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Author Topic: I'm going for the golden choker.  (Read 9430 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

« 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

« 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

« 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....

« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2013, 10:01 »
+3
I've noticed that iStock is promising more exposure, but I can't figure out how that's going to happen.

The only extra exposure you are guaranteed is if your content is mirrored up to Getty.  Nothing more.

« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2013, 10:05 »
0
OP - like you, when I started (2006), I was with a few sites, but iStock quickly established itself for me as the better seller by far, and I went Exclusive soon after I was eligible (it took 500 DLs then).

As far as I could tell, it worked fine for me, at least until last September - since then, it's been looking increasingly touch and go, but still holding on for now, mainly thanks to my having just scraped to the next % level last year, plus good sales on GI, so far anyway.  Next year may not be so good.

But it's a tough call these days.  As mentioned though, I think it's probably easier to dump the crown early on if it doesn't work out than it is to dump being independent once you're established at other sites, so if you're going for it, best do it now rather than later.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2013, 10:35 »
+2
I turned exclusive last July and, initially, it was a great decision.  From Aug through mid-Dec I was making 5 times what I made on SS during my best months there.  However, since mid-Dec my sales have been in a freefall.  Current best match favors older files (which I don't have) and new files sink so fast that if you get a download or two you're doing well.  Views are way down as well.  In all honesty it feels like buyers have left in droves.
If I could have looked into my crystal ball last July and seen what was going to be happening after just a few months of being exclusive I wouldn't have gone that route.  With the current state of affairs at iStock having no other options is not a good feeling.  Personally, I am looking for other options while I slowly deactivate files. 
Your mileage may differ, of course.  If you do decide to give it a try my only recommendation would be to deactivate your account at SS rather than close it.  That way you can keep your files on-line there (they won't be visible to the buyers) and, with re-activation, you'll be ready to go quickly should you decide to return.

EmberMike

« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2013, 11:47 »
0
...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 is indeed optimal for folks who fall into that category. I make 5% of my income from istock.

« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2013, 11:50 »
0
.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 15:40 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2013, 12:16 »
0
I've noticed that iStock is promising more exposure, but I can't figure out how that's going to happen.

The only extra exposure you are guaranteed is if your content is mirrored up to Getty.  Nothing more.

I see. Thank you for this. :)

OP - like you, when I started (2006), I was with a few sites, but iStock quickly established itself for me as the better seller by far, and I went Exclusive soon after I was eligible (it took 500 DLs then).

As far as I could tell, it worked fine for me, at least until last September - since then, it's been looking increasingly touch and go, but still holding on for now, mainly thanks to my having just scraped to the next % level last year, plus good sales on GI, so far anyway.  Next year may not be so good.

But it's a tough call these days.  As mentioned though, I think it's probably easier to dump the crown early on if it doesn't work out than it is to dump being independent once you're established at other sites, so if you're going for it, best do it now rather than later.

You make a very good point with your last sentence. If I plan on experimenting, better I do it now than later when I've committed to submitting to multiple agencies. It's definitely something to think about. Thank you!

I turned exclusive last July and, initially, it was a great decision.  From Aug through mid-Dec I was making 5 times what I made on SS during my best months there.  However, since mid-Dec my sales have been in a freefall.  Current best match favors older files (which I don't have) and new files sink so fast that if you get a download or two you're doing well.  Views are way down as well.  In all honesty it feels like buyers have left in droves.
If I could have looked into my crystal ball last July and seen what was going to be happening after just a few months of being exclusive I wouldn't have gone that route.  With the current state of affairs at iStock having no other options is not a good feeling.  Personally, I am looking for other options while I slowly deactivate files. 
Your mileage may differ, of course.  If you do decide to give it a try my only recommendation would be to deactivate your account at SS rather than close it.  That way you can keep your files on-line there (they won't be visible to the buyers) and, with re-activation, you'll be ready to go quickly should you decide to return.

Accounts like these scare me. It's also very consistent with how iStock's Alexa's ratings are looking lately. On the other hand, when I look at iStock's forums I find people reporting January to be their BME -- even though these instances are significantly fewer than those who're saying they're having the worst months. It's all very puzzling. Anwyays, thanks for the advice on deactivation vs. deletion! I'll certainly keep that in mind.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 12:34 by davidgoh »

« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2013, 12:21 »
+3
Those numbers at the right are not indicative for illustrators at all! Not even close. My humble opinion is that you are approaching this entirely wrong. You need to try some of the other smaller agencies and you need to add ITPC to your jpg thumbnails. Once you do this you will realize that IS is the worse place to be if you are trying to make the most efficient use of your uploading time. You should be able to upload 20 or so images to at least 10 or more sites while watching prime time television in one night.

