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Author Topic: Sales have tanked big time  (Read 103245 times)

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lagereek

« Reply #725 on: November 16, 2011, 04:52 »
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Quote from: Freedom
Rebecca seems to be prudent. At least, she has not caused any big drama yet, unless I miss something.

Unless I missed something she hasn't said much of anything yet, even with tanking prices and now the unexpected (untimely?) price increases on buyers. There's drama going on, just none that they're willing to admit. ;)

It would seem that she has recognised the pitfalls inherent in goofing around with the kids and trying to be a cool guy and has decided to sit in the background where she won't become a target.

... or she may have little spare time to attend to her new part-time position.

Yeah right, part-time position and thats all it is. Front figure until the heat has blown over and then she will be expandible.


« Reply #726 on: November 17, 2011, 07:23 »
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I'm wondering if I'm just suffering  the effects of 'sales having tanked big time' or if there is something else going on. Are iStock telling me to pack my bags and go?

I am exclusive to iStock but not very prolific with 2679 photo and video downloads over some 5 years as a contributor. However the income I receive is very important and more than just a bonus to me.

I would normally expect to earn around $50 to $100 in a week on 10 to 15 downloads. In the past eight days I have had just one download worth a pitiful 72 cents.  No amount of sales variation due to ebb and flow, satistical anomaly or even a world-wide economic crisis is going to cause such a massive, sudden  change in sales pattern over such a short period (by comparison the first week in November was normal for me and typical of recent times at IS).

Someone, somewhere seems to have pressed a button turning off my sales and presumably, for others like me.

Discussion on the iStock forums seems very muted overall and I know this topic would be killed immediqately, but  I really would like to know if I am alone in this experience.

I would have posted a new thread rather than digress on this one, but I have to  make a posting somewhere before I'm allowed to start a new thread and this one seemed the most relevant.

« Reply #727 on: November 17, 2011, 10:38 »
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I'm wondering if I'm just suffering  the effects of 'sales having tanked big time' or if there is something else going on. Are iStock telling me to pack my bags and go?

I am exclusive to iStock but not very prolific with 2679 photo and video downloads over some 5 years as a contributor. However the income I receive is very important and more than just a bonus to me.

I would normally expect to earn around $50 to $100 in a week on 10 to 15 downloads. In the past eight days I have had just one download worth a pitiful 72 cents.  No amount of sales variation due to ebb and flow, satistical anomaly or even a world-wide economic crisis is going to cause such a massive, sudden  change in sales pattern over such a short period (by comparison the first week in November was normal for me and typical of recent times at IS).

Someone, somewhere seems to have pressed a button turning off my sales and presumably, for others like me.

Discussion on the iStock forums seems very muted overall and I know this topic would be killed immediqately, but  I really would like to know if I am alone in this experience.

I would have posted a new thread rather than digress on this one, but I have to  make a posting somewhere before I'm allowed to start a new thread and this one seemed the most relevant.

Joe: Not sure the hate-istock thread/forum is the best place for this. But perhaps if you added a portfolio link to your profile you could get some constructive criticism. Without seeing it, my guess is that your portfolio is pretty small and depends a lot on the sales of a few older photos. Also normal fluctuations in sales happen all the time, a lot of Christmas purchasing is going on right now and maybe you don't have any Christmas images? I can only speculate. I can speak for me though that my sales are way up right now. In fact Tuesday was my highest download day ever, so there are plenty of buyers out there. I do have a large portfolio though. Hope that helps.

« Reply #728 on: November 17, 2011, 11:04 »
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I'm wondering if I'm just suffering  the effects of 'sales having tanked big time' or if there is something else going on. Are iStock telling me to pack my bags and go?

I am exclusive to iStock but not very prolific with 2679 photo and video downloads over some 5 years as a contributor. However the income I receive is very important and more than just a bonus to me.

I would normally expect to earn around $50 to $100 in a week on 10 to 15 downloads. In the past eight days I have had just one download worth a pitiful 72 cents.  No amount of sales variation due to ebb and flow, satistical anomaly or even a world-wide economic crisis is going to cause such a massive, sudden  change in sales pattern over such a short period (by comparison the first week in November was normal for me and typical of recent times at IS).

