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Author Topic: Is it possible to launch own subscription site?  (Read 1914 times)

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« on: August 16, 2019, 11:17 »
0
Is it possible to launch own subscription site? I have a lot of photos, I sell a lot of photos. Like between 25,000 - 50,000 images, per year, mostly all subs. Most of my photos are of one genre that graphic designers use a lot of. If I just charged a $5 per month sub fee, and I got 4,000 people to sign up, that would be $20,000 per month, before expenses. My thought was that $5 per month is a rounding error for almost all advertising agencies. I think my content is good enough that I can get 4,000 people to sign up, BUT I earn enough from iStock's exclusive contract to be weary to experiment, it is the same reason I've never tried to sell to other sites.

Right now I'm just speaking out loud. It is fairly unlikely I'd try this, I don't feel like having my income plummet by going independent.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 11:23 by charged »


« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2019, 14:19 »
+2
... I sell a lot of photos. Like between 25,000 - 50,000 images, per year, mostly all subs. Most of my photos are of one genre that graphic designers use a lot of. If I just charged a $5 per month sub fee, and I got 4,000 people to sign up, that would be $20,000 per month, before expenses. ...
  2 rather large 'IF's  --   and why would an agency who already has a sub to search hundred millions of images buy another sub to search a few thousand??

« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2019, 14:36 »
+5
Possible, yes. Likely to be a profitable - very low chance IMO

The big issue for selling yourself is finding the buyers - if you sell subscriptions, you need to keep the buyers as well. Those tasks take time and/or cost money. As does running the site (those sub buyers will expect close to 100% uptime, $5 a month or no). As does handling credit card and payment issues and customer service, etc.

And as you point out, to a large ad agency, $5 a month is noise; but that also means there's no reason they'll balk at paying one larger monthly fee for having a choice of 300 million images (Shutterstock). You should do some searches there to see if your work is different enough from what's already there to think you could persuade buyers to add your subscription to the others they already have because of unique content. There's a lot of dreck on Shutterstock, but there's also a lot of very usable stuff that I'm guessing you'd have a very hard time competing with

And you'd have to give up exclusivity anyway unless you could somehow craft the license as RM (the only type of licensing you can do as an iStock exclusive). Is that what you were thinking? Exclusivity and your own sub site?

How sure are you that your income would plummet as an indie? Once upon a time that might have been true, but times have changed quite a bit for iStock exclusives.

« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2019, 15:05 »
+9
I really can't imagine you'd find four people, let alone 4,000.  It's really hard to get buyers.  And then once they download everything, they quit.

« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2019, 15:18 »
0
Possible, yes. Likely to be a profitable - very low chance IMO

The big issue for selling yourself is finding the buyers - if you sell subscriptions, you need to keep the buyers as well. Those tasks take time and/or cost money. As does running the site (those sub buyers will expect close to 100% uptime, $5 a month or no). As does handling credit card and payment issues and customer service, etc.

And as you point out, to a large ad agency, $5 a month is noise; but that also means there's no reason they'll balk at paying one larger monthly fee for having a choice of 300 million images (Shutterstock). You should do some searches there to see if your work is different enough from what's already there to think you could persuade buyers to add your subscription to the others they already have because of unique content. There's a lot of dreck on Shutterstock, but there's also a lot of very usable stuff that I'm guessing you'd have a very hard time competing with

And you'd have to give up exclusivity anyway unless you could somehow craft the license as RM (the only type of licensing you can do as an iStock exclusive). Is that what you were thinking? Exclusivity and your own sub site?

How sure are you that your income would plummet as an indie? Once upon a time that might have been true, but times have changed quite a bit for iStock exclusives.


Finding buyers - I go through periods where I travel a lot. So I could just look up agency's office and go have a chat. Or I could do a write up to some graphic design blogs. Or I could buy google ad words.

