MicrostockGroup Sponsors


Author Topic: If I had to start up a new microstock site  (Read 20767 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2009, 18:04 »
0
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.

This does sound promising.  Either that, or start a premium exclusive collection in the same site and charge more for it.   That idea would be pretty cool ;D


« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2009, 00:32 »
0
^^^ That's all very well thought out Bobby ... except the customer bit. You're entirely focused 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?

Well I think the content will be the key deciding factor. Not having to wade through all the happy snaps from Cousin Joey's visit to the states is a huge benefit. How does Neiman Marcus or Sharper Image differentiate themselves. They do it by presenting a well "Sharper Image" only in this case the content (product) would presumably actually be of a higher average quality and more focused then the other Micro and Midstock Agencies.

And of course the accurately indexed catalog of quality images is going to draw all those buyers who tried microstock but gave up because they had tro spend too much time searching for what they wanted and then when they did find it they found that it was only 4 mexapixels in resolution and they needed an image that would support large format printing as well as web use. By having the approved camera list the agency would be able to ensure the buyer that all images were available in High Resolution formats.




« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2009, 00:43 »
0
sound good Bobby, in theory though if it is invite only to established professionals then they should be able to keyword without spamming :)

Yes they should but as contributors we have no real clue as to how the search algoirhythms are programed so we can only guess at how to best optimize the keywording. However the agency would know exactly how to optimize this data to their search engine.

Also many working pros, myself included currently delegate mundane not creative tasks such as captions and lkeywords to interns or entry level employees. While I may be able to tag an image today without spamming it took a considerable amount of time, practice and application of the skills before I could competently keyword. It is one of the most important pieces of the whole puzzle and the one that creatives tend to want to spend the least amount of time and energy on. Also by bringing all keywording in house under a staff that has the same training and guidelines you create continuity in the data. A further benefit is that many of todays pro contributors speak a language other then English  so this would alleviate the issues of mastery of the English language for them as well.

« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2009, 01:34 »
0
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.


This is the best suggestion for a new stock agency I have heard so far! (If I would be invited of course ;) ) I would love to see something like this take off.
The only thing I do not like is point 6. I understand the thing with RM, but you hereby limit buyers by not offering them to use extended lienses for RF images.

« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2009, 02:40 »
0
Oh I would not prevent them from being able to license an RF image for extended uses. I would simply make them purchase an RM license and pay more appropriate fees for the extended rights. The right to reproduce and sell images for $50 or so is ludicrous. To be able to do it for that minimal fee and still have RF rights to do it over and over, naw that is a bad practice that we should have never allowed.

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.


This is the best suggestion for a new stock agency I have heard so far! (If I would be invited of course ;) ) I would love to see something like this take off.
The only thing I do not like is point 6. I understand the thing with RM, but you hereby limit buyers by not offering them to use extended lienses for RF images.

« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2009, 02:44 »
0
Oh I would not prevent them from being able to license an RF image for extended uses. I would simply make them purchase an RM license and pay more appropriate fees for the extended rights. The right to reproduce and sell images for $50 or so is ludicrous. To be able to do it for that minimal fee and still have RF rights to do it over and over, naw that is a bad practice that we should have never allowed.

Ok that makes sense. Now someone please start this agency  :)

« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2009, 03:28 »
0
Oh I would not prevent them from being able to license an RF image for extended uses. I would simply make them purchase an RM license and pay more appropriate fees for the extended rights. The right to reproduce and sell images for $50 or so is ludicrous. To be able to do it for that minimal fee and still have RF rights to do it over and over, naw that is a bad practice that we should have never allowed.

Ok that makes sense. Now someone please start this agency  :)
Godot is on the way...
Seriously, why we cannot start it ? Many good agency, like Magnum,  were created by photographers for photographers.

michealo

« Reply #32 on: July 10, 2009, 08:53 »
0

Godot is on the way...
Seriously, why we cannot start it ? Many good agency, like Magnum,  were created by photographers for photographers.
[/quote]

Coz you are a bunch of creatives who can't agree what day of the week it is much less run a business together ....

« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2009, 09:07 »
0
I like this idea.  Sure there are many pitfalls to overcome--what new business doesn't have that?  As for the "too many sites can do it now and better" kinds of comments--the same can be said for any business, i.e. restaurants, clothing stores, etc.  The trick is to find and establish a niche and market the niche to the hilt.  You may have to start small with a group of photographers willing to give it a chance and shoot for the long haul.  You would have to make sure you have enough capital to make it work.

As for who would be willing to read our thoughts and comments--John Griffin at Cutcaster comes to mind.  He is very open to ideas, suggestions, etc.

Marburg

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?


« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2009, 09:21 »
0
Another thought:

Why not market to publishing houses with a contract that takes into consideration Print Runs and Seat Restrictions?  A number of publishing houses do not use stock photos because the licensing contracts do not take into consideration Print Runs and Seat Restrictions.  You could even charge a slightly higher price.

Although, I'm not so sure about limiting photos to a specified list of cameras.  New cameras come out every year or two and keeping up with that list would be daunting.  Also, there are some point and shoots on the market whose quality is equal to a low end to mid point SLR.  I have one such camera and a lot of my sales came from the photos produced using it.  But, then again--I'm fairly new to this.

Marburg

« Reply #35 on: July 10, 2009, 12:05 »
0
Another thought:

Why not market to publishing houses with a contract that takes into consideration Print Runs and Seat Restrictions?  A number of publishing houses do not use stock photos because the licensing contracts do not take into consideration Print Runs and Seat Restrictions.  You could even charge a slightly higher price.

Although, I'm not so sure about limiting photos to a specified list of cameras.  New cameras come out every year or two and keeping up with that list would be daunting.  Also, there are some point and shoots on the market whose quality is equal to a low end to mid point SLR.  I have one such camera and a lot of my sales came from the photos produced using it.  But, then again--I'm fairly new to this.

Marburg

Like I said, not everything would be popular with the masses and this is one of the primary objections I would expect but as it would be an invite only agency dealing with pros it would be expected that they would be shooting pro gear. You can trust that the Rebels, Nikon D50, D70 grade of cameras would not be on the list. Keeping up with the list would be easy as it would only be updating the new crop of high end Prosumer and Pro DSLR and above cameras.

As I said there are plenty of existing outlets for point and shoot imagery. An agency such as this would be focusing their marketing on a different grade of client, ones who would need to be able to incorporate images in ad campaigns that would range from Web to Billboard and other forms of large format printing. Images from a 10 MP point and shoot sensor simply do not contain the pixel quality needed for these types of end use. That is not to say there are not companies out there that are doing it anywise but a quality company looking for top end imagery is not looking for images from the Canon G10. In reality it is as much an image thing as it is a quality thing.

zymmetricaldotcom

« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2009, 15:48 »
0
Ok here is my stab at asking the hard questions in response to these points. It doesn't mean I disagree/agree with the ideas proposed at all, just that it's good to ask whatever question lurks in the back of one's mind before declaring a business model could work. It's always a nice exercise to think about this stuff:

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".


Volume always trumps the need for exclusivity. A dentist that wants a pic of a 'boy playing hockey' for his homepage in Ohio, could literally not care less that the image is exclusive. The odds of the other dentist in town using the same image are astronomically low. "The rest of the universe" is not even a factor. How can a stock agency justify the overhead involved in pursuing an image exclusivity program when clearly the world is not such a small place after all?

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


Grey area. What if photographers wife models for all kinds of shoots, various concepts. How is 'too similar' literally defined? What kind of amazing support team can delicately use the business time to explain the nuances of what is 'too similar' to submitters, without annoying them to the point of going on to next agency?

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


No questions here. Your content, your call. Pull that content as fast as technically possible, treat the person with respect, and hope they come back one day.

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.


As the wise GwB said:   "Fool me once, shame on shame on you. Fool me you can't get fooled again.". You really want to hope Time magazine excuses technical flaws? You work hard to gain your brand the respect of senior art directors, then you throw them a substandard image when they are on a deadline?   Sound's like a phiasco.

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.


Agreed. Too many options and I feel like i'm at a car dealership. You don't know what all that crap is (automatic cupholders?!), but you just know you're gonna be spending more money anyhow.

