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Author Topic: 3 years in micorstock - earnings trends  (Read 7583 times)

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« on: November 15, 2010, 09:03 »
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I just completed my 3rd year in microstock.
My first picture was accepted on 11/15/2007 in IS.

For the first 2 years I was posting monthly earnings reports in my blog.

Nowadays, I am less obsessed with statistics, but for my 3rd anniversary
I prepared some graphs showing trends in my sales - monthly earnings together
with numbers of pictures added to my portfolio
(total and IS, SS, DT, FT which provide 88% of my income).

Earnings from Microstock Photography 3 Year Trends

Sales are just one side of the story, so it is difficult to say if it is encouraging or discouraging experience
without discussing expenses and labor involved. To keep things in a perspective I am using a rough estimate
of my hourly rate as a part time microstock photographer: $20-25/hour.

What's next? Further growth? Reaching plateau? Downhill?


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2010, 17:04 »
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A small note: as Holgs said on your blog, you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2010, 17:19 »
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you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

Maybe yes, but that would be unsustainable  :P
'Less' is the new 'more' at Istock.

« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2010, 17:37 »
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I really liked seeing your progress. Thanks for posting. I'm definitely not an "all eggs in one basket" girl


« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2010, 23:02 »
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nice work Marek:) well a plateau even at $2500 would be nice, too bad you don't live in South East Asia:)

« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2010, 08:33 »
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A small note: as Holgs said on your blog, you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

Probably, I would make more $ as iStock exclusive. 18% vs 35% commission for 2011 (or 17% vs 30% - I am on the edge).
+ Vetta and whatever. However, my income is more stable and more predictable as independent and diversified contributor.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2010, 08:40 by PixelsAway »

« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2010, 08:39 »
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 nevermind
« Last Edit: November 17, 2010, 08:43 by ichiro17 »

« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2010, 08:50 »
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A small note: as Holgs said on your blog, you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

However, my income is more stable and more predictable as independent and diversified contributor.

You have no factual foundation to make this statement as you've never been exclusive nor do you know how your portfolio will fare under those conditions.  People will believe what they want, but for me, its worked the other way around


Well, nobody has factual foundation to say that my portfolio would bring more $ as IS exclusive. The only way to check would be to switch to exclusive status.
Of course, I would be comparing performance of somewhat different portfolios (before and after the switch).

I am not planning that experiment right now ...

« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2010, 09:02 »
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A small note: as Holgs said on your blog, you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

However, my income is more stable and more predictable as independent and diversified contributor.

You have no factual foundation to make this statement as you've never been exclusive nor do you know how your portfolio will fare under those conditions.  People will believe what they want, but for me, its worked the other way around


Well, nobody has factual foundation to say that my portfolio would bring more $ as IS exclusive. The only way to check would be to switch to exclusive status.
Of course, I would be comparing performance of somewhat different portfolios (before and after the switch).

I am not planning that experiment right now ...

Nobody can know for sure, but it is a safe assumption that you would AT LEAST double your income. don't forget picure prices increase as well as royalty.

« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 09:34 »
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Nobody can know for sure, but it is a safe assumption that you would AT LEAST double your income. don't forget picure prices increase as well as royalty.

And next year they can find another new way of screwing the contributor. Or what if IS starts to lose its market share? I would never ever put my eggs in one basket in this unstable business. (And yes, I have been an IS exclusive a long time ago, but when I had invested much time and effort in my portfolio I thought being exclusive was too risky. I have never really looked back)

A Smart move for IS would be to have the possibility to submit some exclusive images and get a better percentage somewhere between what an independent and exclusive contributors make.

« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2010, 11:14 »
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Nobody can know for sure, but it is a safe assumption that you would AT LEAST double your income. don't forget picure prices increase as well as royalty.

And next year they can find another new way of screwing the contributor. Or what if IS starts to lose its market share? I would never ever put my eggs in one basket in this unstable business. (And yes, I have been an IS exclusive a long time ago, but when I had invested much time and effort in my portfolio I thought being exclusive was too risky. I have never really looked back)

A Smart move for IS would be to have the possibility to submit some exclusive images and get a better percentage somewhere between what an independent and exclusive contributors make.

good to know you know their business better than they do - I'll be sure to shoot them over an e-mail and let them know they aren't hiring the right people

I don't agree with some of the things they've done, but business-wise, they have shifted the model.  Those that adapt to it will most gain more likely than not, those that remain here and complain about every single move will not.  There are lots of websites, there's lots of ways to make money.  Find the ways that work for you and go that way.  Bar and pie and line graphs are nice, but  you still need to take pics.  And there are probably much more important ratios to look at just time-series bars

« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2010, 11:49 »
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Nobody can know for sure, but it is a safe assumption that you would AT LEAST double your income. don't forget picure prices increase as well as royalty.