Someone, somewhere seems to have pressed a button turning off my sales and presumably, for others like me.

Discussion on the iStock forums seems very muted overall and I know this topic would be killed immediqately, but  I really would like to know if I am alone in this experience.

I would have posted a new thread rather than digress on this one, but I have to  make a posting somewhere before I'm allowed to start a new thread and this one seemed the most relevant.

Joe: Not sure the hate-istock thread/forum is the best place for this. But perhaps if you added a portfolio link to your profile you could get some constructive criticism. Without seeing it, my guess is that your portfolio is pretty small and depends a lot on the sales of a few older photos. Also normal fluctuations in sales happen all the time, a lot of Christmas purchasing is going on right now and maybe you don't have any Christmas images? I can only speculate. I can speak for me though that my sales are way up right now. In fact Tuesday was my highest download day ever, so there are plenty of buyers out there. I do have a large portfolio though. Hope that helps.

Many thanks f or your reply. You can see my iStock port easily by visiting the site as my member name is the same as the name I use here.  There are 940 videos and 740  photos with a wide range of topics so I'm used to a steady trickle of sales with little seasonal variation. I have only one image that has ever sold in any quantity so the effect if that slowing down is modest. The 8 day (getting on towards 9 days) drought is unprecedented for me since I had a very small portfolio in 2007.

« Reply #729 on: November 17, 2011, 11:24 »
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Many thanks f or your reply. You can see my iStock port easily by visiting the site as my member name is the same as the name I use here.  There are 940 videos and 740  photos with a wide range of topics so I'm used to a steady trickle of sales with little seasonal variation. I have only one image that has ever sold in any quantity so the effect if that slowing down is modest. The 8 day (getting on towards 9 days) drought is unprecedented for me since I had a very small portfolio in 2007.

I don't do much video so it's hard for me to comment on the larger portion of your port. But for the photos I suggest focusing on producing more 'stocky' type (like your store sign one) images and less travel stock, imo. As far as the 9 day drought goes, I'd wait to see how the month finishes out before drawing any conclusions. As you know, best match shifts do effect sales on a daily basis. For me, I haven't seen an overall slowdown like that.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #730 on: November 17, 2011, 12:02 »
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I'm wondering if I'm just suffering  the effects of 'sales having tanked big time' or if there is something else going on. Are iStock telling me to pack my bags and go?

I am exclusive to iStock but not very prolific with 2679 photo and video downloads over some 5 years as a contributor. However the income I receive is very important and more than just a bonus to me.

I would normally expect to earn around $50 to $100 in a week on 10 to 15 downloads. In the past eight days I have had just one download worth a pitiful 72 cents.  No amount of sales variation due to ebb and flow, satistical anomaly or even a world-wide economic crisis is going to cause such a massive, sudden  change in sales pattern over such a short period (by comparison the first week in November was normal for me and typical of recent times at IS).

Someone, somewhere seems to have pressed a button turning off my sales and presumably, for others like me.

Discussion on the iStock forums seems very muted overall and I know this topic would be killed immediqately, but  I really would like to know if I am alone in this experience.

I would have posted a new thread rather than digress on this one, but I have to  make a posting somewhere before I'm allowed to start a new thread and this one seemed the most relevant.

Joe: Not sure the hate-istock thread/forum is the best place for this. But perhaps if you added a portfolio link to your profile you could get some constructive criticism. Without seeing it, my guess is that your portfolio is pretty small and depends a lot on the sales of a few older photos. Also normal fluctuations in sales happen all the time, a lot of Christmas purchasing is going on right now and maybe you don't have any Christmas images? I can only speculate. I can speak for me though that my sales are way up right now. In fact Tuesday was my highest download day ever, so there are plenty of buyers out there. I do have a large portfolio though. Hope that helps.

good advice. I know many are seeing poor sales, and I'm not insensitive to that. but for the sake of reporting, my sales this month are very good, and very steady. this will be my BME. I don't have a ton of Christmas, I've got some new holiday stuff in queue. Fall files are selling well and a general mix of files, old and new.

