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Author Topic: Sales on Shutterstock vs. Fotolia  (Read 29705 times)

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« on: April 08, 2009, 23:56 »
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I have been doing MS for about a month now and have about 280 pictures up on Shutterstock and about 225 on Fotolia. Both sets of pictures are nearly the same, but of course they vary a bit since some seem to get approved on some sites and not on others and vice versa.

What I found though is that my sales on Shutterstock are about 10 times what they are on Fotolia with the same pictures. I realize I have about 15% more pictrures on Shutterstock, but still it seems like a huge discrepancy. At first I was thinking it is because of the subscription issue and generally low pricing on Shutterstock, but I see Fotolia is offering cheap subscriptions now too. I am also starting to get more "On Demand" sales on Shutterstock, so it is not all just subscription sales on Shutterstock.

I would be interested to hear if other's experience and observations between these 2 sites has been the same and what the possible reasons are as to why sales on one is much greater than on the other since they both are about the same size in terms of market penetration. I also wonder if this issue might have something to do with key wording order on Fotolia in any way?

Thanks to all...
« Last Edit: April 08, 2009, 23:58 by marcbkk »


« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2009, 00:29 »
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I have been doing MS for about a month now and have about 280 pictures up on Shutterstock and about 225 on Fotolia. Both sets of pictures are nearly the same, but of course they vary a bit since some seem to get approved on some sites and not on others and vice versa.

What I found though is that my sales on Shutterstock are about 10 times what they are on Fotolia with the same pictures. I realize I have about 15% more pictrures on Shutterstock, but still it seems like a huge discrepancy. At first I was thinking it is because of the subscription issue and generally low pricing on Shutterstock, but I see Fotolia is offering cheap subscriptions now too. I am also starting to get more "On Demand" sales on Shutterstock, so it is not all just subscription sales on Shutterstock.

I would be interested to hear if other's experience and observations between these 2 sites has been the same and what the possible reasons are as to why sales on one is much greater than on the other since they both are about the same size in terms of market penetration. I also wonder if this issue might have something to do with key wording order on Fotolia in any way?

Thanks to all...

In my experience Shutterstock is hard to compare with any other site and even with itself over the last year.  I started in Nov 07 with 31 images and made over $54 with $0.25 sub sales only - it is my BME and I missed the first week of November.   Nov 08 - for the entire month - with 225 images online I made $22 and that includes 3 On Demands (Large size).  My sales on Shutterstock have steadily declined as my portfolio has grown over the year (Mar 09 was $15 with 280 images).  Over the same period Fotolia and IS (except for a drop in the October timeframe) revenues have grown as my portfolio has grown.

My ports are really too small to provide much statistical value but it still seems to be a strange business.

fred

« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2009, 00:33 »
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I'm not sure what you mean by market penetration, or why you assume Fotolia is as successful as Shutterstock.  But let's put that aside for a moment.  My own experience is that Shutterstock brings in somewhere between 2x and 4x the revenue on a monthly basis.  In part I'd say that's better marketing on Shutterstock's part.  It's also that Fotolia accepts about half as many of my images as Shutterstock does.  

It may also be a difference in their target markets; I believe Fotolia brings in more sales from Europe, where Shutterstock may be more of a balance between European and US customers.  (I'm going by time of day of sales, as well as the data Fotolia used to provide on buyers.)

On the other hand, there may be contributors who see much better sales on Fotolia than on Shutterstock.  My experience and yours may not be universal.


« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2009, 01:35 »
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I usually use Yuri Arcurs as a gauge on which of the sites is drawing in the highest incomes. According to this link, he makes much more on Fotolia than Shutterstock and his earnings on Fotolia have even surpassed his earnings on iStock for the second half of last year:

http://www.arcurs.com/microstock-agencies-an-overview-for-beginners

Anyway, it is good to hear that your experience between earnings on Shutterstock and Fotolia is similar to mine. Why though others are selling more on Fotolia than Shutterstock is a bit of a mystery to me.

