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Author Topic: Is there a perfect time now for a "fair agency" to rise?  (Read 11518 times)

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Slovenian

« on: June 08, 2011, 03:21 »
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As most people report earnings went down significantly at those agencies that reduced royalty percentages to their in contributors. First in line is of course IS, Fotolia following (or sinking as a popular thread suggests). So is it the perfect timing for an agency announcing something in the line of:"we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."? I think it should be one of the big 4 (the others are just too small and some of them are already doing it and it's no use as we see). Shutterstock has a good thing going for them, it seems they stick to the saying "don't fix it if it ain't broken". Which works great for them, they don't complicate their business model with many higher priced collections etc. They're becoming (or have already become) the leaders of MS and if it wasn't a significant raise, they wouldn't draw in masses of new contributors. And that way their profitability would lower. They could however introduce exclusivity (give exclusives a 20% raise, better search placements etc) and take tens of thousands of contributors from numerous other agencies. It would probably hurt IS the most, because exclusives over there could change one exclusivity for another (keep on making it simple for themselves, dealing with just one agency). The second agency that could do it is Dreamstime, they could offer 40-50% for non-exclusive content and 50-60% for their exclusives content. For instance level zero gets you the base royalty and every level bumps you another 2% higher. They'd become no.2 by the end of the year, I'm sure of it. If they (whoever it would be) announced today that they'll start paying the highest royalty in the MS industry from 1st September, they would start getting tons of ULs over the summer and would be set up with a lot of great, fresh content by September. I think this would be the best strategy for Dreamstime, they're so far behind (from what I can read by most people over here) from the top 2, that they'd gain the most and they have less to lose than Shutterstock (their owners probably think they don't need this to rule the MS market).
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 03:35 by Slovenian »


« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2011, 03:42 »
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DT are already my top earner. I've been getting an RPD of around 3$ for nearly a year now which is way higher than the what I get at other sites.

Slovenian

« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2011, 03:45 »
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Dreamstime are already my top earner. I've been getting an RPD of around 3$ for nearly a year now which is way higher than the what I get at other sites.

So just imagine your earnings rise by another 50% ;) (percentages may be off, I didn't do the math and I'm not familiar with their exact percentages)

« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2011, 03:55 »
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"we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."

splitting the profits by 50% can easily mean that the photographer only gets 20% - because the cost of doing business in this very competitive market is so high.

Slovenian

« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2011, 03:58 »
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"we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."

splitting the profits by 50% can easily mean that the photographer only gets 20% - because the cost of doing business in this very competitive market is so high.

OK, my mistake, I meant "we'll pay our contributors 50%/up to 60%/at least 40%/40-60%". Something along these lines;)

« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011, 04:10 »
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We can dream but I can't see it happening.  I really don't see why we can't all start using sites like Stockfresh.  They have 50% commission and a nice price structure for the buyers.  The sites designed well and doesn't have the problems some of the older sites have.

The biggest problem seems to be persuading buyers to try a new site.  I just wish that all the old Stockxpert buyers would try Stockfresh.

Slovenian

« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2011, 04:18 »
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Why not, it would be beneficial to them as well. If they're not the same shortsighted, greedy bunch of owners (as it's the case with Getty) who just want to make short term profits, so they can get their bonuses at the expense of the company loosing marketshare and longterm profits.

Well you said it yourself. There are no buyers. It's not worth our time, at least it's not worth mine. They don't need more contributors, just more buyers. It's not up to us.

« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2011, 04:28 »
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^^^I'm sure the top 4 sites would be far too frightened of their profits falling if they increased commissions.  And it's really up to us to support the smaller sites that pay a decent commission by uploading all we can.

Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2011, 04:43 »
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""we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."? I think it should be one of the big 4 (the others are just too small and some of them are already doing it and it's no use as we see)"


of course, why would the buyers care about your split? There are some cases of sympathy expressed, but it hardly affects business. As for ShutterS, they might just give the lowest % of the money they actually make, but at least they stick to their system fair and square, no screwing around with credit prices to surprise you with some next-to-nothing comissions popping up in your report.

« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2011, 05:06 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

Well said.

Tempusfugit

« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2011, 06:36 »
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« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 11:42 by Tempusfugit »

« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2011, 06:40 »
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Zoonar is offering fair conditions a worldwide distribution with good partners (also good commissons for photographers) and growing sales, not only for microstock photographers...

Slovenian

« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2011, 06:42 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2011, 06:42 »
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What we need is a different distribution channel than agencies and a new licensing model that compensates us better in the long term than unlimited-use RF.

Any fair agency that grows will incur increased operating costs. They will then raise prices and cut commissions. Then contributors will complain and look for the next fair agency. Repeat cycle.

lagereek

« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2011, 06:47 »
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One would hope so but there are other parts that plays equally major roles, such as a sudden and for no reason at all a best match change, slaughtering thousands of port, just over a night.
Too many things can go wrong in the micro business.

