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Author Topic: If I had to start up a new microstock site  (Read 20732 times)

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« on: July 09, 2009, 06:35 »
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I'm bored with the new "clone" sites that are popping up every month, If I had to start another microstock agency, here is what I would do:

1 ) The site would have ONLY EXCLUSIVE IMAGES (not exclusive photographers, only images), so that it would be the only place to buy these images. That would drive some customers to the site, just to "quickly see what they have"
I think many of customers sticks with their chosen site because the other sites have mostly the same images. The site would have to be marketed as a "fresh alternative".

2 ) The agreement would prevent photographers to submit too similiar images (from the same shoot) to other agencies.

3 ) The photographers could pull out their images whenever they want.

4 ) Quite heavy editing regarding content, moderately easy on the technical side (noise etc.). The collection could be fairly small, no need to break any records here, because the images are unique.

5 ) Easy licenses, maybe only few sizes like (small web, medium print and max size) and one extended licence. Maybe two ranges of pricing, one "traditional" microstock and one "premium" microstock/midstock. The prices would be chosen by the image editors with a purpose of maximum revenue.

6 ) Search should have some very clever algorithm that analyzes all clicks and customer behavior like Alamy's search. Images with bad keywords and few clicks/purchases would sink to the bottom.

7 ) Easy uploading without categories or extra clicks.

8 ) A fair comission to the photographer. Maybe in the area of 40%. More than that doesn't seem to leave enough for marketing and maintaining the site.

One interesting different agency is photocase http://www.photocase.com/ but it has drawbacks:
-The images aren't exclusive
-The collection is too tightly edited, and it doesn't contain "normal" images
-search/keywords is a mess
-free downloads/sharing etc. sounds more like iStock year 2003, not serious business.

Are my ideas stupid?
« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 06:57 by Perry »


« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2009, 07:02 »
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Not stupid!

But I would add:

3) When a photographer quits. the site pays them all the money due to them! If under $50.00 charge $5.00 service fee.

6) Adding keywords like nude, sexy, etc, would put them in front on a search, while a house sits in the back of the pack. Adjustments needed here.

I would add a premium price for images as they are exclusive and no subs!

Go ahead and start the site! I will sign up.

-Larry

« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 07:06 »
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I like the idea of a site with just exclusive images but is it possible?  I would find it hard to upload exclusive images to a new site that isn't likely to have any buyers.  I doubt many people would have the patience to upload exclusive images and wait a year for the site to get big enough to make it interesting to buyers.

« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 07:17 »
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Not stupid!

But I would add:

3) When a photographer quits. the site pays them all the money due to them! If under $50.00 charge $5.00 service fee.

6) Adding keywords like nude, sexy, etc, would put them in front on a search, while a house sits in the back of the pack. Adjustments needed here.

I would add a premium price for images as they are exclusive and no subs!

Some good points here. The prices could be a bit higher, but not too much. Maybe on the same level as iStock's, but with double the commission to the photographer.

I would find it hard to upload exclusive images to a new site that isn't likely to have any buyers.

Yes, that is one of the biggest problems. I might for instance try with twenty or thirty images, but not more, and no sales in couple of months I would get bored and uploaded the images for other sites. If an average contributor uploads 20 images and gets 10 of them accepted, a collection of 100,000 images would need 10,000 contributors, that's too many...

I can't remember what new site said they would pay for new uploads. How about paying for example $1 (or more if budget allows) advance for every accepted photo but then of course the images would need to be "freezed" for instance for six months, after that if the sales are not acceptable the images could be pulled from the site and sold elsewhere. I'm not sure if this would be a good route to go.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 07:24 by Perry »

« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 07:20 »
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I like the idea of a site with just exclusive images but is it possible?  I would find it hard to upload exclusive images to a new site that isn't likely to have any buyers.  I doubt many people would have the patience to upload exclusive images and wait a year for the site to get big enough to make it interesting to buyers.

Look at it from a long term view. Continue shooting as you do now, but add a shoot here and there to upload as an exclusive to the new site. In time it would pay off.
If a new site had the money to get launched in a big way, they could advance pay to outstanding photographers against future commissions.

This is a possibility and I do believe the buyers would be on it like a swarm of honey bees!

-Larry

« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2009, 07:25 »
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I think this could also be a venue for some already existing site like fotolia or dreamstime. They would just need to put the exclusive images on a separate site and market them differently.

« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2009, 07:28 »
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If a new site had the money to get launched in a big way, they could advance pay to outstanding photographers against future commissions.

Yes, a lot of money is needed already in the start. Most of the new startups are just some nerds in the basement that have coded a nice site. They often doesn't have a clue about who buys the images and what the customers want.

Now I have a feeling they don't want to go trough tons of (same) images.

« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2009, 07:42 »
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I like the idea of a site with just exclusive images but is it possible?  I would find it hard to upload exclusive images to a new site that isn't likely to have any buyers.  I doubt many people would have the patience to upload exclusive images and wait a year for the site to get big enough to make it interesting to buyers.

Look at it from a long term view. Continue shooting as you do now, but add a shoot here and there to upload as an exclusive to the new site. In time it would pay off.
If a new site had the money to get launched in a big way, they could advance pay to outstanding photographers against future commissions.

This is a possibility and I do believe the buyers would be on it like a swarm of honey bees!

-Larry

albumo paid $0.10 per image after 500 images and up to 2500 for the first 100 contributors, struggled to get to 100.  pixmac paid against future earnings and still not a big success or great interest.

40% isnt considered anything special and the problem I would see with the exclusivity is that unless you are a big name with proven sales no one will be interested.  You need minumum of a few hundred thousand images straight up to get going, I dont think you'd ever reach it.  Exclusivity comes when you've proven yourself.

 

« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2009, 07:50 »
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40% isnt considered anything special and the problem I would see with the exclusivity is that unless you are a big name with proven sales no one will be interested.  You need minumum of a few hundred thousand images straight up to get going, I dont think you'd ever reach it.  Exclusivity comes when you've proven yourself.

Yes that is a problem, and it would have to be solved some way. But I still think 40% would be quite fair for a site with marketing. I don't remember seeing the "70% sites" ads in papers or sites targeted for designers. Macros can theoretically be a bit more generous because their costs (accounting, bandwidth etc.) are smaller per image sale.

« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2009, 09:14 »
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I think those points are very interesting and valuable.

As an agency owner I wouldn't agree to point 3), though - editing takes time and effort. And customers don't like it because the image they added to their lightbox suddenly disappears. I would ask contributors to leave their images at least 3 months on the site and would try to find a way to pre-warn customers that the image is going to disappear (say take 14 days after removal request).

Also, I think all your points are very contributor driven. You don't mention a lot how you would attract customers (besides the fact that you don't have all the popular images everyone else has  ;) ). So I assume your agency would fail quickly as you focus too much on the wrong side of food chain.

« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2009, 09:28 »
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I think those points are very interesting and valuable.

As an agency owner I wouldn't agree to point 3), though - editing takes time and effort. And customers don't like it because the image they added to their lightbox suddenly disappears. I would ask contributors to leave their images at least 3 months on the site and would try to find a way to pre-warn customers that the image is going to disappear (say take 14 days after removal request).

Also, I think all your points are very contributor driven. You don't mention a lot how you would attract customers (besides the fact that you don't have all the popular images everyone else has  ;) ). So I assume your agency would fail quickly as you focus too much on the wrong side of food chain.

Point 3) Once in a lightbox images cannot be removed with less than a 30 day notice to the person with the image in a lightbox.

Attracting customers comes after getting the images.

Popular images that everyone else has is the reason NOT to be like them ... everyone else has already seen it or used it.

There is two sides to a food chain. The eaters and the got eaten. You can't be both very offten!  ;D

-Larry

puravida

  • diablo como vd
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2009, 09:41 »
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Perry, all applaudable ideas, which I am sure Keith of Zymmetrical and John of Cutcaster would try implementing.
Only one problem, I stop after reading 1) and 2), because I can do the same with Istock, even more now with Vetta.
Problem with a new site no matter how good the vision and intention may be, is the main draw ...the carrot: BUYERS CONNECTION.
At the flip of a coin, Fotolia, Istock, BigStock Photo, even CanStock can do better than your new site... because they already have an established buyer base.
Oh, I forgot to include  Veers Marketplace , of course.

You have one thing right for sure: we are all just about had it with new sites popping up with magical promises. Like magicians, it's all conjuring lots of beautiful things , when in reality, it's all illusion.

Finally, what about your site's name?
How about  MAGICstock ? or STOCKILLUSION ? 

good post though !

« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2009, 09:47 »
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At the flip of a coin, Fotolia, Istock, BigStock Photo, even CanStock can do better than your new site... because they already have an established buyer base.

Yes they have an established buyer base, but their problem is that they don't have anything unique to offer, just the same images that are on all the other sites.

You had some very valid points...

I'll remind that I'm NOT going to start a stock site, I'm just thinking how I would run it :)

puravida

  • diablo como vd
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2009, 09:54 »
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At the flip of a coin, Fotolia, Istock, BigStock Photo, even CanStock can do better than your new site... because they already have an established buyer base.

Yes they have an established buyer base, but their problem is that they don't have anything unique to offer, just the same images that are on all the other sites.

You had some very valid points...

I'll remind that I'm NOT going to start a stock site, I'm just thinking how I would run it :)

you too. it's a good posting.
let's hope some CEO will visit and read it, take the opinions seriously, and who knows, we might find that Magical Site pop out of thin air, except it could be one of the already established new sites we know from the list on the right of this page.

If I am a betting man, I like to wish it will be either Zymmetrical or Cutcaster, because these two CEOs are the most communicative and proactive here in this forum. Unlike some egoists from the Big 6 who just can't take it whenever someone says something he does not like. LOL...

It will be wonderful if either one (Keith, John) succeeds. I will be the first to celebrate for them!

« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2009, 09:55 »
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It still would be just another site, no images and no customers!

How can we find a new buyer base, a better plan is to forget a new agency, get together and talk to Google, they have the biggest search engine in the world, one that could connect Artists directly With millions of potential Customes, but Google do not index the key attributes we need for such a service.

So get together with google and standardize and setup metadata templates with some international price bands, add some other attributes like Licence Type, Editorial, Commercial, Model Released, Property Released etc:, into a new section of metadata.

Agree a way to upload your images to the web and pay a small fee to Google per asset, Google then send the bots to collect the assets metadata, Google add more search options onto Google images, or create a commercial images page where buyers can filter by attributes and contact you via your own website for a direct sale based on the filters they applied in the search, this could be automated by software as well.

Hands up who needs a new microstock site?

David

Squat

  • If you think you know, you know squat
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2009, 10:05 »
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I like this discussion. I just finished watching a whole slew of movies (old ones, as I don't watch TV , don't own one, only DVD player via my computer), and there is one scene, can't remember which movie, where the protaganist asks, "How can I trust you to do what I want?" The answer was , "It has nothing to do with trust, mutual interest is the only bond here!" (I think I saw someone else said the same thing, but in a different way. Maybe they watched the same movie...).

Anyway, the point is , this sums it up for the success of any  relationship, not just business, and even more here in micro stock.

At this moment it seems absence of mutual interest is growing. I like to see the sites find and re-establish this mutual interest. Without that, there is really no one anyone with common sense will be moved to accept exclusiveness, or even be faithful to one site, no matter how many sales you get.

I truly feel getting the consensus of a topic like what Perry has here, would be a good first step towards achieving that. But which of the big wigs will be interested in reading what we say here?
« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 10:10 by tan510jomast »

charlesknox

  • www.charlesknoxphoto.com
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2009, 10:32 »
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Perry i would love that i think its an awesome idea!


michealo

« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2009, 10:50 »
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I think there something that you have overlooked and that is to gain marketshare you need to have lower prices and better quality.

And to attract contributers you need to pay higher commissions at the very least (if not lower submission standards)

Unless you have a lot of cash to burn through its not go be a success.

You could look at offering contributers (and purchasers) a share of the business, so that the participate in your success)


« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2009, 11:14 »
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I think there something that you have overlooked and that is to gain marketshare you need to have lower prices and better quality.

And to attract contributers you need to pay higher commissions at the very least (if not lower submission standards)

Unless you have a lot of cash to burn through its not go be a success.

You could look at offering contributers (and purchasers) a share of the business, so that the participate in your success)




FREE and LOWER prices are killing the earnings potential for all of us right now! Subs of full size images at .25 cents!!!!!
Instead: Sell the highest quality at or slightly above the other sites prices, for run of the mill, me too images.

Some buyers will pay the price for quality and exclusive originals. I'd have it where a buyer could also have the image for a year before being sold to anyone else. More money of course.