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.


See: Google vs. Bing. 100 of the world's best Phd's and you will still be only warming up. Not that I don't feel up to it (usually around 9:50 AM, when the caffeine hits the junkie), but, the truth is the best search will win - no matter if the uploading process feels like you are participating in http://www.toughguy.co.uk/, submitters will still submit as long as they get adequate sales in return.

7 ) Easy uploading without categories or extra clicks.


Always trying to improve. At Zymmetrical we still present categories as an option, in case the submitter knows something we don't - for example, a shot of a building in Madrid, no matter how worldly our reviewers our, chances are they may not know it's a Spanish building- so we give you the opportunity to improve the image marketability by adding the category "Places : Urban : European Cities".  A small detail perhaps, but when you consider the structure of the web, a big bonus to searchability.

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.


I know a crack accountant and a husband/wife pair of economics professors at a major university who would literally talk all week about why such a statement is too simplistic, and they would be absolutely right to do so: business is not a lemonade stand these days.  If you are not basing these calculations on every single factor down to how much is spent on pencils and paper each month, you can not possibly be in a realistic financial zone.  Walmart got away with being credited with such "amazing" innovations as switching from paper stock sheets to earphones and touchscreens, because at the scale they operate at, even those simple tweaks result in millions of savings each year.  If a stock agency is basing it's viability on a commission number pulled from a hat then I wish them a short and adventurous life.


« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 16:03 by zymmetrical »

« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2009, 16:18 »
0
I think for us contributors it would be good if sites limited the number of contributors -  but that is unlikely to happen as agencies are always looking out for new fresh material.
You see it's always beneficial to take on new people, even if they only uploaded a few images and never returned again.
Keeping thousands of artists doesn't seem to cost them any extra -that's the way it seems anyway!

I think a fairer way would be along the lines of having contributors to earn their " Tour Card" you could say, by how they perform over a year to retain their membership. Something like that - but will you ever see?

zymmetricaldotcom

« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2009, 17:00 »
0
.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 17:02 by zymmetrical »

« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2009, 18:21 »
0
Like I said, not everything would be popular with the masses and this is one of the primary objections I would expect but as it would be an invite only agency dealing with pros it would be expected that they would be shooting pro gear. You can trust that the Rebels, Nikon D50, D70 grade of cameras would not be on the list. Keeping up with the list would be easy as it would only be updating the new crop of high end Prosumer and Pro DSLR and above cameras.

As I said there are plenty of existing outlets for point and shoot imagery. An agency such as this would be focusing their marketing on a different grade of client, ones who would need to be able to incorporate images in ad campaigns that would range from Web to Billboard and other forms of large format printing. Images from a 10 MP point and shoot sensor simply do not contain the pixel quality needed for these types of end use.

There are a few dangerous assumptions in this statement: 1 - pros always shoot with 3000$+ gear, 2 - the correlation with type (price) of gear and snapshot-ness [P&S cams always make snapshots, Progear always makes superior stock] - 3 customers mostly buy for billboards and large print.

When I quickly glance at my latest Dreamstime sales, the only maximum sizes are sold in subscription. I need 10,000 of those sales to finance a Canon D5-MKII. Maximum is almost never sold in PPD: those are medium, small, x-small. At that reduction, it doesn't matter at all whether the picture is made by a Hasselblad or a D90.

Billboard and large print is a tiny part of the market. To accommodate those customers, one could create a separate collection within the agency composed of top photographers with top gear. But the agency will miss the bulk of income if they neglect the vast majority that only needs web size or sidebars. Related to this: no agency should allow maximum size to be sold in subscription.

« Reply #40 on: July 10, 2009, 18:48 »
0
3 ) The photographers could pull out their images whenever they want.
No questions here. Your content, your call. Pull that content as fast as technically possible, treat the person with respect, and hope they come back one day.

Just picking this point out. I never understood why anybody would want to delete an image from an agency. Review time and other resources have been spent on it. The only valid reason is going exclusive on one of the other sites, or an exclusive buyout of an image at Dreamstime for instance. For the rest, a relation with an agency is a long-term commitment from both sides, and only if the agency screws up big time, one can consider to bail out. High payout limits vs low sales can be a reason, but not always. If the people behind the site are nice they deserve a chance to work with the not yet paid out capital.

