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Author Topic: comparison of agencies  (Read 6919 times)

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yecatsdoherty

« on: June 04, 2008, 10:54 »
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so, was recently told I'm too in love with iStock.....I am a very happy exclusive....but I'd like to know some arguments for being non-exclusive....are there things other sites do way better than iStock? I have only worked with iStock but it seems sales are declining a bit, and it has me a little worried. I tend toward optimism, and I think the iStock model is really fabulous...so my gut instinct is to stick it out, but am I missing something about Shutterstock or some of the other agencies?


RT


« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2008, 11:47 »
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so, was recently told I'm too in love with iStock.....I am a very happy exclusive....but I'd like to know some arguments for being non-exclusive....are there things other sites do way better than iStock? I have only worked with iStock but it seems sales are declining a bit, and it has me a little worried. I tend toward optimism, and I think the iStock model is really fabulous...so my gut instinct is to stick it out, but am I missing something about Shutterstock or some of the other agencies?

IMO if you're doing this part time stick where you are you'll make more money, if this is your full time occupation you'll make more by spreading your work.

I don't think there's a correct answer, what works for some doesn't for others.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2008, 11:57 »
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I'm also a writer, so I guess I am doing it 50% of the time...I love working with iStock, but I have never worked elsewhere. I would be reluctant to change now. I love the IS community and their business model. Probably because they are what I know, but before I was exclusive, I considered spreading out to Shutterstock as well and they just didn't really grab me in terms of interest.

I would have to have a great reason to switch to non-exclusive....how is it working with Shutterstock? similar to iStock?

jsnover

« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2008, 13:13 »
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I'd say the advantages of being independent are:

- Each site has its editorial preferences in bulding a collection. You get to submit a variety of work (iStock up till now won't take lots of raster art, which sells very well elsewhere)
- Money. Until you're a diamond, you'll make more money.
- Stability. When one agency f's up the site or changes the search engine, you'll probably be having a good month somewhere else.
- It's never as upsetting when something gets rejected as there are always the other sites to sell your work.
- You actually know how things are in other parts of the business because you're selling there and uploading there. Possibly you get to see more of emerging trends.
- Uploading everywhere else is a ton easier than iStock (FTP, stored model releases, etc.)
- You get to upload as much as you like - most places have much higher or no upload limits.

The disadvantages you probably know, but we could all probably list them if you like :)

I would say that now might not be the greatest time to become independent. SS and FT have had slow sales for some recently and they, along with DT are the workhorses that bring in the buck for most of us.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2008, 14:01 »
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thank you so much for the comprehensive reply....that's really helpful...a lot of those points make sense. I feel like I'm saying bad things about my mom when I talk about iStock...lol...not that I have much bad to say, but I do often consider the possibility that I am missing out on a bunch of opportunities elsewhere...and the constant change lately has me feeling kind of shaky...my sales have been okay, but a number of close colleagues on iStock are really losing right now...

« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2008, 14:04 »
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I'm too far in with iStock to become unexclusive now (3000+ images) but if I was starting again or had a portfolio of hundreds rather than thousands I would go the independent route. Not because there's anything wrong with iStock - they're pretty good to their contributors by and large and have been a major success for me - just to spread the risk and lessen the blows from ebb and flow.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2008, 14:10 »
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I'm certainly committed enough to iStock to stick it out, but should anything really crazy go down, I want to be aware of my options...I'm pretty entrenched too, 1,300 files and on my way to gold canister...but at least if I know what I'm talking about, I can argue equally for and against exclusivity...apparently I say "I love iStock" way too much, lol...but what can I say, I kinda do...for now...until it becomes unrequited love anyways

there is so much buzzing about iStock sales going down, is there any truth to that? or is it contagious negativity? I don't tend to jump on board with nay sayers unless I have a negative experience personally...I expected an ebb period with all the changes, growing pains if you will...but is it a sign of an impending major downturn?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 14:14 by yecatsdoherty »

jsnover

« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2008, 14:24 »
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What seems to happen (not just at iStock) is that the sites fiddle with their placement of search results and you'll see some threads about sales falling through the floor. Then you'll see the site post that overall sales are up and so one group got shafted while another group is congratulating themselves on how great their images are :)

Ask anyone who was around for iStock's "Great best match Shift" (with apologies to the great vowel shift) in the fall of 2006 when some people got massively hosed and others made out like bandits - happy memories! DT and FT have had similar big shifts along the way. SS not so much. They have been pretty stable with their newness heavy downloads per month formula for the default "Popularity" results.

iStock's in a very solid place - which is different from saying that any given contributor will be doing OK. DT in general is doing very well, but last month was the first time in a year that I've seen good results there. In the early Spring of 2007 they made some changes in default search results and it just killed my sales there. Other people did really well, so you'll hear different stories depending on who you talk with.

The US economy isn't doing so well, and I have to imagine that all the sites are seeing some softness in sales as a result of that. Anyone who knows probably won't say though.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2008, 14:47 »
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yes, lots of discussion about the economic downturn in the US affecting sales, which I'm sure is a factor. budgets are slashed and marketing budgets are one of the first to be trimmed down. I have considered myself more or less safe at iStock, but have been criticized for feeling that way because of my lack of experience. I'm not one of the people losing right now, but a few contributors who I know, that have much better sales than me normally, are losing. I don't do illustrations or 3D...just photographs. and even then I am not a pure stock uploader...so I expect a slow and steady climb...which has been my experience so far.

