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Author Topic: How to fight against lower and lower commissions!?  (Read 28838 times)

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« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2011, 03:31 »
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There's nothing we can do. This is the new reality in microstock.

+1

+2
Sad but true...


Carl

  • Carl Stewart, CS Productions
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2011, 03:34 »
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I'm giving some serious consideration to uploading new material only to Alamy.  I've only recently been accepted there and have yet to realize any sales, but I like their model more than any other.  I've uploaded some of my material to the lower-paying sites just to see if they're "hot," but they're not.  Time is such a big factor, as we all know.  If I have to spend 90% of my time uploading, keywording, categorizing, etc., and only 10% shooting, that's not gonna work.  In my experience, IS and Pixmac are the two most laborious sites for contributors.  I'm thinking that if I can upload to Alamy and be done with it (regardless of whether or not they have an exclusive benefit), I can spend my time more productively.  At first, I thought of the old adage, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," but now I'm rethinking my approach.  Spreading those eggs around to various sites is proving to be counterproductive.  It would take more time to delete my current portfolio from various sites, so I'd probably just leave it, and upload new material only to Alamy.  Any other thoughts?   :-\

« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2011, 04:23 »
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^^^I now have two portfolios for alamy.  One with exclusive images and one with ones I also have on other sites.  It's easy to use different pseudonyms.  You will have to have lots of patience and build a big portfolio with alamy to see regular sales.  For most people I think it takes 2 years and at least 1,000 images to get going.  That's not a problem for me but I have seen people remove their portfolios out of frustration.

Alamy is very different to the micros, no problems with editorial, similars, "we already have too many" rejections.  I still only have around 500 images there but now I'm really motivated to move away from microstock and alamy does seem like the best option for me.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #53 on: January 21, 2011, 05:11 »
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Any other thoughts?   :-\
From what I've read in their forum the key to Alamy is quantity. Buyers seem to buy a wide variety of images that are a bit different from images that are popular at micro so you need to have a lot of images. People that are doing decent sales seem to have thousands, or tens of thousands, of images.

ShadySue

« Reply #54 on: January 21, 2011, 05:49 »
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I'm giving some serious consideration to uploading new material only to Alamy.  I've only recently been accepted there and have yet to realize any sales, but I like their model more than any other.  I've uploaded some of my material to the lower-paying sites just to see if they're "hot," but they're not.  Time is such a big factor, as we all know.  If I have to spend 90% of my time uploading, keywording, categorizing, etc., and only 10% shooting, that's not gonna work.  In my experience, IS and Pixmac are the two most laborious sites for contributors.  I'm thinking that if I can upload to Alamy and be done with it (regardless of whether or not they have an exclusive benefit), I can spend my time more productively.  At first, I thought of the old adage, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," but now I'm rethinking my approach.  Spreading those eggs around to various sites is proving to be counterproductive.  It would take more time to delete my current portfolio from various sites, so I'd probably just leave it, and upload new material only to Alamy.  Any other thoughts?   :-\