And next year they can find another new way of screwing the contributor. Or what if IS starts to lose its market share? I would never ever put my eggs in one basket in this unstable business. (And yes, I have been an IS exclusive a long time ago, but when I had invested much time and effort in my portfolio I thought being exclusive was too risky. I have never really looked back)

A Smart move for IS would be to have the possibility to submit some exclusive images and get a better percentage somewhere between what an independent and exclusive contributors make.


good to know you know their business better than they do - I'll be sure to shoot them over an e-mail and let them know they aren't hiring the right people

I don't agree with some of the things they've done, but business-wise, they have shifted the model.  Those that adapt to it will most gain more likely than not, those that remain here and complain about every single move will not.  There are lots of websites, there's lots of ways to make money.  Find the ways that work for you and go that way.  Bar and pie and line graphs are nice, but  you still need to take pics.  And there are probably much more important ratios to look at just time-series bars

+1

« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2010, 12:00 »
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I don't agree with some of the things they've done, but business-wise, they have shifted the model.  Those that adapt to it will most gain more likely than not, those that remain here and complain about every single move will not.  There are lots of websites, there's lots of ways to make money.  Find the ways that work for you and go that way.  Bar and pie and line graphs are nice, but  you still need to take pics.  And there are probably much more important ratios to look at just time-series bars

Definitely true. No amount of cheering or complaining is going to help you make more, but it isn't a bad idea sometimes to step back and take a look at what is going on in the industry that pays your bills.

« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2010, 12:19 »
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I'm totally okay with taking a step back.  it really helps to readjust and attempt to aim your focus. 

Its really scary that any changes that happen are reworked as being the end of an industry and that the end is near. 

I bet, and i haven't done this yet, that if i were to take the standard deviation of my returns (to measure the volatility of returns) from when i was independent to when i was exclusive, i would see more volatility in the independent data.  But no one ever posts that type of statistic.

« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2010, 12:40 »
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I'm totally okay with taking a step back.  it really helps to readjust and attempt to aim your focus. 

Its really scary that any changes that happen are reworked as being the end of an industry and that the end is near. 

I bet, and i haven't done this yet, that if i were to take the standard deviation of my returns (to measure the volatility of returns) from when i was independent to when i was exclusive, i would see more volatility in the independent data.  But no one ever posts that type of statistic.

I don't think the end is nigh either, but I'm not sure I like the overall direction things are headed. You may be right that things are about as risky for both exclusives and independents. When contending with several agencies, it is probably more likely that you're going to be taken advantage of by at least one. But when dealing with just one, it's hard to get everything you want or need too. A subtle change in policies in things like approvals, prices or royalties can really throw all your plans in the garbage.

« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2010, 12:50 »
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A small note: as Holgs said on your blog, you yould definitely make more $$$ as an IS exclusive.

Probably, I would make more $ as iStock exclusive. 18% vs 35% commission for 2011 (or 17% vs 30% - I am on the edge).
+ Vetta and whatever. However, my income is more stable and more predictable as independent and diversified contributor.

Of course nobody can decisively say what would happen, I was calculating that switching to exclusive would result in my income from IS being 3 times its previous level. I based this on the exclusive percentage at the exclusive file prices - not on any best match boost. Looking at my post-exclusive figures, that calculation was still a bit conservative.

Before I actually did the sums assumed that going exclusive wouldn't come close to being a financially viable option. In part that's because there isn't exactly a flood of information from people who do make the switch.


« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2010, 13:09 »
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Of course nobody can decisively say what would happen, I was calculating that switching to exclusive would result in my income from IS being 3 times its previous level. I based this on the exclusive percentage at the exclusive file prices - not on any best match boost. Looking at my post-exclusive figures, that calculation was still a bit conservative.

Before I actually did the sums assumed that going exclusive wouldn't come close to being a financially viable option. In part that's because there isn't exactly a flood of information from people who do make the switch.

Holgs, thank you for sharing your independent->exclusive experience.
3x is something to consider.

« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2010, 13:20 »
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....
I bet, and i haven't done this yet, that if i were to take the standard deviation of my returns (to measure the volatility of returns) from when i was independent to when i was exclusive, i would see more volatility in the independent data.  But no one ever posts that type of statistic.

I could run more statistical analysis on my earnings data. So far, I see a rather smooth growth in my graphs (total from multiple agencies) without much of the volatility.
So, I don't think that looking at standard deviation would be very interesting.

I am trying not to be too obsessed with statistics. I really don't look at month to month fluctuations in sales any more, I am rather checking quarterly data just to see some general trends.

I would suggest a small experiment for DT contributors - go to DT statistics and check monthly vs quarterly graphs.

« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2010, 13:56 »
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good to know you know their business better than they do - I'll be sure to shoot them over an e-mail and let them know they aren't hiring the right people

I'm most likely not the only one that can't really understand what IS has been doing for the last months (except making themselves more money). I know you are a die hard IS fanboy so criticizing IS is useless.


Those that adapt to it will most gain more likely than not, those that remain here and complain about every single move will not.

I can't for example see what I possibly could GAIN by the fact that my royalty rate is dropping from 20% to 17% just to feed some fat greedy corporate pigs. Luckily IS only is a part of my income.

There are lots of websites, there's lots of ways to make money.

Yes.

« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2010, 14:27 »
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good to know you know their business better than they do - I'll be sure to shoot them over an e-mail and let them know they aren't hiring the right people

I'm most likely not the only one that can't really understand what IS has been doing for the last months (except making themselves more money). I know you are a die hard IS fanboy so criticizing IS is useless.


Those that adapt to it will most gain more likely than not, those that remain here and complain about every single move will not.

I can't for example see what I possibly could GAIN by the fact that my royalty rate is dropping from 20% to 17% just to feed some fat greedy corporate pigs. Luckily IS only is a part of my income.

There are lots of websites, there's lots of ways to make money.

Yes.

Call me whatever you want, you're the one that doesn't get it.  Yes they are blatantly cutting your commission, but the SS commission you get has been hypothesized to cap out at 20% total, but most of the time you make a lot less commission-wise.  I've seen people complain that commissions are below 20% at Fotolia, so why are you so upset at IS.  And by the way, I thank you very much for having your commission cut, because without you, it wouldn't be possible for me to get my 35% :)

« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2010, 14:46 »
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Call me whatever you want, you're the one that doesn't get it.  Yes they are blatantly cutting your commission, but the SS commission you get has been hypothesized to cap out at 20% total, but most of the time you make a lot less commission-wise.  I've seen people complain that commissions are below 20% at Fotolia, so why are you so upset at IS.  And by the way, I thank you very much for having your commission cut, because without you, it wouldn't be possible for me to get my 35% :)

I don't like many of the sites that I send my work to, but they pay me so I'm hanging with them. But I certainly know that I wouldn't want to be "married" to any of them like the exclusives at IS. The problem is that most of the exclusives doesn't know how life is outside their exclusive bubble. I'm pretty sure many of them would even be surprised that there are sites where you don't need to click any buttons when uploading your stuff, just sending files via FTP :)

BTW SS percentage can be low (we cannot be sure), but they have always treated contributors fairly well and offering them raises (hmm... it's been a while since they last time gave us a raise... ).

I also sell some of my images as macro RF, even that wouldn't be possible as an IS exclusive. IS seems really to hold its exclusives by the balls.

« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2010, 15:04 »
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Call me whatever you want, you're the one that doesn't get it.  Yes they are blatantly cutting your commission, but the SS commission you get has been hypothesized to cap out at 20% total, but most of the time you make a lot less commission-wise.  I've seen people complain that commissions are below 20% at Fotolia, so why are you so upset at IS.  And by the way, I thank you very much for having your commission cut, because without you, it wouldn't be possible for me to get my 35% :)

I don't like many of the sites that I send my work to, but they pay me so I'm hanging with them. But I certainly know that I wouldn't want to be "married" to any of them like the exclusives at IS. The problem is that most of the exclusives doesn't know how life is outside their exclusive bubble. I'm pretty sure many of them would even be surprised that there are sites where you don't need to click any buttons when uploading your stuff, just sending files via FTP :)

BTW SS percentage can be low (we cannot be sure), but they have always treated contributors fairly well and offering them raises (hmm... it's been a while since they last time gave us a raise... ).

I also sell some of my images as macro RF, even that wouldn't be possible as an IS exclusive. IS seems really to hold its exclusives by the balls.

I'm not going to get into another argument like this.  There's plenty of them around.  if you want to see how this plays out, there's plenty of threads here to read

« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2010, 15:13 »
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I'm not going to get into another argument like this.  There's plenty of them around.  if you want to see how this plays out, there's plenty of threads here to read

You have chosen your path, and you have the right to do so. But don't try to make me quiet if I want to tell about my philosophy (NOT putting all eggs in one basket). I know it's hard to be an exclusive and not being able to do anything but listen.

« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2010, 15:48 »
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I'm not going to get into another argument like this.  There's plenty of them around.  if you want to see how this plays out, there's plenty of threads here to read

You have chosen your path, and you have the right to do so. But don't try to make me quiet if I want to tell about my philosophy (NOT putting all eggs in one basket). I know it's hard to be an exclusive and not being able to do anything but listen.

you can tell your story, but if there's something i can call you out on, i will


 

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