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Author Topic: To go exclusive or not?  (Read 7692 times)

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« on: January 18, 2010, 05:31 »
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Well, with the new canister levels taking effect in just over a month now I need to either commit to being exclusive or commit to being independent. So here is my situation and I hope you will share your opinion on what I should do.

First off, I'm just a small fry doing this as a hobby. I started in 2007 and haven't really uploaded much in the past year. I do still keep up to date with whats going on and will certainly upload more in the future. I don't make a whole lot off microstock but as a college student the extra couple hundred dollars a month do make a difference. (no student loans!)

I am just a bronze canister on IS with ~800 downloads and am unlikely to obtain silver for at least another year. (assuming I do go exclusive and am grandfathered into the current levels) Over the past year the percentage of my earnings coming from IS has consistently increased and is currently at around 40%.

What I am trying to decide is just how much my earnings will increase if I do go exclusive. If it doubles then that would be a 20% loss over being independent. I know it is impossible to estimate just how much the increase will be but perhaps some of you who recently have gone exclusive can shed some light on this. Some of the recent changes IS have made have likely widened this gap (vetta, 2010 pricing) and I will take that into account.

My biggest problem with IS is their hatred for raster illustrations. Getting them accepted is incredibly difficult. And because of that, I only have 64 images online at IS compared to 300+ at most others. (Admittedly 50-100 of those 300 are crap that I made in 2007 when pretty much anything would sell at SS) You might ask why I even bother uploading raster illustrations and the answer is -- the ones that do get accepted sell great. Yea yea I know the reason they sell great is likely because they are picky so there is less competition. Even so it is still frustrating getting constant rejections and having to send scout requests.

I do submit photos as well though, and I don't have a problem getting them accepted. I would submit more photos but as a college student I don't have the money to travel and I'm not too fond of studio work. OK I'm lazy too but that should be a given.  :-X

So that is pretty much where I stand. I love IS for the professionalism and earnings potential. I hate IS for their raster illustration policy.

Fortunately because I have uploaded so little in the past year, I shouldn't have a problem deleting/disabling my portfolio from DT and BigStock in time. (I already missed the deadline for requesting an extension to the February 24th cutoff)

So what do you think?


« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 05:57 »
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(I already missed the deadline for requesting an extension to the February 24th cutoff)


No, the deadline was extended to January 31. See Rob Sylvan's post in this thread:
http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/is-canister-grandfathering-requires-exclusivity-commitment/50

With regards to the raster illustrations question: So why is it that you wouldn't do some in a vector software? I can see some of your illustrations on other sites that could be done as vector. And as a vector image offers better value to the customer, why not do it?

« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 07:35 »
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If you are willing to give up submitting raster illustrations in exchange for more money from IS, then the answer would be go exclusive. If you really enjoy raster illustrations and want to branch out even more in that area, I would say stay independent and forget about the extra money from IS.

Remember, even if you go exclusive with IS and you find it's not working, you can always go back to being independent. A lot of extra work and time, but it might be worth it to you to be able to pinpoint exactly what makes you happy and which direction you need to go in.

And the paperwork you submit to IS by Jan. 31 is only to hold your current canister level, should you decide to go exclusive, which must take place by Aug. I think it is. If you submit to DT, you still have months to decide on going exclusive. If you choose not to go exclusive with IS, you lose your canister level, that's all.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 07:38 by cclapper »

WarrenPrice

« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 10:38 »
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Do you sell at DT?  They now have app that calculates how much MORE you would be making as an exclusive.  Maybe you could use those numbers and convert them to IS data?

For me, the DT function only convinced me to stay independent.  Or, if going exclusive, go to IS.   :P

« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 11:23 »
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Well, you're bronze, so I wouldn't worry about the lock in deadline too much. The bar to Silver hasn't really been raised that much higher.