FYI- for me SS is number 2 in earnings, DT is number 6, FT is number 11, and IS is number 9 and I can't even get around to VectorStock because of the pricing and PITA upload.

Granted my port size varies based on upload ease, rpd, and overall earnings but I've been tracking this long enough to know that using the table on the right is as an indicator of how to proceed is a massive mistake for illustrators.

Just my two cents.

« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2013, 12:28 »
0
Those numbers at the right are not indicative for illustrators at all! Not even close. My humble opinion is that you are approaching this entirely wrong. You need to try some of the other smaller agencies and you need to add ITPC to your jpg thumbnails. Once you do this you will realize that IS is the worse place to be if you are trying to make the most efficient use of your uploading time. You should be able to upload 20 or so images to at least 10 or more sites while watching prime time television in one night.

FYI- for me SS is number 2 in earnings, DT is number 6, FT is number 11, and IS is number 9 and I can't even get around to VectorStock because of the pricing and PITA upload.

Granted my port size varies based on upload ease, rpd, and overall earnings but I've been tracking this long enough to know that using the table on the right is as an indicator of how to proceed is a massive mistake for illustrators.

Just my two cents.

I agree.

« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2013, 12:36 »
0
Files on Shutterstock can be just removed from sale without removing them from the site. So if you want to try exclusivity, you don't have to quit Shutterstock actually.

I would try for a few month and see what happen, and if thing go bad, you quit exclusivity and  reactivate your Shutterstock files...

I don't know about the others sites though...

« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2013, 16:16 »
+13
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....

It's comments like this that keep people from posting here. Absolutely unprofessional way to treat someone. I personnally would not give up exclusivity at iStock because from what I read here there is no way i would make nearly as much money as an independent unless I sold on my own and marketed myself. Just because it is not for you does not mean it is not for anyone else.. You have to be real good and have unique files. Istock is owned by a private equity firm. It has been for a long time. Don't expect them to coddle you, just ride the train for as long as the money comes in. No stock agency is going to coddle your butt and the contributors  that drank the Kool-aide and acted like it was a co-op were the first one to whine when they couldn't make the cut to Vetta and get the kind of money they photographers deserve, so are hanging out here patting themselves on the back and getting 2 bucks a dl. They standby here around and slam people that do the math and see that for them personally it makes more business sense to be exclusive. Rant over. And no I am not a newbie by any stretch. Having the best February ever and haven't even uploaded this year.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 16:29 by landbysea »

ShadySue

« Reply #35 on: February 26, 2013, 17:18 »
+2
On the other hand, when I look at iStock's forums I find people reporting January to be their BME -- even though these instances are significantly fewer than those who're saying they're having the worst months. It's all very puzzling.
Interpreting other people's figures is more difficult than it looks. You need to know what media they're using, how many files they have on each site, how long they've been on each site (somight have images lightboxed) etc.
To give an extreme but true example: there's a habituee of the Alamy forum who ha regularly said how much more he earns at Alamy than iStock, which would be quite surprising to me on the face of it, but he has fewer than 20 files in iS, but thousands on Alamy. No kidding.
Exactly the same when interpreting the figures on the right, and the monthly reports here. No point in looking at someone's figures who has 2000 files at one agency for four years, and 500 on a other for six months. The raw figures tell you almost nothing.

Also, at what level are those who are reporting BMEs? If I had 5 sales last month and 10 this month, and have tripled my port from 10 to 30, that's not saying very much. Conversely, at least a couple of people who are reporting ever worsening months have hardly uploaded in two years.

FWIW, my BME was Nov 2008, then Oct 2008, then Nov 2009. But that has little relevance to other people.

Tror

« Reply #36 on: February 26, 2013, 17:21 »
-2
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....

