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Author Topic: Microstock tug o' war  (Read 30151 times)

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hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #50 on: September 05, 2009, 17:29 »
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My question is if you have already produced the images and are selling them elsewhere, why would you throw ANY money away by not submitting to SS?
2 reasons I guess:
  1. I feel like I'm helping SS undercut my own sales at other sites that pay more.
  2. The 25 cent sales tick me off.  
  3. I don't want to support a model that is based on providing extremely cheap images. Microstock is already cheap enough, let's make people pay.

Yep, I gave up undercutting my own images too. In my opinion the best way to do business, is to set your own price, and never go below a level that is lower than that price. That's why I think the sites where you do set your own price are the best ones at the mo, that, and they don't do subs ;)

If I only contributed to sites where I set my own prices I would have lost my house by now.

If everyone did it, those sites would make the most sales, get it?  :)


hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #51 on: September 05, 2009, 17:33 »
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I'd accept some number of dirt-cheap subscription sales. Last month, at SS, that's all I got.  100% 25-cent subscription sales and nothing else.

Granted my portofolio is very small and mostly off-beat stuff.  Maybe there are reasons why I only sold through subscriptions. But for me, SS is a drag. At FT, DT and IS, at least I get the wild thrill of an occasional sale for $2, $3.  

Your mileage may vary. Fortunately my house is paid for  :)

Yeah and honestly, who on earth who's name isn't Yuri, is paying a mortgage with microstock earnings alone? I mean, really!! Unless you have 1000's of v.high quality images (and a few dozen equally high quality models), and are a 'pro', which is exactly what this thread is about, I'd imagine 2% if even that of microstockers are pro's, and of that 2% probably 1% make a full-time excellent wage that pays mortgages and the like..

I think the smaller contributor is better off setting their own price, that model might not nessesarily transfer across to those at pro levels of microstock production!
« Last Edit: September 05, 2009, 17:35 by hqimages »

« Reply #52 on: September 05, 2009, 20:32 »
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Just because you aren't doesn't mean others aren't.

« Reply #53 on: September 05, 2009, 21:04 »
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If we apply simple statistics and keep in mind a gaussian distribution of population there has to be a % of photographers that make a living out of this.  How many (and how big a %) is the million dollar question... I guess we will never know, many (if not most) submiters spend little time at forums and most wouldn't give the info away either.  For me, it pays my (ever growing) new equipment, my family vacation and some monthly bills...

« Reply #54 on: September 05, 2009, 22:15 »
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[/quote]

Yeah and honestly, who on earth who's name isn't Yuri, is paying a mortgage with microstock earnings alone? I mean, really!! Unless you have 1000's of v.high quality images (and a few dozen equally high quality models), and are a 'pro', which is exactly what this thread is about, I'd imagine 2% if even that of microstockers are pro's, and of that 2% probably 1% make a full-time excellent wage that pays mortgages and the like..

I think the smaller contributor is better off setting their own price, that model might not nessesarily transfer across to those at pro levels of microstock production!
[/quote]

sorry but I think you are wrong on this ... I think the number who could actually pay their mortgage every month off of earnings is probably quite high - in fact I would guess well over a thousand contributors to micro could do just that off of their microstock earnings alone - I mean I make a few hundred a month and, as I noted above, I am not especially good - no models, no studio, etc etc ... so given what I make on my crappy portfolio I bet a lot of mortgage payments are being made !!

« Reply #55 on: September 05, 2009, 22:43 »
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The best way to increase earnings is to think of all the simple images the sites are missing that wont cost much to produce and the buyers will want.  Do those using the equipment you already have.  Why spend more money on cameras, lenses, lights etc?  It doesn't guarantee you will make more money.  Some of my best sellers have hardly any competition at the moment.  That will probably change but I will move on to more new ideas.  The sites might look like they have nearly everything covered and it is impossible to come up with something original but if you look closely that isn't true.  Your imagination is and always will be the most important factor, not how much you can spend on photographic gear.