As far as decision making, I'd run the numbers to get an idea of how much you will be making. I think I did an average of percent increase between all the price levels. Then, multiplied that by my earnings last year. I would guess that at your lower canister level and smaller portfolio, you would make less. Just a guess though.

I think the point about rejections is important. That was definitely a factor for me in choosing to stay independent. iStock has been rejecting more of my files, so having a bunch of files that I can't sell anywhere would hurt.

On the for side, I would assume it is easier to make the transition now when you are running a smaller operation. My biggest fear for going exclusive was the transition would kill my income for a couple months until everything was up and running smoothly.

« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2010, 12:42 »
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And the paperwork you submit to IS by Jan. 31 is only to hold your current canister level, should you decide to go exclusive, which must take place by Aug. I think it is.

No. Everybody keeps their CURRENT canister. The exclusives (and those who apply for exclusivity before the deadlines) will also be grandfathered into the NEXT canister level. So someone at bronze will stay bronze. And an exclusive bronze member will turn silver at 2500 downloads, even if the new requirement will be 5000.

RT


« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2010, 13:46 »
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Do you sell at DT?  They now have app that calculates how much MORE you would be making as an exclusive.  Maybe you could use those numbers and convert them to IS data?

For me, the DT function only convinced me to stay independent.  Or, if going exclusive, go to IS.   :P

Haha same for me, the difference between what I've made as a non-exclusive and what I would have made as an exclusive on DT in the three years I've been there was actually less than I make on iS in one month  :D It's almost as if iS have paid DT to put it there to help those who were unsure about going exclusive.

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2010, 13:54 »
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Once you go exclusive with iStock...can you decide it doesn't work for you then change it with a new portfolio or are you locked into it forever?

« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2010, 14:22 »
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Once you go exclusive with iStock...can you decide it doesn't work for you then change it with a new portfolio or are you locked into it forever?

I don't understand the question.   What do you mean, change it?

« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2010, 14:24 »
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I've always believed that exclusivity with any one agency is inherently more risky than remaining independent, especially in a relatively new and developing market such as this, and particularly so if your microstock earnings are a significant part of your income.

However I've no problem in taking a risk, provided that an increased reward is on offer __ which up until now it has not. I never saw the point in taking the risk and losing 20%+ of your potential earnings. That made no sense at all to me. Last year IS averaged 37.6% of my total stock earnings.

I am intrigued by Istocks latest initiative so I ran some numbers to see what the effect might be. Firstly I checked out the sizes that my images sold in. I monitored 120 sales on my own popular images and those worked out as follows;

XS - 44
Sm - 31
Me - 28
Lg - 15
XL - 2

Applied to the new price structure those sales would consume 495 credits for non-exc images or 796 credits for exc images __ that's an increase of 61%.

I then applied that 61% increase to my IS earnings for the last year, as if I'd been a Diamond exclusive, and I found that the new price structure would theoretically have produced an overall increase of 22% in my total earnings.

Of course these figures assume that everything else remains the same. In truth a relatively small change in buyers' habits, such as migrating to other agencies and/or to cheaper non-exc images, could easily wipe out some or all of those gains.

I think it is likely that the new price structure would ensure an increase in overall earnings, for those choosing exclusivity now, but possibly only by about 10-15%. The Exc+ collection, when it is introduced, could mean another huge increase too although how many buyers may get annoyed by another hefty price increase is anyone's guess.

On the other hand I'm pretty sure that some significant independent contributors will choose exclusivity __ and that could actually increase earnings for those of us that remain independent. For example I've got a particularly close competitor in many of my niche subjects and I'd be delighted to see their (excellent) images disappear from most of the agencies.

I'm also hoping that SS will respond to even up the playing field too __ it's two years since we've had an increase there so it is well overdue. FT have demonstrated themselves to be an extremely ambitious and ruthless competitor to IS too and it is not inconceivable to me that they could overtake IS some time in the future.