I think many good ideas are being expressed on this thread. Lets hope someone (ceo any site) picks up some ideas.
-Larry
« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 11:18 by Lcjtripod »

Squat

  • If you think you know, you know squat
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2009, 11:23 »
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Larry, I noticed it was you who said some CEOs do read what we write in this forum. eg. BigStock just made an improvement wth their new search model.
So maybe voicing our opinions like Perry's article here isn't such a silly idea.

Fingers crossed.

« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2009, 11:25 »
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Larry, I noticed it was you who said some CEOs do read what we write in this forum. eg. BigStock just made an improvement wth their new search model.
So maybe voicing our opinions like Perry's article here isn't such a silly idea.

Fingers crossed.

Amen! eh?

« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2009, 15:08 »
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Here are my personal 12 steps to a better agency. I know a few of these items would be unpopular with the masses of microstock contributors but IMO they would be good for the buyer.

1. It would not be a crowd sourcing site. It would be by invite only and those invited would be the individuals who have proven that they know and understand production photography and can concept and create true stock images, not just happy snapshots that might find a handful of sales per year but images that are truly commercial stock. Yes it would be an elite collection for professional content producers.  Crowdsourcing agencies fill a market niche and there are already more then enough of these agencies out there but I have yet to see a true professional microstock site. In short "YES" it would be an elite agency for elite content providers and it would attract elite clients and as such would be able to pay elite commissions (by current Microstock / Midstock Standards)

2. It would have an approved camera list and that list would not include point and shoots, not even the best of them. I know that there are P&S cameras out there capable of creating useful stock but this would not be the place for that stock.

3. It would be an agency that understands what it means to be an agent. It would treat its contributors like the important backbone to the business that they really are. It would be an agency that understands that the Agent Works for the Content Producer not the other way around.

4. It would offer both RF and midstock priced RM collections. RM Collections would have to be exclusive to the agency and similars from same shoot would not be allowed on other agencies. RM submissions would have to stay with the agency for a minimum of 24 months. RF submissions could be removed at any time.

5. It would offer subscription sales for web res - web use images only. All print usage would be on a per image license

6. There would be no RF Extended license. Extended rights fall into the territory of RM and would be priced and licensed accordingly.

7. Key wording would be done by agency staff not by content creators. This service would come at a cost of a 3% lower commission across the board. This would not be negotiable as it is the only way to truly prevent the keyword spam issues.

8. It would offer a clean intuitive GUI for both buyers and Content providers.

9. Content providers would FTP images and the submission process would end there for the content provider. There would be no instant personal gratification in the submission process. Images would be reviewed and key worded by agency staff in a timely manner (7-21 days)

10. A logical model release management tool would be provided that would allow content providers to upload one copy of MR and then apply it to every image of that model in bulk by allowing them to assign a searchable ID# to model and link it to the release. Model releases would be submitted with a head shot of model attached and then would be available to a top level agency staff member only. Releases and models private information would not be available to image reviewers.

11. There would be no image acceptance rejection appeal process. The agency would either choose to represent an image or they would not, simple, cut and dried.

12. There would be a solid and professional support staff that would communicate openly with content creators and content creators would have a personal agent within the agency that they would work with on all issues that require communication with the agency. There would be no contributor forums, this would be a business not a community. If there was a support issue that issue would be taken up with the content providers agent who would then escalate action up the ladder as required.




« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2009, 15:26 »
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^^^ That's all very well thought out Bobby ... except the customer bit. You're entirely focussed on the contributors and the agency although it's actually the customers who pay all the money and who will ultimately decide whether 'the perfect agency' lives or dies. It has to be perfect for them too.

Apart from the benefit of elite content only and no keyword spamming (ok, that's pretty significant) how would you differentiate/price your product in an over-crowded marketplace?

« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2009, 17:29 »
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sound good Bobby, in theory though if it is invite only to established professionals then they should be able to keyword without spamming :)

« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2009, 18:01 »
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I like the idea of a site with just exclusive images but is it possible?  I would find it hard to upload exclusive images to a new site that isn't likely to have any buyers.  I doubt many people would have the patience to upload exclusive images and wait a year for the site to get big enough to make it interesting to buyers.

This would be my issue to.  Especially if I couldn't upload any others from the same shoot elsewhere.  That would effectively mean that shoot was dead in the water until/unless the site managed to get a lot of business.

I expect each shoot to bring in several k or better over it's lifetime.  Hard to do that on one unestablished site.  Too much of a gamble for me.


 

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