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Author Topic: Do you upload all of your images to all of the same sites?  (Read 5368 times)

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« on: February 04, 2009, 14:18 »
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Howdy Y'all,

I'm sure this has come up many times in the past here so I apologize if it's a redundant thread.

As some of you know, 99% of my stock images are exclusive to Fotolia.  This works out for me personally for several reasons.  I realize that I am in a very small minority in the general Microstock world because of this.  I am curious if most of you simply upload all of your images to as many sites as possible (or at least the big 6) to get as much exposure as possible to your photo's or if you spread your portfolio around a bit with a few exclusives here, a couple more over there.  Or if you upload a certain type of image at one site but not another. 

The reason I ask is that while I became instantly frustrated with I-stock the first and only time I tried to upload to them a long while back and I've read on numerous threads how frustrated people are in general with them, I can't help but think their plan to force exclusivity on photographers if it caught on with the other sites would ultimately benefit photographers.

The primary complaint from serious photographers regarding Microstock is dominantly that the photo's are too cheap.  The problem I see with this is that all of the agencies are in competition with each other not only for the same type of images, but for exactly the same images. 

If I'm a buyer and have the option of the same photo at multiple sites I am going to buy it where it is the cheapest.  Why wouldn't I?  If I am an agency, I see this and want to attract the most buyers so I'm going to sell my stuff the cheapest.

Continuing to saturate the market with the same photo's everywhere seems to be counterproductive to progress in the industry though not doing so is a potential sacrifice to personal finances.  As mentioned, I submit exclusively to Fotolia for multiple reasons and it pays off for me.  I make low 4 figures every month with the higher commission rate and I frankly don't have the time to be uploading to other sites (not to mention the fact that Shutterstock closed my account because I am a moderator at FT  :-\ )

So what do most of you do?  Upload all images to all sites, some images to some sites, exclusive to some sites?

Mat


« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2009, 14:27 »
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I used to upload to the big 4 and recently decided to upload also to bigstock and stockxpert. In terms of exclusive images I dont upload anything to be exclusive anywhere but if there is an image on a site that was rejected by the rest then I will tick the exclusive box for it. I found that to be very successful with DT and of all the exclusives I do have on sites I get the most sales from there. If I put all my eggs in 1 basket then id feel like I have way to many images not used so prefer to spread them across many sites

« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2009, 14:31 »
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. If I put all my eggs in 1 basket then id feel like I have way to many images not used so prefer to spread them across many sites

That is an excellent point and that thought haunts me a bit I have to admit.  I've had around 1,500 images rejected at FT and never did anything with them.  If I were more organized I could have kept a folder of rejects to attempt at other sites.  Hmmm

« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 14:42 »
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. If I put all my eggs in 1 basket then id feel like I have way to many images not used so prefer to spread them across many sites

That is an excellent point and that thought haunts me a bit I have to admit.  I've had around 1,500 images rejected at FT and never did anything with them.  If I were more organized I could have kept a folder of rejects to attempt at other sites.  Hmmm

It seems a waste to have so many images rejected and do nothing with them I would personally consider uploading them to more sites even if you just try one more and see how you get on with them

[email protected]

« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 14:54 »
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Since different sites have their own preference for style or topic of pictures even if you upload the same pictures to different sites you end up with some accepted in one but not the other, so it kind of work itself out. ;)

« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 15:06 »
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I can not imagine being exclusive to anyone unless you made enough money there to make it worth it which I can not see that happening. I would be upset thinking of all the money I was missing out on selling on many agencies.. I upload to all the major ones and even some of the smaller ones.
You also have to remember Fotolia might reject some that other agencies will accept and visa versa. I would recommend to everyone to upload to many sites. That means more income.

« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 15:20 »
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I also upload to several sites, though currently reducing this activity - and FT is one I stopped uploading to due to insane presence of subscriptions that I am not allowed to avoid (I am even considering deleting some of my best-sellers because I hate to see them being sold so cheap there while they sell at reasonable prices elsewhere).

I have a couple of images exclusively at DT because they were selling almost only there, so I took advantage of the high commission.  I thought of doing that in FT with two other images that sell so well there, with the extra advantage of being able to opt them out of subs.  I don't think I would upload an image exclusively at a site from the start, I would only make it exclusive after I see it has a differential performance in a site.

My sales are too spread among the main sites to see any advantage in going exclusive anywhere. 

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 15:26 »
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With so much riding on the placement of files within the search the more exposure the better. Its not uncommon to have a file sell 1000 times on one site and 100 times on another. Hard to tell the true potential of a file if just on one site.  Sometimes you get lucky. Not everyone shops at the cheapest site either for whatever reason.

The industry will only be as strong as the weakest link. which ever site is low-balling will need to raise its prices for everyone to move forward. Istock starts the trend and the others soon follow..usually. Thats just what I've seen with limited experience.