It's comments like this that keep people from posting here. Absolutely unprofessional way to treat someone. I personnally would not give up exclusivity at iStock because from what I read here there is no way i would make nearly as much money as an independent unless I sold on my own and marketed myself. Just because it is not for you does not mean it is not for anyone else.. You have to be real good and have unique files. Istock is owned by a private equity firm. It has been for a long time. Don't expect them to coddle you, just ride the train for as long as the money comes in. No stock agency is going to coddle your butt and the contributors  that drank the Kool-aide and acted like it was a co-op were the first one to whine when they couldn't make the cut to Vetta and get the kind of money they photographers deserve, so are hanging out here patting themselves on the back and getting 2 bucks a dl. They standby here around and slam people that do the math and see that for them personally it makes more business sense to be exclusive. Rant over. And no I am not a newbie by any stretch. Having the best February ever and haven't even uploaded this year.

Maybe you are right. I do not know. But yet my post made only reflects my opinion. The post by the OP was far too surreal for me to be made by just someones personal opinion. However, you sound very frustrated in your post and I think the point of view of: "nobody is friendly and just ride the business until its dead" sounds very sad, so I apologize if my opinion is adding up to this ;-)

« Reply #37 on: February 26, 2013, 18:19 »
0
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....

It's comments like this that keep people from posting here. Absolutely unprofessional way to treat someone. I personnally would not give up exclusivity at iStock because from what I read here there is no way i would make nearly as much money as an independent unless I sold on my own and marketed myself. Just because it is not for you does not mean it is not for anyone else.. You have to be real good and have unique files. Istock is owned by a private equity firm. It has been for a long time. Don't expect them to coddle you, just ride the train for as long as the money comes in. No stock agency is going to coddle your butt and the contributors  that drank the Kool-aide and acted like it was a co-op were the first one to whine when they couldn't make the cut to Vetta and get the kind of money they photographers deserve, so are hanging out here patting themselves on the back and getting 2 bucks a dl. They standby here around and slam people that do the math and see that for them personally it makes more business sense to be exclusive. Rant over. And no I am not a newbie by any stretch. Having the best February ever and haven't even uploaded this year.

Maybe you are right. I do not know. But yet my post made only reflects my opinion. The post by the OP was far too surreal for me to be made by just someones personal opinion. However, you sound very frustrated in your post and I think the point of view of: "nobody is friendly and just ride the business until its dead" sounds very sad, so I apologize if my opinion is adding up to this ;-)
Well if you have an opinion then give it. Don't make some unfounded slander against the OP. Like offer experiences or knowledge. And if you are going to use quotation marks learn what they are for. Stick to copying and pasting when you quote instead of making up your own words. Sorry I sound a little cynical but it is no secret that private equity firms could care less about suppliers. So you don't expect much. It's business and you take some risks with whatever company you are with. The OP has looked at his sales and made some conclusions that thousands of others have made. I don't see anything surreal about that. Experiences may vary. Exclusivity at iStock is still a good choice for many and is certainly not a choker. Selling for 2 bucks when I am getting 20 makes no sense for me.

« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2013, 23:27 »
0
Those numbers at the right are not indicative for illustrators at all! Not even close. My humble opinion is that you are approaching this entirely wrong. You need to try some of the other smaller agencies and you need to add ITPC to your jpg thumbnails. Once you do this you will realize that IS is the worse place to be if you are trying to make the most efficient use of your uploading time. You should be able to upload 20 or so images to at least 10 or more sites while watching prime time television in one night.

FYI- for me SS is number 2 in earnings, DT is number 6, FT is number 11, and IS is number 9 and I can't even get around to VectorStock because of the pricing and PITA upload.

Granted my port size varies based on upload ease, rpd, and overall earnings but I've been tracking this long enough to know that using the table on the right is as an indicator of how to proceed is a massive mistake for illustrators.

Just my two cents.


Hey there! Thanks for the comment and your supplied data! I'm not using the poll results as the basis for my wanting to go exclusive - rather, it's mostly the reasons I've supplied in the original post. As much as Vectorstock is a pain, it's actually pretty good for sales. :D I'm making an average 7-10$ per day there with just 25 files. It appears to be swarming with buyers due to the low prices. If you've got a portfolio that are in the thousands, you should give it a shot.

Thank you for that point on using ITPC. I've yet to give it a shot since only 1 out of the 4 sites I currently submit to supports it (SS). It'll be useful if I do go the route to submitting to multiple sites.

Files on Shutterstock can be just removed from sale without removing them from the site. So if you want to try exclusivity, you don't have to quit Shutterstock actually.

I would try for a few month and see what happen, and if thing go bad, you quit exclusivity and  reactivate your Shutterstock files...

