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Author Topic: Experiences after quitting iStock exclusivity.  (Read 37522 times)

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lucato

  • [<o>] Brasil


« on: January 15, 2012, 04:08 »
0
Hi folks, I have read a lot of threads here with some advices about quitting the iStock exclusivity, but these threads don't mention how are the things doing after the move made. So, I want to hear the experiences from members that have quitted the iStock exclusivity and started to work with other agencies.  I want to hear your experiences, sites you've submitted, if you're making much more money than you're doing as exclusive at iStock, size of portfolios, best sellers sites, how long did you take to reach the same income you were doing as exclusive at iStock, are you making more, and so on.

Feel free to express any experiences. ;0)

I'm seriously considering to move on after this terrible earnings cut and drop sales in 2011 and after 9 years of "partnership" with iStock and I'll appreciate your help sharing your experiences after quitting the exclusivity there.

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 10:24 by lucato »


« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 04:27 »
0
I think its a good idea, if people are willing to share such info.
I also think people would apreciate you sharing some of your own info.
Like:

Was the negative trend in all file types ?
How much have you been uploading ?
Are you in the PP program ?
Since you are a multimedia contributor is most of the drop in revenue because of going down a notch (or 2) in the royalty rate or just declining sales ?
Are you full or part time ?

Real numbers is always a nice bonus...

« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 05:56 »
0
I think its a good idea, if people are willing to share such info.
I also think people would apreciate you sharing some of your own info.

Real numbers is always a nice bonus...


He has done. See here;

http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=338999&page=4

« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 06:07 »
0
Welcome Lucato. Looks like all the exclusives will soon be here.

I am making one last push with uploading as much as I can (although I am only a part timer) this year and if that doesnt help, then I will have to consider making the jump :(

I really, really dont want to. But with the total lack of communication from HQ on how they want to increase sales and grow the business, you begin to wonder if growing the business is still something they are interested in. And if nobody contacted the talent that just quit exclusivity to talk to them and see how to win them back, then the exclusives are apparently not a priority as they used to be. I am also amazed at the "attitude" some admins are allowed to show in public. The contributors are paying customers, obviously there is no boss in charge reminding them where their salaries come from.

Maybe they feel they have enough exclusive Getty content, so they dont need our files to offer content other sites dont have. I really dont know.

Every photographer that I know has switched to generic model releases without the istock logo and some are even contacting models from older shootings to make them sign a new generic release. Others are going over their portfolio, adding proper keywords and descriptions into the EXIF data, because so many of us have become used to deepmeta.

I am still using the istock release, but for the next shooting Ill follow their example.  

istock is such a fantastic site with a great infrastructure for the digital entrepreneur, but it takes professional leadership and business vision to leverage its potential. And the team active behind the scenes is incredibly hard working. Totally dedicated people. It must be unbelievably frustrating to see the site lose its reputation like this. 

Very sad times :(
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 06:18 by cobalt »

lucato

  • [<o>] Brasil


« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 06:15 »
0
@gostwyck
Thanks for the reply and link. Anyway, I'll repeat such info here for those interested in numbers. :0) Have a nice weekend.

@aeonf
Yup, it is a good idea, but the topic subject isn't about my experiences as exclusive, it is about the experiences of who left the exclusivity at iStock. ;0) Anyway I'll answer your doubts and post the content of the link posted by Gostwyck.

Regarding your doubts:
Was the negative trend in all file types? YES;
How much have you been uploading? A LOT. Actual portfolio +7000 files;
Are you in the PP program? YES. It doesn't make tickles in the pocket results;
Since you are a multimedia contributor is most of the drop in revenue because of going down a notch (or 2) in the royalty rate or just declining sales? BOTH;
Are you full or part time ? FULL.

Regarding the posted thread at iStock:

Very disapointed with iStock!

2011 Earnings compared to 2010 :
-01% > Jan/11
-20% > Feb/11
-30% > Mar/11
-40% > Apr/11
-26% > May/11
-32% > Jun/11
-34% > Jul/11
-32% > Ago/11
-44% > Sep/11
-45% > Oct/11
-48% > Nov/11
-32% > Dec/11

Downloads: -34%

The latest years I used to grow 10%-15% per year, now in 2011 iStock with this RC cut decreased my monthly avarage earnings in 32% without growing any percentual in downloads, just going down too! If it was a huge cut in my pocket and for others too, I can imagine how much iStock saved! The new reviewd RC can be rereviwed for lower values for the next levels!



Now, lets get back to the 1st post. ;0)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 08:31 by lucato »

wut

« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 06:17 »
0
Maybe they feel they have enough exclusive Getty content, so they dont need our files to offer content other sites dont have. I really dont know.

