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Author Topic: A perfect microstock website - what's it like in your opinion?  (Read 12411 times)

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« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2007, 05:41 »
Guys all these ideas are being taken into account for Zymmetrical..  it really is interesting because some points brought up, I (as a person involved in building an agency) didn't really think were important, obviously are.

For example, the artist payout price of $100. Currently we will pay by Paypal at -any- owed amount, and $100 min for wire transfers:

Paypal 'no limit' - The way I look at it, if someone spends the time to send a money request for $10, they must .really. need that cash, either a student or someone in a poorer country. Takes only a moment to initiate payment and ok payout in our admin system, so why not.

Wire transfers $100 - Costly to perform (we do a 50/50 on the transfer fees normally), but again not much harder logistically than a Paypal transfer to do.  If lowering the payout min to $30 will inspire confidence, then why not?     

Even if some of these business tasks start to add up in extra accounting labor expenses for the agency, i'm sure these minor expenses would be outweighed by increased participation from members.

Any more ideas, keep 'em coming!

« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2007, 06:29 »
Let's talk more about it. Here or using some online messaging service. Do you have one?

As far as I get you, you want a website to contain both microstock and macrostock images, all in one and be able to price them yourself?


www.featurepics.com dose all that already.  To improve on them, I would like a to see a site that also sells prints and merchandise like www.CafePress.com

Combine those and you should have something that other sites are missing.

« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2007, 11:25 »
Ok, sharpshot, as far as I understand you would like to sell both photos and merchandise with your photos at the same website.

Here is a question for you, would you like to sell your merchandise at the main website or create your own shop (like at cafepress.com)? Or both?

And would you like to give your photo buyer an opportunity to design a product with your photo and buy it?


« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2007, 12:09 »
I don't want a separate shop.  Just let the buyer have as many options as possible.  Download the file, have prints made or put the image on mugs, t-shirts etc.

The buyer could design a product using my photo and buy it and I suppose if they buy an Extended License, they can re-sell that product.

« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2007, 15:26 »
APOLOGIES that I'm posting something so long right here, the link no longer works.  I thought Jagelski may find it interesting.  I e-mailed myself this article from the web last March.  I'm in Canada and there are so many cool alternatives (shutterfly, zazzle, etc.) in the U.S. but sometimes it is a BIG hassle to import things, and the exchange, taxes, duties, shipping often ends up doubling the price of the product.   You can barely find this sort of thing up here.  I put a lot of thought and research into opening up a business like this up here.  I find the crowdsourcing possibility interesting as well.

For photographers in the U.S., if you want to add tiles, canvas, coasters etc. to your product offerings the best photo novelty rates I've found are for professionals at www.photonovelty.com

Here's the article: 

Photo novelty market booming
Custom prints on merchandise rise

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - More Americans than ever are wearing their photographs. Or eating them. Or showcasing them on calendars, greeting cards and china plates.

In the versatile digital age, picture-bearing merchandise is a booming segment of the photo printing market - and a lucrative one, too. Now the mostly online arena appears poised to gravitate big-time to the corner pharmacy.

Scores of online players, led by Shutterfly Inc., Eastman Kodak Co.'s KodakGallery.com and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Snapfish.com, tout a variety of photo novelties, from laser-etched crystal ornaments to personalized postcards, key rings, T-shirts, purses, mugs, mousepads, birthday cakes and lollipops.

Kodak and Japan's Fujifilm Holdings Corp., which divided up the traditional film market, are unveiling new technologies and partnerships designed to counter eroding profits from film processing by reeling in custom-photo customers via retail channels.

U.S. sales in the specialty market - counting online and retail - jumped 50 percent to an estimated $694 million in 2006 from $461 million in 2005 and could reach $951 million this year and $1.2 billion in 2008, according to Photo Marketing Association International, a trade group whose annual convention opens Thursday in Las Vegas.

"The photo industry is desperately looking for ways to replace the money lost to lower volumes and lower prices for basic 4-by-6-inch prints," said Alan Bullock, a consumer-imaging analyst at InfoTrends Inc.

"There's a whole slew of products out there generating higher margins than 4-by-6 prints ever did. When people see one for the first time, they go, 'Wow, that's really cool!' "

The swift transition to a world without film triggered a slide in the overall number of snapshots converted into prints.

Digital and film images ordered from retailers and Web sites or made at home fell from a peak of 30.3 billion in 2000 to 26.6 billion in 2006 and could bottom out at around 22.5 billion by 2009, predicted Dimitrios Delis, research director at the Jackson, Mich.-based Photo Marketing Association.

But the blossoming of often pricey alternatives, from photo apparel to putting computer reproductions of images onto posters, Jacuzzi tiles, furniture and tombstones, drove an 11 percent jump in overall revenues from $9.9 billion in 2005 to $11.1 billion in 2006, Delis said. The latest number includes $6.7 billion in sales of digital cameras, which analysts say have landed in almost 60 percent of America's 110 million households.

Prices run from $13.99 for a photo mug, $39.99 for a 20-picture photo book and $34.99 for a teddy bear wearing a custom-photo sweat shirt to $49.99 for a sterling necklace containing a picture of a loved one.

(color=blue]Pixart/Lorraine's Shameless plug:[/color]  If in Canada or U.S. you can make photobooks and dvds on my website www.pixartdesign.com )

Redwood City, Calif.-based Shutterfly, which generated $40 million in fourth-quarter sales of personalized products such as photo-adorned necklaces and handbags, is the biggest online player with a 25 percent share, said analyst Chris Chute of IDC Corp. Its most popular holiday item was a photo collage card that can carry up to nine pictures.