Slovenian

« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2011, 06:57 »
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What we need is a different distribution channel than agencies and a new licensing model that compensates us better in the long term than unlimited-use RF.

Any fair agency that grows will incur increased operating costs. They will then raise prices and cut commissions. Then contributors will complain and look for the next fair agency. Repeat cycle.

Yes, new licensing model, that would really make a difference, it's just absurd that a 33c sub purchase (SS if you use your daily limits every day) allows buyers to use our images for billboards, magazine/book covers etc. In fact I welcome everything that would make a change for the better (different distribution channel etc).

We completely agree on that one, you explained it well, I didn't even bother in my previous post

helix7

« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2011, 07:12 »
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...Any fair agency that grows will incur increased operating costs. They will then raise prices and cut commissions. Then contributors will complain and look for the next fair agency. Repeat cycle.

StockXpert was a highly successful agency and they never cut commissions or raised prices. It's completely reasonable to believe that StockFresh could operate under a similar system through long-term growth without pulling an istock.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2011, 07:25 »
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...Any fair agency that grows will incur increased operating costs. They will then raise prices and cut commissions. Then contributors will complain and look for the next fair agency. Repeat cycle.

StockXpert was a highly successful agency and they never cut commissions or raised prices. It's completely reasonable to believe that StockFresh could operate under a similar system through long-term growth without pulling an istock.

StockXpert never made it to the Big 4 and ranged from a low to mid earner for most people. They were one of the worst earners for me.

Obviously if StockFresh moved into the "Big" category and still offered fair commissions it would benefit everybody and decrease leverage from other agencies. But, historically, whenever a site moves up to top tier they start making changes that nobody likes.

Istock recently could do no wrong in contributor's eyes and now they can do no right.

Didn't Dreamstime and Fotolia hammer down commissions?

Shutterstock may be at status quo but unseen influences can change that at any moment.

Darlings can turn into the devil overnight.

ShadySue

« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2011, 08:21 »
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The biggest problem seems to be persuading buyers to try a new site.  I just wish that all the old Stockxpert buyers would try Stockfresh.
I'm guessing a huge advertising campaign would do it. As far as I can see with a search through relevant magazines in a newsagent, the only micro which is currently advertising in UK professional publications is Shutterstock. That's not counting subscription mags that aren't available in shops.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2011, 08:45 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)

You're both right. We must support smaller sites now - even if it's not apparently worth it - because they're fairer, and we must support even newer sites in the future. There's no certainty in this business.

helix7

« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2011, 08:55 »
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StockXpert never made it to the Big 4 and ranged from a low to mid earner for most people. They were one of the worst earners for me.

Obviously if StockFresh moved into the "Big" category and still offered fair commissions it would benefit everybody and decrease leverage from other agencies. But, historically, whenever a site moves up to top tier they start making changes that nobody likes...

...Shutterstock may be at status quo but unseen influences can change that at any moment.

Darlings can turn into the devil overnight.

I should have clarified "highly successful" as "highly successful for me." StockXpert was consistently my 3rd earner, sometimes even surpassing istock and taking the #2 spot.

It's true that many agencies that do move up into the "big" category make changes that are unfavorable to contributors. I just feel like with SF we're at least starting off on a better footing. So they cut commissions someday. Maybe to 40% (still very good) or maybe to 30% (still acceptable). They could slash them in half and still be paying better than istock for most people. And maybe they'll raise prices, but again, they've got a long way to go to reach istock levels. And I'd consider SF far less likely to make these sort of changes anyway given their StockXpert history and the fact that they never cut commissions there.

Darlings can indeed turn into the devil, but similarly to StockXpert/SF, I just don't see SS doing anything that destructive either. SS is one of the few agencies that actually raised pay rates over the years. They have done that in a while, but at the same time the company seems to be doing well at the current rates. No talk of unsustainability, etc. It's also helpful to not have a Getty-like company lording over them.

Any company could potentially pull an istock and destroy contributor earnings overnight. But it's very unlikely for SS and SF. And as long as SS is still around and still paying the same rates, I'm still able to make a living in this business.

lisafx

« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2011, 10:02 »
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^^^I'm sure the top 4 sites would be far too frightened of their profits falling if they increased commissions.  And it's really up to us to support the smaller sites that pay a decent commission by uploading all we can.

Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm starting to agree with you.  I have always been reluctant to join up with a smaller site, but after setting up my own site and spending around $1k to set up the way I wanted it, submitting to a smaller site seems like and easier and cheaper way to go. 