I think that's a very good point. They're probably going to kick you to the curb like a rabid dog, just like they kicked us indies in Sep 2010. I mean really, how much content do you really need, top 10 (or even more) photographers (Lise Gagne excluded) all have nearly identical shots, if half of them were to disappear, no one would even notice. Especially with some really awesome ports being transferred from Getty, creative stuff that was also superbly executed (the only problem with those ports is that they're all 100% TAC). And then there's a lot of average stuff of course and then there's Edstock :)

ShadySue

« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 06:28 »
0
the exclusives are apparently not a priority as they used to be.
That's for sure. They don't even seem to have any mechanism in hand to help people who want to become exclusive but are prevented by the bug, which they caused, resetting everyone's acceptance rate as 0.
I was particuarly sorry for the contributor a couple of days ago (can't find the post offhand) who said s/he'd deleted all their files off all the other agencies but now they can't become exclusive because of the bug.
An admin (Kelvin, I think) told them to contact Support; someone else chipped in and said they had already contacted Support, but there was nothing they could do.
I thought it was on either the Discussion or Help forum; maybe it's been moved or removed.

(If DM can continue to hold our AR, why can't admin do something for the handful of people who might want to become exclusive nowadays? Other than they don't really care and can continue to make <20% off their sales - profitability coming before bottom line. If I had deleted my files from elsewhere, I'd be spitting fire.

« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2012, 06:36 »
0
Maybe they feel they have enough exclusive Getty content, so they dont need our files to offer content other sites dont have. I really dont know.

That's exactly what I'm thinking.  The people and images that made iStock great don't matter anymore, just like at StockXpert.  If we did, they wouldn't be making the decisions they have been the past two years.  It's profit that matters now. 

I feel so bad for all the exclusives.  These stories are becoming heartbreaking.

Try as I might to post objectively about IS, it's very difficult to do sometimes.  Here's the facts:

My earnings in 2009 at StockXpert and IS were 29% of my annual income.  In 2011, total annual earnings at both sites dropped to 22%.  Actual revenue dropped 63%.  Getty shut down StockXpert, removed our images for all partner sites except Thinkstock, and stripped the website bare.  StockXpert no longer exists.  The StockXpert collection now exists as the Hemera Collection without any attribution to the artists.  It's a shame, because StockXpert was once one of the top five earners.  Now the revenue is insignificant and I'm struggling to stay in business as a result of these losses. 

Getty's track record doesn't give me any reason to hold out hope IS will ever improve.  Maybe my experience with StockXpert has left me cynical, but I can't help but think they are actually trying to push out all the contributors so they can use the brand name iStockphoto for older Getty images they wholly own.  They get 100% of the royalties for those images and minimal labor is involved.  Moving Getty images onto iStock is cheap and efficient.       

lucato

  • [<o>] Brasil


« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2012, 06:40 »
0
Welcome Lucato. Looks like all the exclusives will soon be here.
Thanks. Yes, I thik so.

Quote
I am making one last push with uploading as much as I can (although I am only a part timer) this year and if that doesnt help, then I will have to consider making the jump :(
Yes, the approval line is quite fast these days, but as you can see the numbers I posted above, the cut of 1/3 of my earnings is too much to sustain another year. That is why I started this thread to hear from others how they are doing, if it worths to take the risk and so on.

Quote
I really, really dont want to. But with the total lack of communication from HQ on how they want to increase sales and grow the business, you begin to wonder if growing the business is still something they are interested in. And if nobody contacted the talent that just quit exclusivity to talk to them and see how to win them back, then the exclusives are apparently not a priority as they used to be. I am also amazed at the "attitude" some admins are allowed to show in public. The contributors are paying customers, obviously there is no boss in charge reminding them where their salaries come from.
Yes, I don't want too for several reasons, such as managing several sites, using time for it instead for for treating and taking new shots and so on, on the other hand, you avoid to have all eggs in one basket. Besides that, iStock has changed a lot, and the crown and diamond doesn`t seem to have any importance over there.

Quote
Maybe they feel they have enough exclusive Getty content, so they dont need our files to offer content other sites dont have. I really dont know.
I have no idea too.

Quote
Every photographer that I know has switched to generic model releases without the istock logo and some are even contacting models from older shootings to make them sign a new generic release. Others are going over their portfolio, adding proper keywords and descriptions into the EXIF data, because so many of us have become used to deepmeta.
Actually I  need to update few, when models signed for me I've asked to sign 2, one with logo and other without with the exact content. :0) Thanks for the tip.

Quote
istock is such a fantastic site with a great infrastructure for the digital entrepreneur, but it takes professional leadership and business vision to leverage its potential. And the team active behind the scenes is incredibly hard working. Totally dedicated people. It must be unbelievably frustrating to see the site lose its reputation like this. 
Very sad times :(
I agree!