« Reply #731 on: November 17, 2011, 12:13 »
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I'll throw my hat into this ring, because it is worth reporting that my sales are paltry as well.

So far in Nov 2011:  15 sales, $20.
Total for Nov 2010:  120 sales, $630.

You do the math.  On track for a 94% decrease (ok, I did the math for you).

Things that should be noted, however, to be completely transparent:

I am somewhat guilty of the 'riding on the coattails of old bestsellers', like SNP often brings up.  However, I kind of blame this on new-found difficulty of getting new images to take off, not a decrease in quality on my part.

I have a small portfolio, so while I have built up a decent "canister" level, I find it nearly impossible to excel in the new "royalty target" system, so my royalties were slashed and burned.

Due mainly to the above, I rescinded exclusivity, further slashing my royalties as well as my search result locations.

In Nov 2010 I had $107 of EL sales, but none so far in Nov 2011 (also perhaps due to rescinding exclusivity).


However, if we take away the $107, its still $523 vs $40.  Even if we assume my royalties have been cut by a factor of 3 (overexaggeration), it's 523 to 120.  Thats still a 77% decrease, so it's not ALL my fault (though I freely admit it partially is)

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #732 on: November 17, 2011, 12:23 »
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^ of course you're going to see wild fluctuations in a case where we're talking under 100 dls per month. that isn't meant as an insult. I realize many people don't do this full time and any income is counted on. however, it's not indicative of any trend. you can't possibly expect to maintain predictable sales at that level. it's just common sense. since 2005 you have added just 415 files to your portfolio.

« Reply #733 on: November 17, 2011, 12:39 »
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I'm aware of that.  But many people with small portfolios, in aggregate, can be as meaningful as several people with large ones.  Hence any data is useful for those wishing to compile a large picture.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #734 on: November 17, 2011, 13:12 »
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^ I definitely think all data is useful to some degree. IMO, it just isn't evidence of a trend as you've suggested. there are too many variables within individual portfolios first of all. I have more files than some contributors who are Black Diamond for example. and it has taken me four years to just about hit 25K. whereas some of our peers have long surpassed me with fewer files. that's the nature of the game. but there is a base level that needs to be met before any meaningful extrapolation can be done on sales data. I saw that within my own portfolio and dl rate.

« Reply #735 on: November 17, 2011, 13:36 »
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^ I definitely think all data is useful to some degree. IMO, it just isn't evidence of a trend as you've suggested. there are too many variables within individual portfolios first of all. I have more files than some contributors who are Black Diamond for example. and it has taken me four years to just about hit 25K. whereas some of our peers have long surpassed me with fewer files. that's the nature of the game. but there is a base level that needs to be met before any meaningful extrapolation can be done on sales data. I saw that within my own portfolio and dl rate.

Having a  large portfolio and a large number of downloads very effectively smooths out the bumps in demand and provides a more releaible body of data from which to analyse trends. Even so, I would contend that my portfolio, which has produced consistent sales patterns for several years, can give a meaningful indication. Downloads shouldn't just drop off a cliff to pretty well nothing if the only factor at stake is the statistical probability of making a sale given the portfolio size etc. What I am experiencing falls well outside what is statistically probable, even allowing for the relatvely small data sample.

Hence I am wondering if something has been changed either intentionally or unitentionally, which affects portfolios like mine disproportionately. If so, is it permanent or temporary? Is it accidental or deliberate? Do iStock want to discourage part time contributors with generalised imagery in favour of professionals? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope others will share their expeiences so I/we can get a feel of what is happening and make a decision on how to proceed. I'm grateful for the responses so far, but emulating the bigger guns isn't an option for me and I would be pleased to hear from others with modest portfolios (whether or not their experience is the  same as mine).

« Reply #736 on: November 17, 2011, 14:02 »
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I think that I saw more than a few video contributors complaining of big drops in sales, plus one person here talking about going independent for video and seeing much better sales elsewhere. I don't know anything about iStock video, but to the extent that video played a big role in your income, that might be one of the issues for you. If you look at the huge complaints from iStock vector contributors it does appear that sometimes one medium is hurting more than the site overall. I think the vector folks have been asking the same questions about what's up and if/when anyone at iStock plans to do anything about it.