« Reply #41 on: July 10, 2009, 19:08 »
0
Like I said, not everything would be popular with the masses and this is one of the primary objections I would expect but as it would be an invite only agency dealing with pros it would be expected that they would be shooting pro gear. You can trust that the Rebels, Nikon D50, D70 grade of cameras would not be on the list. Keeping up with the list would be easy as it would only be updating the new crop of high end Prosumer and Pro DSLR and above cameras.

As I said there are plenty of existing outlets for point and shoot imagery. An agency such as this would be focusing their marketing on a different grade of client, ones who would need to be able to incorporate images in ad campaigns that would range from Web to Billboard and other forms of large format printing. Images from a 10 MP point and shoot sensor simply do not contain the pixel quality needed for these types of end use.

There are a few dangerous assumptions in this statement: 1 - pros always shoot with 3000$+ gear, 2 - the correlation with type (price) of gear and snapshot-ness [P&S cams always make snapshots, Progear always makes superior stock] - 3 customers mostly buy for billboards and large print.

When I quickly glance at my latest Dreamstime sales, the only maximum sizes are sold in subscription. I need 10,000 of those sales to finance a Canon D5-MKII. Maximum is almost never sold in PPD: those are medium, small, x-small. At that reduction, it doesn't matter at all whether the picture is made by a Hasselblad or a D90.

Billboard and large print is a tiny part of the market. To accommodate those customers, one could create a separate collection within the agency composed of top photographers with top gear. But the agency will miss the bulk of income if they neglect the vast majority that only needs web size or sidebars. Related to this: no agency should allow maximum size to be sold in subscription.

I am not sure if you read all 12 points of the agency or are only responding to the quoted post but.

As the agency would be invite only the agency would be well aware of the equipment that the pros it invites use and the pros would be well aware of the resolution requirements of the agency going in so there really would be no conflict. Again yes this would be a somewhat elite agency, not everyone can play in the sandbox. This agency would not care that it is missing Dreamstimes D70 sales.

This would not be another Istock, Shutterstock or Dreamstime. It would not be an agency targeting the same buyers you are already doing business with at the existing agencies. What is the point in creating a new agency that can only succeed by cannibalizing market share from the existing Microstock agencies? What would the contributor gain if he gained a sale here at the expense of a sale at Dreamstime? This agency does not want to earn its market share by taking it from DT, FT, IS or any of the other existing Micros, this is an agency that wants to open new markets and it could and would if someone would just create it.

This agency would look to exploit the market that exists among medium to large companies that refuse to use current microstock because of the obvious shortcomings of existing Micorstock collections. This agency does not want to sell to the neighborhood dentist who needs an image for his website home page. This agency want to sell to the Dental group who needs an image or series of images that can be used in their Web, Print, Television, Bus Shelter Posters and Billboard advertising campaign. This agency is looking to sell image licenses to designers at advertising agencies that are building full fledged ad campaigns where the images will be used in multiple levels of the campaign not just a single point of publication. These are the buyers who need the higher quality, they are the clients who will not tolerate the broken search engines of the keyword spammed Microstock agencies, these are the buyers who demand the ability to license imagery that not every company in the world will have access to. These are the clients that will capitalize on Midstock licensing. Willing to pay a little more, willing to negotiate use with photo agents before the license is issued.

If you think Microstock is currently serving the whole of the market you are mistaken, there is another whole level of buyer out there that sits between Microstock and Traditional Rights Managed Stock. A level of business that needs millions of images per month and can't bring themselves to use microstock and maybe can or can not afford traditional RM stock but would prefer to pay prices that fall reasonably in the middle.


« Reply #42 on: July 10, 2009, 19:36 »
0
It's good to see a friendly thought provoking discussion with lots of brainstorming and ideas shared in a respectful way. I love the quote about mutual interest--that is the key--success comes when something is "win-win". I am part of an established 3D (expanded into 2D) resource web site business. I have been reading this forum to become more familiar with the microstock industry. We are trying to make changes in how we handle stock images and you all have some good ideas that might be able to help us improve more quickly. Hopefully some of you will join us now or later, but that's not my reason for posting.

