelling reason why I shouldn't give this a shot. Thoughts?


« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 00:46 »
-3
Have you been paid for writing this?

EmberMike

« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 00:50 »
+9
Glad to see you're going exclusive. We have a somewhat similar style, and I appreciate having less competition. :)

Really, I hope you do well there. I don't see how it's possible, but that's just my opinion and based on my experience.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 00:52 by EmberMike »

Reef

  • astonmars.com
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 00:54 »
0
Have you been paid for writing this?

:)

I'm wondering why your work isn't selling on SS. A lot of your illustrations look very inspired.

« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 01:09 »
0
To each his own. Go for it, if that is how you feel led to proceed.

« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 01:24 »
0
I currently submit to four sites, and my royalties on iStock is twice the amount collected on the three other sites.

What are the sites you are submitting to?

« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 02:23 »
+5
I have been independent and an iStock exclusive. My opinion is that as long as you really understand what you're getting into - this is not a partnership and the agent/distributor will need to be watched like a hawk so you don't find your work sold out - and you don't mind having virtually no control over what license deals your work is subject to, then go for it.

If you've read the posts here - up to and including the 30 day termination of a long term exclusive (Sean Locke) who has always been one of iStocks greatest ambassadors - then you know the shark tank into which you're going to swim.

I wouldn't do it, but then everyone's situation is different. Just please don't convince yourself that things will be better in the future - Getty has a long track record of truly abysmal treatment of its contributors. People keep coming for the money.

« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 02:57 »
+2
Quote
As much as I'd like to stay non-exclusive, I find it a major pain to upload my work on multiple sites

I submit to app. 10 sites plus iStock. Total time needed to submit to these 10 equals more or less time needed to submit to iStock alone and that is using DeepMeta. If I were you I'd try streamlining my workflow and avoid that choker.

But then my iStock income is less than 10% of total. No temptation for me at all...

Microbius

« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 03:26 »
+5
I would always encourage others to go exclusive. With IStock taking up less and less of the market share it makes a lot of sense for me to encourage the competition you to be exclusive there  ;)

« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 03:52 »
0
Glad to see you're going exclusive. We have a somewhat similar style, and I appreciate having less competition. :)

Really, I hope you do well there. I don't see how it's possible, but that's just my opinion and based on my experience.

Hey there, thanks for the well wishes! Evidence does point towards being non-exclusive as being a more lucrative option, but it's an option that I can't afford at this point of time. That's pretty much the bottomline for me.

I currently submit to four sites, and my royalties on iStock is twice the amount collected on the three other sites.

What are the sites you are submitting to?

Vectorstock, iStock, 123rf, Shutterstock.

I have been independent and an iStock exclusive. My opinion is that as long as you really understand what you're getting into - this is not a partnership and the agent/distributor will need to be watched like a hawk so you don't find your work sold out - and you don't mind having virtually no control over what license deals your work is subject to, then go for it.

If you've read the posts here - up to and including the 30 day termination of a long term exclusive (Sean Locke) who has always been one of iStocks greatest ambassadors - then you know the shark tank into which you're going to swim.

I wouldn't do it, but then everyone's situation is different. Just please don't convince yourself that things will be better in the future - Getty has a long track record of truly abysmal treatment of its contributors. People keep coming for the money.

Hey jsnover, I'm glad you took the time to reply! Yes, I have been following what's been happening for a while now. My biggest question is how exclusivity changes things, though. Can they not do the same things to a non-exclusive contributor?

I would always encourage others to go exclusive. With IStock taking up less and less of the market share it makes a lot of sense for me to encourage the competition you to be exclusive there  ;)

That's good advice. :P But yes, I've been tracking iStock's ranking on Alexa and it's tumbling down the hill. Still, the numbers I see from my own sales tell a different story. I don't know why -- perhaps it's a matter of target audience.

Quote
As much as I'd like to stay non-exclusive, I find it a major pain to upload my work on multiple sites

I submit to app. 10 sites plus iStock. Total time needed to submit to these 10 equals more or less time needed to submit to iStock alone and that is using DeepMeta. If I were you I'd try streamlining my workflow and avoid that choker.

But then my iStock income is less than 10% of total. No temptation for me at all...

Thank you for . Do you mind if I send you a PM to discuss more? I'd like to find out more on how to do this. If what you're saying is true, then going exclusive really doesn't make sense anymore.

Thanks for the comments guys!

« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 03:53 »
+1
With so many exclusives leaving, I suppose there's less competition for new exclusives.  The problem is, they seem to be taking buyers to other sites.  There's no sign of that stopping and there's the possibility it could get much worse when Stocksy launches.  There always used to be a good reason for some people to go exclusive with istock but its getting harder to see why they would want to do it now.

gillian

  • *Gillian*

« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 05:01 »
0
Quote
As much as I'd like to stay non-exclusive, I find it a major pain to upload my work on multiple sites

I submit to app. 10 sites plus iStock. Total time needed to submit to these 10 equals more or less time needed to submit to iStock alone and that is using DeepMeta. If I were you I'd try streamlining my workflow and avoid that choker.

But then my iStock income is less than 10% of total. No temptation for me at all...

I would agree that it is indeed a pain. And while some whine about iS I think there are plenty who are worse. I really only submit regularly to 3 and then a bunch of others in dribs and drabs.
you are supporting the devil, which is what they are hoping for, to justify their actions. not cool.

« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 05:11 »
+9
You've scored with a single file - the basic "labels" illustration.  If that should fall due to sort changes, you'll be out of luck.

« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 06:08 »
+4
You've scored with a single file - the basic "labels" illustration.  If that should fall due to sort changes, you'll be out of luck.

Exactly. With 6 months experience and a few hundred sales in total you don't have anything like enough data on which to base such an important decision. As Sean says you got lucky with a single file on one agency. There is a huge amount of luck in microstock, at least when it comes to individual file sales. If a file gets a few early sales then it will jump to the top of the sort-order and can go on to make great money. If it doesn't it can sink like a stone.

My current best-selling image at SS for example has sold about 1000x in 18 months and made $700. On IS, over the same period, that image has sold 2x and made $2. I could give you hundreds of other examples of similar differences of individual file sales at different agencies.

If you are looking to the future, and by that I mean the next 5 years not 5 months, then you are better keeping your options open and collecting more data, ideally from more agencies. You can go exclusive very easily and quickly but it is far more work (and usually very expensive in the short to medium term) to extract yourself from it.

« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 06:27 »
0
You've scored with a single file - the basic "labels" illustration.  If that should fall due to sort changes, you'll be out of luck.

Exactly. With 6 months experience and a few hundred sales in total you don't have anything like enough data on which to base such an important decision. As Sean says you got lucky with a single file on one agency. There is a huge amount of luck in microstock, at least when it comes to individual file sales. If a file gets a few early sales then it will jump to the top of the sort-order and can go on to make great money. If it doesn't it can sink like a stone.

My current best-selling image at SS for example has sold about 1000x in 18 months and made $700. On IS, over the same period, that image has sold 2x and made $2. I could give you hundreds of other examples of similar differences of individual file sales at different agencies.

If you are looking to the future, and by that I mean the next 5 years not 5 months, then you are better keeping your options open and collecting more data, ideally from more agencies. You can go exclusive very easily and quickly but it is far more work (and usually very expensive in the short to medium term) to extract yourself from it.

Hi Gostwyck and sjlocke, thank you for the excellent points. You've certainly given me a lot to think about! I did indeed luck out with one file, which is currently accounting for more than half of the revenues I've ever made at iStock. If I do go ahead and put all my eggs in one basket... well, that could be disastrous even for the short term. The fact that they are still tinkering with the best match casts a shadow of uncertainty on whether or not that file would stay in the limelight.

Gostwyck, I appreciate insightful comments - I agree that for someone who's doing stock for only a few months, it would be wise to keep my options open. Then again, I feel as though I lack the capacity to truly exploit these options. Uploading to multiple sites has taken up quite a bit of time, time that as a casual stocker I can't really afford. If I can't commit to being a non-exclusive to the best of my capacity, it seems to make more sense that I should go exclusive instead, so that what little time I can pour into stock is maximized to creating content. That's how I see things, at any rate. But the fact still does stand that it wouldn't hurt me the least to wait until I've got sufficient data before making the change.

I'll definitely need to think things through. Regardless, thank you so much for your input! :)

« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2013, 06:41 »
0
It's your business, your decision, you are going in with your eyes open. So good luck. I've got nothing against contributor's acting according to their assessment of their own best interests. Isn't that what we all do?

To be honest, it does seem a teensy bit ironic to see Sean being discouraging about exclusivity after all the years when he obviously felt it worked best for him.

« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2013, 06:51 »
0
It's your business, your decision, you are going in with your eyes open. So good luck. I've got nothing against contributor's acting according to their assessment of their own best interests. Isn't that what we all do?

