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Author Topic: Sales dropping. Istock especially.  (Read 51417 times)

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« Reply #50 on: September 18, 2011, 19:35 »
0
Yes, what Yuri says!!!

By being petty, you are not opening any doors for yourself, from a strict business point of view.

Back to topic, the economy has certainly made the big picture less bright. Another point is, when Yuri, Sean or Lisa are complaining, they are still doing way way better than most of us. Yuri wasn't asking for sympathy, he was just doing a market survey. If you don't want to share your knowledge, you don't even have to tell him that he was hurting his business, if you believe it and get any private joy from it, lol.

Wow. Lot's of comments on this one. I am surprised that no one mentions the economic state we are in. Our internal speculations in my department on this matter are mostly related to the crisis and the fact that agencies are not raising prices. For example the model agencies that we work with regularly are seeing a massive drop in bookings and jobs for their models. Much more than we are seeing a drop in sales in microstock. A couple of years ago, right after the beginning of the crisis they saw no change, then a little drop last year and a totally devastating year this year - according to a couple of CEOs. I think this downfall in sales has to do with the economy in general, restructuring budgets and priorities changing.
In regards to copy-cats I completely agree with Lisa. I too was able to tell my images apart up to about two years ago. I don't think these individuals (copy-cat's if you will) came to where they are because of a  of advice I may have given on blog posts etc. I believe that the transparency of microstock, that it is so easy to see what to shoot to be successful makes it relatively easy to copy me and others. I have even had cases with people not only copying my images completely, but even copy-pasting the same title, keywords and description. Bold, but nevertheless effective.
In regards to sharing vs not sharing. I keep some things to myself. Off cause, but I also understand the time we live in. When asked, I will refer to the "knowledge restriction" or "sharing paranoia" that some photographers express as an old fashioned, conservative and very outdated way of thinking. The major overlooked aspect in this view is that you almost always gain, from sharing. When you enter a space with a mindset saying "ask me anything and I will try my best to answer you" and you genuinely try to help, you get so much back. This sounds soft, but it is actually not, it very concrete. I have always, and i really mean always, gained more from such situations than I felt I gave away. You never know what comes your way, but by keeping an open mind and a helpful mindset, people simply help back. And...it's generally a good way to be around other people. :)


PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #51 on: September 18, 2011, 19:43 »
0
Wow. Lot's of comments on this one. I am surprised that no one mentions the economic state we are in. Our internal speculations in my department on this matter are mostly related to the crisis and the fact that agencies are not raising prices. For example the model agencies that we work with regularly are seeing a massive drop in bookings and jobs for their models. Much more than we are seeing a drop in sales in microstock. A couple of years ago, right after the beginning of the crisis they saw no change, then a little drop last year and a totally devastating year this year - according to a couple of CEOs. I think this downfall in sales has to do with the economy in general, restructuring budgets and priorities changing.
In regards to copy-cats I completely agree with Lisa. I too was able to tell my images apart up to about two years ago. I don't think these individuals (copy-cat's if you will) came to where they are because of a  of advice I may have given on blog posts etc. I believe that the transparency of microstock, that it is so easy to see what to shoot to be successful makes it relatively easy to copy me and others. I have even had cases with people not only copying my images completely, but even copy-pasting the same title, keywords and description. Bold, but nevertheless effective.
In regards to sharing vs not sharing. I keep some things to myself. Off cause, but I also understand the time we live in. When asked, I will refer to the "knowledge restriction" or "sharing paranoia" that some photographers express as an old fashioned, conservative and very outdated way of thinking. The major overlooked aspect in this view is that you almost always gain, from sharing. When you enter a space with a mindset saying "ask me anything and I will try my best to answer you" and you genuinely try to help, you get so much back. This sounds soft, but it is actually not, it very concrete. I have always, and i really mean always, gained more from such situations than I felt I gave away. You never know what comes your way, but by keeping an open mind and a helpful mindset, people simply help back. And...it's generally a good way to be around other people. :)

Yuri, I can't speak to other parts of the world but here in the USA the "Great Recession" supposedly ended in 2009. At that time things were pretty dire and the economy has improved over the past couple of years. So since the USA is one of the larger consumers of stock images it would seem odd that the economy has improved but micro sales in general seem to be in a downward trend for contributors over the past couple of years. Maybe this improvement in the USA is offset by the economy declining in other parts of the world. I'm more inclined to think that demand has plateaued while supply has significantly increased.

