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Author Topic: Interesting reading on lords and serfs in microstock  (Read 10525 times)

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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2007, 09:53 »
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Interesting. But, I disagree with him a lot. 100 dollars a month?! I started doing this full time, because I can now live on it. My wage is very nice, and would be even if I didnt enjoy it, which I do. Im not crazy about the 20-40 percent that they give, but I wonder how much of the profits people make in other companies? With microstock, I can see exactly what Im getting, and its good money. With other businesses, I bet their percentage isnt much better, if they would only tell you.
Thanks for showing.

« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 10:47 »
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Yikes! The "article" makes it seem as if microstock contributors are a bunch of clueless idiots who are forced into into this market and don't have a choice in the matter.

« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 11:56 »
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There is no way really to beat the socialism back to where it belongs eh? Amazing how this kind of outlook creeps in again and again, no matter how many times and at how many levels it's being proved fruitless dead end.

Shovel sellers dare making more money than gold digers. Shame on them.

vicu

« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2007, 13:30 »
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Yikes! The "article" makes it seem as if microstock contributors are a bunch of clueless idiots who are forced into into this market and don't have a choice in the matter.

I agree. The guy is really talking out of his a$$ and bases his whole "argument" on random rumors he's heard along the way. I make a steady $300 a month with a very tiny portfolio (less than 150 images on one site) to which I upload maybe 2 images a month (sometimes less!). I'm doing absolutely no work (or very little) and I'm certainly not feeling taken advantage of when I request my monthly payout. I know it could be more if I had a larger portfolio, and when I feel like it, I'll upload something. There are a lot of stories about different types of contributors and different levels of commitment. To say that we'll all just get bored one day or "wake up" to the sudden realization that someone else is getting rich off the sweat of our brow, resulting in a mass exodus from microstock, is completely absurd.

« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2007, 15:03 »
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Weird...

Reading some of his other posts he makes good sense, and obviously has been around the industry a while...

I'd assume he is an old school RM photog. if it weren't for some of his posts to his blog.  Ah well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, such is the nature of the web.

So the real question remains, is that should I be calling Jon at SS 'Sir' now, along with his peers?

« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2007, 16:03 »
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Wow! If what the writer says is true, then it's time some micro-hobbits stepped up to help deliver us from the hands of the evil dark lords of Royalty-Free-Land.  :D

« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2007, 21:58 »
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To say that we'll all just get bored one day or "wake up" to the sudden realization that someone else is getting rich off the sweat of our brow, resulting in a mass exodus from microstock, is completely absurd.

I agree- I found that bit hilarious! Its the typical communist idea "if only the masses would unite, we would escape from this terrible drudgery."

« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2007, 22:34 »
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Wow! If what the writer says is true, then it's time some micro-hobbits stepped up to help deliver us from the hands of the evil dark lords of Royalty-Free-Land.  :D

like ... what's a hobbit?

« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2007, 02:16 »
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I make a steady $300 a month with a very tiny portfolio.

Is this revenue or profit? Before deciding if you qualify for lord or serf you should at least know the difference.

Lets assume you are a newcomer with IStock today. What would it take to get to a portfolio that earns 300$/month? How much time shooting? How much time in front of your computer? What equipment would you need to buy or at least write off depreciation for? Putting all this together what would be your hourly wage? I bet in financial terms a job at Starbucks would be a much smarter choice.

There are a few who probably make a net profit. These are people who organized their work like a high volume industrial production (see for example Yuri Arcurs work). I am pretty sure that most micro contributors are neither interested nor able to work like that.














« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2007, 06:31 »
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But the work I did a year ago is still making me money today.  You don't get that working at starbucks :)

« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2007, 06:42 »
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Im not crazy about the 20-40 percent that they give, but I wonder how much of the profits people make in other companies?

I have a friend who just co-wrote a book (IT text book).  It has a RRP of $59 though Amazon have about 20% off from day 1.  Their cut is ....... 75c each per book.

« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2007, 06:46 »
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I make a steady $300 a month with a very tiny portfolio.

Is this revenue or profit? Before deciding if you qualify for lord or serf you should at least know the difference.

Lets assume you are a newcomer with IStock today. What would it take to get to a portfolio that earns 300$/month? How much time shooting? How much time in front of your computer? What equipment would you need to buy or at least write off depreciation for? Putting all this together what would be your hourly wage?
  For the hobbiest, a lot of these costs are "sunk costs" so shouldn't be included in an "hourly wage" calculation.  I would have a computer, internet, camera and lens with out it. 