Also, I noticed that Shutterstock has 6.5 million images online whereas Fotolia has only 5.5 million. So the argument that one site has more, and thus your images get seen less by photo buyers as a results, holds no water either it seems.

Do you think it has anything to do with key wording? I can't think of any other reason why Fotolia probably sells as many photos, if not more, than Shutterstock.


« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2009, 02:58 »
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I usually use Yuri Arcurs as a gauge on which of the sites is drawing in the highest incomes. According to this link, he makes much more on Fotolia than Shutterstock and his earnings on Fotolia have even surpassed his earnings on iStock for the second half of last year:

http://www.arcurs.com/microstock-agencies-an-overview-for-beginners

Anyway, it is good to hear that your experience between earnings on Shutterstock and Fotolia is similar to mine. Why though others are selling more on Fotolia than Shutterstock is a bit of a mystery to me.

Also, I noticed that Shutterstock has 6.5 million images online whereas Fotolia has only 5.5 million. So the argument that one site has more, and thus your images get seen less by photo buyers as a results, holds no water either it seems.

Do you think it has anything to do with key wording? I can't think of any other reason why Fotolia probably sells as many photos, if not more, than Shutterstock.




Shutterstock is very good with new images (with new contributors) It is hard to increase your monthly earnings, while on other sites most images are selling over a longer time period.
Also you have to consider that Yuri has his price set at 4 Credits at Fotolia, because he has such a high ranking.  So he gets four times as much/dl as the average contributor gets. In addition he also receives a higher commission because of his ranking (I guess around 10% higher than the average contributor).

Then you have to consider that as a non-exclusive he is not able to keep up with uploading all his images to iStockphoto.

So for us average microstockers who do not exceed with our production the upload limit at iStockphoto, I believe iStockphoto should generate the most earnings according to Yuri's statistics.

« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2009, 09:52 »
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Shutterstock is very good with new images (with new contributors) It is hard to increase your monthly earnings, while on other sites most images are selling over a longer time period.
Also you have to consider that Yuri has his price set at 4 Credits at Fotolia, because he has such a high ranking.  So he gets four times as much/dl as the average contributor gets. In addition he also receives a higher commission because of his ranking (I guess around 10% higher than the average contributor).

Then you have to consider that as a non-exclusive he is not able to keep up with uploading all his images to iStockphoto.

So for us average microstockers who do not exceed with our production the upload limit at iStockphoto, I believe iStockphoto should generate the most earnings according to Yuri's statistics.

Thanks for your input. That all makes good logical sense.

What I am wondering about is why you say new images on Shutterstock do better than old ones? I don't understand the logic behind that. In fact, it would seem that over time, as images sell more, they gain better position within the keyword search results based upon their popularity, and thus should lead to a greater number of sales over the long term.

« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2009, 10:28 »
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Shutterstock is a subscription site.  Buyers drop in every single day to see what is new and download their 25 photos.    They don't care about the old content, because they saw it already when it was the new fresh photos.  There has been a small revival of old photos though, because in the recent past, SS introduced a pay per download option, and in this case, designers actually comb through their category.

« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2009, 10:38 »
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That makes sense, but even subscription buyers will be searching for photos by keyword. So they may not have a need for a certain photo now when it is first uploaded, but they may have a need for it later. So I think photos can also be downloaded based upon need and not just because they are new and buyers have a quota to fill. And as you said, they also have the On Demand option as well for nonsubscription buyers.

« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2009, 10:41 »
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Not really.  They have 25 photos per day.  Do you seriously think they will need to find 25 keywords 30 days a month?  All they want is their moneys worth of content and they mostly download anything that catches their eye.

« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2009, 10:45 »
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That makes sense, but only to a point. If they didn't have an actual need for such a large volume of pictures, then they probably wouldn't be paying the subscription charge in the first place. Also, there are new subscribers signing up all the time, so this also means new members could be buying up old photos as well.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 10:50 by marcbkk »

batman

« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2009, 14:47 »
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You cannot compare the two.
One reason why your sales may be less in Fotolia could be that anyone can upload to Fotolia with even a handful of  excellent images.
 With Shutterstock you need to wait through the qualifying 7 of 10 four MP images (it used to be any size ) before you sell anything there.
So with Fotolia the slice of the pie is less for you as there could be more choices of the same image buyers can find at Fotolia.

lisafx

« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2009, 15:36 »
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That makes sense, but only to a point. If they didn't have an actual need for such a large volume of pictures, then they probably wouldn't be paying the subscription charge in the first place. Also, there are new subscribers signing up all the time, so this also means new members could be buying up old photos as well.

Pixart is exactly right.  It's fine to theorize about how buyers might behave, but experience has shown that new images and new contributors generally do much better on SS than elsewhere because it is primarily a subscription site. 

In addition to buyers looking to stock up on newest images, their search engine also seems to favor newer images, pushing them forward in the search results.  It's great for newbies because it gives a feeling of instant reward for your efforts.

On the (mainly) credit based sites images tend to start off slower and build sales momentum over time.  They also seem to have a longer life span. 

Just my opinion based on four years of doing this.   




« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2009, 15:55 »
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Lisafx, I always like to read your posts because they come from experience.

Markbkk - I have the same experience as you - with approx 100 images across six sites, and SS has earned $150 in two months, compared to fotolia selling only $23. IS sells better than SS with over $200 in the same timeframe (but more images there - I started earlier). DT, BS and SX all are in the toilet, not just fotolia. I am hoping that what lisafx says rings true eventually, and that sales will improve on the slower sites after some time. My plan is to give them all a year to gauge whether it is working. lisafx, do you think that is enough time to determine where the revenue comes from?


lisafx

« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2009, 16:18 »
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Lisafx, I always like to read your posts because they come from experience.

Markbkk - I have the same experience as you - with approx 100 images across six sites, and SS has earned $150 in two months, compared to fotolia selling only $23. IS sells better than SS with over $200 in the same timeframe (but more images there - I started earlier). DT, BS and SX all are in the toilet, not just fotolia. I am hoping that what lisafx says rings true eventually, and that sales will improve on the slower sites after some time. My plan is to give them all a year to gauge whether it is working. lisafx, do you think that is enough time to determine where the revenue comes from?



Awww, now I am blushing.  Thanks for the nice words  :)

I guess it's different for everyone,  but in general, if you have a decent sized portfolio of good, saleable images (probably at least several hundred) a year should give you a very good idea of how your sales will shake out on each site.

FWIW there is a discussion in istock's forum at the moment about how for the past few months their search engine has favored older images.  Given how they like to mix things up over there I would be willing to bet that the next search incarnation will give some more exposure to newer images.  That should help out newer contributors. 

You probably already know this, but at Dreamstime you can boost your search position by having accurate titles and descriptions and keeping your acceptance rate high (only submitting stuff you are SURE is top quality).    At Fotolia you can improve your search placement by putting your seven most important keywords first.   

« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2009, 16:39 »
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lisafx - thanks for those tips. I am aware that there are different keywording nuances at different sites, but I am still learning what they are. I started at istock, and have learned keywording based on their system, and maybe it doesn't work so well for other sites. I don't know why DT is doing so poorly for me - only $9 there in three months. I know my portfolio is small, but I thought it would be doing better compared to istock and shutterstock. I have only 116 files up on DT and an acceptance rate of 72% - maybe that is not high enough. So maybe that, and I suspect that maybe my keywording is to blame, but I am not really sure what to do differently. If you have any suggestions, I am listening!! If you care to have a peek, my username on DT is 'wpohldesign'

« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2009, 16:57 »
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You probably already know this, but at Dreamstime you can boost your search position by having accurate titles and descriptions and keeping your acceptance rate high (only submitting stuff you are SURE is top quality).