To be honest, it does seem a teensy bit ironic to see Sean being discouraging about exclusivity after all the years when he obviously felt it worked best for him.

It is. :) I'm just laying it all out in the eyes of the more experienced ones to see if I'm overlooking anything. And as Gostwyck has pointed out, I have indeed failed to consider some important points.

Can't speak for Sean, but what I gathered from his post was just him pointing out that my success has so far been heavily influenced by a single file, out of a portfolio of 100 other illustrations.

« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2013, 07:01 »
0
Uploading to multiple sites has taken up quite a bit of time, time that as a casual stocker I can't really afford. If I can't commit to being a non-exclusive to the best of my capacity, it seems to make more sense that I should go exclusive instead, so that what little time I can pour into stock is maximized to creating content.

I don't fully understand the 'time uploading issue'. I do photos, rather than illustrations, and the time spent shooting and processing is far greater than the time spent uploading. I would assume that illustrations take rather longer to produce but no longer to upload.

For example, when processing, it takes me about 15 mins per image to select/process/keyword. Therefore, over say 6 hours, I could produce about 24 new images. It would take me less than one further hour to upload all those images to SS, IS and FT (which account for 85% of my microstock income). Probably 3/4 of that time would be spent uploading to IS which is vastly more time-consuming than all the other agencies combined. If the time spent uploading was an issue then it would be more profitable to produce slightly fewer images but upload them to more agencies.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2013, 07:01 »
+1
It's your business, your decision, you are going in with your eyes open. So good luck. I've got nothing against contributor's acting according to their assessment of their own best interests. Isn't that what we all do?

To be honest, it does seem a teensy bit ironic to see Sean being discouraging about exclusivity after all the years when he obviously felt it worked best for him.

I didn't read it as being discouraging, I saw it just as pointing out a potential problem down the line for the OP's port being so heavily reliant on just one image.

Exclusivity works for me and my port, but not for everyone. It's purely a personal decision. I found that my photos uploaded since late September sank like stones whether or not they had early downloads, and I deactivated a lot of them a couple of weeks back. They sank below 200 on photos only searches after 48 hours on their main search terms, and were unlikely to recover.

These are things that we have no control over, and can sink files forever. No doubt that happens on all sites, but spreading the risk might obviate that sort of problem.

Also take it that the Getty/Google thing, the Connect thing, the microsoft thing, are only the beginning of 'deals' whereby the contributors are getting less than their promised percentage, as they're doing the deals in a different, non-trasparent way. And they proved with the microsoft deal and the Google deal that they act in a quick bucks way, not for future growth in mind. Who knows what they have already agreed to that we don't know about yet? And you can bet it won't be good for us, at least in the long run.

OTOH, you can get out of excusivity after 30 days, so it's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out.

And on the third hand, there are very few, if any, of the other micros that I'd be totally happy about getting into bed with. Devil and deep blue sea. Rock and hard place.

« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2013, 07:03 »
0
If you're doing microstock as a hobby or part-time, you should go ahead with exclusivity on IS. If you're planning to earn your life with microstock, I would think twice.

But in any case you're a perfect fish for IS, they want more bronze-level exclusive contributors. Proportionally they make the most money out of this group.

« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2013, 08:33 »
0
go go go, don't even think, its iStock or nothing ;)

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2013, 08:47 »
0
@OP: you also need to be aware that most people are finding that iStock downloads are falling rapidly, partly because of increased competition, but probably mostly because buyers are leaving. Prices have shot up, but when there are no buyers, even $500 a dl will equal $0.

Thouight, again, you can get out of exclusivity in 30 days.

« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2013, 09:31 »
0
Uploading to multiple sites has taken up quite a bit of time, time that as a casual stocker I can't really afford. If I can't commit to being a non-exclusive to the best of my capacity, it seems to make more sense that I should go exclusive instead, so that what little time I can pour into stock is maximized to creating content.

I don't fully understand the 'time uploading issue'. I do photos, rather than illustrations, and the time spent shooting and processing is far greater than the time spent uploading. I would assume that illustrations take rather longer to produce but no longer to upload.

For example, when processing, it takes me about 15 mins per image to select/process/keyword. Therefore, over say 6 hours, I could produce about 24 new images. It would take me less than one further hour to upload all those images to SS, IS and FT (which account for 85% of my microstock income). Probably 3/4 of that time would be spent uploading to IS which is vastly more time-consuming than all the other agencies combined. If the time spent uploading was an issue then it would be more profitable to produce slightly fewer images but upload them to more agencies.

