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Messages - hatman12

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I went non-exclusive just over three years ago.  It's been a struggle.  I took the decision to upload to the new agencies gradually over time, picking the seasons etc.  I did a lot of rekeywording, eliminating most of the special words phrases etc used by iStock.  I also reprocessed many older photos.

After three years I'll guess that my income is about the same as it would have been had I stayed exclusive.  Difficult to tell because I know sales and income for most people at iStock have fallen gently over that period.  I am not making the same as I used to make three/four years back as an exclusive, but the overall market has declined/become saturated.

I am happier as a non-exclusive because I used to worry a lot about what was happening at iStock and watching the gradual decline.  Now I don't have all my eggs in that basket.  However, becoming non-exclusive is a very difficult task if done properly.  And if you decide to spread uploads over the seasons, income in that first year will be low.  You need to have a money reserve.

Not easy.  In many ways I am happier but I am disappointed with my income.  I suspect the market will continue to decline over the coming years.

Fuji X-T2.  Wonderful camera.

3 / Re: huge sales drop for new images
« on: June 28, 2018, 18:43 »
Almost nothing I've uploaded in the past month has made a sale.  Everything appears to have disappeared into a black hole.

I've uploaded close to 1,000 new files to iStock in the past few months.  Most of these files have no views or sales.  A few (a handful) have generated good sales, but most of my new uploads to iStock seem to disappear into a black hole of nothingness.  I've tried all the variations - lots of keywords, minimal keywords, small batches etc but nothing seems to make any difference.  My feeling is that the keyword priority system that they broke years ago remains broken.

Frankly for the miniscule increase in income generated by all these uploads I'm really wasting my time and effort.  And in fact my income for the current month looks like it will be significantly lower than June last year (this assumption is based on declining views shown by DeepMeta).

Stock media has been dying from the day that stock media came into existence. Well, it has and it hasn't. The need for stock has been increasing gradually over the years. More channels, more shows, bigger audiences, more Youtube videos etc etc. So stock media is very much alive and well.

It's just the same old story of more and more competition when it comes to the people that sell stock media. There's no way to keep up with the increase in competition, so everyone gets a slightly smaller slice of the pie year over year. It's the same for everyone.... tv channels, slightly more viewers over the years, but more channels and more shows. Youtube channels... slightly more Youtube viewers over the years, but loads more channels and videos. There's not much that can be done about that.

Make more content than you did last year, make better content than you did last year, make sure you're on the sites you should be and not on the sites you shouldn't, revisit your descriptions, keywords, titles, think about branding, streamlining your working practices to make everything more efficient, consider cost-effective marketing, look for ways to maximise profits and minimise costs, add value, see what your competition are doing, review prices on sites where you can set your own, both from a time standpoint and a financial one, look for additional ways your work could be bringing in money, etc etc etc.

And if you've done all that and you still eventually get to the point where it's no longer worth while... then at least you'll know you did everything you could. You can then tip your hat to the world of stock media, say "Well, it was fun while it lasted kid. So long", and then turn your back before walking off into the mist. Or do what I'll do... say "See ya around suckers!" and fly off in my spaceship clutching a cheap bottle of wine in each paw.   

Entirely agree.

But the problem is that supply is accelerating and it's impossible to keep up.  I believe at the last market report Shutterstock said that the library had increased by about 40% but sales only by 2%.  This means that in order to just stand still one has to increase one's portfolio by 40% or so.

I accept that higher quality, more attractive concepts etc should eventually produce results better than the run-of-the-mill stuff being uploaded by many, but the problem of visibility arises - even the best work won't sell if it's drowned by millions of other images.

However, yours is a generally positive analysis and I agree - all we can do is try to produce good quality work and hope for the best.  Unfortunately even that approach is likely to end in disappointment in the long term.