From the business standpoint I see a problem with some of the suggestions. They are nice dreams but to put them into practice would mean someone is going to be doing a lot of work for free which usually wont last long. Competition is not a bad thing though I am not sure Mr. Sears and Mr. Penney would agree. If the new clones dont offer what the market demands, they wont be around very long but you never know when one of them might be the next Google! Low prices and great products are good but excellent customer service (whether the "customer" is the buyer or the seller) is key. I dont think that many buyers are looking for totally unique productsthey want quality products, good value and good service.

For anyone who says "great idea, start that site and I will put my photos on it", remember that someone has to run a business and that's a big job. Even though Perrykudos to him for sharing his dreamssays he isnt planning to start that dream business, theres always someone who thinks it would be nice to have their own agency and doesnt realize the time and money involved. Not only setting up the business entity and web site but the day to day operations and ongoing costs for merchant accounts, business banking fees, data servers, hardware, etc. Even suggesting that photos be exclusive on one site means someone has to police it. A person with good photography skills may not have the time and/or skill set to make a go of running a business in addition to taking photos.

Puravida is right about the buyer connectionthe double edged sword: is it more important to work on increasing artists/photos or buyers? Both, of course! But in any business it takes time to build up a customer base as well as merchandise. Theres no point in having the ultimate collection of exclusive images if no one comes into the store to look at them. And if buyers flock in but we dont have the merchandise to meet their needs, were sunk.

We continue to grow our business by paying an above average royalty, offering fast and personal customer service and working every day to steadily increase both buyers and sellers. Weve done it with 3D over the past 14 years. During that time our business changed and evolved to meet the needs of our artists and buyers. We dont make money unless our artists make money but we still work every day to improve and upgrade our web site and our business. We are not alone in valuing a mutually beneficial experience--others also value what we value.

Thanks for sharing your dreams and ideas. And please continue to share concrete suggestions and things you want to see in that ideal stock photo agency!

« Reply #43 on: July 10, 2009, 20:36 »
0
It's good to see a friendly thought provoking discussion with lots of brainstorming and ideas shared in a respectful way. I love the quote about mutual interest--that is the key--success comes when something is "win-win". I am part of an established 3D (expanded into 2D) resource web site business. I have been reading this forum to become more familiar with the microstock industry. We are trying to make changes in how we handle stock images and you all have some good ideas that might be able to help us improve more quickly. Hopefully some of you will join us now or later, but that's not my reason for posting.

From the business standpoint I see a problem with some of the suggestions. They are nice dreams but to put them into practice would mean someone is going to be doing a lot of work for free which usually wont last long. Competition is not a bad thing though I am not sure Mr. Sears and Mr. Penney would agree. If the new clones dont offer what the market demands, they wont be around very long but you never know when one of them might be the next Google! Low prices and great products are good but excellent customer service (whether the "customer" is the buyer or the seller) is key. I dont think that many buyers are looking for totally unique productsthey want quality products, good value and good service.

For anyone who says "great idea, start that site and I will put my photos on it", remember that someone has to run a business and that's a big job. Even though Perrykudos to him for sharing his dreamssays he isnt planning to start that dream business, theres always someone who thinks it would be nice to have their own agency and doesnt realize the time and money involved. Not only setting up the business entity and web site but the day to day operations and ongoing costs for merchant accounts, business banking fees, data servers, hardware, etc. Even suggesting that photos be exclusive on one site means someone has to police it. A person with good photography skills may not have the time and/or skill set to make a go of running a business in addition to taking photos.

Puravida is right about the buyer connectionthe double edged sword: is it more important to work on increasing artists/photos or buyers? Both, of course! But in any business it takes time to build up a customer base as well as merchandise. Theres no point in having the ultimate collection of exclusive images if no one comes into the store to look at them. And if buyers flock in but we dont have the merchandise to meet their needs, were sunk.