The only cost to me is time to edit, keyword and upload.  If it wasn't for these darn forums, my ourly rate would actually be quite good. 

As also pointed out, photos keep earning money.  To test this, I will go on holiday for the next 5 months.  Will my earnings stop like the starbucks worker?  I hope not, i will need the money to pay off at least some of my visa debts until I line up another full time job.

« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2007, 07:21 »
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But the work I did a year ago is still making me money today.  You don't get that working at starbucks :)

For a fair comparison you would need to put aside your Starbucks earnings and make a comparison after five years or so. In my opinion this approach would win if you invest wisely.

« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2007, 07:47 »
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The only cost to me is time to edit, keyword and upload.

Come on, you are not honest to yourself.

The times were the micros accepted 'normal' amateur pictures shoot strictly for fun are long over.  If you want to sell you have to think about appropriate subjects and shoot stuff you would never think of as a pure amateur.

If you start submitting other stuff than snaps from your cat or your favorite landscapes you should of course treat your lost leisure time as an investment.

« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2007, 09:07 »
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Gizeh,

I think the reason people like the microstock model is because of the freedom it allows them. It makes it fun and easy, and contributors can do it on their own terms. Their success and knowledge develops organically. It's a very comfortable way for some people to do things. Exact opposite of the slave institution that "article" makes it out to be.

I also think blaming microstock is misguided. Microstock is a natural and inevitable offspring of the Internet and a digital workflow. Before you blame microstock contributors, you'd need to blame the Internet, digital cameras, and Photoshop.

These three factors have lowered the cost and burden of producing and selling certain types of images. They've also created greater opportunity for more people to participate!
« Last Edit: July 25, 2007, 10:17 by steve-oh »

vicu

« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2007, 09:34 »
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I make a steady $300 a month with a very tiny portfolio.

Is this revenue or profit? Before deciding if you qualify for lord or serf you should at least know the difference.

Lets assume you are a newcomer with IStock today. What would it take to get to a portfolio that earns 300$/month? How much time shooting? How much time in front of your computer? What equipment would you need to buy or at least write off depreciation for? Putting all this together what would be your hourly wage? I bet in financial terms a job at Starbucks would be a much smarter choice.

I have run a successful design firm for 9 years. I believe I understand the difference between net profit and revenue.

Your question suggests that I one day decided I would make it rich in microstock and went out and purchased a ton of equipment. That is not the case at all, and I don't think that's the case for most contributors in microstock. That's kinda the point. We define our level of commitment in terms of time and money. Everything I use I already had as part of my business that generates my primary income.

Quote
There are a few who probably make a net profit. These are people who organized their work like a high volume industrial production (see for example Yuri Arcurs work). I am pretty sure that most micro contributors are neither interested nor able to work like that.
"few who probably..." ?
Are you just guessing about this? Or do you know something we don't?
If we are just guessing, I'd guess that there are few who probably live day to day operating at a deficit, yet microstock seems to be here to stay despite the fact you say only a few make a net profit. Are you saying that the vast majority of the rest have gone into debt to become contributors and are working now only to service their debt and feed the machine? If so, surely you underestimate the intelligence of that vast majority.


vicu

« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2007, 09:58 »
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But the work I did a year ago is still making me money today.  You don't get that working at starbucks :)

For a fair comparison you would need to put aside your Starbucks earnings and make a comparison after five years or so. In my opinion this approach would win if you invest wisely.

Would that be an equal comparison? Putting a lump sum of money into the stock market and measuring the performance at the end of five years is not the same unless it is also generating income each month which we are using to live on. I think it's safe to assume that most people can't take their paycheck and hand it over to a stockbroker.

Let's say I spent 2 hours on an illustration that sells approximately 5 times a month, for which I receive an average income of 2.00 each time, or $10/month. Disregarding all tax scenarios, two hours at Starbucks at $6.50 generates a gross income of $13.00. My two hour investment in my illustration will continue earning me $10 a month without any further investment from me, or $120 a year, $600 in five years. Even with a 20% rate of return (which is pretty unlikely) that invested $13 from Starbucks is only going to yield about $32.

A photograph is going to probably take less time to process and will likely average a lower price but even at a quarter of the income, it still far surpasses the Starbucks income, and my scenario also assumes that none of the microstock income would be invested. I know quite a few people who use their microstock income for the sole purpose of growing their savings in a way that doesn't cut into their regular household income.