Well said!  This is exactly what I think.   

« Reply #56 on: September 06, 2009, 00:06 »
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I agree, I am nowhere near a proffessional and I pay my mortgage, my car payments and many other bills with my microstock earnings as I'm sure many others do.  and  Also there are many people that live in parts of the world where the cost of living is very low and can easily live off their earnings.




sorry but I think you are wrong on this ... I think the number who could actually pay their mortgage every month off of earnings is probably quite high

« Reply #57 on: September 06, 2009, 01:49 »
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I agree, I am nowhere near a proffessional and I pay my mortgage, my car payments and many other bills with my microstock earnings as I'm sure many others do.  and  Also there are many people that live in parts of the world where the cost of living is very low and can easily live off their earnings.

I'm sorry, but if you make over 50% of your income from photography (as it appears that you do) you qualify as a professional.

« Reply #58 on: September 06, 2009, 06:21 »
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If we apply simple statistics and keep in mind a gaussian distribution of population there has to be a % of photographers that make a living out of this.  How many (and how big a %) is the million dollar question... I guess we will never know, many (if not most) submiters spend little time at forums and most wouldn't give the info away either.  For me, it pays my (ever growing) new equipment, my family vacation and some monthly bills...

My guess would be that the distribution is more along the lines of a power curve with 80% of sales shared by 20% of the photographers.  Given the number of photographers involved many must be making enough to pay a mortgage - at least in Mexico.


hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #59 on: September 06, 2009, 06:36 »
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If we apply simple statistics and keep in mind a gaussian distribution of population there has to be a % of photographers that make a living out of this.  How many (and how big a %) is the million dollar question... I guess we will never know, many (if not most) submiters spend little time at forums and most wouldn't give the info away either.  For me, it pays my (ever growing) new equipment, my family vacation and some monthly bills...

My guess would be that the distribution is more along the lines of a power curve with 80% of sales shared by 20% of the photographers.  Given the number of photographers involved many must be making enough to pay a mortgage - at least in Mexico.



lol, yeah, so really we have three groups..

Microstock Professionals - Can spend 1000's on shoots, sometimes have assistants, have over 5-10,000 images on file, and are adding approx 1000+ to that per month.

Microstock Contributors - Don't organise shoots, generally do not have studios (although some may have equipment at home), they do add photos to their collection, but not at the pace set above, at a much slower pace.

Generally if you live in Ireland or the UK, the cost of living is very high, so being able to be a 'contributor' and pay something like a mortgage, is not going to happen. However you will be able to pay perhaps a smaller monthly bill, or buy the odd lens/piece of equipment.

If you live in a country where the cost of living is quite low, then I'm sure, you can be a contributor, and actually pay a mortgage or even more with those earnings.

Then the pros well, they HAVE to pull a full-time wage out of microstock regardless of where they live or the cost of living, they have actual overheads to cover, and this is their full-time wage, so they will make sure they make enough money to dedicate themselves to it.

Maybe if you live in a country with a very low cost of living, and you are a contributor but not on the pro level of production, you can still make enough with a small gallery, to make a living.. in that case, copy what the pros do and submit to as many sites as possible regardless of the price they sell at, or the % they give you.

I still believe the smaller contributor (living in an expensive country) is better served by using different methods of sale, than thinking that way of selling (no price is too low based on volume of images) will work for small galleries, in my experience, and from my years chatting with other microstockers, the average microstock contributor is barely making enough to pick up a lens these days, and that has a lot to do with sub sales that only benefit those with a high volume of images that can still turn a profit.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 06:45 by hqimages »

« Reply #60 on: September 06, 2009, 07:33 »
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I'm sorry but you completely over-estimate the difficulty in earning 'a living' at this.

You don't need a studio (other than a corner of a room in your house), you don't need any models or assistants, you don't need 5-10,000 images in your port and you don't need to be uploading 1000 new images a month.