My work is very similar to millions of other images in the market place. It is actually one of the most frequent type of stock photo. Very easy to produce. Lots of people do it. What sets me apart is I have a lot of photos, more than most photographers. All my models are well dressed, as in they wouldn't look out of place in any major clothing brand's catalogue. I watch a lot of late night American comedy shows, all the major shows have used my stock photos at one point or another.

Yes I would have to give up exclusivity to test this idea out. I'm not keen to do that. I don't know for a fact that my income would plummet, but logic says it would. Indie get pay a lot less at iStock, they don't get promoted in the iStock search engine. Yes times have changed for iStock earnings, they are quite a bit less than they used to be, but it seems from reading on this forum, earnings for all sites are falling. I earn enough in stock to be equivalent to the average professional white collar full time office job in the United States. So the immediate drop in income from exclusive to indie would be quite hard to take.

« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2019, 15:26 »
0
I really can't imagine you'd find four people, let alone 4,000.  It's really hard to get buyers.  And then once they download everything, they quit.

You might be right. I have no way of finding out without actually going through with it. And I've already said I'm pretty reluctant to test the waters given how much my income would drop if I cancel the exclusive contact.

Over a 6 month period this year, I've sold about 30,000 images. People obviously like my stuff enough to download them.

The idea I'm thinking about here is more or less exactly how Shutterstock started out.

« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2019, 15:36 »
0
... I sell a lot of photos. Like between 25,000 - 50,000 images, per year, mostly all subs. Most of my photos are of one genre that graphic designers use a lot of. If I just charged a $5 per month sub fee, and I got 4,000 people to sign up, that would be $20,000 per month, before expenses. ...
  2 rather large 'IF's  --   and why would an agency who already has a sub to search hundred millions of images buy another sub to search a few thousand??

You ask fair questions!

Because I "think" for the genre that I shoot in, I'm very good. To get my photos, $5 sub is cheaper than they can get on iStock, because I don't sell anywhere else. My collection is pretty big.

My collection is much much bigger than a few thousand. And I've learned a lot in the last 12 months. I've learned enough the I could by myself pump out several hundred thousand new images each year if I want to. Basically it comes down to learning to be more efficient. Shot models based upon a template of poses. Have a custom software that does most of the keywording automatically, because all the photos are shot based upon a template. For example, in the past, one hour of shooting usually equals to about 3 hours of keywording. Now one hour of template shooting is equal to 10 mins of keywording. It is 10 mins because some part of the keywording process can't be templated, but most of it can.

« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2019, 15:37 »
+1
I really can't imagine you'd find four people, let alone 4,000.  It's really hard to get buyers.  And then once they download everything, they quit.

You might be right. I have no way of finding out without actually going through with it. And I've already said I'm pretty reluctant to test the waters given how much my income would drop if I cancel the exclusive contact.

Over a 6 month period this year, I've sold about 30,000 images. People obviously like my stuff enough to download them.

The idea I'm thinking about here is more or less exactly how Shutterstock started out.
Yes and when they started they had one competitor.

« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2019, 15:45 »
0
I really can't imagine you'd find four people, let alone 4,000.  It's really hard to get buyers.  And then once they download everything, they quit.

You might be right. I have no way of finding out without actually going through with it. And I've already said I'm pretty reluctant to test the waters given how much my income would drop if I cancel the exclusive contact.

Over a 6 month period this year, I've sold about 30,000 images. People obviously like my stuff enough to download them.

The idea I'm thinking about here is more or less exactly how Shutterstock started out.
Yes and when they started they had one competitor.

True!

« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2019, 16:10 »
+5
I've learned enough the I could by myself pump out several hundred thousand new images each year if I want to.

How excruciatingly mind numbing that sounds.  You'd burn out in no time.  But seriously, how many "funny poses on white" or "guy in prisoner outfit" does the world need?
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 16:17 by Sean Locke Photography »

« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2019, 16:51 »
0
I've learned enough the I could by myself pump out several hundred thousand new images each year if I want to.

