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Author Topic: IS - poor business model  (Read 6084 times)

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« on: April 15, 2008, 19:23 »
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Granted Ive only been in the stock business for a few months but I still dont understand the business model for IS.  Yes Ive read all the pros and cons of why they do things like they do but it still makes no sense at all to me.

Heres a scenario for all of you skeptics.  Lets say a new toy comes out that may take the market by storm.  Stores like Wal-Mart will try to get it first and more of it.  Thats how they beat the competition like K-mart.  They offer the best products at the best price and carry as much of a item as they can.  I think SS is the Wal-Mart and while sales at IS are good I cant see how they expect to compete down the road with their current way of doing business.  To be honest, they operate like they have a monopoly on the microstock business.  Well I have news for them, they dont.  Sites like Fotolia and Dreamstime are growing at a pretty fast pace.  Those sites or others like them will pass IS  sooner or later and be leave IS scratching their heads wondering what happened.

Lets look at the real numbers;
As of today this is the number of images online at (4) of the big (6)
SS = 3,471,223
FT = 3,482,242
IS =  2,964,072
DT = 2,776,981

Here are my personal numbers

SS = 75 files approved with $29.30 in sales this month
FT = 105 files approved with $5.94 in sales this month
IS = 20 files approved with $2.65 in sales this month
DT = 55 files approved with $1.80 in sales this month

The numbers dont lie.  People keep saying hang in there, IS is the best for long term.  Thats just BS coming from the butt kissing istockers.  What makes some of you think differently about this is anybodys guess?  IS is working towards a bunch of Exclusive photogs to keep things fresh there.  However they are way behind the eight ball.  When Yuri goes exclusive at IS then you better take a look.  Until then stay as far away from Exclusive at IS as you can.  Youre only cutting your nose off spite your face as they say.  Also out of the other big (6) IS is days or even a week or so behind the rest when it comes to offering up new images.  Why would a designer buy a subscription at IS knowing he or she isnt seeing the latest the photogs have to offer?  Why would a designer want to buy a sub at from a IS when they could have 500,000 more images to choose from at SS?   The only reason I care is because of the hype.  IS IS IS IS IS over and over again.  Well you know what, remember this post in a few years.  Not taking a stand as a group is the very reason we cant change their upload limits and slow review times.  Not helping each other to make the market better will hurt us all in the long term.  Granted, IS has a strong place in the market today, but its my guess that this will soon change if IS doesnt change their ways. The sad thing is they could be number (1) but I think they have waited too late to even hope for that spot.  You mark my word on this.  Ive been in the photography business for over 30 years and I have never seen anything like IS make it for very long as a driving force.


« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2008, 19:26 »
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I'm certainly not a "butt kissing istockers", but I must say they are my best earner overall and my 2nd best this month (approaching fast the 1st position).

Edit to add: are those numbers your total uploads?  They are very small for a good statistics.  I am not in SS because I don't agree with the subs model, but it's another story.

Regards,
Adelaide
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 19:28 by madelaide »

bittersweet

« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2008, 19:59 »
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Also out of the other big (6) IS is days or even a week or so behind the rest when it comes to offering up new images.  Why would a designer buy a subscription at IS knowing he or she isnt seeing the latest the photogs have to offer? 

Non-exclusive images may be a week or so behind the rest, but the exclusive queue can have turnaround in less than 24 hours. Check the upload dates of the exclusive images coming through right now.

It's nice that you feel so strongly, but I think you really are very misguided. Istock is constantly "changing their ways" and the other sites are in a perpetual state of trying to keep up. They have led the way and continue to do so. Sure there is room for improvement, but I'm not expecting them to close up shop anytime soon.

If you feel they are a waste of your time, put on a happy face and upload where you feel more warm and fuzzy. Life's too short to be so bitter.

« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2008, 20:24 »
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Also out of the other big (6) IS is days or even a week or so behind the rest when it comes to offering up new images.  Why would a designer buy a subscription at IS knowing he or she isnt seeing the latest the photogs have to offer?

Are you serious?  Like 7 days is a life changing amount of time?  What commercial image could be so important that it isn't just as useful a week later?

Quote
Why would a designer want to buy a sub at from a IS when they could have 500,000 more images to choose from at SS?
Why would you want to buy SS when you have 500,000 exclusive images at iStock?

Quote
Ive been in the photography business for over 30 years and I have never seen anything like IS make it for very long as a driving force.

Ah, there it is.

DanP68

« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2008, 20:34 »
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iStock is an amazing company, and fascinating to study the history of.  I love being one of their contributors.

Since I have been in microstock for the last year, I've closely watched the earnings reports of major contributors.  I've noted that iStock has fallen behind either Fotolia or Shutterstock for some of these major contributors.  And many others who still list iStock as #1 do so by a smaller margin one year later.