 

« Reply #52 on: September 18, 2011, 19:45 »
0
I think.....
1) Supply is outstripping demand.  We are adding images to the sites faster than we are gaining buyers.  Part of this is due to the economy.  Some low price buyers are not buying.  High price buyers are moving down to microstock - but not in the volumes needed to grow the sales.

2) iStock, in one of their articles, said that Getty thinks that libraries over 5 million images start to have lots buried that can't surface in searches.  So I don't understand why they are adding more images to iStock unless they want to bury the contributor owned images.

3) iStock is, what, 9 million images now? There are niches to be found but how many more hand shakes do we need?  Some of the popular categories will need very creative new images to make a finacial reward against the existing stock.  Adding more of the same just dilutes the sales across more images and even good images lose income.  In Yuri's case, perhaps adding more of the same style just adds compitition to yourself.

4) Even my low sellers still have value as seen on a very good sales day for me when the recent site issues had the default settings and Best Match all messed up.  I have value, it just depends on the Best match whim of the day.  Recently I observe they must change the Best Match every day in areas that affect my portfoliio.  I see some weeks with odd days very good mixed with even days very bad.  This can't be a market action to make a comb tooth sales chart across the days of multiple weeks.

5) Some of the iStock site volume statistics may include people checking their accounts and visiting the forums.  With all of the negativity around the site and RC changes, I know I spend less time and put less hits on the iStock servers.  This may or may not relate to sales but certainly impacts server statistics if other people are hitting less for non sales activities.

« Reply #53 on: September 18, 2011, 20:25 »
0
Ok some thoughts:

1. The best match at Istock has been changing over the last month or so, either intentionally or unintentionally. That is going to have an effect on sales. There were a few days where we had some really unusual results coming up - that's going to have an impact, and was probably especially prominent for the high volume searches.

+1

« Reply #54 on: September 18, 2011, 20:58 »
0
I agree with Yuri that a lot of it has to do with economy. I joined iStock a few years ago and watched my sales rise very nicely up until fall of 2008 when the economic crisis hit everyone. Since then, my sales have never fully recovered when looking at the RPI numbers.

I also think customers are much more sensitive to pricing and want to get the most they can for their dollar. The recent best match shift that pushed Agency and Vetta files to the front certainly didn't help, and I know personally of some graphic designers who abandoned iStock after many years of loyalty when that happened. They have no plans on coming back.   

A lot of people are seeking agencies that are going to provide them with imagery for the least amount of money. In their minds, that's no longer iStock. Companies these days are tightening their belts and can't spend money like they used to. As for the recession being over, I don't buy it. Unemployment is still high, people still aren't hiring and expenditures are nowhere near what they were before the crisis hit.   

« Reply #55 on: September 18, 2011, 21:01 »
0
"I don't think these individuals (copy-cat's if you will) came to where they are because of a  of advice I may have given on blog posts etc."

Partially that, and partly because of notices of success from producing such content.  Seriously though, why would people read such posts and blogs?  To take proven method, duplicate it and take profit.  Come on.

« Reply #56 on: September 19, 2011, 00:40 »
0
Wow. Lot's of comments on this one. I am surprised that no one mentions the economic state we are in. Our internal speculations in my department on this matter are mostly related to the crisis and the fact that agencies are not raising prices.

That's a good theory, but I'm skeptical of this. I've found my freelance business and stock income have been pretty stable over the last few years. The distribution among various agencies of those stock sales though has changed drastically. I think the stock field is just volatile. Buyers jump around and sites change. It's hard to track buyers and even if they jump between two agencies your on, it's not necessarily a 1 to 1 ratio. Does an iStock buyer that moves to DT start buying small sub packages instead of credit sales? That can make a big difference in profit.

It seems it might actually be a good idea to restrict where I sell to make sure I'm always making a decent profit from each sale. That's my theory recently anyway. If not, then I'll probably end up trying (and failing) to maintain some ridiculously massive volume of sales at some pathetic RPD while fending off millions of new contributors. At that point, I think I might as well take a professional job catching falling swords.

« Reply #57 on: September 19, 2011, 00:47 »
0
From my Audio point of view, I'm uploading very few files per month and my sales have increased slow but steady since beginning of istockaudio in 2009, which was right after the last economic crisis. My sales are still growing (slowly) and I haven't uploaded anything since june. So one possible answer could be that the audio-market isn't as flooded with files as the photo-market.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #58 on: September 19, 2011, 00:51 »
0
Wow. Lot's of comments on this one. I am surprised that no one mentions the economic state we are in.