I think any new upstart site will have a hard time gaining all the core contributors if they want to undercut everyone. Contributors are getting smarter having been burned a few times by the new guy that pulls the plug before payout.

So, with 6-7 sites all selling the same product if everyone stays on the same page hopefully we will keep moving forward  :) maybe there will even be some consolidation of the big 6 down the road. Who knows.
End up like the big 5 in the Audio world.

I also like the idea of all sites having collections priced differently. Some images are easier to produce than others.
(just an opinion)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 15:47 by cdwheatley »

« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 15:46 »
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So, with 6-7 sites all selling the same product if everyone stays on the same page hopefully we will keep moving forward  :) maybe there will even be some consolidation of the big 6 down the road. Who knows.
End up like the big 5 in the Audio world.
(just an opinion)

I think that is probably the only real possibility to any positive change in the future though it seems very unlikely.  If everyone raised the base price, customers would have no choice.  If all but one or two raise their prices, those sites will be the most successful.  It isn't realistic to expect photographers to offer an image for sale at only one site.  It works for me because I can sell my photo's for more money and receive a higher commission.  Again, I know I am in the minority.  I've just been watching people react to the I-stock thing and wonder if there isn't something to it that will ultimately benefit all photographers.  If only I-stock does it though, I think they are going to be in for a bumpy ride with so much killer competition out there.

« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 15:53 »
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So, with 6-7 sites all selling the same product if everyone stays on the same page hopefully we will keep moving forward  :) maybe there will even be some consolidation of the big 6 down the road. Who knows.
End up like the big 5 in the Audio world.
(just an opinion)

I think that is probably the only real possibility to any positive change in the future though it seems very unlikely.  If everyone raised the base price, customers would have no choice.  If all but one or two raise their prices, those sites will be the most successful.  It isn't realistic to expect photographers to offer an image for sale at only one site.  It works for me because I can sell my photo's for more money and receive a higher commission.  Again, I know I am in the minority.  I've just been watching people react to the I-stock thing and wonder if there isn't something to it that will ultimately benefit all photographers.  If only I-stock does it though, I think they are going to be in for a bumpy ride with so much killer competition out there.

Right, only works if everyone is onboard. If all sites started different collections at different price levels we would have a mandatory midstock for those people that want to spend a lot of money on production, location, etc.. Maybe it could work. I'm dreaming here.  :)

« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 15:55 »
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I think the big six need to get together and have a "sitdown" lol :)

lisafx

« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2009, 16:04 »
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I don't think photographer exclusivity is the way to go - at least from a photographers point of view.  I know it works well for the agency (istock) that has it. 

I think image exclusivity is okay for those that want to do it.  I have exclusive images on a couple of sites.  More on DT than Fotolia because I have seen a better return on my exclusive images there.  Honestly, the few images I have uploaded exclusively to Fotolia have not done any business. 

I am glad exclusivity is working out for you, but to me exclusivity doesn't make sense in a micro market.  We make so little on individual sales.  The only way to earn decent money in micro is to do volume, and having more outlets gives a lot more opportunity for volume.

While sales at Fotolia are decent, the only site where my portfolio does enough volume to justify exclusivity is Istock, and even they are only 30-40% of my sales in a given month. 

To each their own, but IMO none of the micros has made exclusivity attractive enough to do it on more than an occasional per/image basis. 

« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2009, 17:04 »
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I think that is the main problem with the microstock industry as a whole.  I am 100% positive that microstock and macrostock are going to be around for a long time to come but as the years go by I predict it will be more and more difficult to differentiate between the two.  Obviously, everyone has the same goal...to make as much money as possible.  Agencies and photographers alike.  My opinion is that the agencies need to make it more appealing to the photographers to submit their images exclusively and attract buyers based on their portfolio's rather than their price point.  If all the sites were offering different images they would have more flexibility to charge more which I am sure they would ultimately like to do. 

The Infinite collection on Fotolia is a good example of that.  The photo's are exclusive, have not ever been sold for less and classify as a good mid-stock price and as far as I know they are pretty successful because buyers can't purchase them anywhere else. 

If the status quo remains the same at all these sites and photogs keep submitting the same exact images to them all, I'm afraid the prices are going to be driven down even further and there won't be any choice for photographers but to shrug and take it. 

Again, I'm not rooting for I-stock here.  I have no images with them and no desire to add any.  I do admire the risk they are taking by possibly alienating the majority of micro-stock photographers.  I see the upside from their point of view more though.  Instead of attracting buyers with the cheapest pics, they potentially will be attracting buyers with the most unique collection of images not available anywhere else.  As it stands with the rest, they might as well all be the same exact site considering the databases are probably at least 75% identical. 

I'm just babbling on here, but it is something that's been on my mind a lot lately.




I don't think photographer exclusivity is the way to go - at least from a photographers point of view.  I know it works well for the agency (istock) that has it. 