In my experience the market has a habit of adjusting to maintain the status quo. I suspect that as a Diamond-level contributor you might now make slightly more money than if you remained independent but probably not enough of a difference, at least for me, to make that step.

« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2010, 15:16 »
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OK thank you all for the comments. I did what you suggested gostwyck and ran some numbers to see how much I would have made this past month if I had been a bronze exclusive. It looks like the 5% commission increase and the increase in file prices will about double my income. That puts me at earning ~80% of what I currently am as an independent.

BUT, that doesn't account for a more favorable search placing and vetta. What effect those will have is pretty much impossible to figure out. Perhaps some of you could share your experience with this?

If it adds an additional 20% then I obviously wouldn't be losing anything.


« Last Edit: January 18, 2010, 15:20 by Kngkyle »

« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2010, 15:41 »
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Once you go exclusive with iStock...can you decide it doesn't work for you then change it with a new portfolio or are you locked into it forever?

You can decide to retreat from exclusivity anytime with 30 days notice. So if you decide exclusivity is not the right thing for you, you can change your mind. And iStock will even take you back as exclusive if you decide 3 months later that the experience wasn't worth it. ;-)

« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2010, 15:59 »
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OK thank you all for the comments. I did what you suggested gostwyck and ran some numbers to see how much I would have made this past month if I had been a bronze exclusive. It looks like the 5% commission increase and the increase in file prices will about double my income. That puts me at earning ~80% of what I currently am as an independent.

BUT, that doesn't account for a more favorable search placing and vetta. What effect those will have is pretty much impossible to figure out. Perhaps some of you could share your experience with this?

If it adds an additional 20% then I obviously wouldn't be losing anything.

I didn't had any Vetta approved yet on 3 submitted. Maybe it's because they were older than 1 year files or had more than 100 downloads. Or they suck... i don't know. Anyway from now on I have no Vetta. I would say it's quite hard to make it if you have no images with models, but this is only my personal experience.

It's true that you get better search placement, I do noticed that. I also noticed that Earning/download are great, even more at small sizes. But I can't tell if it's really advantaging, I only been a half month exclusive yet

« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2010, 00:38 »
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Well, right now I am leaning towards going exclusive. But I am a big chicken and don't want to commit to it. I'll just keep thinking about it for the next few days I suppose.

« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2010, 04:05 »
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I'm interested in how you produce your raster illustrations. There has already been a suggestion to try to contribute vectors instead (admittedly not easy to get accpeted as a vector contributor). Another possibility is to do 3D work and submit as rasters (see, for example, the portfolio of enot-poloskun and similar artists. If you're a student in the graphics area it might be well worth your while exploring these options. If not, and you have a simple way of creating raster illustrations, then istock is not a good place for you.

« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 04:31 »
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I didn't had any Vetta approved yet on 3 submitted. Maybe it's because they were older than 1 year files or had more than 100 downloads. Or they suck... i don't know. Anyway from now on I have no Vetta. I would say it's quite hard to make it if you have no images with models, but this is only my personal experience.

According to Kelly Tompson's year-end statement: "Less than 10% of the images submitted for Vetta have made it into the collection". I proposed almost 20 of my images before the first one got accepted. So keep submitting your very best ones, eventually one will qualify. ;)

With regards to the second statement, there have been quite a few examples of images without any people which became a huge success in Vetta, selling hundreds of times. So models are definitely not a key requirement for Vetta.

Caz

« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2010, 04:59 »
0

I am intrigued by Istocks latest initiative so I ran some numbers to see what the effect might be. Firstly I checked out the sizes that my images sold in. I monitored 120 sales on my own popular images and those worked out as follows;

XS - 44
Sm - 31
Me - 28
Lg - 15
XL - 2

Applied to the new price structure those sales would consume 495 credits for non-exc images or 796 credits for exc images __ that's an increase of 61%.

I then applied that 61% increase to my IS earnings for the last year, as if I'd been a Diamond exclusive, and I found that the new price structure would theoretically have produced an overall increase of 22% in my total earnings.