One could think that buyers will always need pictures, and in difficult economy they will resort to microstock even more, instead of RM or assignment.

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #59 on: September 19, 2011, 01:02 »
0
I think.....
1) Supply is outstripping demand.  We are adding images to the sites faster than we are gaining buyers.  Part of this is due to the economy.  Some low price buyers are not buying.  High price buyers are moving down to microstock - but not in the volumes needed to grow the sales.

2) iStock, in one of their articles, said that Getty thinks that libraries over 5 million images start to have lots buried that can't surface in searches.  So I don't understand why they are adding more images to iStock unless they want to bury the contributor owned images.

3) iStock is, what, 9 million images now? There are niches to be found but how many more hand shakes do we need?  Some of the popular categories will need very creative new images to make a finacial reward against the existing stock.  Adding more of the same just dilutes the sales across more images and even good images lose income.  In Yuri's case, perhaps adding more of the same style just adds compitition to yourself.

4) Even my low sellers still have value as seen on a very good sales day for me when the recent site issues had the default settings and Best Match all messed up.  I have value, it just depends on the Best match whim of the day.  Recently I observe they must change the Best Match every day in areas that affect my portfoliio.  I see some weeks with odd days very good mixed with even days very bad.  This can't be a market action to make a comb tooth sales chart across the days of multiple weeks.

5) Some of the iStock site volume statistics may include people checking their accounts and visiting the forums.  With all of the negativity around the site and RC changes, I know I spend less time and put less hits on the iStock servers.  This may or may not relate to sales but certainly impacts server statistics if other people are hitting less for non sales activities.

I agree with almost all of what you have said. particularly 5). the istock forum has changed so drastically, I'm sure most of us barely check in there, where a year ago I was in there easily 20 times per day if not more.

@ Yuri: I almost never come into threads with titles like this, but when I saw you were the author, I did read. you're a gauge, contributors like you, Sean and a handful of others are gauges for all of us. So when you guys (and girls) post, those of us in the middle of the road watch and listen. I don't know you, but you sound like a very kind, decent human being and I appreciate your candor. I don't agree with the kindness gives back mantra....though I appreciate you live by it. I don't believe microstock is that kind of an industry now. we are competitors, and unfortunately many of our colleagues are slimy and will steal, without giving it a moment's thought. I share far less than I would in my personal life, and I play my cards much closer to my chest than I used to, including with the agencies I work with. it's dog eat dog. that doesn't mean we can't get along, but kindness doesn't actually pay bills. wish it did. cheers in any case :-)

FWIW, my sales continue to climb, but much slower than they did. August and September are good here, so fingers crossed that it will continue but I still think much of what's been pointed out in this thread is totally valid as reasons for slumps.

lagereek

« Reply #60 on: September 19, 2011, 02:01 »
0
At the moment I think IS,  is having such vast internal and external politics problems, its overshadowing everything else and business has become secondary. Theyre busy holding on to already existing buyers and contributors for that matter.
The constant best match tweaking is proof of serious instabillity.
For any buyers just visiting IS, maybe once or twice a month, its a nightmare of an interface with collections all over the place, copy-cats images everywhere at all differant price levels, price-sliders and all.

The SS policy of just keeping it simple,  is just paying off all the way. SS, is way up for me and so is DT and FT.  IS,  is pretty much on par but nowhere near what it used to be.

Microbius

« Reply #61 on: September 19, 2011, 02:29 »
0
I think the "IStock especially" part could have something to do with the huge amount of bad will at the moment. I know I've stopped buying from them, and recommending them, and judging from the visits stats for the site I'm not the only one.

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #62 on: September 19, 2011, 02:30 »
0
At the moment I think IS,  is having such vast internal and external politics problems, its overshadowing everything else and business has become secondary. Theyre busy holding on to already existing buyers and contributors for that matter.
The constant best match tweaking is proof of serious instabillity.
For any buyers just visiting IS, maybe once or twice a month, its a nightmare of an interface with collections all over the place, copy-cats images everywhere at all differant price levels, price-sliders and all.

The SS policy of just keeping it simple,  is just paying off all the way. SS, is way up for me and so is DT and FT.  IS,  is pretty much on par but nowhere near what it used to be.

I agree. I think that their design upgrade was a major downgrade. I now have five years of experience with Microstock and I still find it hard to do the most simple searches on Istock. And if I find it hard, try to put yourself in the shoes of the buyers visiting for the first time.... overwhelming...