So I think there is something to the theory that they could be passed by as the dominant microstock company.  Then again, their latest subs plan may bury their competitors and put iStock in an even more dominant position.

I don't think you can accurately run the analogy of big box retailers and microstock companies.  Walmart is #1 for a lot of reasons, namely its ability to strong arm companies who want to sell their products in Walmart into lowering their prices.  Hence a huge profit margin.  The one analogy you could draw is iStock keeping independent commissions at 20%...because they can.  Nobody (or very few) will walk away from their earnings even if they feel short changed.  That is power.

DanP68

« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2008, 20:40 »
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As a follow up...

iStock raises prices significantly every year and customers accept it.  That sounds like a business with power.

iStock keeps contributor commission percentages at or near industry lows.  Again, a lot of power.

iStock was purchased by Getty, and when Getty got into trouble, a private firm quickly bought iStock.  Some very smart businesses see a lot of value in the iStock business model.  While a part of Getty, every conference call seemed to center around the floundering traditional Getty earnings, whereas iStock was growing into a larger and larger portion of the pie.


jsnover

« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2008, 20:41 »
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Granted Ive only been in the stock business for a few months but...

The numbers dont lie.  People keep saying hang in there, IS is the best for long term.  Thats just BS coming from the butt kissing istockers.  What makes some of you think differently about this is anybodys guess?

If you're just looking to stir up a little dust, far be it from me to get in your way, but you're right, the numbers don't lie. Your flaw is that you have a tiny amount of data over a short period of time about a tiny portfolio.

I'm an independent, and I've been selling via various microstock sites for over 3 years. iStock has definitely taken some pounding over that time, but it is consistently in the top 3 for me. SS is a good long term seller, but the spikes of sales for new stuff can be very misleading for predicting long term trends.

My only measures are what my portfolio (which is essentially the same everywhere) can produce each month. For all the complaints about how unfair iStock's 20% royalty is (and I do think it's unfair), the sales have often beaten all the other sites with higher royalties. They have the worst upload process of any micro site and many other irritations, but as long as they keep producing the sales, their business model's OK with me.

« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2008, 20:41 »
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...
IS has a strong place in the market today, but its my guess that this will soon change if IS doesnt change their ways. The sad thing is they could be number (1) but I think they have waited too late to even hope for that spot.
...
Sorry, cshack, but I don't think you're anywhere close to being on top of things. IS is changing, and they are number one.

I suggest you wait until you've spent more than 'a few months' in microstock and have more than 255 images online before you so firmly make up your mind about the future of this industry.

vonkara

« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 20:43 »
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Istock is now the only place who give me regular incomes. FT since V2 nothing. DT never get anything there. StockXpert since rating disabled I'm a poor lonely contributor. Shutterstock since I change my username it's slow?

= I think to become exclusive whit Istock :-* Will see what the subs is...

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 21:09 »
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Yeech... Not seeing much of a valid arguement here.

The numbers don't lie but those are your numbers, not mine. I earn about $2 per portfolio image at Istock where you're at .13.  I'm guessing most people here that have been at Istock for over three months are earning at least .50 per portfolio image per month. I would say that's a good indicator something is wrong with your images or keywords as opposed to Istock's business model. Of 11 sites, Istock alone is 75% of my earnings.

Maybe LuckyOliver is a better business model for you. Er, no, wait a minute...

« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 22:11 »
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Lets look at the real numbers;
As of today this is the number of images online at (4) of the big (6)
SS = 3,471,223
FT = 3,482,242
IS =  2,964,072
DT = 2,776,981

Here are my personal numbers

SS = 75 files approved with $29.30 in sales this month
FT = 105 files approved with $5.94 in sales this month
IS = 20 files approved with $2.65 in sales this month
DT = 55 files approved with $1.80 in sales this month

The numbers dont lie.
What a load of BS. Who cares how many files each company has? It's quality that counts! Istock obviously rejects more and has tougher standards. It isnt hard to build up a library- but a decent library is a different thing. Istock is the only one which has a serious exclusivity agreement, so theyre clearly going to have the best library. As for your statistics- its all pretty half assed isnt it? You realise that Istock takes a bigger cut, right? And you should know that the competition is tougher too (maybe you just cant compete there?). Who cares what you make- what matters is what they make! And you know that SS goes down every month if you dont upload? Ah forget it- come back when you have more than 20 acceptable images.

« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 22:50 »
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right, i have 5x the images in my featurepics port compared to IS, but that's a meaningless statistic.  IS limits it's uploads, so it's going to have fewer images than sites that take anything.  some buyewrs might even apprciate having reviewers do a a little bit of weeding for  them!

s

helix7

« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 22:57 »
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...Here are my personal numbers

SS = 75 files approved with $29.30 in sales this month
FT = 105 files approved with $5.94 in sales this month
IS = 20 files approved with $2.65 in sales this month
DT = 55 files approved with $1.80 in sales this month

The numbers dont lie...