I don't know about the others sites though...


Thank you for this. It certainly doesn't hurt to give it a shot. As a previous poster mentioned, better I experiment now as a newbie rather than when I'm an established independent.

On the other hand, when I look at iStock's forums I find people reporting January to be their BME -- even though these instances are significantly fewer than those who're saying they're having the worst months. It's all very puzzling.

Interpreting other people's figures is more difficult than it looks. You need to know what media they're using, how many files they have on each site, how long they've been on each site (somight have images lightboxed) etc.
To give an extreme but true example: there's a habituee of the Alamy forum who ha regularly said how much more he earns at Alamy than iStock, which would be quite surprising to me on the face of it, but he has fewer than 20 files in iS, but thousands on Alamy. No kidding.
Exactly the same when interpreting the figures on the right, and the monthly reports here. No point in looking at someone's figures who has 2000 files at one agency for four years, and 500 on a other for six months. The raw figures tell you almost nothing.

Also, at what level are those who are reporting BMEs? If I had 5 sales last month and 10 this month, and have tripled my port from 10 to 30, that's not saying very much. Conversely, at least a couple of people who are reporting ever worsening months have hardly uploaded in two years.

FWIW, my BME was Nov 2008, then Oct 2008, then Nov 2009. But that has little relevance to other people.


I didn't go too much in-depth into researching those reporting their sales, but what I do notice is that they were mostly exclusives (this is on the iStock forums). A few of them would provide additional data such as when they last uploaded, but it's also very puzzling - some would cite a growth of +500 in their portfolio over the year but report a decrease in royalties. Here's one of the threads i've been alooking at - http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=351109&page=1 . Given how varied the data is, I try to take things with a pinch of salt and look at my own trends instead. :)

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....


It's comments like this that keep people from posting here. Absolutely unprofessional way to treat someone. I personnally would not give up exclusivity at iStock because from what I read here there is no way i would make nearly as much money as an independent unless I sold on my own and marketed myself. Just because it is not for you does not mean it is not for anyone else.. You have to be real good and have unique files. Istock is owned by a private equity firm. It has been for a long time. Don't expect them to coddle you, just ride the train for as long as the money comes in. No stock agency is going to coddle your butt and the contributors  that drank the Kool-aide and acted like it was a co-op were the first one to whine when they couldn't make the cut to Vetta and get the kind of money they photographers deserve, so are hanging out here patting themselves on the back and getting 2 bucks a dl. They standby here around and slam people that do the math and see that for them personally it makes more business sense to be exclusive. Rant over. And no I am not a newbie by any stretch. Having the best February ever and haven't even uploaded this year.


Maybe you are right. I do not know. But yet my post made only reflects my opinion. The post by the OP was far too surreal for me to be made by just someones personal opinion. However, you sound very frustrated in your post and I think the point of view of: "nobody is friendly and just ride the business until its dead" sounds very sad, so I apologize if my opinion is adding up to this ;-)

Well if you have an opinion then give it. Don't make some unfounded slander against the OP. Like offer experiences or knowledge. And if you are going to use quotation marks learn what they are for. Stick to copying and pasting when you quote instead of making up your own words. Sorry I sound a little cynical but it is no secret that private equity firms could care less about suppliers. So you don't expect much. It's business and you take some risks with whatever company you are with. The OP has looked at his sales and made some conclusions that thousands of others have made. I don't see anything surreal about that. Experiences may vary. Exclusivity at iStock is still a good choice for many and is certainly not a choker. Selling for 2 bucks when I am getting 20 makes no sense for me.


I've been trying to mostly ignore those specific comments you've brought up, but I thank you for stepping in anyways. It is good to hear that there are contributors still enjoying exclusivity - because that means that it's not all that bad, and there's still a chance to make it! Cheers. :)

Noedelhap

  • www.colincramm.com

« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2013, 23:32 »
+1
I'd suggest not going exclusive, but instead, upload to all top tier and mid tier sites.

VectorStock is -when uploading the normal way-, well, pure horror, but using StockSubmitter, you don't have to burden yourself with 380x400 resolution previews and stuff like that. It gets resized, zipped and submitted automatically by pressing literally one button. This goes for other sites requiring zipped files as well.

Get StockSubmitter, set it up, get familiar with it and optimize your keywording and uploading workflow. This will save you lots of time in the long run, especially for sites that have slow uploading via http.
I'm currently uploading to about 17 different sites, relatively easy.