You do need to have a bit of talent in photography (but nothing special), you do need a $1000 camera and lens, you do need to find your niche of what you can shoot well and economically, you probably need an existing portfolio of 2500+ images and to be uploading 50-100 new images a month depending on the saleability. If you keep your overheads low then that should generate at least the average wage in most of the developed world (ok, maybe not Norway or Switzerland!).

I know several microstockers who are doing precisely this or sometimes much, much better. You do need to work reasonably hard at it, keep yourself motivated and keep thinking up new ideas for shoots __ but it's not that difficult.

NB: Off topic but being as you mentioned the cost of living in Ireland - I toured Ireland a couple of years ago and one thing that really struck me was the extraordinary property market, both the bizarrely high prices and also the scale of new-builds of (often massive) houses in progress. Apart from the 'silicon valley' of the Dublin area I couldn't see any evidence of where the money to sustain this market was coming from __ there was precious little industry, large-scale agriculture or anything obvious at all. When I discussed it with a local man (in Cork) he said "Oh, they're all on 35-40 year mortgages around here. You don't leave your house to the kids any more __ you leave them the mortgage!". That was about 18 months before 'the crunch'. It'll be interesting to see where Irish property prices are in 5-10 years time.

« Reply #61 on: September 06, 2009, 07:35 »
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This all goes back to you get out of it what you put in to it....

I would love to have more time to contribute, but my day job doesn't allow that.  Even so I have built up a good income from my crappy stock images.

I can only shoot 1 day a week, I give myself a break every 3 or 4 weeks so I end up with 40-50 shooting days a year.

I can buy a new lens every month from my earnings....  hehe a new lens can be had for as little as 100.00 LOL!!!  but I can buy a new piece of l glass each month if I wanted to...

Is the pro ever going to be able to compete with me?  I don't think so.
The pro has staff, rent/studio, etc to deal with.  I don't have all that overhead.

Subs don't bother me at all, it's just a part of the puzzle.  As long as I get a paycheck from all those pieces of the puzzle I don't care how I got there....

if you want a us vs them thing to end prices should drop to pennies a download then the pro's wouldn't bother selling and would find a different outlet for their work, and us hobbiest would be all alone to sell stock as we like, but once all the pro's are gone hobbiest are going to want more for our work, then the pro's will want a piece of the pie again....

it wil never end...

Bob

hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #62 on: September 06, 2009, 07:38 »
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I'm sorry but you completely over-estimate the difficulty in earning 'a living' at this.

You don't need a studio (other than a corner of a room in your house), you don't need any models or assistants, you don't need 5-10,000 images in your port and you don't need to be uploading 1000 new images a month.

You do need to have a bit of talent in photography (but nothing special), you do need a $1000 camera and lens, you do need to find your niche of what you can shoot well and economically, you probably need an existing portfolio of 2500+ images and to be uploading 50-100 new images a month depending on the saleability. If you keep your overheads low then that should generate at least the average wage in most of the developed world (ok, maybe not Norway or Switzerland!).

I know several microstockers who are doing precisely this or sometimes much, much better. You do need to work reasonably hard at it, keep yourself motivated and keep thinking up new ideas for shoots __ but it's not that difficult.

NB: Off topic but being as you mentioned the cost of living in Ireland - I toured Ireland a couple of years ago and one thing that really struck me was the extraordinary property market, both the bizarrely high prices and also the scale of new-builds of (often massive) houses in progress. Apart from the 'silicon valley' of the Dublin area I couldn't see any evidence of where the money to sustain this market was coming from __ there was precious little industry, large-scale agriculture or anything obvious at all. When I discussed it with a local man (in Cork) he said "Oh, they're all on 35-40 year mortgages around here. You don't leave your house to the kids any more __ you leave them the mortgage!". That was about 18 months before 'the crunch'. It'll be interesting to see where Irish property prices are in 5-10 years time.