The figure that you're missing is Vetta. I just did a quick calculation, Vetta sales accounted for 25% of my income in the last 7 days (and it was an average week). Not being able to access this much higher revenue stream is an important factor.

« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2010, 09:48 »
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If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.


donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2010, 10:20 »
0
Once you go exclusive with iStock...can you decide it doesn't work for you then change it with a new portfolio or are you locked into it forever?

You can decide to retreat from exclusivity anytime with 30 days notice. So if you decide exclusivity is not the right thing for you, you can change your mind. And iStock will even take you back as exclusive if you decide 3 months later that the experience wasn't worth it. ;-)
Thanks for that info. That might very well help me decide rather to go or not, which I might consider in the future. I was afraid it was like when you purchase something as is...there is no going back. I'm glad they have a policy like that.

« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2010, 11:53 »
0
If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.


Partner sites, and what you have to do get rid of your images on them, have been talked about many times - here's an example:
http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/exclusive-preparations

Too bad you didn't check here first.

« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2010, 12:15 »
0
If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.


Partner sites, and what you have to do get rid of your images on them, have been talked about many times - here's an example:
http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/exclusive-preparations

Too bad you didn't check here first.



But with Fotolia's partner sites is not easy.   I closed my Fotolia account some months ago and some Fotolia partner sites still display my images   >:(    All images have been removed from the portfolios, but the URLs of each image are still online, and Google has them indexed already.

And this happen to anyone who removes images from Fotolia, not just me.  Partner sites do not remove individual URLs.! 

I've contacted Fotolia many times, and they always say they will be removed... but nothing happens. 


« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2010, 21:43 »
0
If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.


Partner sites, and what you have to do get rid of your images on them, have been talked about many times - here's an example:
http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/exclusive-preparations

Too bad you didn't check here first.



But with Fotolia's partner sites is not easy.   I closed my Fotolia account some months ago and some Fotolia partner sites still display my images   >:(    All images have been removed from the portfolios, but the URLs of each image are still online, and Google has them indexed already.

And this happen to anyone who removes images from Fotolia, not just me.  Partner sites do not remove individual URLs.! 

I've contacted Fotolia many times, and they always say they will be removed... but nothing happens. 




Bah. We'll I might end up having to ask for the extension then. It's going to be very frustrating if I have to wait weeks for them to remove them from partner sites.

« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2010, 06:32 »
0
If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.



Pixmac are actually pretty quick to remove any thumbnails from their site if you contact them directly - they removed mine within 24hrs. (Incidentally, if I remember correctly from what I read on their site, they don't actually host the full size files, only the thumbnails - any sales you make at Pixmac go directly onto your Fotolia balance).

I was in the same boat as you (rejected for exclusivity because of thumbnails on Pixmac) and the 90 day waiting period was reset on iStock - my heart sank, thinking I'd have to wait the whole 90 days, but it's only a temporary reset until iStock can see the thumbnails have been removed. It only took a day for iStock to see that my thumbnails had gone from Pixmac and my exclusivity application was then approved.  :)

« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2010, 07:22 »
0
If you choose to go exclusive be extremely careful deleting your files.  Partner sites like pixmac are slow to remove files.  I deleted my files from fotolia two weeks ago and had my istock application rejected because pixmac still had them  I'd never even heard of them.

Am now stuck waiting for the 90 day rule.  Hope there is a way around it.

It would be good to have a list of these partner sites so we can check them.



Have you asked IS Support?  They may relax the 90 day rule for a genuine mistake through no fault of yours.

« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2010, 13:48 »
0
I found a thumbnail of one of my images on Pixmac yesterday.  I emailed both Pixmac and FT.  I received a message back from FT saying that they had "forwarded your request to our engineers for review."  I just checked and the thumbnail is gone and the entire gallery is gone. 


 

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