(I've posted most of the following in earlier posts. New readers start here)
Everyone's experience will be different. Here's my experience.
(I've been uploading at iStock since Dec 06, and apart from a hundred or so RM pics with fotolibra, have no recent experience of other agencies)
I started at Alamy in April 09 and have uploaded 1473 pics there (all RM, mostly secondary editorial; some 'general' shots which would have been accepted on iStock). Because I was working full time until the end of October, and putting my energy into Alamy, I only uploaded 464 images to iStock during that time. I have to tell you that these 464 have earned considerably more on iStock, though I'm very disappointed to have to say that. That said, eight of the pics I sold at Alamy wouldn't have been accepted on iStock for PR. Of the ones which didn't need releases, I'd say on the specific images, I'd have earned less on iStock for these images. The winning formula would be if you could somehow divine which pics would sell best where. And with iStock coming up with editorial somewhere in the future, that decision will become more difficult if your editorial pics would be of a hotspot in great demand (Las Vegas, Times Square) - you'd already be up against a backstock of hundreds of images on Alamy.
I note you thing that uploading to iS is 'laborious'. Interesting: I think it's a gazillion times easier than keywording, etc. images for Alamy. I had a batch of 27 images accepted earlier in the week and it took me most of a day to get them properly captionned, keyworded and described. To be fair, I was having to research most images individually (could have done that while they were in the queue, but it would have taken the same amount of time) and getting bored, so hopping on and off here.
You have to be careful with keywords, and be aware that, as I have posted here often, if your name (pseudonym) is Jack Smith and you have a photo of a house, your image will turn up in searches for 'Jack House', pissing off buyers and hitting your Alamy Rank. I've also posted about how my photo of the main office of a political party turned up in a search for 'office party'. Conversely, info from the date field doesn't come up in the search, so if you want your photo to show up in a search for 'April in Paris', you'd better make sure April is in the caption and/or keywords.
In case you missed my other post, here (for what it's worth) is an Alexa graph for Alamy (the almost invisible blue wiggly line right at the bottom) with iStock, DT, FT and SS.
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/alamy.com#
Where do Alamy advertise?
Finally be aware that you need $250 to cash out from Alamy, and that many buyers don't pay Alamy for months, impacting also on your cashflow. I've got an image I screenshotted from 12th October which hasn't come through yet - "three calendar months" takes it to the end of Jan.
All that said, with the Triumph of Hope over Experience, I've added 55 pics to my Alamy port in Jan, and 2 to iStock  (Plus I've put c10 in a folder marked 'iStock editorial' which could go to Alamy if the editorial programme at iStock doesn't get rolled out quickly.)
AND I've signed up for a college photojournalism course which starts in April, hoping that the enforced discipline will sort some weaknesses I can see in my work, but don't seem to be able to 'cure' on my own!
You have to work out, or guess, what might be best for you. I wish I could say it was easier.  ::)
Clearly, someone with a different set of pics on Alamy and iStock might have totally different results.
Everyone's experience will be different.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 06:20 by ShadySue »

lagereek

« Reply #55 on: January 21, 2011, 06:43 »
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^^^I now have two portfolios for alamy.  One with exclusive images and one with ones I also have on other sites.  It's easy to use different pseudonyms.  You will have to have lots of patience and build a big portfolio with alamy to see regular sales.  For most people I think it takes 2 years and at least 1,000 images to get going.  That's not a problem for me but I have seen people remove their portfolios out of frustration.

Alamy is very different to the micros, no problems with editorial, similars, "we already have too many" rejections.  I still only have around 500 images there but now I'm really motivated to move away from microstock and alamy does seem like the best option for me.

Yep! true.  Ive had my own RM outlet for over 8 years now, not public but only for my clients and also through my Photographers-Agent. During the last three months we have done over 170 RM sales and a few for 5-figuered amounts.
I can tell you the trad RM and RF, is really on its way up and really worth investing in. Having said that, I dont think its a substitute for Micro, its just differant and it takes a lot more time, etc.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #56 on: January 21, 2011, 07:33 »
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^^^I now have two portfolios for alamy.  One with exclusive images and one with ones I also have on other sites.  It's easy to use different pseudonyms.  You will have to have lots of patience and build a big portfolio with alamy to see regular sales.  For most people I think it takes 2 years and at least 1,000 images to get going.  That's not a problem for me but I have seen people remove their portfolios out of frustration.

Alamy is very different to the micros, no problems with editorial, similars, "we already have too many" rejections.  I still only have around 500 images there but now I'm really motivated to move away from microstock and alamy does seem like the best option for me.

Yep! true.  Ive had my own RM outlet for over 8 years now, not public but only for my clients and also through my Photographers-Agent. During the last three months we have done over 170 RM sales and a few for 5-figuered amounts.
I can tell you the trad RM and RF, is really on its way up and really worth investing in. Having said that, I dont think its a substitute for Micro, its just differant and it takes a lot more time, etc.

Good to know. I haven't uploaded to macro in a while and was planning on giving micro a break for a bit.

« Reply #57 on: January 21, 2011, 16:22 »
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Alamy is very different to the micros, no problems with editorial, similars, "we already have too many" rejections. 