Keywording for iStock, and then keywording for other agencies does make it more time-consuming (which is what I currently do - perhaps it'll be much better if I start out by keywording for other sites first). Websites like Vectorstock also pose another layer of delay, as they require the artwork to be at a 0.95 aspect ratio and the preview image to be 380x400. I've yet to upload for FT, so I can't say much about any complications that would occur there, but I do foresee some issues with their max 2mb size.

If one wishes to exploit their non-exclusive status to the maximum, then shouldn't they submit to around 10 sites or more? I'm okay with maintaining 2-3 portfolios at different agencies, but it doesn't seem like that would be very optimal versus going exclusive. Then again, I guess it all depends on the data. Someone who has 80% of his revenues coming outside of iStock would be crazy to go exclusive!

It's your business, your decision, you are going in with your eyes open. So good luck. I've got nothing against contributor's acting according to their assessment of their own best interests. Isn't that what we all do?

To be honest, it does seem a teensy bit ironic to see Sean being discouraging about exclusivity after all the years when he obviously felt it worked best for him.

I didn't read it as being discouraging, I saw it just as pointing out a potential problem down the line for the OP's port being so heavily reliant on just one image.

Exclusivity works for me and my port, but not for everyone. It's purely a personal decision. I found that my photos uploaded since late September sank like stones whether or not they had early downloads, and I deactivated a lot of them a couple of weeks back. They sank below 200 on photos only searches after 48 hours on their main search terms, and were unlikely to recover.

These are things that we have no control over, and can sink files forever. No doubt that happens on all sites, but spreading the risk might obviate that sort of problem.

Also take it that the Getty/Google thing, the Connect thing, the microsoft thing, are only the beginning of 'deals' whereby the contributors are getting less than their promised percentage, as they're doing the deals in a different, non-trasparent way. And they proved with the microsoft deal and the Google deal that they act in a quick bucks way, not for future growth in mind. Who knows what they have already agreed to that we don't know about yet? And you can bet it won't be good for us, at least in the long run.

OTOH, you can get out of excusivity after 30 days, so it's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out.

And on the third hand, there are very few, if any, of the other micros that I'd be totally happy about getting into bed with. Devil and deep blue sea. Rock and hard place.

@OP: you also need to be aware that most people are finding that iStock downloads are falling rapidly, partly because of increased competition, but probably mostly because buyers are leaving. Prices have shot up, but when there are no buyers, even $500 a dl will equal $0.

Thouight, again, you can get out of exclusivity in 30 days.


Thanks for the input! :) It is tempting to give exclusivity a try - however short-lived it may be - since I can always get out of it. One benefit I think I'll enjoy is as a beginner, it probably isn't as damaging to make the switch from a non-exclusive to an exclusive as it would be for someone who's established. If you don't mind, I'd like to know more about your experience? When did you made the choice to be exclusive? What spurred you to make the decision? Did you notice a major change in income or priority under their search engine? I've noticed that iStock is promising more exposure, but I can't figure out how that's going to happen.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2013, 09:47 »
0
I've never submitted to any other micro. Way back when I started you needed 500 dls to become indie, but dls were quite fast in coming. I had thought vaguely about experimeting with SS, but as at that time I also had a day job, I didn't get round to it. I was intending to try it after a particular trip, but while I was away, the exclusivity condition dropped to 250 and it was at that time a no-brainer.

Take any promises about exclusivity with a pinch of salt. There were a lot more promises when I signed up and most of them have gone. I do think that exclusive files do get pushed in best match in general, but since Sept, best match has been badly screwed up. But there isn't one pattern - and what I see might not be what you see. For example when I search on 'gorilla' photos only, I see a bloke in a monkey suit in position 1, then many Vetta gorillas all bunched at the top. I don't see that in any of my other 'test searches'.

I certainly saw a big increase of dls after I became exclusive, but getting the upload slots at that time was very good for me, as I had a huge backlog. And at that time, exclusive and indie files cost the same. Now if other people have similars, indies are much cheaper, so they have a price advantage, which will matter for budget-conscious buyers who don't mind searching a bit more.

All you can do is try it and see if it seems to be working. No one can predict what will happen to your port, just as no-one knows what iS or any of the other micros are about to hit us with just around the corner.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

PS, then you've got the numerous site glitches. I'm getting a lot of blank pages there today.

Tror

« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2013, 10:00 »
-3
Have you been paid for writing this?

I was thinking exactly the same. There is so much propaganda in this it can`t be true....


 

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