How excruciatingly mind numbing that sounds.  You'd burn out in no time.  But seriously, how many "funny poses on white" or "guy in prisoner outfit" does the world need?

People seem to buy the same stuff over and over again. So I just shoot the same thing over and over again with different models. And yes burn out is a real problem. I go though it quite often, then I stop and go do something else with my time for a while.

« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2019, 17:42 »
+1
Housing 50000 high res images will take a lot of server space plus the traffic. You'd need a private server and an admin to maintain it. It only seems like the web is automated.

Private servers can go for $1000/month plus an IT guy (at least one to start but more if you grow).

You'd need a CSR to handle customer questions and complaints. Full time job even if you out source that's a chunk of change.

Insurance and security since you'll be dealing with user's financial info. Expensive.

Accounting. Do you want to shoot more photos or deal with the bookkeeping on 4000 subscriptions?

I'm pretty sure with just the above your $20000/month is gone. Of course you'd need working capital to keep you going at least 2 years unless you can get 4000 to sign up and pay on the first day.

You would need at least a quarter to half a million dollars in start up money. Good luck.

« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2019, 18:06 »
0
Housing 50000 high res images will take a lot of server space plus the traffic. You'd need a private server and an admin to maintain it. It only seems like the web is automated.

Private servers can go for $1000/month plus an IT guy (at least one to start but more if you grow).

You'd need a CSR to handle customer questions and complaints. Full time job even if you out source that's a chunk of change.

Insurance and security since you'll be dealing with user's financial info. Expensive.

Accounting. Do you want to shoot more photos or deal with the bookkeeping on 4000 subscriptions?

I'm pretty sure with just the above your $20000/month is gone. Of course you'd need working capital to keep you going at least 2 years unless you can get 4000 to sign up and pay on the first day.

You would need at least a quarter to half a million dollars in start up money. Good luck.

That's a lot of money. Ouch.

ShadySue

« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2019, 19:20 »
+1
I've learned enough the I could by myself pump out several hundred thousand new images each year if I want to.

How excruciatingly mind numbing that sounds.  You'd burn out in no time.  But seriously, how many "funny poses on white" or "guy in prisoner outfit" does the world need?

People seem to buy the same stuff over and over again. So I just shoot the same thing over and over again with different models. And yes burn out is a real problem. I go though it quite often, then I stop and go do something else with my time for a while.
The other thing you'd be doing with your time is customer service. Even at $5 a month, many customers will expect 5* service. Yesterday. Or as memakephotos says, you'd need to hire people to do customer service round the clock.

« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 20:58 »
+2
You are never going to leave iStock
.

« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2019, 21:45 »
0
Housing 50000 high res images will take a lot of server space plus the traffic. You'd need a private server and an admin to maintain it. It only seems like the web is automated.

Private servers can go for $1000/month plus an IT guy (at least one to start but more if you grow).

You'd need a CSR to handle customer questions and complaints. Full time job even if you out source that's a chunk of change.

Insurance and security since you'll be dealing with user's financial info. Expensive.

Accounting. Do you want to shoot more photos or deal with the bookkeeping on 4000 subscriptions?

I'm pretty sure with just the above your $20000/month is gone. Of course you'd need working capital to keep you going at least 2 years unless you can get 4000 to sign up and pay on the first day.

You would need at least a quarter to half a million dollars in start up money. Good luck.

Where are you getting your numbers? You are *way* out to lunch here (I *do* this kind of thing - and those numbers are waaaaay off).

« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2019, 22:03 »
0
Is it possible to launch own subscription site? I have a lot of photos, I sell a lot of photos. Like between 25,000 - 50,000 images, per year, mostly all subs. Most of my photos are of one genre that graphic designers use a lot of. If I just charged a $5 per month sub fee, and I got 4,000 people to sign up, that would be $20,000 per month, before expenses. My thought was that $5 per month is a rounding error for almost all advertising agencies. I think my content is good enough that I can get 4,000 people to sign up, BUT I earn enough from iStock's exclusive contract to be weary to experiment, it is the same reason I've never tried to sell to other sites.