The upload checkbox does say that you are not uploading more than four (I think it is) similar images. There have been complaints about people flooding the site with scores of almost identical images.

RacePhoto

« Reply #58 on: January 22, 2011, 01:47 »
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Alamy is very different to the micros, no problems with editorial, similars, "we already have too many" rejections. 


The upload checkbox does say that you are not uploading more than four (I think it is) similar images. There have been complaints about people flooding the site with scores of almost identical images.


No kidding! One fool got banned and was complaining on the forum about having his upload privileges blocked. Funny part is his previous shots are still there. If anyone wants to look at similar abuse, http://tinyurl.com/4jzhpys  it was Gene Simmons promoting a book and basically the photographer had uploaded 40 shots of the guy standing at a podium speaking. LOL :D Mash the shutter release, upload. It doesn't fly.

But you make a good point. They do take similars, but will restrict people for too many similar images as well. It's not a free for all. I might as well add that repeated rejections will earn someone a vacation, and the reviewers do seem to have so history when looking at QC. Low percentage / high rejection... will get you more scrutiny. Yet another way they are different from Micro. One fail, all fail. You have 200 pictures waiting, three batches from different uploads? One fails, everything gets the boot.

So it's isn't like Microstock where you can send up a flock of shots and see what passes. Self  moderation, self review, only send good quality or you'll be penalized.

lagereek

« Reply #59 on: January 22, 2011, 02:08 »
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Happens in the Micros as well. Many times , even on first pages you can see series of shots, 15, 20, shots almost identical, some with differant toning, etc but on the whole almost identical.
This is what makes me wonder if reviewing/editing, is after all not a human process? but some sort of automation?

« Reply #60 on: January 22, 2011, 05:21 »
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So it's isn't like Microstock where you can send up a flock of shots and see what passes. Self  moderation, self review, only send good quality or you'll be penalized.

On the other hand, if you are careful enough to get your photos past the main microstock inspections most of the time, the Alamy QC is an absolute doddle. I've had hardly anything rejected.

ShadySue

« Reply #61 on: January 22, 2011, 05:29 »
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[Sorry, still hitting 'quote' instead of 'modify'}  :-[
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 06:18 by ShadySue »

« Reply #62 on: January 22, 2011, 06:03 »
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I posted this link before on my Facebook page as well as the Microstockgroup's FB page. But maybe it provides some food for thought about what to do: Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

ShadySue

« Reply #63 on: January 22, 2011, 06:16 »
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{sorry: triple post, which I think is a record, even for me}

« Reply #64 on: January 22, 2011, 06:22 »
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The problem is how to determine which site is worth the effort ...
They all look great and with great ideas, but where's the money?

ShadySue

« Reply #65 on: January 22, 2011, 06:25 »
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I posted this link before on my Facebook page as well as the Microstockgroup's FB page. But maybe it provides some food for thought about what to do: Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

Chris Barton should do his research better. You quote him as saying, "Chris Barton asks why Time magazine would pay more when a cover image is available for only $30".
In fact, Time Magazine has a circulation of over three million, which would require an Extended licence of 125 credits for a 'normal' file or 250 for Vetta/Agency, which would come to well over $30. Though both times they used an iStock image on their cover, they had to be chased up for the EL payment.

« Reply #66 on: January 22, 2011, 06:45 »
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I posted this link before on my Facebook page as well as the Microstockgroup's FB page. But maybe it provides some food for thought about what to do: Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

Chris Barton should do his research better. You quote him as saying, "Chris Barton asks why Time magazine would pay more when a cover image is available for only $30".
In fact, Time Magazine has a circulation of over three million, which would require an Extended licence of 125 credits for a 'normal' file or 250 for Vetta/Agency, which would come to well over $30. Though both times they used an iStock image on their cover, they had to be chased up for the EL payment.


I do not quote anyone. I only link to a piece of reading. If it is good or bad I leave up to everybody elses judgement. And just because there may be some mistakes in it, it may still be of value in other areas of the article (or not).  :)


rubyroo

« Reply #67 on: January 22, 2011, 06:55 »
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The solution to the problem lies with the buyers, IMO.