Those whose sales are currently doing well obviously credit their great skill and hard work for that and therefore will be looking for it to be your fault that these changes have happened to you. I wouldn't argue the toss as it's tantamount to a discussion about religion and won't change anyone's mind.

I do think that when you see very strong performers and big guns (Nico blue and Sean - sjlocke - come to mind) struggling with drops in income even as their portfolio has grown, it suggests that there are some changes in the buyer patterns that we've seen in the past at iStock. There have been months worth of sales threads talking about erratic performance as well as drops overall.

My decision was to return to independence because I had lost confidence that if iStock did sort anything out, it would apply to me. I think there's a small subset of those people who used to be very successful there who can continue to be (Vetta/Agency heavies being the likely candidates). Leaving exclusivity really sucked, but I'm glad I did as I'm still confident it was the right thing for my type of work.

« Reply #737 on: November 17, 2011, 15:54 »
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...

Hence I am wondering if something has been changed either intentionally or unitentionally, which affects portfolios like mine disproportionately. If so, is it permanent or temporary? Is it accidental or deliberate? Do iStock want to discourage part time contributors with generalised imagery in favour of professionals? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope others will share their expeiences so I/we can get a feel of what is happening and make a decision on how to proceed. I'm grateful for the responses so far, but emulating the bigger guns isn't an option for me and I would be pleased to hear from others with modest portfolios (whether or not their experience is the  same as mine).

Nobody (except for insiders) knows the real story, but we have seen anecdotal evidence posted here by people with both large and small portfolios, plus internet traffic statistics have been posted, plus we've seen anecdotes about customers (and heard from contributors who are also buyers).  All of these data points, for what they are worth, seem to show that customers are leaving IS and shopping for content elsewhere.

Another piece of anecdotal evidence - I can't remember when was the last time I saw an ad for IS on another website, but yesterday I saw 2 or 3 of them on completely different websites.  Looks to me like they're trying to address the problem by doing more marketing.

Interestingly, the little thumbnails shown on the web ads were mostly my own photos.  I gather that there is some kind of web-sleuthing being done via cookies, which made the "smart" web ad software think that I was a customer who was interested in those particular photos, rather than being their author.  I guess that there is something of an ad blitz going on which is aimed at people who have at some time in the past visited istockphoto.com.

« Reply #738 on: November 17, 2011, 16:37 »
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^ I definitely think all data is useful to some degree. IMO, it just isn't evidence of a trend as you've suggested. there are too many variables within individual portfolios first of all. I have more files than some contributors who are Black Diamond for example. and it has taken me four years to just about hit 25K. whereas some of our peers have long surpassed me with fewer files. that's the nature of the game. but there is a base level that needs to be met before any meaningful extrapolation can be done on sales data. I saw that within my own portfolio and dl rate.

As we all know "a rising tide lifts all boats". When an agency is growing then it seems that almost all contributors report that they are doing well __ like SS contributors now for instance. However when an agency is doing not so well there will still be individual contributors who buck the trend by virtue of portfolio growth, increase in their commercial quality or a best match change in their favour (as many of us know that alone can add or remove 30%+ to income).

The evidence against IS, in terms of their sales, is now overwhelming. There was the RC target reduction last year (just 3 months after setting it), no increase in RC target for 2011, the replacement of the COO a few months ago, the traffic stat's from a host of independent sites as well as the disgruntled reports from most Diamond or BD contributors that bother to report at all. If you don't think all of that represents 'a trend' then fair enough. You'd have to be astonishingly optimistic or painfully naive to believe that everything is rosy in the Istock garden.

« Reply #739 on: November 17, 2011, 16:41 »
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For diamonds RC targets were increased by 25%...we will see how many make the cut this year. The other levels didnt change, that is true.

« Reply #740 on: November 17, 2011, 16:58 »
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For diamonds RC targets were increased by 25%...we will see how many make the cut this year. The other levels didnt change, that is true.