We continue to grow our business by paying an above average royalty, offering fast and personal customer service and working every day to steadily increase both buyers and sellers. Weve done it with 3D over the past 14 years. During that time our business changed and evolved to meet the needs of our artists and buyers. We dont make money unless our artists make money but we still work every day to improve and upgrade our web site and our business. We are not alone in valuing a mutually beneficial experience--others also value what we value.

Thanks for sharing your dreams and ideas. And please continue to share concrete suggestions and things you want to see in that ideal stock photo agency!


Bravissimo LisaAnderson , such a well written and I feel very objective yet sincere roundup of all that ensued aforementioned. I think Perry did a wonderful job as MC for this brainstorming , even if he said he was not planning to start a new agency.
 
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 20:55 by Perseus »

« Reply #44 on: July 10, 2009, 21:41 »
0
Wow, just when I thought I found a new site that no one knew about!  ;D

I went through the trouble starting a new thread for photocase and after posting it saw that you already discussed it here!

What are the chances we noticed photocase and started a thread about it almost at the same time!

« Reply #45 on: July 10, 2009, 22:04 »
0
For anyone who says "great idea, start that site and I will put my photos on it", remember that someone has to run a business and that's a big job. Even though Perrykudos to him for sharing his dreamssays he isnt planning to start that dream business, theres always someone who thinks it would be nice to have their own agency and doesnt realize the time and money involved. Not only setting up the business entity and web site but the day to day operations and ongoing costs for merchant accounts, business banking fees, data servers, hardware, etc. Even suggesting that photos be exclusive on one site means someone has to police it. A person with good photography skills may not have the time and/or skill set to make a go of running a business in addition to taking photos.
Micro investment site.
Each photographer put 500-20000$, we hire a professional team. We undercut prices first 18 months. All earnings are reinvest in the site first year.
Initial investors (us) will be owners of this business. No more changes "a la" FT or DT. We decide.

« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2009, 00:40 »
0
Micro investment site.
Each photographer put 500-20000$, we hire a professional team. We undercut prices first 18 months. All earnings are reinvest in the site first year.
Initial investors (us) will be owners of this business. No more changes "a la" FT or DT. We decide.

Reality check?
There are many struggling stock imaging websites, a guess at a new startup's costs for a viable quality business, setting up the business and contracts, initial marketing, infrustructure (cloud), website, development and proof of concept up to $500.000, then look at the many businesses that have failed, DRR charged contributors and still spent 15 million trying to break into the stock imaging 'Marketplace', PhotoShelter 'Collection' had a good product and a few million venture capital and failed, talk is in millions not thousands to launch and sustain a new business, no matter how you 'pack it' the model is just another hash of the existing model looking for a slice of the same pie.

On the other hand if several Photographers wanted a 'low risk' way of getting together to setup a boutiqe agency with their own domain name, a few thousand high quality assets, one which they can run themselves as peers, set thier own RM prices and licences and SEO, with their own organic marketing and growth plan over 3 - 5 years, then there is the Photoshelter 'Archive' Virtual Agency option, if it grows there is an option to invest in your own software, from investment or revenue and drop Photoshelter later, but you still have to get to the Customers in.

How can you get the high quality buyers to look at your offering, the quality advertising departments will commission or go to the top agencies for the assets, costs would not be a factor, and they trust the people they already work with, how do you work yourself in, Buyers of Macrostock images do know about Microstock, people that shop at high quality stores know that they can often get the same or comparitive product cheaper at another store, but would just not be seen shopping anywhere else, as they get top service and peace of mind dealing with the quality store.

David  ;)      
« Last Edit: July 11, 2009, 01:48 by Adeptris »

« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2009, 01:39 »
0
I like this thread so I made a blog post with a link back to this thread, here is my blog post:

Quote from: Blog
If I had to start up a new microstock website

This was the title of a topic here on the MicroStockGroup, and there are many good points raised from the Photographers, but the general consensus is along the lines of a microstock boutique agency, with exclusive content both RF and RM, much along the lines of the Istock Vetta collection, invited contributors and selected content.

This is an option that many other microstock site might already be looking to follow, I thought hard about what would be my target market ,and I still really think that the largest most under serviced asset users, are still bloggers and content providers, and the small sizes are still the future of this industry, the niche collections are the cream and do have a place but are an already limited revenue stream.