If the buyer needs an image that won't be repeated elsewhere (e.g. for a mass advertising campaign for a large brand) - they should buy RM or the company should commission a shoot.  

If the buyer needs short-lived imagery for blog articles; generic imagery for web sites etc. Buy microstock.

In the old days before microstock, acquiring quality imagery at a price they could afford was impossible for many - and their ability to buy it now should have no impact at all on the trad-shooters, as they wouldn't have gone to them in the first place.  Can anyone imagine how the Web and blogosphere would look if only trad-prices still existed?  

I really don't think the trad-shooters and journalists should be constantly poking sticks at microstockers for providing a new marketplace.  They should blame those buyers who are now moaning about 'generic imagery' and 'sameness' - but continuing to buy from the marketplace they criticise rather than looking to the appropriate marketplace to satisfy their needs.  

ShadySue

« Reply #68 on: January 22, 2011, 07:02 »
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I posted this link before on my Facebook page as well as the Microstockgroup's FB page. But maybe it provides some food for thought about what to do: Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

Chris Barton should do his research better. You quote him as saying, "Chris Barton asks why Time magazine would pay more when a cover image is available for only $30".
In fact, Time Magazine has a circulation of over three million, which would require an Extended licence of 125 credits for a 'normal' file or 250 for Vetta/Agency, which would come to well over $30. Though both times they used an iStock image on their cover, they had to be chased up for the EL payment.


I do not quote anyone. I only link to a piece of reading. If it is good or bad I leave up to everybody elses judgement. And just because there may be some mistakes in it, it may still be of value in other areas of the article (or not).  :)


Indeed.

But it erodes someone's credibility when they don't 'know their enemy' and attack them with distortions of the truth. (Or outdated truths, which I guess could be a problem with the nature of the net, with old quotes all over the place, ripe for the picking.)
I see the same all the time on the Alamy forums. There are some people with big chips on their shoulders against micro. I see exactly where they're coming from. But they frequently use lies inaccuracies or very out of date information to slam the micros, especially iStock. If anyone tries to correct them (even on points of fact), they're jumped on instantly.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #69 on: January 22, 2011, 07:12 »
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I really don't think the trad-shooters and journalists should be constantly poking sticks at microstockers for providing a new marketplace.  They should blame those buyers who are now moaning about 'generic imagery' and 'sameness' - but continuing to buy from the marketplace they criticise rather than looking to the appropriate marketplace to satisfy their needs.  

Traditional shooters had a pretty closed and controlled image supply for a long time. I've seen comments from some traditional shooters who poke at micro but their portfolio is loaded with average images of trees and farm animals. At one time they could take pictures of anything and it would sell. Must have been nice but that ride is over.

I've also seen some of them who have adapted to the shift and are producing outstanding really innovative work, mainly macro RM. Buyers who are tired of generic stuff will probably need to buy premium micro or go back to macro. And this is good.

When enough buyers shift from buying generic to innovative there will be a shortage of innovative images. And then agencies may start to offer incentives or commission bumps to attract more contributors who are producing it.

« Reply #70 on: January 22, 2011, 07:27 »
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This whole thing is a simple matter of supply and demand buyers have loads of choice and plentiful supply so, inevitably, prices go lower and lower and returns for contributors go the same way.  No point in talking about unions etc it just aint gonna happen.  All one will achieve by removing content from a site you have a beef with is to lose a potential market and lose further income.  There is a solution if one of the bigger agencies had a bit of vision that would increase commissions and corner the supply.  Some points:


High prices and commissions for exclusive CONTENT (need to corner the supply not the producer)

Acceptance criteria should be reasonable like DT, FT, SS (going the IS route will ensure plentiful supply for competitors)

Contributors will readily buy into this because of the rates (self interest is a stronger motivator than talk of unions / co-operatives)

Buyers will eventually have to follow the contributors instead of the other way around (win win for supplier and agency)

Automatic acceptance for images already on a big 4 site (must be removed on approval with account termination for anyone who doesnt comply with the image exclusivity)

ShadySue

« Reply #71 on: January 22, 2011, 07:45 »
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I posted this link before on my Facebook page as well as the Microstockgroup's FB page. But maybe it provides some food for thought about what to do: Photographers Turn to Fair Trade to Beat Microstock

Sorry, I'm not trying to slam either you or Photographer's Direct.
But again, another quote from the article you link to:
"When microstock photographers produce images of the lowest common denominator they widen the gap between the quality of budget pictures and the excellence of the kind of images offered by the professionals on Photographers Direct. " with a link to PD's images.
Just choosing a few images of the type I like from that linked-to page, I can see images as good or (subjectively) better on iStock.