« Reply #40 on: February 27, 2013, 11:58 »
0
If you're going to look to other's stats, I think it's important to not really compare yourself to photographers, but only to vector artists. The sites seem to have a very different market share for that market.

As far as exclusivity in general, I suggest not keeping 100% of your income from 1 site on a long-term basis. Looks like you're doing that with other jobs. And I think you're right to primarily use your own stats as the basis for your decision. Good luck!

« Reply #41 on: February 27, 2013, 12:25 »
0
Is that a banjo I hear playing?

« Reply #42 on: February 27, 2013, 18:09 »
0
If you're going to look to other's stats, I think it's important to not really compare yourself to photographers, but only to vector artists. The sites seem to have a very different market share for that market.

As far as exclusivity in general, I suggest not keeping 100% of your income from 1 site on a long-term basis. Looks like you're doing that with other jobs. And I think you're right to primarily use your own stats as the basis for your decision. Good luck!

Agreed.
Try excl out for a few months. But realize that being exclusive is like digging a hole. The longer you stay, the harder it is to get out.
I have no doubt you will make more $$$ than you are currently, considering your figures, unless best match kills your top file which should be a huge concern. Good luck!

« Reply #43 on: February 27, 2013, 22:39 »
0
I'd suggest not going exclusive, but instead, upload to all top tier and mid tier sites.

VectorStock is -when uploading the normal way-, well, pure horror, but using StockSubmitter, you don't have to burden yourself with 380x400 resolution previews and stuff like that. It gets resized, zipped and submitted automatically by pressing literally one button. This goes for other sites requiring zipped files as well.

Get StockSubmitter, set it up, get familiar with it and optimize your keywording and uploading workflow. This will save you lots of time in the long run, especially for sites that have slow uploading via http.
I'm currently uploading to about 17 different sites, relatively easy.

Thanks for the suggestion. I've not yet given StockSubmitter a proper try, shall do so in a bit. Could be a game changer! :)

If you're going to look to other's stats, I think it's important to not really compare yourself to photographers, but only to vector artists. The sites seem to have a very different market share for that market.

As far as exclusivity in general, I suggest not keeping 100% of your income from 1 site on a long-term basis. Looks like you're doing that with other jobs. And I think you're right to primarily use your own stats as the basis for your decision. Good luck!

Agreed.
Try excl out for a few months. But realize that being exclusive is like digging a hole. The longer you stay, the harder it is to get out.
I have no doubt you will make more $$$ than you are currently, considering your figures, unless best match kills your top file which should be a huge concern. Good luck!

Thanks for your input. Am I right to infer from your post that you regret going exclusive? :P I've seen your work around many time and always thought that you were pretty successful!

« Reply #44 on: February 28, 2013, 00:00 »
0
As much as Vectorstock is a pain, it's actually pretty good for sales. :D I'm making an average 7-10$ per day there with just 25 files. It appears to be swarming with buyers due to the low prices. If you've got a portfolio that are in the thousands, you should give it a shot.

Think about what your doing. By contributing to this site, you are training buyers that they can get decent files for dirt cheap prices. You are actually harming yourself in the long run. If enough established contributors start selling their stuff on this site, why would any buyer go anywhere else?

I've seen the overall quality improve on SS for the last few years when it comes to vectors. Pretty sure this attracted more buyers. Lets hope for all our futures sake, vectorstock prices don't become the industry standard. This is one site that really has no respect for the artist imo.

Poncke

« Reply #45 on: February 28, 2013, 15:08 »
+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....
So IS/GY get a guy to portray as a newbie with 250 dls to go exclusive and post a positive comment on MSG to fool hardened stock shooters to go exclusive or to turn the negative vibe about IS around?

LMFAO !!!! I am thinking tin foil hats.

« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2013, 09:43 »
0
As much as Vectorstock is a pain, it's actually pretty good for sales. :D I'm making an average 7-10$ per day there with just 25 files. It appears to be swarming with buyers due to the low prices. If you've got a portfolio that are in the thousands, you should give it a shot.

Think about what your doing. By contributing to this site, you are training buyers that they can get decent files for dirt cheap prices. You are actually harming yourself in the long run. If enough established contributors start selling their stuff on this site, why would any buyer go anywhere else?

I've seen the overall quality improve on SS for the last few years when it comes to vectors. Pretty sure this attracted more buyers. Lets hope for all our futures sake, vectorstock prices don't become the industry standard. This is one site that really has no respect for the artist imo.

