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Author Topic: At what point is this no longer worth it to you?  (Read 10890 times)

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  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2012, 17:09 »
"Superstock, Blend, Inmagine"?

Huh? Who are they?  I've not seen any of these names discussed on this forum.

Blend is owned and run by an MSG member.
Inmagine, inter alia, is an Alamy partner.

« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2012, 17:45 »

actually there's a HUGE barrier for a new photographer - sure it's easy to setup a website, or you can use the varipous print on demand sites, but if you can't get traffic it's not going to matter

which leads to one of my favorite shakespeare quotes

Glendower:   I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man
                                 But will they come when you do call for them?
Henry IV, Part 1

Cascoly, I'm not talking about setting up a website.  I'm talking about marketing images through agencies. Years ago, we had to jump through hoops to get accepted at an agency.  Then, for submissions (after digital) you had to send TIFF files via CD or DVD (or even hard drives).  These days, you apply to an agency via their online application, you send images either via FTP or their upload system.  There is no mailing of images.  If an agency doesn't like you, you move on to the next one.  It was a very expensive and slow process.  There are literally hundreds of agencies out there looking for photographers.  The doors are literally wide open to new contributors.

In fact, I ran across an agency this morning based in Canada.  They are currently accepting exclusive photographers for RM images only (40% Royalty for the photographer - not that great but better than the micros).  I looked at the list of other agencies that sub-license images through them.  I counted 96 agencies that market RF images for, and I counted 112 agencies that they market images from on an RM basis.

None of these agencies are microstock agencies.  

i havent mailed images since i was submitting slides -- all agencies have online or ftp access - but many still have extra work to do, assigning categories, etc and submitting a large portfolio is not an insignificant effort  - i spend a lot of time earlier this year submitting to superhug, allyoucanstock, isign, photodune et al - for almost zero return.

which comes back to my earlier point - doesnt matter how many new agencies there are out there, if they dont show up in search results you're not going to get any return.

« Reply #52 on: October 30, 2012, 11:12 »
I'm a little late to the party on this one, but my 2 is really really close to the 33 SS pays or the whopping 35 I can get elsewhere.
As for banding together, the last sorry-ass time I did that was at The Image Bank, before they were bought by Getty.  That's a long time ago. A sizable group of us felt the contract was so screwy we had to quit en-mass.  The contract stipulated exclusivity of EVEN rejected images, whereby you couldn't sell them through your studio!!!  It was amazing but binding.  So we quit.  I have one lasting, penetrating, sleep depriving memory from those days...in the form of one photo...multiple recurring RM sales, which netted me $17K+.  No other image came close for me. Oh, it was a baton pass.  I lived to regret that move.  One worthwhile point is that soon afterward, The Image Bank came to it's senses and revised that contract eliminating the personal sale clause and other changes.  I can't recite chapter and verse but that's not important.  It was a vastly different time of course.  I had a busy studio then which isn't the case now...other major income.  Also, the number of us "quitters" was from a MUCH smaller pie of contributors and that made a difference.  Anyway, shooting for stock has been fun and interesting.  I'd like to continue, but if a huge band of us got together and quit at once, it would hurt us individually.  The percentage could not, would not, be enough to make a difference for these agents.  Hay! it's capitalism!  Have you checked SSTK stock lately???  Sorry, wish I had an answer.   I'm struggling with it too and may pull the plug.     


« Reply #53 on: October 30, 2012, 14:15 »
That point would be different for everyone because everyone values their time and energy differently.

Right, that's what I'm asking. Maybe I should have said - At what point is this no longer worth it to you?

April 2010 for DT, FT, 123RF (and all the rest of MY lower income sites). Is that what you were asking?  ;)

I already had equipment, what I bought for Micro was a bunch of lighting at Goodwill, twist bulbs at Home Depot, and some Plexiglass. I could include the LED lights that I got on eBay. It's for food photos. I bought some props here and there, most from resale shops. Small plates for the food shots.

I'm not one of the 800 and not one of the other 135,000, somewhere in between. I already would be taking photos and generally only drop something into Micro when it comes around, or I happened to take something that's suitable. At least 95% or my photos are "not suitable for microstock", not suitable for anything, LCV or unreleased. (in terms of micro, I'm not counting the Editorial only) The rest are CrapStock.

What may be a surprise to some, is that with around 325 images on SS and less on IS, I'm not adding much more than one here and there, when it falls on me. There's low effort at the Max. (is that an oxymoron?) Number 9719 of 33,257 last I looked at SS, which is in the top 30% of uploaded portfolios. I'm a hobby shooter, having fun.

To compare to the people here, who I'll repeat are the top %5, on SS 10% of the contributors have over 1,000 images. Only 5% have over 2,000 you can see by that, where the other 31,500 active contributors stand in the market. That ignores the 100,000 who either didn't get accepted, quit or never got past opening an account.

As long as I get something every couple of months from IS, SS or Alamy, I'm quite happy with the hobby of shooting stock photos.

People who are smart and work hard can make a reasonable extra income.

I would not suggest that anyone get into it with hopes of living off the returns. That's where your point is well made Paulie. Investing in equipment, software is thousands of dollars. Competition already holds the best placement and it's harder than ever to get new images accepted and into the placement so buyers can see them. Then there's the time factor, how many months for someone to get up to speed and have the required 1000 good images? (about five years on IS LOL)

Someone getting 20 acceptable images a week could potentially make it in a year. If that's mostly dupes and variations and those, inch by inch shots, it's not going to pay like 1000 somewhat interesting and different shots. So is someone willing to work for a year, for nothing, on the chance that they could make a couple hundred a month from that investment in time and equipment?