Ouch. I didn't realise that. Not being exclusive it didn't affect me.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #741 on: November 17, 2011, 18:06 »
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@ gostwyck: I agree that sales definitely seem to be affected for many contributors. I think it is entirely plausible that it is due to some buyers leaving. I wouldn't suggest everything is rosy at iStock. there are a number of issues facing contributors, without a doubt. whether or not the exodus of buyers is as epic as is being implied (or hoped for) by some here is not something any of us can really know. overall I don't know if sales are up or down for the site. one thing is for sure and that is the plight of the individual contributor is certainly of very little concern to TPTB versus the overall health of the business. that is an approach that is severely self-limiting.

@ Joann: you seem to feel you can pontificate as much as you wish, heaven forbid anyone might challenge your position. your comment about hard work--those are your words. you also continue to use Sean and Nico Blue as your examples. they can speak for themselves about why they fee they've lost sales. there's no blanket reason as I stated earlier, very clearly. IMO however, I think it is entirely fair and accurate to point out that a number of contributors complaining loudly are contributors with too few files to expect regular, steady sales. say what you will, but it is obviously a factor when someone uploads less than a few hundred files per year. I'm not attaching any sort of value judgment to that, it is just numbers. sorry if you feel someone is saying you're not working had enough.

« Reply #742 on: November 17, 2011, 20:19 »
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pontificate is officially my new favorite word!  but let's keep it civil, I've really been enjoying this dialogue so far.  It is almost unheard of for someone to rise to success and then not want to defend their business decisions, which explains both of your vehemency. 

As for me, I do work my ass off.... but at my real job.  So you (SNP) are right about that.  And I understand that you understand there are many people like me -- I didnt take offense to anything you've said.  And I also understand that because of the way I approach stock, my data may be next-to-meaningless for someone like you, JoAnn, sjlocke, etc.  But that doesn't mean it's meaningless for everyone.  It is perfect data for someone, who, say, is attempting to paint a picture for approaching stock the way I do.  And there are a LOT of people like that.  I also agree that there may be (but also, there could not be) a larger variance of income between contributors my size than massive contributors.  But that just means said data-compiler just needs to find more examples.  Not that he needs to find data from larger contributors.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #743 on: November 17, 2011, 22:59 »
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I don't disagree with you. Again, it has nothing to do with 'working hard'. But the reality is that perception is based on how you contribute and what percentage of your income you're referring to. For those of us whose main source of income is exclusive royalties from istock, you can understand that we're analyzing data all the time and watching reports of sales drops from everyone. it's too bad we gave so little access to company numbers. our sales data us somewhat useless without that information

lagereek

« Reply #744 on: November 18, 2011, 01:14 »
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@ gostwyck: I agree that sales definitely seem to be affected for many contributors. I think it is entirely plausible that it is due to some buyers leaving. I wouldn't suggest everything is rosy at iStock. there are a number of issues facing contributors, without a doubt. whether or not the exodus of buyers is as epic as is being implied (or hoped for) by some here is not something any of us can really know. overall I don't know if sales are up or down for the site. one thing is for sure and that is the plight of the individual contributor is certainly of very little concern to TPTB versus the overall health of the business. that is an approach that is severely self-limiting.

@ Joann: you seem to feel you can pontificate as much as you wish, heaven forbid anyone might challenge your position. your comment about hard work--those are your words. you also continue to use Sean and Nico Blue as your examples. they can speak for themselves about why they fee they've lost sales. there's no blanket reason as I stated earlier, very clearly. IMO however, I think it is entirely fair and accurate to point out that a number of contributors complaining loudly are contributors with too few files to expect regular, steady sales. say what you will, but it is obviously a factor when someone uploads less than a few hundred files per year. I'm not attaching any sort of value judgment to that, it is just numbers. sorry if you feel someone is saying you're not working had enough.

Hi Stacey!  how goes?

well, that might be true in other places or here perhaps but if you look at the IS, October thread,  my God!  every single high ranking Diamond and Gold contributor is complaining of fallen sales, the only ones there reporting an increase are the lower cannisters.