No I agree, I only picked two examples of microstock contributors that had the biggest gap between them to differenciate between the two groups of contributors we have in the market.. of course it's not that everyone is either one or the other, in between the two there will be 1000's of groups of people that are neither pro, or 'hobbyist', but in between, and make an in between amount..

hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #63 on: September 06, 2009, 07:41 »
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This all goes back to you get out of it what you put in to it....

I would love to have more time to contribute, but my day job doesn't allow that.  Even so I have built up a good income from my crappy stock images.

I can only shoot 1 day a week, I give myself a break every 3 or 4 weeks so I end up with 40-50 shooting days a year.

I can buy a new lens every month from my earnings....  hehe a new lens can be had for as little as 100.00 LOL!!!  but I can buy a new piece of l glass each month if I wanted to...

Is the pro ever going to be able to compete with me?  I don't think so.
The pro has staff, rent/studio, etc to deal with.  I don't have all that overhead.

Subs don't bother me at all, it's just a part of the puzzle.  As long as I get a paycheck from all those pieces of the puzzle I don't care how I got there....

if you want a us vs them thing to end prices should drop to pennies a download then the pro's wouldn't bother selling and would find a different outlet for their work, and us hobbiest would be all alone to sell stock as we like, but once all the pro's are gone hobbiest are going to want more for our work, then the pro's will want a piece of the pie again....

it wil never end...

Bob

You see, I think you're wrong. Pro's are the only ones that can keep selling at 'pennies a download' (due to sheer volume and continued production), and it's the smaller contributor that will be squeezed out..

« Reply #64 on: September 06, 2009, 12:19 »
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 Hi HQimages

 I guess it also depends on what you call earning a living. That is a very vague term, especially when you are speaking globally. What is a good living one place may be considered poverty somewhere else.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #65 on: September 06, 2009, 12:37 »
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In my country, Panama, US$2000 a month used to be good money... Today you'll be lower middle class with that and struggle to meet months end... So, yes, it is relative, in place and time...

« Reply #66 on: September 06, 2009, 13:35 »
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i not only pay for my mortgage, but pay for several tax deductible foreign trips each year mostly from MS earnings. 

too much of the discussion here seems t assume an either-or zero sum situation; even if all the participants in this forum withdrew all their portfolios from subscriptions, the world wouldnt even notice.  instead, this is a huge field, and 'dancing among the elephants' is a profitable niche to aim for.

similarly, many seem to assume that by contributing to a subscription site you're hurting sales elsewhere - but that assumes buyers search by photographer, AND that they search multiple sites. 

finally, too many focus on the big $ that images sell for on some sites, ignoring the number of users that would/could never consider those prices.  'different horses,  different courses' -- it's up to the individual to analyze their portfoo and decide where it will perform best.

steve



hqimages

  • www.draiochtwebdesign.com
« Reply #67 on: September 06, 2009, 14:42 »
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i not only pay for my mortgage, but pay for several tax deductible foreign trips each year mostly from MS earnings. 

too much of the discussion here seems t assume an either-or zero sum situation; even if all the participants in this forum withdrew all their portfolios from subscriptions, the world wouldnt even notice.  instead, this is a huge field, and 'dancing among the elephants' is a profitable niche to aim for.

similarly, many seem to assume that by contributing to a subscription site you're hurting sales elsewhere - but that assumes buyers search by photographer, AND that they search multiple sites. 

finally, too many focus on the big $ that images sell for on some sites, ignoring the number of users that would/could never consider those prices.  'different horses,  different courses' -- it's up to the individual to analyze their portfoo and decide where it will perform best.

steve



Hi Steve thanks for that info!! Can I ask you if you don't mind, how many images do you have in your gallery, and how many do you add to that on a monthly basis? Just curious!  :)

« Reply #68 on: September 06, 2009, 18:15 »
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hqimages....