6 / Re: YTD counter working on ESP??
« on: June 12, 2018, 22:04 »
Seems strange that it suddenly stops working on June 1st, and the DeepMeta views counter stops at the same time.  Still, this is iStock and as we know anything can and will happen particularly in the IT side of things.  Hopefully these things are just broken and not updating, but unfortunately we won't know the true situation until the June statements are published, which won't be until July 20th.  So glad I went non-exclusive three years ago.  Okay, being non-exclusive hasn't been greener grass and it's a bit of a struggle, but at least I don't lay awake at night wondering what the next iStock nightmare will be.

Newbie Discussion / Re: 'noise/grain' rejections
« on: June 12, 2018, 06:37 »
What camera/lens etc are you using?

8 / Re: YTD counter working on ESP??
« on: June 12, 2018, 01:40 »
Eventually it was officially revealed that it's not working.
I read about someone else who can't get onto the forum, despite help from support.

Is the DeepMeta view counter broken too?

9 / Re: YTD counter working on ESP??
« on: June 11, 2018, 21:22 »
Same here.  Sales numbers have absolutely plummeted since June 1st.  Usually I see about 20-30 sales per day, but since June 1st that has changed to only 2-3 per day, a drop of 80% or so.

Unfortunately the sales  numbers are confirmed by the views shown by Deepmeta - for the last few months my Deepmeta views have been showing about 2200-2500 over the past 30 days but that is now dropping rapidly, down to 1860 or so and falling.

Looks like something significant happened on June 1st.

I'd really like to think that is some sort of glitch, but my gut fell given my experiences with iStock over a twelve year period is that we've been screwed big time.  Hope I'm wrong and it's just a temporary thing.

Adobe Stock / Re: Poor $ week on fotolia
« on: May 21, 2018, 22:19 »
I am following this thread with interest. I'm seeing growth in many accounts but would like to understand why some of you are not.

@Madman will you answer the following questions for me please?

How many files are in your account?
How long has it been since you have submitted new content?
When you most recently submitted new content, how many files did you submit?
Have you synced your Fotolia account with Adobe Stock yet?
If not, why not? 



Mat, I'm having a similar experience.  Up until last summer I was delighted with the growth at Fotolia.  Then, quite suddenly, sales dropped and have remained at lower levels.  I have continued to upload what I believe is quality work, and yes I am synched with Adobe.  However my sales and income are now only 50% - 65% of previous experience.  US sales have declined significantly and I suspect that some sort of location based search parameter has been introduced which has reduced my sales (but perhaps not for others).  I am based in South Korea but all my work is produced for the European and American markets.

Up until last summer I could happily sell 30-45 images most days.  Nowadays that has reduced to the 15- 25 range, so clearly something has happened.

Thanks for your help as always.

Cameras / Lenses / Re: Pentax 645z opinions?
« on: May 20, 2018, 23:46 »
Fuji GFX.  But the lenses are very expensive.

Don't waste your money unless you are able to upload to Macro agencies who sell to the big advertising world.

Years ago some agencies such as iStock gave search priority to XXXL images but that was when the largest sensor sizes were 16-21mp.  Nowadays most APS-C sensors exceed those sizes.  And the quality of APS-C is now similar or better than the full frame sensors of seven or eight years ago.

Bear in mind that the market has changed and many web sites, newspapers etc actually use a huge number of shots taken on mobile phones - the quality and size issue seems to have been replaced by 'modern approach and style' considerations.

I recently sold my Canon full frame gear and changed to Fuji X-T2.  The quality from RAW is as good if not better than my old Canon and I am delighted with the change.

Spending more money on better equipment is tempting, but it is the content of the image that will make the sale regardless of size.

Canva / Re: Canva
« on: May 20, 2018, 21:26 »
Well this is potentially very disappointing news for those of us who have worked hard to build portfolios at Canva.  It's good that Canva have said that all existing Canva images will be prioritised, so perhaps the impact won't be too bad.  But it's a worry.  At best there will be some slight dilution, but at worst a complete decimation of current sales and incomes.  I suppose it all depends on how the arrangement is implemented - if it's through an additional link that takes the customer off to the iStock web site to import into Canva perhaps that won't be so bad.  But if the arrangement involves importing the entire iStock catalog into Canva then I can't see how that can result in anything but reduced sales for current Canva contributors.  Presumably more information will become available in due course.

