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Author Topic: Closed to new contributors  (Read 8487 times)

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Ed

« on: July 29, 2011, 13:40 »
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Something I've been wondering about for a while....a hypothetical question....

How would you feel if one of the top tier sites (Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, Fotolia) made the following business decisions effective January 1, 2012:

1) Close to new contributors
2) Purge all contributor accounts with an image portfolio of less than 5,000 images as of 1/1/2012
3) Change contribution standards to be stricter (similar to what Shutterstock is currently doing or what iStock does)

What would you do?  What is your perception of what customers would do?


« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2011, 13:47 »
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That would be a dumb decision on their part - I know I outsell many contributors with portfolios over 5,000 despite having half that many photos.  I think they would be smarter to base it on sales.

To answer your question - I guess I would be purged :(

« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2011, 13:56 »
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I can't control the rules - idiot or genius - that the agencies make.

If someone says you need 5K images to play, then I won't be playing there. None of the agencies are the sort of long term partner you can count on so making some huge effort to keep them happy isn't likely to pay off. Perhaps the agencies would be happy with only the big factories, but I think the same-y quality of it all might not be fine with buyers.

As far as closing to new contributors, that'd be close to suicide for any site that sells subscriptions. They need a steady flow of new images to keep subscribers happy.

I think standards that align with what buyers are asking for make a ton of sense. It's clear to me from uploading my portfolio to a bunch of sites in the last two months that they have no idea what will sell and what wont. I've had lots of LCV rejections on things I know sell (because they already have). So as keeping buyers happy, not  giving contributors a bunch of hoops for no reason other than restricting supply, should be the primary focus of any inspection standard.

« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2011, 14:13 »
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that will never happen..

the only thing that may happen is the sctrict reviewing but I see a lot of crappy noise pictures getting approved everywhere and yes FT, DT, SS.. so they are still very gentle

« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2011, 14:16 »
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I guess they wouldn't have too many vector contributors at 5000+ images. I like the concept of a more moderated or picky agency, but I don't see any of the big 4 making a strong push in that direction. I suppose IS is the closest by trying to create an upper tier of images. I'm not sure if they are succeeding with the strategy though.

« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2011, 14:29 »
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I don't even have 500!  ;D

it doesn't make much sense to restrict this, but quality should always be the #1 priority.

rubyroo

« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 15:26 »
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1) Close to new contributors
2) Purge all contributor accounts with an image portfolio of less than 5,000 images as of 1/1/2012
3) Change contribution standards to be stricter (similar to what Shutterstock is currently doing or what iStock does)

To take these in order:

1)  Would make no sense at all, as the biggest seller in the history of microstock could be just about to knock on the door.  Why would they risk excluding that artist?  Also - as jsnover said, microstock thrives on a high intake of fresh images. 

2) Would make no sense either, because they may have ports with over 5,000 images from sub-standard days.  Another artist might have a port of 500 images that earns far more.

3) is already happening across the board, so that is to be expected.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 15:28 by rubyroo »

« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 15:41 »
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Hey, I say drop everyone that has OVER 5000.

OM

« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2011, 16:54 »
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I can just see the agencies telling the Greek contributor with 'plasticine man' images that they could no longer carry his portfolio of under 300 images despite his top ranking on all the stock sites. ;D

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2011, 02:45 »
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1) and 2) Great, less competition! But unfortunately I believe customers wouldn't like this. They want variety and ability to choose. See complaints at Dreamstime.

3) Not sure it's happening.
Actually, lately Istock is easier than it used to be. Maybe because contributors are disillusioned and not uploading enough. And Shutterstock is random-rejecting more but not actually being stricter in quality.

By the way, please don't give 'em bad ideas, they are able enough by themselves  >:(
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 02:53 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2011, 02:48 »
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How about a one in one out policy when say 20m images are reached - ie for everry new picture accepted the ones with the longest no sales is removed?

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2011, 02:54 »
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A good search engine (e.g. Shutterstock) has the same effect by sending non-selling pictures at the end of results.

« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2011, 03:45 »
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This novel idea reminds me of where the traditional agencies were in 2002. And look what the response to that was.

« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2011, 10:57 »
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These suggestions/ideas make me think you don't understand the economics of microstock.  Shutterstock would be far better off getting rid of everyone who's made $500 or more and keeping all the new photographers who just started.  They don't because quality of the gallery would suffer but they make a lot more money on a new photographers sales then they do mine or someone else who's crossed $10k. 

« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2011, 11:09 »
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... And Shutterstock is random-rejecting more but not actually being stricter in quality.


I am seeing that too.  After 2 years of high acceptance at SS I've just had some totally off-the-wall rejections.  DT and GL liked those images just fine.  It's just not making any sense.  

Ed

« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2011, 11:14 »
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These suggestions/ideas make me think you don't understand the economics of microstock.  Shutterstock would be far better off getting rid of everyone who's made $500 or more and keeping all the new photographers who just started.  They don't because quality of the gallery would suffer but they make a lot more money on a new photographers sales then they do mine or someone else who's crossed $10k. 

I understand the economics.....which is the reason I asked what others thought.  In the instance of Shutterstock (since you bring them up specifically), how would you feel as a new contributor that consistently gets image rejections?  You would eventually delete your portfolio once you got payout correct?  How many have done that with agencies such as Crestock?  You might say "but Shutterstock is a high earner" -  that's correct, if you have the portfolio to support those earnings but if your images aren't getting accepted, it's going to take months to hit payout.

At the same time, those with larger portfolios (for the most part with exceptions like Ron Chapple who are concentrating on other projects) - rejections or not, are those who consistently create new, good quality, content....in the instance of Shutterstock, these would be Micheal Ray, Laurin, etc.

It's very common for traditional agencies to close to new contributors....personally, I would not be surprised to see an agency or two do this in the next few years.

My thoughts are....the way this business is evolving...the "crowdsourcing" mentality/business model is evolving.

« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2011, 11:27 »
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In the instance of Shutterstock (since you bring them up specifically), how would you feel as a new contributor that consistently gets image rejections?  You would eventually delete your portfolio once you got payout correct?  How many have done that with agencies such as Crestock?  You might say "but Shutterstock is a high earner" -  that's correct, if you have the portfolio to support those earnings but if your images aren't getting accepted, it's going to take months to hit payout.

Back when I started at Shutterstock, I did have a high rate of rejections.  And I had laughably small income as well; it took five months before I saw double digits in revenue.  That made me more determined, not less, and I kept uploading and kept trying new subjects and worked on my technique.  And eventually both my skills and my income caught up with my determination.  Now I rarely have rejections, and when I do, I can generally see what they didn't like.  It took a few years, but I'm the better for it.

And maybe I'm uniquely stubborn, but I've never understood why someone would remove their portfolio from a site that's just paid out.  Heck, I've only occasionally done it from sites that are unlikely ever to pay.  Too much effort, and I just don't see the point.  The only sites I remove content from are those that have treated me poorly, and those have generally paid off well and often even as they turned the screws.  I fight back against malfeasance; incompetence tends to take care of itself.


Ed

« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2011, 11:34 »
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In the instance of Shutterstock (since you bring them up specifically), how would you feel as a new contributor that consistently gets image rejections?  You would eventually delete your portfolio once you got payout correct?  How many have done that with agencies such as Crestock?  You might say "but Shutterstock is a high earner" -  that's correct, if you have the portfolio to support those earnings but if your images aren't getting accepted, it's going to take months to hit payout.

Back when I started at Shutterstock, I did have a high rate of rejections.  And I had laughably small income as well; it took five months before I saw double digits in revenue.  That made me more determined, not less, and I kept uploading and kept trying new subjects and worked on my technique.  And eventually both my skills and my income caught up with my determination.  Now I rarely have rejections, and when I do, I can generally see what they didn't like.  It took a few years, but I'm the better for it.

And maybe I'm uniquely stubborn, but I've never understood why someone would remove their portfolio from a site that's just paid out.  Heck, I've only occasionally done it from sites that are unlikely ever to pay.  Too much effort, and I just don't see the point.  The only sites I remove content from are those that have treated me poorly, and those have generally paid off well and often even as they turned the screws.  I fight back against malfeasance; incompetence tends to take care of itself.

That's exactly my point  ;D

You've got over 5,000 images - 11,000ish, you're going to repeatedly continue to upload more and keep at it.  They have over 300,000 contributors on the site....why should they deal with the smaller folks if they know they can depend on you to provide them with what they need?  Why should they waste their time training new contributors?

« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2011, 11:48 »
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You've got over 5,000 images - 11,000ish, you're going to repeatedly continue to upload more and keep at it.  They have over 300,000 contributors on the site....why should they deal with the smaller folks if they know they can depend on you to provide them with what they need?  Why should they waste their time training new contributors?

But why wouldn't they?  Granted, the reviewer cost per image accepted is higher for new contributors, since they likely have a higher rate of rejection.  But those new contributors are a source of fresh content; not just new images but potentially new images with a different look, or maybe subjects from a different part of the world or with a different ethnic background.  Why risk going stale when the cost of attracting new content is still so reasonable?

In any event, the application exam keeps out the truly incompetent.  They hadn't yet established that when I joined, for which I'm grateful.  Not sure how many attempts it would have taken me, nor whether I'd have given up long before I passed.

Oh, and my current count is over 13,000.  Just sayin'.

lisafx

« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2011, 12:24 »
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It's very common for traditional agencies to close to new contributors....personally, I would not be surprised to see an agency or two do this in the next few years.

My thoughts are....the way this business is evolving...the "crowdsourcing" mentality/business model is evolving.

Agree, the model is definitely evolving (or more accurately devolving IMO), but I don't see any benefit to the agencies in closing to new submitters.  Smarter of them to make the barriers to entry higher, and tighten up image standards, as they have done.  That way untalented newbies will not make it in, and any desireable ones will still be able to get through. 

I don't think the level of exclusivity that the traditional agencies enjoyed is possible anymore, due to the internet and the affordability of quality DSLRs. 

lisafx

« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2011, 12:31 »
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You've got over 5,000 images - 11,000ish, you're going to repeatedly continue to upload more and keep at it.  They have over 300,000 contributors on the site....why should they deal with the smaller folks if they know they can depend on you to provide them with what they need?  

Disorderly summed it up nicely (as usual :) ). They can't depend on the big guns to supply everything they need.

The big guns stick to the same generic concepts, lighting formulas, models, etc.  They produce many thousands of images that all look alike.  It's the little guys who produce the niche stuff.  The agencies need BOTH to survive.  

And as an added bonus, that little niche shooter is very economical to keep - he isn't making payout often, or at a high %, plus he's not putting any strain on the servers.  He provides unique images that put the icing on the cake of the vast microstock library.

rubyroo

« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2011, 12:36 »
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I agree with Lisa here.

Also, I have heard from designers that what they appreciate about the microstock model is the sheer breadth and choice that is available to them.  Not just in subject matter, but in copy space position; colour theme; lighting style etc.  Even if they want something a bit 'oddball' they can usually find it.  

The greater the number of contributors, the greater the choice in style, variation, etc. and also the greater the chance of that 'oddball' shot that perhaps only one person would think of.

ETA:   Oops, I was agreeing with Lisa's post above the one above.  We seem to have posted the second message at the same time - and I've echoed hers a little.
  

« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2011, 12:48 »
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As of the cut off date by OP, there were only less than 100 contributors with 5000 images at iStock.  ;D

lisafx

« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2011, 12:53 »
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Also, I have heard from designers that what they appreciate about the microstock model is the sheer breadth and choice that is available to them.  Not just in subject matter, but in copy space position; colour theme; lighting style etc.  Even if they want something a bit 'oddball' they can usually find it.  

The greater the number of contributors, the greater the choice in style, variation, etc. and also the greater the chance of that 'oddball' shot that perhaps only one person would think of.

ETA:   Oops, I was agreeing with Lisa's post above the one above.  We seem to have posted the second message at the same time - and I've echoed hers a little.
  

And no surprise I agree with you too :D

Good to hear the designer's perspective.  It adds a lot to the discussion.  That "oddball" stuff is vital to the collections! 

rubyroo

« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2011, 13:24 »
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 :D

Well you know it might only be one designer in history finding one match with one contributor's oddball shot.  But I'm told that they like to know that the chance is there.

@ Ed - The thing is, no matter how versatile and adept at a number of approaches any one (or few) of us may be, there is no way that fewer contributors are ever going to be able to match the variety of approach of a greater number.

...and if my contacts are an accurate reflection of what most designers want, then that's what they get in microstock.  This is the main reason I can't see it shrinking any time soon.  As Lisa said, it's more likely they'll raise the bar going forwards, and those who can't keep up will naturally fall away.  There are plenty who are determined enough to keep learning and improving and staying in the game though.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 13:28 by rubyroo »


 

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