But I'm not an economist, so what do I know...  ;)

« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2007, 11:45 »
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The only cost to me is time to edit, keyword and upload.

Come on, you are not honest to yourself.

The times were the micros accepted 'normal' amateur pictures shoot strictly for fun are long over.  If you want to sell you have to think about appropriate subjects
About 99% of my photos were taken in the normal course of the day (while traveling).  Sure I wouldn't want some of my micro pictures in my travel album but other than swinging my camera up to my eye, it doesn't cost me.

If I did isolated or model shots, it might be different.

« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2007, 12:57 »
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Gizeh, your line of reasoning has nothing to do with majority of microstock contributors. Try different perspective described as follows. Hobbyist loves photography. (S)he enjoys shooting, learning, editing, both process and result. Family albums are filled, friends and relatives fed up (LOL) with being constantly barraged by e-mails with new shots. Photgrapher feels he wants new venue, more recognition. The quest takes him to something like Flickr. Firther quest takes him to stock sites and he finds out that by doing what he loves he becomes a part of new community, can learn new technical and artistic aspects of his favorite hobby AND make some money off all this. Now, the camera, lenses, computer, time invested etc WERE already there and would be there anyway, stock or no stock. All those  economic models of yours simply do not apply here for anyone but those who seriously try to build their livelihood on contributing to microstock. As for "normal shooting doesn't work for stock" - not exactly true. Of course most popular and well-selling images are often different from what vacation-shooter would do but it doesn't mean taking those images is not a pleasure. I haven't shot any single one I wouldn't like to, even though many of them are mundane shots. And I learned something from most of them.

So, what's is the problem with agency building business on being an enabler for photographer for all those tasks? That is of course if one is not simply hstile to the business in general which is totally different matter. Or, taking it from contributor's side, what is the problem with photographer doing al,l those things he enjoys and making some money off it? How is agency being dishonest and how is contributor being foolish?

« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2007, 13:53 »
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From the perspective of a pro, microstock allows me to concentrate on creating and developing imagery 100% of the time. Prior to specializing in microstock, a substantial portion of my time was spent dealing with clients and developing/nurturing business relationships. Microstock is one of those very few industries where success is intimately tied to what, and not who, you know.

I think the tradeoff between price per image and creative freedom is more than equitable. I'm much happier shooting commercial imagery according to my own preferences and timetable than someone else's. My income, of course, depends solely upon how willing I am to bend to the whims of the marketplace.

« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2007, 19:33 »
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Please help.   sharply_done... so how do you bend to the whims of the marketplace and specialize at the same time?   Thank you.

« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2007, 01:27 »
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Please help.   sharply_done... so how do you bend to the whims of the marketplace and specialize at the same time?   Thank you.
It's simple, really.

Select an area that you know you can produce images in both quantity and quality. This can be almost anything, but you should choose something that appears to be populated only by casual photographers who generally produce laclustre stuff. The size of the market isn't really important - what is important is that you will be the only person in the microstock world committing 100% of your photographic time to making images to suit that market. In time the quantity and quality of your images will easily trump most who casually submit a competing image.

Looking at your stuff, this might be tennis. Just shoot tennis and tennis-related stuff, and don't quit until you've come up with every conceivable tennis shot - I'm talking about producing 1000+ of them. Believe me, it can be done. You've got to make it so that when "tennis" is entered as a search word, the first page contains an inordinate amount of your images, regardless of the sort order.


... good luck!

« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2007, 07:36 »
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I agree totally.  Right now I'm a nano-stocker but I'm working up to microstock.  My "niche" has only four accepted images on istock so far but those four appear on page one of best match, three of the four appear on page one of most downloads (including the number one position) and also by rating.
Funny, when I was in the US Army Reserves my position was NCO in charge of local indigenous poisonous spiders, snakes and plants.  This meant identifying them, educating others and on occasion being the one to remove said beasties.  My best selling images are of poison ivy.
Now that due to neuro problems I'm confined to home (no driving) I still have the joys of two types of poisonous snakes, two spiders and multiple plants within walking distance to find and photograph.
Think I've found  my niche.
Judy

« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2007, 17:59 »
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Thank you!    Wish I could just narrow it down to one sport...  unfortunately my 'day job' has me shooting many different sports weekly, not just one.    So what I've taken away from this is I should better at using my 'spare time' at this event more wisely to gain more images.    Simple as that.

Again, thanks for the comments.


 

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