I feel better though, I think like all the past changes you mentioned, this period is one of ebb for some and flow for others...or in my case small stream...I'm less worried...

« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 14:49 by yecatsdoherty »

« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2008, 14:48 »
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Its never too late to go unexclusive :)  It takes extra time to upload to other sites but I like spreading the eggs.  istock has rejected some of my images that have gone on to make over $100 with the other sites. 

I like being able to upload RF to alamy and photoshelter that have the potential to earn more than istock on their own. 

I like doing non-vector illustrations that are accepted with SS, DT and StockXpert but mostly rejected by istock.

If my sales slump with istock, the other sites keep going and I don't have a huge drop in earnings.


yecatsdoherty

« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2008, 14:50 »
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yeah, the slump versus steady on other sites is the draw for me...but I already spend so much time on istock, I can't imagine spending more on other sites too....

total aside...how do I get a speedometer? lol

« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2008, 14:50 »
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What seems to happen (not just at iStock) is that the sites fiddle with their placement of search results and you'll see some threads about sales falling through the floor...
...
If my sales slump with istock, the other sites keep going and I don't have a huge drop in earnings.
Yep, my IS sales have recently fallen victim to this. Although I'm considering eventually going exclusive with IS, I'm glad that I'm not that way now.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2008, 15:28 »
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I hope the iStock changes are going to be spread out a bit more...I agree change is necessary, but piling a bunch together is so scary for us wee contributors...

digiology

« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2008, 15:37 »
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What about trying Rights Managed at sites like Alamy? That way you don't have to give up your exclusive status.

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2008, 15:41 »
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I am looking at that....I just want to make sure it does not affect my exclusivity with IS

DanP68

« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2008, 20:10 »
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Provided you are selling RM only, there will be no effect. 

The main danger I see in starting out with iStock, and then going exclusive without having tested the waters, is that you never learned where your images will sell the best.  This cannot be overstated.  I have certain themes that sell like mad on Shutterstock, but barely get a sniff at iStock.  I have other themes which do well at iStock, but not so well elsewhere.

You might also find that you enjoy the communities and admin at other sites more than you do at iStock.  I've never been much of a fan of the iStock boards, nor the way admin makes radical changes with little or no warning.  On the other hand, I feel like home at Dreamstime even if their sales volume is not on iStock's level.  If Dreamstime had iStock's volume, I'd probably go exclusive with them tomorrow.  But everyone is different, and plenty of people on this board love it at iStock as you do.

One caveat -

If you decide to test the waters, be aware that Bigstockphoto has a 3 month image commitment.  Dreamstime has an even longer 6 month commitment.  If you upload to them and images are accepted, you are part of their agency for the next 3 to 6 months.  That means you cannot immediately change your mind and go back to Istock exclusivity.  Honestly I don't see this as a big deal, because you will need at least 6 months to determine where you are most comfortable.  But you should be forewarned. 

Another caveat -

No matter how good you are, getting into Shutterstock is not easy.  And if you fail their application, they do not let you try again for 30 days.  Their application reviews are tough - far tougher than daily image reviews once you are accepted.  If you are a real good shooter, and you are very cognizant about producing noise free work, you should get in immediately.  If not though...

This is critical, because as Jo Ann wrote, you really need Shutterstock and Dreamstime if you want to be independent.  They bring in strong sales for most everyone.  If you aren't going to get into Shutterstock, I'm not sure it is worth it to give up exclusivity benefits at IS.


yecatsdoherty

« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2008, 21:39 »
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thanks Dan for the informative post...I am not considering giving up exclusivity with iStock, but I would like to explore RM images elsewhere...I have no misconceptions about the ease of getting into SS or DT should circumstances require down the road....if starting out with iStock has hindered me in some ways, it certainly has helped me to learn a great deal about photography. and I have a pretty good natural propensity too. I've been with IS for just under two years.


« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2008, 21:41 »
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Yep, my IS sales have recently fallen victim to this. Although I'm considering eventually going exclusive with IS, I'm glad that I'm not that way now.

Maybe if you were exclusive this wouldn't happen...

« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2008, 04:21 »
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Yep, my IS sales have recently fallen victim to this. Although I'm considering eventually going exclusive with IS, I'm glad that I'm not that way now.

Maybe if you were exclusive this wouldn't happen...
As a victim of the infamous November 2006 Best Match change, I can say that exclusives are not immune (I've never recovered to October 2006 download figures. Or dollars for that matter. My istock downloads dropped by around two thirds over night as all the strong images that were carrying my portfolio died in one day!  Of course having a relatively small portfolio whose downlods are largely dependent on a small number of images makes that sort of thing more likely)

yecatsdoherty

« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2008, 09:31 »
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that's too bad Susan.....I have heard a lot about that November best match change...people talk about it like the great depression...I joined just after that.

I upload constantly and my dls are spread out over many images as opposed to a few stars, though at times I am envious of blue flamers. speaking of portfolio performance....how do I read my shiny new speedometer? is my 'speed' good or not?

« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2008, 10:07 »
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yes, that's too bad... I'm sorry that happened to you. I think you can learn from this things.
I said MAYBE because you never know, but something is true, we always have the best places on the best match.


 

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