The BigStockPhoto search engine uses the same principle as DT to identify vital keywords vs secondary ones. It's a good approach as long as they don't accept the fundamental solution of the contributor's keyword ranking as measure of importance. I'm doing that for 3 years now by my keyword ranking script but Fotolia keeps giving very low dowloads compared to BigStock, and I don't see any difference as to download for pictures before and after end 2006. So I guess this Fotolia 7 thing is an urban legend.

DT can't change the procedure any more now, not with 5M images. It's unfeasible that contributors will crawl backwards through their port to rerank their keywords.

As to AR on DT being important for SE rank, it's not enough to have high quality photos, but they should pass the commercial value test of the reviewer too. Sometimes that's a bit off, though much more reliable than on the Atilla sites. I also avoid editorial now on DT, since most of my editorial was rejected for unclear reasons to me, and this dragged my AR down to 72. (although my best seller over sites, also DT, is an editorial image).
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 17:06 by FlemishDreams »

« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2009, 18:16 »
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Flemmish - I took a look at your script, but I don't think I understand it. How will it change how I currently input data to an image? - Maybe I am missing something, I will look at it again. thanks.

« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2009, 22:30 »
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Flemmish - I took a look at your script, but I don't think I understand it. How will it change how I currently input data to an image? - Maybe I am missing something, I will look at it again. thanks.

You have to type or paste your keywords in the second frame = Clipboard. You can do this several times. Duplicates will be removed automatically and misspelled keywords highlighted. You can delete, edit, sort. When done, you have to copy and paste it into the IPTC by a program like Irfanview. I should make a simplified version sometimes, perhaps the Help section is too complicated.

« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2009, 22:56 »
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Okay I get it - this will help, thanks! I will give it a whirl.

« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2009, 23:37 »
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This is all good feedback and it is interesting to see some people are having similar results to me in that they are having the most sales on SS, then Fotolia, followed by DT, StockXpert, and finally iStock.

I think I am going to go back into Fotolia and slowly start optomizing the top seven keywords as Lisafx suggested. It seems like it is worth a shot to see if I can improve sales that way. A shame though you can't add new keywords after the fact on Fotolia.

I assume my sales on iStock will also eventually start going up as the size of my portfolio starts increasing over time. Right now the number of pictures I have online on iStock is just too small to amount to any number of sales.

What I find interesting though is that there is a blog written by a Microstocker who has been doing it for about 3 years with about 1,200 pictures online and he shows increasing monthly sales over the 3 years on SS, Fotolia, and DT, which is contrary to what some of the people are sugessting on this thread. iStock, even though he started early with them, is one of his lowest earners as well, despite some people saying the best earnings potential are on iStock. I guess alot of it comes down to your own individual pictures, but based upon his experiences in general, this would suggest that the theorey that the most recently uploaded pictures on SS make the most money doesn't hold that much water:

http://www.dphotojournal.com/sell-photos-online/

I noticed he also doesn't do StockXpert, but does some of the other lower tier ones instead.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2009, 00:14 by marcbkk »

lisafx

« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2009, 12:52 »
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What I find interesting though is that there is a blog written by a Microstocker who has been doing it for about 3 years with about 1,200 pictures online and he shows increasing monthly sales over the 3 years on SS, Fotolia, and DT, which is contrary to what some of the people are sugessting on this thread. iStock, even though he started early with them, is one of his lowest earners as well, despite some people saying the best earnings potential are on iStock. I guess alot of it comes down to your own individual pictures, but based upon his experiences in general, this would suggest that the theorey that the most recently uploaded pictures on SS make the most money doesn't hold that much water:

http://www.dphotojournal.com/sell-photos-online/

I noticed he also doesn't do StockXpert, but does some of the other lower tier ones instead.


Marc, feel free to believe whatever you want.  As you correctly point out, everyones experience is different based on the size and quality of their portfolios.

I checked out the blog link you posted.  You should be aware, though, that a lot of these "make money selling your photos on microstock" bloggers, authors, etc. are more about making money from their blogs and referrals than about seriously making it in microstock. 