« Reply #72 on: January 22, 2011, 08:38 »
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Just the return for the photographer is better. For SOME non-exclusive Istock contributors for instance this might look attractive - or maybe even just the idea of that fair trade agency might be interesting. I do not think that traditional stock can offer that much different stuff than micros could (though I am not an expert here). But photographers still do have a choice where they offer their products.
Now I personally find PD unsuitable for me - I am a small fish in the pond, doing very simple stuff, but I also look for different ways of distribution for my images outside of/additionally to micro, because I am fed up with what I am offered by (some of) the micros now.

jbarber873

« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2011, 09:09 »
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Just the return for the photographer is better. For SOME non-exclusive Istock contributors for instance this might look attractive - or maybe even just the idea of that fair trade agency might be interesting. I do not think that traditional stock can offer that much different stuff than micros could (though I am not an expert here). But photographers still do have a choice where they offer their products.
Now I personally find PD unsuitable for me - I am a small fish in the pond, doing very simple stuff, but I also look for different ways of distribution for my images outside of/additionally to micro, because I am fed up with what I am offered by (some of) the micros now.

   Years ago, when the stock image market was controlled by a few players, the only way to communicate to buyers was to publish a huge catalog of images. It was very difficult for photographers to break into the agencies unless you had a huge backlog of images to sell. A company called Direct Stock came up with the idea of selling space in a catalog that was distributed to a very large audience of buyers. My recollection was that for maybe $1500 a page you could put 15 or 20 images up for sale, with your phone number ( no email back then) and hope for sales. I bought 2 pages the first year, and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of images from those 2 pages. Fast forward 5 years and Direct Stock was gone. What killed it was the internet. The ability to find images on line and get the images sent out on a disk, or even download them right away(!) was too good to compete with. The guy that started Direct Stock started an online agency, which limped along until it was sold to Veer, who as we all know is part of Corbis now. The graph of my sales from RM goes from the upper left to the bottom right in a very steep curve. Changing technology is the culprit, not the greed of the microstock agencies. ( not that they aren't greedy) and not the willingness of the buyers to use cheap images. The other changing technology that killed the RM business is the digital camera. When film was the only way to capture an image, you had to pay for the film, processing and scan. That made each image much more expensive to produce. With a digital camera, just can just take a picture of every hamburger you ever ate and put it online. Do a search on microstock for hamburger if you don't agree. The fact is, some of those hamburgers look pretty good. The bottom line is you can't travel back in time, you have to deal with what is now, not then. This site you reference has a major flaw in that there is no gate keeper to tell the photographers to edit their submissions, so you end up with page after page of the same shooting with painfully slight variations between the images. Do a search for "biofuel" and you will see the same ear of corn on the same pile of corn for page after page. Sadly, there are some good images there, but a buyer will quickly give up on the site because the search is so difficult. The image business today is about speed, easy search and quality for a low price. As long as digital cameras exist, and the retouching software gets better, there will be less and less skill involved in creating and selling images, and more and more people will shoot that hamburger before eating it. So if you are fed up, there's always someone else who wants to be able to say they are a "professional photographer" by selling a few images here and there. That's the world, and the challenge is to make it work.

« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2011, 18:54 »
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Few moments ago I sold one of my photos, large size, I got 2,5$ ...
So:

2,5$=16%
 2,5/16=0,156*100=15,60$

The buyer bought it for $ 15.60, and I earned $ 2.5 ... Excellent! ;D ;D ;D

It's time for own marketing...
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 19:02 by borg »


 

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