ShadySue

« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2012, 06:42 »
0
I think its a good idea, if people are willing to share such info.
I also think people would apreciate you sharing some of your own info.
Have you even shared your partner's portfolio?

« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2012, 06:44 »
0
Every photographer that I know has switched to generic model releases without the istock logo and some are even contacting models from older shootings to make them sign a new generic release. Others are going over their portfolio, adding proper keywords and descriptions into the EXIF data, because so many of us have become used to deepmeta.
Actually I  need to update few, when models signed for me I've asked to sign 2, one with logo and other without with the exact content. :0) Thanks for the tip.

I had some model releases with the IS logo on them, and instead of contacting all of my models, I just replaced the IS information with my own in Photoshop.  Much easier.

ShadySue

« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2012, 06:45 »
0
And the team active behind the scenes is incredibly hard working. Totally dedicated people. It must be unbelievably frustrating to see the site lose its reputation like this. 
I wonder how many of them are investigating an exit strategy.

ShadySue

« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2012, 06:46 »
0
Every photographer that I know has switched to generic model releases without the istock logo and some are even contacting models from older shootings to make them sign a new generic release. Others are going over their portfolio, adding proper keywords and descriptions into the EXIF data, because so many of us have become used to deepmeta.
Actually I  need to update few, when models signed for me I've asked to sign 2, one with logo and other without with the exact content. :0) Thanks for the tip.

I had some model releases with the IS logo on them, and instead of contacting all of my models, I just replaced the IS information with my own in Photoshop.  Much easier.

Is that not potentially risky? You changed information they had signed to.

« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2012, 06:47 »
0
And the team active behind the scenes is incredibly hard working. Totally dedicated people. It must be unbelievably frustrating to see the site lose its reputation like this. 
I wonder how many of them are investigating an exit strategy.

Or have already exited.  Have there been layoffs we don't know about?

« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2012, 08:32 »
0
Uh, oh - changing a contract in Photoshop? I would be very careful with that. I am not a lawyer but I would never even remove an inkspot from a signed original conract.

No, never heard of any layoffs, all we ever is that istock is strong and healthy. Sadly it does not seem to visible in the monthly threads.

But there are some artists still doing extremly well. However, the ones I know do stock full time and upload a very large amount of files.

Perhaps the future on istock belongs to the full time artists preferably with assistants who can upload 200 files a month.

« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2012, 08:53 »
0
Maybe they feel they have enough exclusive Getty content, so they dont need our files to offer content other sites dont have. I really dont know.

I think that's a very good point. They're probably going to kick you to the curb like a rabid dog, just like they kicked us indies in Sep 2010. I mean really, how much content do you really need, top 10 (or even more) photographers (Lise Gagne excluded) all have nearly identical shots, if half of them were to disappear, no one would even notice. Especially with some really awesome ports being transferred from Getty, creative stuff that was also superbly executed (the only problem with those ports is that they're all 100% TAC). And then there's a lot of average stuff of course and then there's Edstock :)

Sorry this is happening to you and most other contributors at IS.  I had a chat not too long ago with a very successful microstocker (they make a FT living at it) and she has all but stopped adding new images to Istock, instead focusing on other ventures such as studio work.  I am wondering if Istock really cares about the exclusive defect rate or, for whatever reason, wants that to happen.  Was the recent exclusive best match push their last minute desperate attempt at appeasing exclusives or was it a mistake?  They don't seem to care (based solely on the opinions of those who have left exclusivity), there has been no "correspondence" that I know of between IS and exclusives asking them to reconsider....I would think that some of this would leak to the MSG boards, but I could be wrong.  Something just doesn't smell right given that exclusives are the primary differentiators for IS.  It's confusing and there isn't a "one voice" strategy that they are sharing (high level, of course) showing how contributors will help support and grow the business, particularly exclusives.  I do feel for them, but even with the few disagreements I've had here in the past with some of you high enders I fell for you too.  I do know what it takes to get a good image and all the cost, work etc that goes into it and when I hear your sales are dropping it makes me feel ill.

OK vent over.

helix7

« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2012, 09:15 »
0
...Perhaps the future on istock belongs to the full time artists preferably with assistants who can upload 200 files a month.

With one of the perks of exclusivity being the time savings of not having to upload to multiple sites (which is debatably not a real perk when it takes longer to upload to istock than anywhere else), I would guess that a team of photographer and assistant(s) wouldn't be concerned with uploading to tons of sites. I wonder if there even are many (or any) teams working exclusively on istock. 


« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2012, 09:47 »
0
I think its a good idea, if people are willing to share such info.
I also think people would apreciate you sharing some of your own info.
Have you even shared your partner's portfolio?