With 6k images, though, I am only interested in smaller sites that will make it pretty much effortless for me to get my portfolio up there.  Pixmac, for example, I was able to get my whole port on the site in two weeks, with very little work involved - just FTP and assign release.  In contrast, with Veer I am only able to get 50 images in the queue per week.  Uploading since the first of the year and only have 1300 pics up. 

Slovenian

« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2011, 10:07 »
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^^^I'm sure the top 4 sites would be far too frightened of their profits falling if they increased commissions.  And it's really up to us to support the smaller sites that pay a decent commission by uploading all we can.

Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm starting to agree with you.  I have always been reluctant to join up with a smaller site, but after setting up my own site and spending around $1k to set up the way I wanted it, submitting to a smaller site seems like and easier and cheaper way to go. 

With 6k images, though, I am only interested in smaller sites that will make it pretty much effortless for me to get my portfolio up there.  Pixmac, for example, I was able to get my whole port on the site in two weeks, with very little work involved - just FTP and assign release.  In contrast, with Veer I am only able to get 50 images in the queue per week.  Uploading since the first of the year and only have 1300 pics up. 

OK, which of the smaller sites would you recommend? I'm interested in simplicity as well. Though I really should get up to speed with FTP, entering keywords in PS etc. I'm doing it the old fashioned way right now, uploading to IS and SS. I've recently ULed some files to FT and DT as well, since I really need to earn every cent I can get, to make a living.

lisafx

« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2011, 10:30 »
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OK, which of the smaller sites would you recommend? I'm interested in simplicity as well. Though I really should get up to speed with FTP, entering keywords in PS etc. I'm doing it the old fashioned way right now, uploading to IS and Shutterstock. I've recently ULed some files to Fotolia and Dreamstime as well, since I really need to earn every cent I can get, to make a living.

There are probably people who are better qualified to recommend the small sites. I am currently on Pixmac, Veer, GraphicLeftovers, StockFresh, Crestock, and Canstock.

Pixmac - I started a thread on this one, so obviously I was impressed.  As I said, upload was nearly effortless, and very regular sales - nearly every day, and sometimes more. 

Veer - Upload is simple and reviews are fair, but with limits it will take me over a year to get my back catalogue up there, not to mention new images I am producing.  With 1300 images I get a sale or two a week. 

GL - incredibly easy upload.  Don't even have to mess with releases - just send in a file.  Great people running the site.  Only a couple of sales a month, though.  Hopefully it will pick up.

Stockfresh - also easy upload.  Exactly like StockXpert used to be.  A handful of sales a week but growing all the time. 

Crestock - this one seems to be going downhill.  Easy upload but tough review process and many seemingly arbitrary rejections.  Each month sales get worse and have trickled nearly to a halt.  Most of them are .25 subs too.   I would pass on this one.

Canstock - been around forever.  Easy upload, great management by Duncan, and sales nearly every day.  Sometimes the sales are as low as .25, but at least a couple of times a month there is a $20 or above sale through Fotosearch.  This site came back from the dead a couple of years ago and is thriving. 

Others might have a different experience with the above sites.  Would love to hear them.  Hope this was helpful :)

« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2011, 10:37 »
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^^^I'm sure the top 4 sites would be far too frightened of their profits falling if they increased commissions.  And it's really up to us to support the smaller sites that pay a decent commission by uploading all we can.

Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I decided to give Stockfresh a shot - in spite of the fact that apparently they haven't yet really started getting sales. I would not want to get tangled with another Albumo-like enterprise, but as I know who started Stockfresh, it seemed like a reasonable risk. I do think that it's reasonable to consider the time we have to invest to get our portfolios up when deciding if it's worth it, but I agree that we need someone else to be successful in the PPD segment to balance out the greedy cash grabs at some of the established ones.

« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2011, 12:56 »
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Nice and easy process uploading to Stockfresh, hope they get the success they deserve.

Slovenian

« Reply #26 on: June 08, 2011, 13:13 »
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Veer - Upload is simple and reviews are fair, but with limits it will take me over a year to get my back catalogue up there, not to mention new images I am producing.  With 1300 images I get a sale or two a week. 

GL - incredibly easy upload.  Don't even have to mess with releases - just send in a file.  Great people running the site.  Only a couple of sales a month, though.  Hopefully it will pick up.

Others might have a different experience with the above sites.  Would love to hear them.  Hope this was helpful :)

Very helpful, tnx.