"We sold tens and tens of millions of them," said Chief Executive Jeffrey Housenbold, boasting gross profit margins of over 50 percent.

« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2007, 23:26 »
It's good to see you doing some research in here before you launch your site as it seems this space is full of agencies poping up without much clue or a few years behind in their approach to microstock.

I assume that as well as evaluating everyone's feedback in here you, you've signed up to a few major sites as both a buyer and contributor to get a general feel of what works and what doesn't

Despite the fact that this seems like a busy market place, this is very much a growth area and I believe there is still ample room for new operators, willing to put in some elbow grease.

My suggestions would be to look at a few other successful sites and take all the best bits, living out the bad.

For example:

123RF has nice and easy uploads and processing, though would be better if they showed 30 images per edit page. Dreamstime has a nice feature where you can enter the id of a similar image to use the same information, while StockExpert would have to rate as one of the easiest sites to upload and process your images. ShutterStock is also pretty good, while Fotolia, iStock and BigStock are all quite terrible in that respect.

123RF also has the best model release management system out of all the sites that I use.

Also you have to be careful not to fall into the Lucky Oliver trap of of trying to focus too much on the contributors in terms of their whole site, website and interface included. While I find their site quite cute personally, I just don't think that it cuts it with it's large graphics, fixed width limitations, huge and oversized text. To me LO feels like something out of Sesame Street and not a site that most busy professional ad agencies and designers would take seriously.

Yes contributors are important but believe me if you offer $15 for each 150 submitted and accepted images, untill say a person reaches 900 images (if you can afford that) you will have photographers coming to you in droves with good quality work. If you could do that till you reached 300,000 images you would have yourself a great start in a very short time frame, for not a huge initial outlay.

Then the rest of the budget should be allocated toward marketing marketing and marketing of your agency. Throw lots of dollars toward google adds, print media (design, advertising and general interest magazines), build a strong forum and a loyal community of contributors and buyers. Hold monthly photo competitions with either prizes and or prime coverage for accepted submissions.Offer both credit and monthly subscription options to your buyers. Keep your site vibrant with fresh and relevant photography and microstock related content but most of all MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN EASY AND FAST INTERFACE FOR YOUR BUYERS!. Just look at Fotolia, I actually rate their interface quite highly in terms of ease of use, finding what you want, the layout etc, except that of course, currently their search engine is stuffed (I can't find any of my 900 images since version 2) and it's still painfully slow. However despite all that they are still getting decent volumes of sales through.

If I was you, I would separate my resources into two devisions, buyers and contributors and have different people looking after each respective side. I would allocate 70% of my time and resources toward existing and potential buyers and 30% toward contributors, remembering that without buyers no matter how nice you are toward your contributors, you will end up going broke sooner or later.

Oh and one more thing, I challenge you to have a forum that allows posting of links and discussions regarding other microstock sites as if you have a good product, you will have nothing to worry about. Sure a few newcomers will find out from your forums about other agencies and sign-up with these, but the good will you will win in return from your members, for having an open discussion area, will be well worth it in return.

If you do all of the above, you will have a chance of succeeding where countless others have failed and indeed are in the process of failing as we speak....

Best of luck to you :)

« Reply #31 on: August 21, 2007, 12:19 »
personally I think you're fishing in the wrong pond.  The question is not what we (photogs) want but what the customers want.

If your site generates enough sales, even when conditions for photogs are not so good (see istock), there will be enough contributors. Just because they can earn something at your site.

So I would set up a survey for stock buyers (both micro and macro) and ask them what they are missing (in more questions than just this one of course).  Give some prices away for those desingers filling in the survey ... blablabla ...

Then you have a goal ... now you're just thinking in the wild.

« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2007, 13:00 »
First of all, thank you everyone for your great replies!

Here are some questions for you:

I see that some of you really want a merchandise option to be offered on a microstock website. That's great, but what service exactly do you want? To give an option to put YOUR photos on products, right? If so, I have looked into the market and found out that T-shirts will fall out then, cause photos are ok for calendars, posters etc, but T-shirts with pictures on them sell worse than T-shirts with some vector illustrations.

So I would like to discuss this with you.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 00:21 by Jagelski »

« Reply #33 on: August 21, 2007, 14:21 »
Perrush, any idea where to find these buyers? I mean when I wanted to find microstock photographers, I googled for microstock forum and here I am. But I have no idea where to find buyers, otherwise I would have done it already.

Richard,  I don't want to be rough, but if you can't answer this question by yourself, you should be wondering if you know enough of this business to take the plunge ?

Most successful business are set-up by someone from 'the inside' which you're clearly not.  So do you really want this and have tons of money ($ xx.xxx at least) ready to pump into this ?

« Reply #34 on: August 21, 2007, 14:44 »
Er, well, hehe, you got me wrong.
I did not mean I didn't know where to find buyers, I meant buyers don't have such place like this one where they chat and discuss microstock websites. They are all different people actually (designers, printers, editors etc), so we don't have a forum to come and ask them. That's what I meant. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Oh well, I reread my message with your attitude and it was really funny :)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 14:46 by Jagelski »

« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2007, 04:36 »

Not a very useful suggestion for the thread, but a feature I'd like to see on microstock sites due to some current frustration..

The system should retain the photographers original file name, in a field viewable/searchable/sortable by the photographer..  I've only got a small portfolio and it's soooooo annoying trying to find images on some of the sites to update keywords, or remove them if you find a dust-spot or something and you want to re-submit it...


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