Right now I'm just speaking out loud. It is fairly unlikely I'd try this, I don't feel like having my income plummet by going independent.

Answering your question:

Yes, you can launch your own subscription site. It is very inexpensive if you know what to do.

Price-wise, not sure where you live - maybe $5 in your country is a 'large' amount - here (north america), that would be too cheap. You can get your cc fees low depending who you go through (so could "net" about $4.50-$4.75/subscription).

The challenge you'll have is acquiring customers. That is marketing.

If you are looking for paid marketing methods - there is a steep learning curve in order to see a positive ROI (making more than you spend). There are a lot of very smart people competing with a lot of other very smart people (& software). I think you would probably find it quite challenging to use paid marketing methods.

If you can figure out a way to make your site go 'viral' for free - AND - you have a good sales page/process/funnel in place - then yes, acquiring 4,000 customers in a short period of time (1-3 months) is doable. People have done it, and you can do it too - but that is where the challenge is. In the marketing of your site.


« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2019, 22:29 »
0
Don't listen to anybody here. They only know what they know and thought they are already right about it. After all, those that have really tried and are truly successful will not speak of anything here because they don't want you to know about it.

SpaceStockFootage

  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2019, 23:32 »
0
Housing 50000 high res images will take a lot of server space plus the traffic. You'd need a private server and an admin to maintain it. It only seems like the web is automated.

Private servers can go for $1000/month plus an IT guy (at least one to start but more if you grow).

You'd need a CSR to handle customer questions and complaints. Full time job even if you out source that's a chunk of change.

Insurance and security since you'll be dealing with user's financial info. Expensive.

Accounting. Do you want to shoot more photos or deal with the bookkeeping on 4000 subscriptions?

I'm pretty sure with just the above your $20000/month is gone. Of course you'd need working capital to keep you going at least 2 years unless you can get 4000 to sign up and pay on the first day.

You would need at least a quarter to half a million dollars in start up money. Good luck.

Where are you getting your numbers? You are *way* out to lunch here (I *do* this kind of thing - and those numbers are waaaaay off).

Yep, it's about $0.01 a month for 1000 videos... so for 50,000 images, about $10 should cover the next 75 years or so, right? 

« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2019, 07:17 »
+3
Don't listen to anybody here. They only know what they know and thought they are already right about it. After all, those that have really tried and are truly successful will not speak of anything here because they don't want you to know about it.

Not true. I actually have created subscription sites, ad not related to photography, and sometimes I do share my expertise. Some successful people will share, because they want to see others succeed as well.

Anyway, like I said - definitely doable - the main challenge you have to figure out though is the marketing. If you can figure out a good USP (unique selling proposition), and make something go viral (because free advertising here is probably what you want) - then you can get the 4000 subscribes.

« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2019, 19:25 »
0
Don't listen to anybody here. They only know what they know and thought they are already right about it. After all, those that have really tried and are truly successful will not speak of anything here because they don't want you to know about it.

Not true. I actually have created subscription sites, ad not related to photography, and sometimes I do share my expertise. Some successful people will share, because they want to see others succeed as well.

Anyway, like I said - definitely doable - the main challenge you have to figure out though is the marketing. If you can figure out a good USP (unique selling proposition), and make something go viral (because free advertising here is probably what you want) - then you can get the 4000 subscribes.

Thanks, glad to hear about it. Can you share more of your previous success and how you do it? Is there a web-maker out there that allow us to offer subscription (instead of usual e-commerce site). I am also interested in making my own site that can offer subscription.

« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2019, 01:32 »
0
Is it possible to launch own subscription site?

Yes. Perhaps you have to change "launch" to "run" or "succesfully / profitable keep"

I have a lot of photos, I sell a lot of photos. Like between 25,000 - 50,000 images, per year, mostly all subs. Most of my photos are of one genre that graphic designers use a lot of.

Great, you have a specific customer target group. Most people don't...