Actually you make a little more per download than SS and that's at newbie status.

« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2013, 10:23 »
0
And if you factor in the subscription sales, well they really start looking good.

Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with you, and feel a sense of gilt having my vectors on SS and settling for $0.25 per download... I seem to get 90% subs.

« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2013, 11:00 »
0
At istock I have vectors and currently non-exclusive with vectors.

my $ per download for the last 12 vectors average  was $2.93, that includes 1 @ .65 and most @ 1.20, 3+, and 1 @ 4.95

I am exclusive with photos/raster illustrations and out of those 12 8 were rasters with an average payout per ea @ $4.60

I was one of those that was REALLY hit hard with the royalty change... Went from $900 to $300 a mo ave.

I have to tell you I sulked for almost 2years, time wasted ;)

I have learned I need to 1. Brand myself 2. Find a happy mediums that work for me.

Moderate to higher price with moderate DL volume

Or

Lower prices but with the high volume of DL to back it up. (This is why I am giving SS a go) why I left Fotolia, and why I want to leave 123rf  < I am like .80 from being able to cash out or loose $49 they won't let me pay a fee?! I'm stuck

Forgive the long windedness :)

Ron

« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2013, 11:18 »
0
At least you are a star in digging up old threads  ;)

tab62

« Reply #50 on: August 31, 2013, 12:10 »
0
"Is that a banjo I hear playing?"

and sequel like a pig in the movie 'Deliverance'...



« Reply #51 on: August 31, 2013, 12:11 »
0
I would also like to hear davidgoh's opinion about his move



« Reply #52 on: August 31, 2013, 14:11 »
+1
What a surprise to see this thread raised from the dead!

I would also like to hear davidgoh's opinion about his move

It's nice to hear that people are interested! :D I've been an IS exclusive for close to 6 months now, and it's been quite the rollercoaster ride so far. However, while I do have a lot of thoughts on exclusivity, I'm holding back for now as 6 months is a relatively short time, and as a stock illustrator (both non-ex and exclusive), I've not even made it to my one year anniversary.

I'd love to share my findings and opinions by the start of 2014, when I've had spent a full year in this industry. By then, I hope to have a more concrete opinion on whether or not exclusivity is a good idea.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 16:06 by davidgoh »

« Reply #53 on: August 31, 2013, 15:53 »
0
Yup I'm guilty of giving this thread CPR ;)

But honestly I find it still relevant and informative.

Thanks for sharing @ davidgoh, I look forward to hearing how it goes for you and wish you the best of success!

« Reply #54 on: August 31, 2013, 18:07 »
0

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.


And here's one statement I couldn't agree more with!  Especially when looking at the dismal sub rates to which so many - maybe all - stock agencies and sales volumes have progressively shifted.   Barring 1 or 2 agencies, such as SS perhaps, there seems to be no real contributor care in the overall business actions of  most stock agencies.   So .. go as exclusive as you want with any agency that takes your fancy - it may not really matter in the long run.  And you can always revert that decision if it doesn't work for you. ::)

« Reply #55 on: August 31, 2013, 18:29 »
+1
I have learned I need to 1. Brand myself

That sounds painful. I'm sure we'd all accept your identification without you having a hot iron stuck on your butt.

shudderstok

« Reply #56 on: August 31, 2013, 18:44 »
-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.

to correct you, it did work for him as an exclusive, until IS decided it was not in their best interest to work with him.
otherwise he would still be exclusive as it was not his unilateral choice to leave exclusivity.

Ron

« Reply #57 on: August 31, 2013, 18:46 »
+2
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.

to correct you, it did work for him as an exclusive, until IS decided it was not in their best interest to work with him.
otherwise he would still be exclusive as it was not his unilateral choice to leave exclusivity.
Thats exactly what Baldrick said!?

« Reply #58 on: August 31, 2013, 19:55 »
0
@Goatwyck lol funny!!

shudderstok

« Reply #59 on: August 31, 2013, 20:02 »
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.

to correct you, it did work for him as an exclusive, until IS decided it was not in their best interest to work with him.
otherwise he would still be exclusive as it was not his unilateral choice to leave exclusivity.
Thats exactly what Baldrick said!?

i know, i was quoting him. but also added to complete what baldrick omitted that he did not leave exclusivity by choice.


 

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