Two things here:

1.) I'm assuming that you uploaded the same 105 or so images to all those sites. So your approval rating at IS is somewhere in the 20% neighborhood? Maybe it's not istock that's the problem. Maybe it's your images.

2.) You are right, the numbers do not lie. About your acceptance rate, as well as the success rates of people who do well at istock. I do well there myself, and istock is currently my top performer for April thus far. So why do only your numbers count towards determining whether istock is a good site or not?



« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2008, 23:21 »
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Granted Ive only been in the stock business for a few months but I still dont understand the business model for IS...You mark my word on this.  Ive been in the photography business for over 30 years and I have never seen anything like IS make it for very long as a driving force.
This gets my vote for funny post of the week. If you can't understand the business model, perhaps a basic business class is in order. And given your probable photo acceptance rate, maybe a digital photography class too.

Sincerely,
your friendly butt kissing istocker  ;)


« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2008, 00:18 »
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I also upload to IS along with 6 other sites and they are always one of  my top 2 earners. 
Very few of us commenting are exclusive at IS so what we are saying isn't  quote:' just BS coming from the butt kissing istockers.' but based on actual facts and figures.

« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2008, 01:26 »
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What utter misinformed drivel.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2008, 01:46 by hatman12 »

« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2008, 07:28 »
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I might've agreed with you a couple of months ago (and I still firmly stand on the opinion that their "friendliness" to contributors is full of a pure all-profit capitalistic nature/approach - we all more or less hate their limits, their obsolete uploading system, their review system...), but I've come to rethink my position on their potential.

I won't spend words regarding the competition (strictly speaking this applies to DT, StockXpert, F and 123RF) with a credit system, but I will shout out loud that what is giving me the most disappointments lately: the subscription system at Shutterstock. I've come to realize how badly it is developing, evolving in the wrong direction and how inconsistent are the sales there (plus of course lowering by the minute).

I've detected a couple of facts that is pushing Shutterstock down (and I'm sure many of you feel the same lately):
- the image lifespan is ridiculously short (and can't compare to long-term "solids" elsewhere no matter what arguments you bring in),
- the incomes (per new image) are lowering at an alarming rate and this has to be connected with: the new subscription prices in vigor as of March 2008, the ca. 80-90% increase in weekly approvals (only a couple of months ago they received around 30K new images, now it's almost 55K), the load of new lower quality images popping up in the search engines (they definitely have lowered their standards).

I sincerely hope I am wrong and only my personal experience reflects this outcomes, but I'm almost completely sure this is a tendency that we all can agree with.

So I wouldn't mind about iStock that much. The biggest problems for microstock contributors (who like myself have SS as their primary income source) is the developments of credit vs. subscription "battles" and how the (considerably fluid) buyers category will choose their "dealers" according to efficiency criteria (not money, but time).

I sense the hybrid agencies are raising and it is no surprise iStock is going that route too.

p.s.: As a sidenote: Shutterstock usually yields 5 times more monthly Dollars to me than iStock, but what counts are stat tendencies (and the industry-related situation "snapshots" we're witnessing lately).

michealo

« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2008, 07:58 »
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cshack, your portfolio is to small and to new from which to derive any meaningful statistics

the premise of your argument seems to be because its true for you it must be a universal truism

it would be like me saying right now its not raining therefore its not raining anywhere in the world

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2008, 08:05 »
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I generally don't think portfolio size has much to do with earnings performance. I've seen people with a dozen images have hundreds of sales a month and people with hundreds of images have a handful of sales. It's the percentage of saleable images in your portfolio and where they're being sold that counts.

« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2008, 09:47 »
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Im also have few images online. Im also very new to the stockworld. But i think that Istock as a great place and a dominant player in this game. The only 2 sites that improve performance (to me and my pictures) is IS and DT. In fact IS is my best site since October (yes im also upload to the beast SS that is my 2 best site) i can give one example from my experience, on particular image from the beginning of my stock adventure, in SS make 8$ and die after 2 months! in IS is still alive and make until now 68,95$. And i now that almost every one in here have similar experiences. So to my IS is a very good site.

my 0.2$ opinion ;)

lisafx

« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2008, 12:00 »
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I am far from an istock apologist, but I think you are way off in your conclusions here.  Istock has managed to maintain their position in the forefront of the microstock industry despite stiff competion the past few years.  So obviously they are doing something right. 

I have been doing this for over three years and have roughly the same 3200 or so images on all the major micros.  Although istock's percentage has dipped from about 1/2 of my earnings to more like 1/3, they continue to be my top seller every month.  Their closest competitor in my portfolio is around 20%

And one thing your hypothesis doesn't take into account is istock's adaptability.  They have proven that if something isn't working they are willing to fix/change it.  They have not been resting on their laurels. 


 

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