I left those 2 agencies in the quote intentionally; I really wonder if it's worth your time. Few bucks a month for a port 1300 or even 6k, that brought you 6 figure earnings on IS and SS (you don't have to comment on these numbers, I just put them down so that it's obvious that sales are about 1/1000 of those on IS and SS). I obviously have a totally wrong mentality for refusing to UL to sites like FT and DT because they make me as little as 4-5% of what SS brings me

« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2011, 13:18 »
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..Any fair agency that grows will incur increased operating costs. They will then raise prices and cut commissions. Then contributors will complain and look for the next fair agency. Repeat cycle.
I don't see it like that.  The small sites must have much lower turnover and I'm sure it's more expensive for them to operate, as they make less profit per image that they have to review and store.  As a site grows, their costs go up but so should their profits and it should be more profitable than a small site because they have much higher turnover.

I'm sure the reason why the big sites cut commissions is because they think we can no longer do without them.  It's an easy way for them to keep their investors, owners or shareholders happy.

« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2011, 13:22 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)
Not as naive as it is to think that any of the big sites are going to increase commissions.  And the sites would be much less inclined to cut commissions if they saw it didn't work with sites like istock and Fotolia.

Slovenian

« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2011, 13:31 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)
Not as naive as it is to think that any of the big sites are going to increase commissions.

I never said that :o

Slovenian

« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2011, 13:34 »
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Didn't Dreamstime and Fotolia hammer down commissions?

I know about FT, but when did DT cut commissions? (I tried to google it too before asking)

« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2011, 13:51 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)
Not as naive as it is to think that any of the big sites are going to increase commissions.

I never said that :o
So how do they do this without increasing commissions?
...So is it the perfect timing for an agency announcing something in the line of:"we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."? I think it should be one of the big 4...
...I meant "we'll pay our contributors 50%/up to 60%/at least 40%/40-60%". Something along these lines;)...
« Last Edit: June 08, 2011, 13:56 by sharpshot »

lisafx

« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2011, 14:02 »
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I left those 2 agencies in the quote intentionally; I really wonder if it's worth your time.

I think you are right in wondering if it is worth the time.  That's why the main criteria I have for uploading to a new site is how much time it will cost me.  And the answer had better be "hardly any". 

lagereek

« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2011, 14:06 »
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Never stops to amaze me. On one end buyers are crying, Oh dear, IS,  is too expensive, this and that, end of the world, now Im leaving and all that jazz. So why on earth dont they shop around? they must be stupid or blind, really.
Whats the harm in trying other agencies and some of the smaller ones.
I mean if you go to a Mac-store, you always pay a bit more then an independant store, selling the same Mac. Crazy.

Slovenian

« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2011, 14:14 »
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Buyers wont use smaller sites because they have smaller collections and less choice.  The only way to change that is for us to give them a chance but unfortunately most people would just prefer to complain about their low sales.  It's one of the few positive things we can do to make a change, much better than wishing the big sites would pay us more.  I made money with a few small sites before they closed and I haven't regretted giving them a chance.  What really annoys me is that the solution to our problems is there but people aren't even willing to try it.

I'm sorry, but that's naive thinking. When they become big, they start behaving like big agencies ;)
Not as naive as it is to think that any of the big sites are going to increase commissions.

I never said that :o
So how do they do this without increasing commissions?
...So is it the perfect timing for an agency announcing something in the line of:"we intend to split the profit 50/50 with our dear contributors..."? I think it should be one of the big 4...
...I meant "we'll pay our contributors 50%/up to 60%/at least 40%/40-60%". Something along these lines;)...

Oh that, I was thinking in a completely different context. I don't expect them to, the way things are going. It would probably be a great idea, but I'm afraid it'll stay at that.

« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2011, 14:29 »
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I know about Fotolia, but when did Dreamstime cut commissions? (I tried to google it too before asking)

They cut their royalties in the summer of 2009 from I think 50% to their level system. Fotolia has cut royalty rates the last 3 years.

Slovenian

« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2011, 14:35 »
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I know about Fotolia, but when did Dreamstime cut commissions? (I tried to google it too before asking)

They cut their royalties in the summer of 2009 from I think 50% to their level system. Fotolia has cut royalty rates the last 3 years.

What does that mean exactly? You get half as much for every level that you climb or what (for instance a 2% bumb instead of a 4%)

« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2011, 14:44 »
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What does that mean exactly? You get half as much for every level that you climb or what (for instance a 2% bumb instead of a 4%)

No, I meant you used to get a flat 50%. Now, the percent you get is based on how many times the image sold starting at 25%.

Slovenian

« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2011, 14:53 »
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What does that mean exactly? You get half as much for every level that you climb or what (for instance a 2% bump instead of a 4%)

No, I meant you used to get a flat 50%. Now, the percent you get is based on how many times the image sold starting at 25%.
Oh, so that's what happened. Well at least everybody still has a realistic chance of getting higher percentages (not saying I support it), unlike on IS, where it's virtually impossible to get to the last 2, well I can just dream of reaching 17% this year. OTOH I'm sure I could get to level 2 with some photos on DT easily. I just uploaded 70 photos or so after 9 months.


 

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