Then the ultimate business sense question. Someone spends $5000 for camera, lights, tripod, software Etc., how long does it take to break even and start getting real income? Two years?

Ask ten people you know, what they think? Tell them they have to work for free for two years, and then they will get some money, and start getting paid. Come back here and tell us what they say. 

« Reply #54 on: October 30, 2012, 14:27 »
Ask ten people you know, what they think? Tell them they have to work for free for two years, and then they will get some money, and start getting paid. Come back here and tell us what they say. 

Don't most would-be authors do precisely that? If they're really lucky anyway. For musicians it's usually much longer and they tend to get paid far less. Only a tiny percentage of musicians ever get significant royalties.


« Reply #55 on: October 30, 2012, 14:48 »
Ask ten people you know, what they think? Tell them they have to work for free for two years, and then they will get some money, and start getting paid. Come back here and tell us what they say. 

Don't most would-be authors do precisely that? If they're really lucky anyway. For musicians it's usually much longer and they tend to get paid far less. Only a tiny percentage of musicians ever get significant royalties.

No kidding! Talk about learning to play, equipment, practice time, agents take 20%, people think you should only get paid for time playing, not the two hours to set up and the hour to take down, more equipment... but much like Microstock, aside from the fame (cough) there isn't any fortune in being a "pop star". Recording isn't the profitable part, live performances make the best money. That's why we see all the former stars out on tour. If they were getting solid returns on royalties, they would sit home.

And some authors at least get an advance to write the project proposal. Maybe 30% or 50% and the rest upon completion. No money paid until that amount is offset by sales. How many people in your life have said "I'm going to write a book." or better yet, how many women say they are going to write a Children's Book. How many would-be authors do you know who have had anything published?

If someone asked me, of the three, I'd say Microstock is the best and if someone has any talent (unlike myself) at art, draw and create vectors!

Funny you should mention authors. A book publisher once approached me to shoot lighthouses. (like what, the already bazillion shots of the same aren't enough around here?) And said, $10,000 for the project. I went home, started figuring time, travel, expenses and discovered, the answer was "no thank you". I'd never imagine that someone offering me Ten Grand to go shoot photos would be something I'd turn down. But at that rate, I'd be losing money. Probably six months work, on the road. Now if he wants trains and travel, I might take it.  8)

Microstock is a good work at home or make spare money business. Better than any of the above if you ask me. It's just a long haul, difficult and takes an immense amount of effort to be a real income producing endeavor. Better than bands, writing, or MLM marketing, by a long shot.


« Reply #56 on: October 30, 2012, 17:15 »
I was hooked on photography long before hearing of "microstock."   I buy equipment (camera, lenses, software) because I want it; not because there will be an ROI.  Much of my port is scanned from ancient slides and negatives.  Maybe the Alien Bees were inspired by selling pictures? 
Traveling is because WE (wife and I) love traveling; not to build a portfolio.  The pictures are residual.  I'll continue traveling and taking pictures even if MS goes belly up. 

I'm probably the poster child for MS Agencies.  The "Real Photographer's" nightmare.   :P

But, it is nice to sell a few images to justify the purchase of all the exciting new stuff.   ;D

+1 , thats me as well , hearted you


« Reply #57 on: October 30, 2012, 17:22 »

Why do people always discuss pulling their images? If everyone simply stopped contributing to an agency like 123RF because they were dissatisfied with the new royalty rate scheme three things would happen within six months if everyone participated:

1. You would continue receiving revenue from 123RF.
2. 123RF would revert back to its' old formula because its' library is stagnant.
3. ALL other agencies would think twice before lowering their rates in the future.

The problem with the Microstock system currently is that the agencies are empowered and they know it. We are only empowered if we all stand in unison. Period. Everybody leave your portfolio intact but stop contributing to 123RF as of January, 2013 and the Microstock business will improve for the contributor.
I am up for this. That makes 2. Who follows?


  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #58 on: October 30, 2012, 17:49 »
For musicians it's usually much longer and they tend to get paid far less. Only a tiny percentage of musicians ever get significant royalties.
A young musician I know was suddently the centre of attention, with various companies vying for his signature. It boiled down to two, and he went for the agent with a huge reputation who represents all the big names in his genre, as well as a wider music portfolio including one current huge name pop singer that even I have heard of, as he was offering a much better percentage split. I was very surprised at the percentage rate he was offered, but submerged my natural cynicism and tried hard to be positive, and assume it was because he was in such demand.

18 months on, and the agent has done nothing for him. It now seems to me, allowing my cynicism to resurface, that he has another musician doing similar work on a lower percentage, that he wishes to promote, though we haven't yet been able to identify who it might be.

There may be no such thing as a really decent percentage which actually works for us. (i.e a big percentage of very little is very little.)

« Reply #59 on: November 05, 2012, 11:20 »
It will always be worth it for me since I am a hobbyist photographer that manages to make decent money at iStock.  I have significant money tied up in gear but it is because I like photography.  I do not purchase anything for stock shooting with "return on investment" in mind.  I have however lost some momentum.  I have doubled my portfolio to over 7000 in the past couple of years.  During that same time frame, my income from sales has lost nearly 60% (still about what a monthly car payment is however).  I will still be an active contributor but not in the same way I was  before.  Less time spent, less anticipation of a big long term payout that looked so promising in 2007.


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