Adobe Stock / Reached Emerald: should I increase prices?
« on: March 21, 2018, 23:47 »
Reached Emerald status a few weeks ago and wondering whether I should increases prices from the basic 1 credit to 2 credits.  I'm undecided - on the one hand I'd like to try for higher income, but on the other hand I don't want to destroy sales.

Do any other Emeralds have experience they'd like to share?

15 / Re: Deepmeta bug: Error 422 keywords
« on: February 26, 2018, 02:23 »
I've had a similar report before. I'll do some investigation.
Thanks for reporting!

Still getting this problem - half the keywords appear in Spanish not English.  Appears to be random and doesn't affect all files.  Preference keyword language is English.

16 / Shutterstock keywords not changing order
« on: February 21, 2018, 03:48 »
Over the years I've noticed that when sales are made the keyword order of images gradually changes from alphabetical to 'most popular'.  That also has something to do with search placement for those most popular keywords.

However over the past two or three months I've noticed that the keyword order for new uploads isn't changing and remains alphabetical even for images that have sold a few times.  I've also found that instead of new images with sales gradually becoming more popular, they sell a few times then disappear.  I wonder if this is also something to do with the keyword order not changing.

Has anyone noticed something similar?

I recall that years and years ago many contributors to iStock were complaining about 'good days followed by bad days'.  I experienced it myself - a couple of really good days would be followed by a sudden bad day.  It all smacked of income limiting and was very obvious at the time.

But they didn't do it by manipulating the search.  Search positions remained stable but sales dropped significantly.  It seems the way they did it was to limit what registered buyers could see - in other words the search results seen by individual buyers were not necessarily the same as the results seen by contributors or visitors.  iStock themselves confirmed that they could 'tailor' the search results for all registered buying accounts.

And this is probably what is happening at Shutterstock.  Yes the search might move around a bit generally, but if they really want to control sales they simply have to remove or reduce certain results seen by particular buying accounts.  They know which accounts are subscriptions, on-demand etc, and they know which contributors have had a run of above average sales or SODs.  It would be a simple process to pull back those contributors from visibility to certain buying accounts.  None of this will ever be seen by contributors or visitors - only by the registered buyers.

Interestingly I've noticed a similar situation on Dreamstime.  With their famous 'three good weeks followed by two bad weeks' again the search doesn't seem to change, yet sales can be dramatically different.  Again I suspect they are able to tailor results to particular buyers accounts.  For instance in January I had a very good month of on-demand sales.  Very good.  For the last couple of weeks though, all I've had is subs.  Somehow the on-demand sales have completely disappeared, more than just coincidence.  They only way they can do this is to 'remove' my portfolio from the registered on-demand customers temporarily.  Of course only the customers will actually see the changed search results.

18 / Re: Deepmeta bug: Error 422 keywords
« on: February 15, 2018, 20:57 »
Franky, I'm getting strange language problems in the latest version of DM.

My preference for keywords is set to English US.  However some of the keywords are being displayed in Spanish.  This doesn't happen for every file, and not for every keyword - just *some* of the keywords in *some* files are converted to spanish for some unknown reason.

Sometimes this happens after I've submitted a file in English, then, after acceptance perhaps a few days later again some of the keywords are displayed in Spanish in DM.

When I look at each file on the istock web site all keywords are displayed in English even if some of them are shown as spanish in DM.  In some cases the spanish words in DM are missing from the keyword list on the web site.

This happens with *some* files, not all, and the behaviour seems to be random.

Very likely all eyes are focussed on the Winter Olympics and Valentines Day.  I've noticed in the past Summer and Winter Olympics that my sales slow down during the games.

20 / Re: Deep Meta Stats
« on: February 06, 2018, 19:25 »
The latest versions of DeepMeta have a "Keywords" section, showing all keywords used in your portfolio, along with royalties, downloads, RPD, RPI, etc. You can sort by these columns as well, revealing your top selling keywords.
Thanks, Franky, that's great to know.