If I just charged a $5 per month sub fee, and I got 4,000 people to sign up, that would be $20,000 per month, before expenses. My thought was that $5 per month is a rounding error for almost all advertising agencies.

You lost me, products are priced to their actual or desired value not by consuming ratio. And here is the first error, you don't think as an individual any more "how much I need per month". See what agencies do, they maximize profit.

I think my content is good enough that I can get 4,000 people to sign up, BUT I earn enough from iStock's exclusive contract to be weary to experiment, it is the same reason I've never tried to sell to other sites.

You can always exclude one month's work and experiment in own site, reach directly customers, whatever.

Right now I'm just speaking out loud.

We all people do. Also all people dream, dare, succeed or fail.

It is fairly unlikely I'd try this, I don't feel like having my income plummet by going independent.

(*, then why do you ask? :P )

Most of us don't try. Perhaps you should ask people already done this. If i recall correct, there was a well known artist (video) that launched a "packages" site thread here a couple of months ago.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2019, 09:29 »
+1

Great, you have a specific customer target group. Most people don't...

You can always exclude one month's work and experiment in own site, reach directly customers, whatever.

We all people do. Also all people dream, dare, succeed or fail.

Most of us don't try. Perhaps you should ask people already done this. If i recall correct, there was a well known artist (video) that launched a "packages" site thread here a couple of months ago.

1) Target group is a best way to start, not everything for everyone.
2) Dream, and dare to succeed or fail, sounds like a good way to go after a dream.
3) Test site with holding new work back from IS.
4) There have been a few different sites, not sure if any were SUBS but maybe you can find someone with real experience.

I think your $5 is too low, and I don't know why you would want to have a sub site anyway. Look at what people are actually paying for your work now, I don't mean commission. You could have a Two Buck site, per download, and make much more, based on need. On Demand In fact if your work is what you saw, then you could have $5 downloads, and skip the sub plan, where:

I really can't imagine you'd find four people, let alone 4,000.  It's really hard to get buyers.  And then once they download everything, they quit.

Getting the customers is the hardest part of any Internet project like this. Marketing and advertising costs money, otherwise how will they find you? You could sit years waiting to be discovered.  :) If you are going to make phone calls to art directors, that may be a good plan. Personal contact, sales, then follow up mailings. You need to find names and specifics and target the personally.

Just like #1 and the first point, you need a target group, for your images and target buyers directly. Start small and grow, don't start big and expensive, unless you have a few hundred thousand to kick start your sub agency.

That's my opinion of the way to go. Build on specifics and market to individuals/buyers at the specific companies.

ShadySue

« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2019, 09:47 »
0

You can always exclude one month's work and experiment in own site, reach directly customers, whatever.
3) Test site with holding new work back from IS.

The OP said s/he is iS exclusive. So no (legitimate by contract) way of experimenting and keeping work on as iS exclusive assuming that the subs would be RF (hardly likely to be RM).

If you go indie, you have to give iS  30 days notice (during which time you can't sell RF yourself, but you could of course be setting up your website offline). Even if you closed your account totally with iS, you couldn't promise buyers on your own site that your files are only available on your own site (if you wanted to do that) as your files can be available and selling from iS's partner sites for up to a year (check the exclusive contract, clause 12).

Also if you go indie then want to return to exclusivity it's 90 days before that happens.

FWIW, I think $5/month is far too low. Why do  you want to sell yourself so short? it's bad enough the agencies doing that.




Shelma1

« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2019, 10:37 »
+1
Having worked in ad agencies for 30+ years (and sitting in one now), Id say your chances of calling an ad agency and stopping in for a chat are zero to nil. Youre dealing with huge corporate structures with a thousand layers of approval and set budgets and approved vendors with legal indemnification in place and millions of images. Even established custom-only photographers and illustrators with well-known, seasoned reps are having a hard time now. Gone are the days of a fabulous catered lunch spent flipping through gorgeous photography and illustration portfolios...sadly.


 

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