1200 pictures uploaded in three years averages to less than 8 images a week, which is barely getting your feet wet.   Serious microstockers upload at least 3-4 times that amount. 

Not saying his opinion isn't valid, just limited.  You can't extrapolate his experience and draw very accurate conclusions about the industry as a whole. 

« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2009, 14:30 »
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This is all good feedback and it is interesting to see some people are having similar results to me in that they are having the most sales on SS, then Fotolia, followed by DT, StockXpert, and finally iStock.

I think I am going to go back into Fotolia and slowly start optomizing the top seven keywords as Lisafx suggested.

Well it's not the same for everybody. For me DT is the best after SS, and FT sucks big deal, notwithstanding the fact that all my keywords are ranked by importance, and that I make sure the bare essentials are in the top 7. I'm actually slowly deciding to concentrate more on iStock, read the forums, ask advice, find what they want, and postprocess especially for them. You really can't concentrate on more than 3 sites I guess, and iStock is a much better investment than FT.

baz777

  • Im not sociable so I dont use social media
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2009, 07:32 »
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I only started this year and initially went with Fotolia, which I still upload all my vectors, and have a grand total of 6 sales, small portfolio of approximately 65 vector images thus far.

I joined SS at the start of April and progressively uploaded my images through this month and in 2 weeks have had 112 sales.

My expectation are low regarding sales and I plan, severe lack of time due to boring day job, to try and submit 5 new vectors a week to hopefully keep at least some sales continuing.

Im currently 6 weeks away from being allowed to submit my 3rd approval image on IS so cannot comment with regards sales here but this is one site I would like to upload to.

« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2009, 10:20 »
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That makes sense, but only to a point. If they didn't have an actual need for such a large volume of pictures, then they probably wouldn't be paying the subscription charge in the first place. Also, there are new subscribers signing up all the time, so this also means new members could be buying up old photos as well.

Yep I agree - the on demand downloads are obviously far more need based than subscription sales, but even in subs you still get regular downloads on older files. Actually I just got an EL sale for a file that's numbered in the 800,000's. Looking back over my sales, I'd rarely have a day that goes by without sales that are in the 2,000,000 range or below - given that we're now approaching file numbers of 30,000,000 and that the bulk of my portfolio is much newer, I don't think the old files do that badly.

« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2009, 10:40 »
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I joined Shutterstock a year ago and stepped away from it because they rejected my first batch...... This may be due to the fact that those 10 images were bad flower shots :D

Two weeks ago I thought, why not try again?
So I gave it another try and 10/10 images were approved. :) I uploaded only 34 so far but they do very well and I already have 75 sales! I must say its worth it!!

batman

« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2009, 12:19 »
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I joined Shutterstock a year ago and stepped away from it because they rejected my first batch...... This may be due to the fact that those 10 images were bad flower shots :D

Two weeks ago I thought, why not try again?
So I gave it another try and 10/10 images were approved. :) I uploaded only 34 so far but they do very well and I already have 75 sales! I must say its worth it!!


so what do you think made the diff between first batch rejected and second 10/10 approval?
were they not all "bad flower shots" or what?

« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2009, 12:59 »
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the difference was that I had one year experience in what stock agencies want and what sells and no there was not a single flower shot in them ;) I took good selling images and tried to spread the subjects.

« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2009, 13:37 »
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I've been doing this for a few months, small portfolio,  but have made 10 times more on SS than on DT.    Almost all the sales on SS have been subs, but at least it maintains my interest. 

I've been hearing that over time SS goes down and DT takes off, but after 4 months I haven't seen any hint of that. If anything it's going the other way.  I recently had several "well covered subject" rejections at DT and haven't had a sale since - my ranking may have gone down as a result.   Those guys are mean.

As others have made clear, success at these sites varies with the type of photos you do.  For me, only SS and Fotolia have been worthwhile.  StockXpert is currently dead for new images and DT just hasn't done anything for me.  I don't do IS at this point - I don't like the attitude they project.




« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2009, 13:52 »
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Same here - For me SS is doing better than FT, DT, BS and SX combined. But better yet is IS in first place. Fewer sales but more dollars per sale.
stockastic - what is the "bad attitude" you are getting at IS? Sure there are a few exclusives with big egos, but generally as a company I find them to be very professional and service oriented to contributors - whether exclusive or not. The upload is a bit of a pain, but worth it in my opinion - lots of views and daily sales. Even with a relatively small portfolio.

« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2009, 14:49 »
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Like many people, I got accepted at IS and then found they rejected the same photos that got me approved in the first place  :)    A bit mind-boggling at first.  I did their tedious keywording on a batch of my images, and all but a few were rejected.  Review took 2 weeks, an appeal took a month.  I was trying to get going in microstock and IS was just too slow and tedious.  I let the handfull of survivors sit there for a few months, they each got 20-40 views but no sales. 

Meanwhile SS took 90% of what I submitted and gave me lots of sub sales, which at least is teaching me what catches buyers eyes. 

So by 'attitude' I don't mean anything personal, just all the hoops they want you to jump through, plus the extremely long review times.  And the *-up on the forums, and the hokey blogs.  But at some point I'll give IS another try. 

« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2009, 15:02 »
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I make about 3x more at Shutterstock than Fotolia. Sales have always been pretty regular at Fotolia, but never as good as Shutterstock.

Fotolia is also starting to reject a lot more than Shutterstock so that is pretty frustrating.

Sales at SS are interesting too. I really see an increase in sales when im uploading regularly, but its not always new photos that are selling.   

DanP68

« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2009, 15:13 »
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It's different for everyone Marc.  My Shutterstock earnings were several times more than Fotolia per month, even with images which were established (not new uploads).  Fotolia seems to be hit or miss.  Some people do great there, others make next to nothing.

« Reply #32 on: April 16, 2009, 15:18 »
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Fotolia seems to be hit or miss.  Some people do great there, others make next to nothing.

I wonder why that is? Is there some big secret to success at FT that no one is sharing?

« Reply #33 on: April 16, 2009, 16:08 »
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If there is a big secret to Fotolia I'd like to know it! I get a mere 2 or 3 sales a month. Plus a lot of rejected files.

Stockastic - your IS experience is not uncommon. Same happened to me where I got accepted with three photos and then two out of the three were rejected when submitted. I believe that the acceptance process is judging the composition, sense of stockworthiness, and basic things like that. Once they deem you worthy to supply stock to them, then they hammer you on the little details artifacting, purple fringing and model release etc. - assuming you have the basic stock skills and now just need to refine the details. It works because I quickly learned to deal with those little nasties and now my approval rating at IS is quite strong compared to what it used to be. And if you can crank out some vectors, they can be very lucrative. I have just a handful and the sell very well!

« Reply #34 on: April 16, 2009, 17:21 »
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I'd like to get into vectors, and I think I could do some that would sell, but I know zero about the techniques in use today.  I don't even know what applications people are using to create the vectors I see.  Of course many are obviously 3D renderings requiring a major software investment.  But where are the 2D things coming from? Photoshop?  Excuse my ignorance - I'm strictly a photographic guy. 

baz777

  • Im not sociable so I dont use social media
« Reply #35 on: April 16, 2009, 17:39 »
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I'd like to get into vectors, and I think I could do some that would sell, but I know zero about the techniques in use today.  I don't even know what applications people are using to create the vectors I see.  Of course many are obviously 3D renderings requiring a major software investment.  But where are the 2D things coming from? Photoshop?  Excuse my ignorance - I'm strictly a photographic guy. 

For vectors I use Adobe Illustrator CS3, although I do nearly all my preparation work in AutoCAD and then import into illustrator.

« Reply #36 on: April 16, 2009, 17:53 »
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Ah, Adobe Illustrator and AutoCAD - pretty much what I thought - major investments.   


 

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