Where can I find this keywords information.  I'm using the latest version.

21 / Re: Success stories on Alamy - the $100,000+ club
« on: January 27, 2018, 21:42 »
When I went non-exclusive nearly three years ago I started to upload to Alamy with some enthusiasm.  However I found sales very slow and the upload process tedious.  After about a year I gave up and considered the effort not worth it.  If it is indeed possible to make reasonable money at Alamy perhaps I should try again, but I must admit I am feeling somewhat reluctant.

22 / Re: Success stories on Alamy - the $100,000+ club
« on: January 26, 2018, 07:22 »
Note that whenever Alamy comes here promoting themselves they always refer to 'x amount of sales' which is always the gross amount, never the net amount.  When they say $100,000 what they really mean is gross sales value, which is equivalent to double that of net sales value.  Of course many people have had success with Alamy, but let's get the amount of money right, otherwise it is deliberately misleading.

How do you think the keyword Copy space affects the sale of images? A while ago almost every stock image that contain space for text had the keyword copy space. Even though it was just a tiny area with room for text etc.....Even images with absolutely no room for text had it.
I wonder....Is it useful to submit images with copy space keyword or can you just leave it out and add more descriptive keywords?
What do you guys think of this? Does this have any effect on sales?

For many years I always included the keywords copy space, copy, space, copyspace etc where an image had the appropriate space.  Lots of my images have space so I always thought it logical to include those words.  I believed (wrongly) that those words were important to buyers.

Then, in Oct 2012 (I think) iStock changed its search to only include the first six or seven most popular keywords.  I found that many of my files disappeared from searches that included the copyspace words.  Perplexed, I wrote to iStock and asked them about it - they replied and said that there is no evidence that buyers ever use those words for searching.  They were helpful in those days, so I wrote again and said I found that difficult to believe.  They then replied and said they'd carried out a small analysis of my sales and that the copyspace words were used in less than 5% of searches and sales.

When I went non-exclusive in Feb 2015 I naturally had to upload all my work to other agencies.  I refined my keywords but left the copyspace words intact.  Then, after a couple of years and a good volume of sales I had a look at various sites and found (again) that there was no evidence at all of those words being used to make sales.  I looked through my Shutterstock best sellers (where they list the top three keywords) and out of several hundred files the copyspace words didn't show once.

But perhaps the best source is the 'keyword cloud' at 123RF (look at your personal home page near the bottom).  The cloud shows the top fifty words used for downloads in your own portfolio.  Again, in my case, despite having probably thousands of files with the copyspace keywords, those words do not appear in my 123RF cloud.

So all the evidence suggests that istock were correct in their analysis - these words are hardly ever used by buyers.  And in fact because some agencies penalise images based on numbers of keywords, having these unnecessary words might actually result in fewer sales.

Nowadays I never include any of those words.

General Stock Discussion / Re: Cavan Images
« on: January 10, 2018, 13:24 »
You need to be careful about Cavan.  I believe this was originally just a Getty photographer who decided to allow other photographers to contribute to Getty through the Cavan brand.  Gradually that activity has expanded.  I believe Cavan has been able to negotiate good placement terms with Getty (and Fotolia Premium, Offset etc) because of good quality and past success, and Cavan are now capitalising on their position in the market by allowing lots of other photographers to use their brand.  In other words it is a successful photographer who has now become an 'agency'.  No harm in that of course.  Note that although they say they pay 50%, I believe what they pay is 50% of whatever they are paid by the other agencies.  So basically they are a portal through which others can gain access to Getty etc in exchange for giving Cavan 50% of the income.  Again no harm in that of course, so long as people are aware.

25 / Re: New algorithm change on Shutterstock
« on: January 10, 2018, 13:16 »
Very poor start to the year.  Sales running at only 50% of usual expectations.  Something appears to have changed, as others have pointed out.  Disappointed.

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