No I haven't, but I do share my experience and pretty exact numbers every month...

« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2012, 10:53 »
0

I really, really dont want to. But with the total lack of communication from HQ on how they want to increase sales and grow the business, you begin to wonder if growing the business is still something they are interested in. And if nobody contacted the talent that just quit exclusivity to talk to them and see how to win them back, then the exclusives are apparently not a priority as they used to be. I am also amazed at the "attitude" some admins are allowed to show in public. The contributors are paying customers, obviously there is no boss in charge reminding them where their salaries come from.



 I was talking to a top 10 exclusive a while back and my question was "does istock every contact you?"  I asked this because you would think istock would have a team that manages the top 50 exclusives just like any company's sales force.  The top 10 exclusive thought about the question and said "no, they have not ever contacted me outside of standard e-mails everyone else gets".  That is crazy to me.  I know sales reps who territory brings half the sales of this istock contributor who talk to a sales manager weekly and is flown to HQ for training/meetings yearly.  It is a weird business!  There is a wall up between istock and exclusive contributors that is a major problem for contributor relations.   It has gotten worse with the appointment of the new "insert title here" lady.  It is as though getty bought istock and doesn't have to worry about any other competition rising up against them in their minds. 

« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2012, 11:44 »
0
I feel so bad for all the exclusives.  These stories are becoming heartbreaking.

And on the other hand, I feel bad for all the contributors who helped build istock up from the get-go (myself included-even before the club known as exclusivity was started), who helped Bruce get his $50 million, and went on to help Getty get to the number one slot, then got treated as if they didn't matter, whether they were exclusive, not exclusive, part-time, full-time, or whatever. A good image sells and makes money for Getty whether the contributor is part-time or full-time. It sells and makes money for Getty whether the contributor is exclusive or not. They sure didn't turn down the money all these years from part-time, non-exclusives, now did they?

I feel bad for all those aforementioned contributors who were even willing to take a measly 30% to begin with (or whatever the starting % was way back when), who had high hopes of continuing on to better their skills, upload even more, and grow right along with Getty. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for Getty, now was it?

I don't feel any more bad for exclusives than I do for all the rest of the contributors. Everybody made their own choices, and all but a select few now will be paying the price.  >:(

« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2012, 11:50 »
0
My earnings fell 20-30% my first month back at independent. I made up some ground in month 2. By month 3, my Shutterstock portfolio was getting hot, and many of my Dreamstime images started moving up in Level. This was the month that independence became more lucrative than exclusivity, and that never changed.

I don't contribute anywhere these days. My heart is no longer in microstock. But I still make good earnings per month with a static portfolio.

lisafx

« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2012, 12:55 »
0
Another opportunity recommend Briget (Stockcube)'s excellent blog where she details her experiences of dropping exclusivity in 2010.  I am sure it will be very helpful :)
http://stockcube-stockcube.blogspot.com/

Sorry to hear it has come to this Lucato.  Istock really can't afford to lose longtime exclusives like you.  They don't seem to realize it though.  Best of luck whatever you decide. 

« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2012, 12:57 »
0
Uh, oh - changing a contract in Photoshop? I would be very careful with that. I am not a lawyer but I would never even remove an inkspot from a signed original conract.

To be clear, I was only referring to the very top of the page with IS's logo and address, not the actual contract itself (any reference to IS within the contract was removed prior to signing).  I had to do that, because the models involved never returned the new contract I sent them, and Dreamstime wouldn't accept the model release with IS's logo on it. 

« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2012, 13:10 »
0
This is a pretty decent summary of my 2011; my exclusivity was up June 4th.

To put the 2011 situation in perspective, my 2010 income was up 72% over my 2009 income (exclusive both years; I became exclusive in August 2008). 2010 was a spectacular year for me and if I thought I could have even equalled it in 2011 I'd have stayed exclusive - IOW I didn't expect to see annual increases of 70% on an ongoing basis.

I'm part time at this; I do think it's hard to extrapolate from my experience to other people's - portfolios vary, I'm not at Fotolia but other people could be, etc.

lucato

  • [<o>] Brasil


« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2012, 14:36 »
0
My earnings fell 20-30% my first month back at independent. I made up some ground in month 2. By month 3, my Shutterstock portfolio was getting hot, and many of my Dreamstime images started moving up in Level. This was the month that independence became more lucrative than exclusivity, and that never changed.

I don't contribute anywhere these days. My heart is no longer in microstock. But I still make good earnings per month with a static portfolio.
Thanks for sharing. It is a pitty your heart is no longer in microstock, but certainly you've moved to something better. ;0)
All the best and success in 2012! 


 

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