« Reply #745 on: November 18, 2011, 01:32 »
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the only ones there reporting an increase are the lower cannisters.

Exactly - contributors who really have nowhere to go but up. As a gold indpendent, my sales have fallen 85% in a year and a half. I will not remove my port (unless they make me of course) cause I still earn just enough for a monthly payout (though that will likely disappear quickly too) but I really am totally dis-incentivised to upload anything to IS. 

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #746 on: November 18, 2011, 02:41 »
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Hi Stacey!  how goes?

well, that might be true in other places or here perhaps but if you look at the IS, October thread,  my God!  every single high ranking Diamond and Gold contributor is complaining of fallen sales, the only ones there reporting an increase are the lower cannisters.

:-) I'm not disputing drops in sales, nor that buyers are leaving. that in itself is not meaningful. what would be meaningful would be a comparison of new buyers:buyers lost for every year. I think it's an inevitable state for some high ranking contributors to be seeing a decrease in dls, because portfolios are growing at slower rates than the collection as a whole. I think major contributors who began in the early days were used to an incredible rate of growth that had to eventually decrease. there's so much competition for contributors that didn't have much competition in the early days. I suspect that decrease will level out or fluctuate at some point. I don't think it is boiling down to nothing, which is often implied. either those contributors will get fed up and go independent, or sales will level out and increase again as new contributors get more and more weary about how much more difficult it is to establish a solid footing these days.

to your other point, it's fair to say that many of those reporting massive DROPS in income are also lower canisters whose entire downloads total 5-100 dls per month. a fluctuation of five or six dls per month has them reporting astronomical losses or major increases in percentages, which gives a skewed perception of what is happening on the whole. there are also a number of high ranking diamonds who are reporting good sales.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 02:43 by SNP »

lagereek

« Reply #747 on: November 18, 2011, 02:41 »
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I know and as a Diamond merchant, my sales have fallen, well at least by 50% but Ive been lucky on the other hand SS, FT and DT, have together, increased by at least 50%, so its no real damage.

What amazes me is that IS have built all this paraphernalia around a pittyful number of 5000 exclusives, thats all, and of these 5000,  I bet only around 1000, are heavy suppliers and something to count and rely on. Well, IMO, thats a very, very fragile platform, more like a walk on egg-shells, I would say. All that needs are a few of the very top-contributors bailing out and that platform will shake in its foundations. Very fragile situation indeed.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #748 on: November 18, 2011, 02:47 »
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I know and as a Diamond merchant, my sales have fallen, well at least by 50% but Ive been lucky on the other hand SS, FT and DT, have together, increased by at least 50%, so its no real damage.

What amazes me is that IS have built all this paraphernalia around a pittyful number of 5000 exclusives, thats all, and of these 5000,  I bet only around 1000, are heavy suppliers and something to count and rely on. Well, IMO, thats a very, very fragile platform, more like a walk on egg-shells, I would say. All that needs are a few of the very top-contributors bailing out and that platform will shake in its foundations. Very fragile situation indeed.

I don't disagree. but it's not a labour union. I don't think you'll see any major contributors willing to take an income hit for the team, and frankly why should they? we're all in it for ourselves. part of taking care of my business is the health of the contributor community and I understand that. but we're all so different, approaching this from so many perspectives, that any sort of consensus would be impossible. so you're right. until there is a massive movement by the highest ranking producers, nothing will change and maybe there's a reason why they haven't moved (yet). maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. who knows.

wut

« Reply #749 on: November 18, 2011, 05:05 »
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I think it is entirely fair and accurate to point out that a number of contributors complaining loudly are contributors with too few files to expect regular, steady sales. say what you will, but it is obviously a factor when someone uploads less than a few hundred files per year.

Why do you think a few hundred ultra high quality, super conceptual and edgy images wouldn't be enough? I think you can earn more by adding 400 stunning images than 2000, that are good, but not really special and standing out. And usually those that upload as much as 2k/year don't do creative stuff, mostly boring studio isolations etc. Or even if it's high quality and diverse like Sean's it looks like it's not enough. But it could be if a tog could make 400 awesome, mostly A/V files.


 

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