I think image exclusivity is okay for those that want to do it.  I have exclusive images on a couple of sites.  More on DT than Fotolia because I have seen a better return on my exclusive images there.  Honestly, the few images I have uploaded exclusively to Fotolia have not done any business. 

I am glad exclusivity is working out for you, but to me exclusivity doesn't make sense in a micro market.  We make so little on individual sales.  The only way to earn decent money in micro is to do volume, and having more outlets gives a lot more opportunity for volume.

While sales at Fotolia are decent, the only site where my portfolio does enough volume to justify exclusivity is Istock, and even they are only 30-40% of my sales in a given month. 

To each their own, but IMO none of the micros has made exclusivity attractive enough to do it on more than an occasional per/image basis. 

WarrenPrice

« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2009, 17:05 »
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With very little to lose, I'm retired and just testing the market with a very small portfolio, I'm trying it both ways.  I'm pretty ignorant about all the idiosycrosies of the different sites and their contributors.  Cutcaster seems a bit different.  Due to "price your own," I felt obligated to go exclusive - hard to justify the higher price otherwise.

I have a few exclusive images at DT.  No real reason.  Just that my stuff seems to sell better there, better simply being more than zero.   ::)  

I just started uploading again at BS and FT.  Nothing exclusive and the same images are loaded to DT as non-exclusive.  

I'm new.  I'll follow this thread with great attention.  This old dawg can still learn.   8)

lisafx

« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2009, 17:14 »
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The Infinite collection on Fotolia is a good example of that.  The photo's are exclusive, have not ever been sold for less and classify as a good mid-stock price and as far as I know they are pretty successful because buyers can't purchase them anywhere else. 


I had high hopes for the Infinite Collection at first too.  But apparently none of my stuff that I submitted was good enough for them.  Not sure what they were seeing that I wasn't.  But for me, at least, it was a waste of time submitting to Infinite, as they just don't like my work...

Quote
Instead of attracting buyers with the cheapest pics, they potentially will be attracting buyers with the most unique collection of images not available anywhere else.  As it stands with the rest, they might as well all be the same exact site considering the databases are probably at least 75% identical. 


In microstock "unique" is a relative term, IMHO.  There seems very little that is unique in this industry.  For example istock has some really successful exclusive artists (Their Black Diamond exclusives, for example) but with everyone and their cousin copying their concepts and styles, how unique is istock's exclusive collection? 

BTW, not trying to pick on istock or their top artists - just that I know these artists are widely copied.  I am sure it happens to Fotolia and DT exclusives as well.



« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2009, 17:49 »
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I upload actively to some 13 sites, and I am registered at 3 more, but I don't upload often there...

WarrenPrice

« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2009, 17:58 »
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Quote
Instead of attracting buyers with the cheapest pics, they potentially will be attracting buyers with the most unique collection of images not available anywhere else.  As it stands with the rest, they might as well all be the same exact site considering the databases are probably at least 75% identical. 


In microstock "unique" is a relative term, IMHO.  There seems very little that is unique in this industry.  For example istock has some really successful exclusive artists (Their Black Diamond exclusives, for example) but with everyone and their cousin copying their concepts and styles, how unique is istock's exclusive collection? 

BTW, not trying to pick on istock or their top artists - just that I know these artists are widely copied.  I am sure it happens to Fotolia and DT exclusives as well.



[/quote]

This is a point I had been thinking about.  Matt had mentioned increasing the price of microstock thru being unique.  If I were a buyer, where would the cutoff point be?  At what point would I hire an in-house photographer to simply copy the images I need.  How much could I pay him and still beat microstock prices?

« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 17:59 by WarrenPrice »


« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2009, 00:00 »
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The incredibly small extra percentage an agency gives you for being exclusive in no way whatsoever makes up for the loss in sales from other sites. Not all buyers go from site to site looking where they can get the same image for less. Many buyers have a site they like .. they like the quality of images, they like the selection and they like the site design and functionality. They dont sign up with paid accounts everywhere and then jump around buying here and there. Some do. Many are working professionals who find it a waste of time and time is money. The point is, if you are not uploading to one of the big 6 you are basically saying .. I'm not interested in taking money from the buyers there.
I know who I make the most sales from. I have loyal buyers from each site who keep an eye on my uploads. When I have a new batch to upload I start with the agency where my sales are highest .. upload .. then move down the list in order of sales.
One method I tried a few years ago was to take several batches. Upload batch A to Site A .. batch B to site B and batch C to site C ... wait one week then upload batch A to site C .. batch B to site A .. batch C to site B ... wait one week then upload batch A to site B .. batch B to site C .. batch C to site A ... now instead of each batch being a recent image for a week it is a recent image for 3 weeks. It did show signs of a slight increase in sales. However, after awhile my sales were up to the point that I didn't care to make the extra effort. So I stopped doing it .. I would probably do it now but I have other projects to spread my time out on. Some of you might find luck with this method though.


 

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