Blogging and website content has fast become the domain of the industry, with many self-acclaimed analysts, commentators and critics just like me, from people that think they have a valid point to make and just want to share their perspective, to the many professional bloggers who will review that latest gadgets or bit of software in their given field, and report back in words, sounds, movies and pictures their findings to the world wide web blogosphere.

As a blogger and content provider what do I want?
I want some easy tools that allow me to write a blog and post this to the internet, I use the program Windows Live Writer for my content,  I not only use this software for blogs but most of my other website content is updated using Windows Live Writer, with all content delivered direct from my desktop, if I have an image that I own on my hard drive, I can insert this into my post and Live Writer will send this to the website for me when I publish.

But I do not use images much simply because of the hassle in getting the right asset, I could stop what I am doing, go to Istock search for an appropriate image and download it, but that is all time consuming, and if my credits have run out I just pay for another ten credits, so often where an image would add value to my content I do not bother to use one.

I would like to be able to insert a licensed asset into my posts without advertising or having to leave the application I am using, I also do not want to pay for ten credits if I need just two to complete a post, I do not want to download a large size that is far to big for my content needs, and I only want to purchase a licence to use the asset once, as I am not likely to use it again.

As a Microstock artist what do I want?
I want as many license sales as I can get, I do not want any illegal use of my assets, I want my assets to reach and be seen by as many customers as they can, I want a fair commission payment based on usage, a monthly payout if I have transactions not when I reach a commission level.

If I had to start up a new microstock website
I would want a service that resolved the above issues and serviced the largest markets, the content when uploading should only be sized for the web, with the image pixels 240, 360, 480 longest side, an international controlled vocabulary maximum 10 keywords, an easy to use and intuitive interface, easy asset acceptance process and a fast search engine.

Once there were 300,000+ assets the customer website and plug-ins could be launched, the growth would be slow and organic 24 36 months, as the target customers are bloggers and content authors, the marketing tools will be these users and not marketing campaigns, blogger, tweeter, reviewers, social network websites.

If a customer was writing a blog on roses, it should just be a matter of menu > Plug-Ins > Images, then enter keywords > search > select > confirm > download or insert.

The confirm would pop up a dialog for the customers login details, if the customer is out of credits the plug-in would allow the customer to enter a value they want to add to their account, this could be $1 to pay for the image, or any other amount, based on the customers details the transaction would then be processed and the asset delivered, metadata within the image would have the embedded transaction ID and date.

Contributors would upload their images and submit, if the asset is selected then their would be no further weighting in the search based on sales or views, each asset and artist would be a peer and of equal footing, the asset selection process would be simply to find all assets that match the keyword search and randomize them, so if there were 100 assets returned for a keyword search, each new search with the same keywords would show the 100 assets in a different order.

This process needs to be monetized, so the price structure is simple, artist 55% website 45%, there would be only licensed web use, three sizes and prices with no discounts, 240px=$1.00, 360px=$1.50 and 480px=$2.00, monthly payments any amount if revenue is greater than the payment transaction cost, any artist or customer closing an account would be charged a fixed fee of 5% with a maximum of $5.

Other licensed usage for an asset could be arranged directly with the artist.

But then this is only another what if     


David  ;D

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2009, 07:22 »
0
Some interesting ideas but you're thinking like a contributor not a stock agency business owner. If you were on the other side of the business you'd feel differently.

« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2009, 07:39 »
0
Some interesting ideas but you're thinking like a contributor not a stock agency business owner. If you were on the other side of the business you'd feel differently.

There's the rub !!!


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
15 Replies
4691 Views
Last post December 17, 2010, 07:41
by ibogdan
11 Replies
2980 Views
Last post October 24, 2012, 15:30
by wordplanet
89 Replies
21253 Views
Last post March 05, 2017, 04:58
by sharpshot
3 Replies
1101 Views
Last post November 04, 2016, 04:30
by SpaceStockFootage
25 Replies
1277 Views
Last post June 04, 2020, 14:23
by oooo

Sponsors

Mega Bundle of 5,900+ Professional Lightroom Presets

Microstock Poll Results

Sponsors

3100 Posing Cards Bundle