I still think us hobby photog's could stick around for pennies.

I really don't have much invested.
camera, bunch of lenses, lights, and some misc stuff.  Most of which I would of bought for my hobby anyways.

take yuri for example he has a building much like a greenhouse, several people on staff, a ton of equipment.
at last I heard/read he was bringing in around a million a year.  Would Yuri continue if his income dropped to say 100k a year?, I don't think so, I think he would find an outlet that would bring the same or more income than he has today.

But if Istock decided to pay me .10 a download all of a sudden what am I out really? Income sure, but to be truthful I could make what I make off photo's by doing dog photo's at the pet store once a month, so I'm not in this for the money right now.

why am I in this right now?
a little spending money.
validation of my work
I like this hobby

This will all change one day, when I get ride of my day job and turn full time.


Bob

« Reply #69 on: September 06, 2009, 18:27 »
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i not only pay for my mortgage, but pay for several tax deductible foreign trips each year mostly from MS earnings.

Now Steve, we all know there's no money to be made in micro.  You mustn't spread such lies! ;)

« Reply #70 on: September 06, 2009, 18:34 »
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I guess that what I was trying to say is that buyers at SS very rarely shop anywhere else. They have already paid for their subscription and have tons of images to choose from.

I'm a designer as well as a photographer and I only buy from 2 sites where I can purchase small credit packages. I have friends that work for larger ad agencies and they buy subscriptions. Period. No credit sales at all. If you don't have photos on SS, you aren't selling to those people.

« Reply #71 on: September 06, 2009, 20:22 »
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But if Istock decided to pay me .10 a download all of a sudden what am I out really?

Well gee, snokid, thanks so much for posting that. You might  also email IStock directly and tell them you're fine with 10 cents in case they ever want to make the change.

You drive a hard bargain, my friend.

« Reply #72 on: September 06, 2009, 21:56 »
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It's always nice to get paid large royalties, but I think in the micros there is definitely a "sweet spot". That place where the price is good for the contributors and the buyers.

In 2007 to early 2008, I think iStock raised their prices for vectors at least twice. The first raise was great. Income instantly went up in a dramatic way. The second raise was a little more nebulous. Prices went up, but downloads went down. It seemed like it was a break even raise. Many people were asking if they could lower prices on some of their old files because they felt they sold better at the old price.

My point is, it is hard to know what the result will be of a price increase at some of the micro sites.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 21:58 by cthoman »

« Reply #73 on: September 06, 2009, 22:29 »
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I believe that Vetta files on IS are moving well.
I myself have 6 Vetta files and 19 sales on them since turning Vetta.

Yes, there is a price point that buyers won't go above.... but it is subject and file dependent.

No one will pay a premium for an isolated shot of an apple, pear, orange, your razor blades or your toothbrush. Too common and too easy to replicate.

So, go ahead and sell the easy to do stuff for $0.25 ea or whatever.
But don't fool yourself into believing that people cannot and will not pay more for better images.

« Reply #74 on: September 07, 2009, 03:28 »
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Hi Steve thanks for that info!! Can I ask you if you don't mind, how many images do you have in your gallery, and how many do you add to that on a monthly basis? Just curious!  :)

it really varies - if i'm home i work steadily on editing, tagging & uploading. most months i add 500-1000 images to my MS portfolios.  last month it was 3000, but that's because i signed up at 3d Studio and snapixel & they take most submissions.

i've got somewhere around 3500 images in my work area,  including about 800 from last year's peru trip - but many of these are similar to images already submitted, so they won't all get processed and submitted.  my total archive is about 5500 digital images, plus about 1000 images scanned from slides.

we're heading to India in nov for 5 weeks, and i expect i'll gather about 15K images plus video - about 1/2  of that can be reviewed and discarded quickly [often over beer and papadams in the hotel bar] - near dupes, bad comp, camera moved, etc, but it will still keep me busy thru ski season.



 

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