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Author Topic: 30 months in microstock - what % of sales go to expenses?  (Read 6849 times)

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« on: May 10, 2010, 06:09 »
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I gave up with posting my monthly earnings reports. I was too busy shooting and my graphs got a little bit too boring ...

However, I couldn't resist and made a graph of trends in my earnings over last 2.5 year against a number of pictures added to my microstock portfolio: Microstock Earnings First 30 Months. Things are slowing down lately.

I am trying to follow my business model idea of microstock as a part time (1/3) job: ~60 hours per month of work and expenses below 30% of sales. I am not sure if it is sustainable in a long run ...

What percentage of microstock earnings do you spend to cover your related expenses including investments in equipment?

Marek
« Last Edit: May 10, 2010, 13:45 by PixelsAway »


« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2010, 15:21 »
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all of it and a lot more LOL .. but I've commented before on my business model being structured to use microstock primarily as a means of creating expenses to deduct from my actual studio. Here's how I figure things normally .. I don't know if it could be applied to a micro model worth trying but here ya go.

When I evaluate most expenses I think of it in terms of profit percentages. If I spend X amount on materials to fulfill a clients needs I expect somewhere around a 4000% profit.

When I evaluate advertising expenses then I calculate a traditional 7% expense.

When it comes to equipment I don't think in terms of percentages. I either buy it or I don't. It's best to think in needs and wants. Do I honestly need a piece of gear in order to get the job done? If I don't need it then it doesn't fit into my business model. I will also take into consideration items I don't need if they have a continuous impact on productivity. If it shaves time off on a regular basis then I buy it. If it don't need it to get the job done or it doesn't speed up my current workflow then it's just a personal want item.

On a yearly average I'm looking at something in the 3-5% actual expense (which is exactly why I use micro to generate expense rather than profit)

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2010, 15:26 »
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What percentage of microstock earnings do you spend to cover your related expenses including investments in equipment?


For me, my expenses were only around 15% of net income for the past couple of years.  I got killed on taxes.  Gonna have to come up with some more expenses...

I've commented before on my business model being structured to use microstock primarily as a means of creating expenses to deduct from my actual studio.

This is pure genius :D.  Maybe I should open a studio to create expenses to deduct from my microstock business...

« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2010, 15:45 »
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I've commented before on my business model being structured to use microstock primarily as a means of creating expenses to deduct from my actual studio.

This is pure genius :D.  Maybe I should open a studio to create expenses to deduct from my microstock business...

You really should open a studio I think you'd do awesome at it .. just stay away from my side of the state line LOL  ;D

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2010, 17:36 »
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You really should open a studio I think you'd do awesome at it .. just stay away from my side of the state line LOL  ;D

Thanks for the vote of confidence Randy :D 

But you have nothing to worry about from me.  I have no head or stomach for running that type of business. I am hopeless at marketing, collecting payment, and worst of all dealing with customers!!  My hats off to you folks that can manage to please all those picky parents and brides! 

« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 14:28 »
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Returning back to my question ... Expenses as a % of sales.

I am not planning to be a full time microstocker or full time photographer. I am just trying to optimize my stock photography as a part time job. By this I mean just not extra money to supplement a full time job (which is a the most common situation here), but money to compensate for a lost job (1/2 of it).

RacePhoto

« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 15:56 »
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Returning back to my question ... Expenses as a % of sales.

I am not planning to be a full time microstocker or full time photographer. I am just trying to optimize my stock photography as a part time job. By this I mean just not extra money to supplement a full time job (which is a the most common situation here), but money to compensate for a lost job (1/2 of it).

I always enjoy your writing, charts and pictures. I did have a question, which may be my ignorance, but...

"During 2 years I produced nearly 1800 pictures for microstock. My recent RPI is $0.84 per image and growing."


Is that annual or monthly or overall for all time?

« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 16:00 »
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1/2 salary for the average monthly household income in Fort Collins limits would be around $2000 in micro sales .. county wide stats are close to double. Not sure where you fall in that census but I'm probably gonna lean towards investing as little as possible into your expenses. If you don't "need" to spend it then don't spend it. The camera gear you have listed on your site is fine for micro. Any purchases there would be a want.
Make the most of your existing props. Those old print blocks you have are awesome. You seem to do a lot of still life setups so be creative and use mainly items you already own .. if a friend has something cool to shoot ask them and they will most likely say sure. If you do want to create expense through props research them first .. if you look up shots using honey dippers and see you might not make any sales then dont go and spend $8 on a honey dipper.
If your main goal is money to replace a lost job I would research non-stock areas .. your community more than supports it even on a hobby level .. you just got to start talking to people about it.

ap

« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 16:20 »
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i justify many of my shopping sprees these days with "that'll be great as a prop for stock". it just kind of hard to not use the item till i actually shoot it (or eat it).

« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2010, 17:04 »
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Interesting question!  :)

In my first 18 months in microstock I spent about 15 percent of my revenue for new camera, lenses softboxes and props. But now I have all important equipment, so I think I will reduce the fraction of money I am going to invest to a level of about 5 7 percent for props and replacement investment.
I just try to keep the monetary investment (besides labor) below a maximum of 2-3 $ per image. Assuming a RPI of 1 $ per month I will start earning my wages after the image is 2-3 months online.

StockFox  :)

« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2010, 18:06 »
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300%

« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2010, 19:13 »
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You really should open a studio I think you'd do awesome at it .. just stay away from my side of the state line LOL  ;D

Thanks for the vote of confidence Randy :D 

But you have nothing to worry about from me.  I have no head or stomach for running that type of business. I am hopeless at marketing, collecting payment, and worst of all dealing with customers!!  My hats off to you folks that can manage to please all those picky parents and brides! 

Hi Lisa,
I am experiencing the same problem as you, I also have a difficult time dealing with marketing. I am surprised that you don't already have a studio.
All the best,

Kone

« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2010, 19:18 »
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+"During 2 years I produced nearly 1800 pictures for microstock. My recent RPI is $0.84 per image and growing."

Is that annual or monthly or overall for all time?

It is monthly RPI using a total number of my pictures produced for microstock (i.e., including rejects, multiple versions).
Actually, the above RPI was at a time of my writing, about 6 months ago. Since then, I added more pictures, but my sales are growing much slower now,
so the RPI dropped down a little bit.

« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2010, 02:01 »
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What percentage of microstock earnings do you spend to cover your related expenses including investments in equipment?
Equipment alone, about 150%.  ;D

lisafx

« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2010, 08:37 »
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I am experiencing the same problem as you, I also have a difficult time dealing with marketing. I am surprised that you don't already have a studio.
All the best,

Glad I am not alone in that Kone :)

I do have a studio (converted garage) for shooting micro, but I think Randy meant "studio" in the sense of having a storefront to actually photograph and interact with clients.  That's the kind of studio I don't want :)

« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2010, 17:35 »
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I am experiencing the same problem as you, I also have a difficult time dealing with marketing. I am surprised that you don't already have a studio.
All the best,

Glad I am not alone in that Kone :)

I do have a studio (converted garage) for shooting micro, but I think Randy meant "studio" in the sense of having a storefront to actually photograph and interact with clients.  That's the kind of studio I don't want :)

A few years ago when I said studio I would have definitely meant an actual commercial location but those days are changing fast. A lot of studio owners have been moving out of commercial spaces the last couple years. Anyone in the PPA who reads Professional Photographer magazine .. there was an article just a couple months ago about moving your studio back home and it had some awesome ideas for converting space. We also decided not to renew the lease on our building this year. 2 years ago we saw a ton more location requests. Last year only a very small percent of clients requested sessions inside the studio. This year not a single client has requested in studio. Everybody wants on-location.


 

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