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #63 on: September 19, 2011, 02:34 »
0
I think the "IStock especially" part could have something to do with the huge amount of bad will at the moment. I know I've stopped buying from them, and recommending them, and judging from the visits stats for the site I'm not the only one.
And there will be much more of that. When you start pushing commissions down to 15% that's when people really start uprising. I have about 300 direct/regular buyers and they all say the same when we have talks and they get to know that the commissions are that low: "wow, I did not know that, I will stop buying from them". When all platforms are offering the same images (more or less) fairness matters.

« Reply #64 on: September 19, 2011, 02:35 »
0
Wow. Lot's of comments on this one. I am surprised that no one mentions the economic state we are in. Our internal speculations in my department on this matter are mostly related to the crisis and the fact that agencies are not raising prices. For example the model agencies that we work with regularly are seeing a massive drop in bookings and jobs for their models. Much more than we are seeing a drop in sales in microstock. A couple of years ago, right after the beginning of the crisis they saw no change, then a little drop last year and a totally devastating year this year - according to a couple of CEOs. I think this downfall in sales has to do with the economy in general, restructuring budgets and priorities changing.
In regards to copy-cats I completely agree with Lisa. I too was able to tell my images apart up to about two years ago. I don't think these individuals (copy-cat's if you will) came to where they are because of a  of advice I may have given on blog posts etc. I believe that the transparency of microstock, that it is so easy to see what to shoot to be successful makes it relatively easy to copy me and others. I have even had cases with people not only copying my images completely, but even copy-pasting the same title, keywords and description. Bold, but nevertheless effective.
In regards to sharing vs not sharing. I keep some things to myself. Off cause, but I also understand the time we live in. When asked, I will refer to the "knowledge restriction" or "sharing paranoia" that some photographers express as an old fashioned, conservative and very outdated way of thinking. The major overlooked aspect in this view is that you almost always gain, from sharing. When you enter a space with a mindset saying "ask me anything and I will try my best to answer you" and you genuinely try to help, you get so much back. This sounds soft, but it is actually not, it very concrete. I have always, and i really mean always, gained more from such situations than I felt I gave away. You never know what comes your way, but by keeping an open mind and a helpful mindset, people simply help back. And...it's generally a good way to be around other people. :)

Yuri, I can't speak to other parts of the world but here in the USA the "Great Recession" supposedly ended in 2009. At that time things were pretty dire and the economy has improved over the past couple of years. So since the USA is one of the larger consumers of stock images it would seem odd that the economy has improved but micro sales in general seem to be in a downward trend for contributors over the past couple of years. Maybe this improvement in the USA is offset by the economy declining in other parts of the world. I'm more inclined to think that demand has plateaued while supply has significantly increased.

 
Recessions are measured by economic growth but this one is different to others I've lived through.  The big problem is that banks were lending money they never had a hope of getting back.  Now people are finding it much harder to borrow money.  Most countries have printed lots more money to try and ease this but that devalues the currency.  Some countries should default on their debts but they are being propped up, as there's a fear that if one defaults, it will have a domino effect.  I really can't see this strategy working.

I don't know about other countries but almost everything seems more expensive in the UK now.  Businesses have had to make cuts in spending and budgets for buying images are likely to be on their list.

There's also the feeling that a double dip recession is very likely, growth is usually much stronger after a recession but we really are in a perilous economic situation right now.  I would rather see all the economic problems dealt with now than go through a long period of sluggish growth, high inflation and currency devaluation.

I did think that microstock would be relatively recession proof though, as people using the more expensive sites are likely to switch to microstock if they want to cut costs.

« Reply #65 on: September 19, 2011, 03:10 »
0
Since last September brilliant changes made by KKT my sympathy for IS has gone.  Especially the grandfathering lie is difficult to forget.
Now my relation is purely based on money. I'm still exclusive here but I haven't sent single customer here for 12 months because competition's referral programs pay better. 6 buyers went to the competition instead of IS .

lagereek

« Reply #66 on: September 19, 2011, 04:30 »
0
At the moment I think IS,  is having such vast internal and external politics problems, its overshadowing everything else and business has become secondary. Theyre busy holding on to already existing buyers and contributors for that matter.
The constant best match tweaking is proof of serious instabillity.
For any buyers just visiting IS, maybe once or twice a month, its a nightmare of an interface with collections all over the place, copy-cats images everywhere at all differant price levels, price-sliders and all.

The SS policy of just keeping it simple,  is just paying off all the way. SS, is way up for me and so is DT and FT.  IS,  is pretty much on par but nowhere near what it used to be.

I agree. I think that their design upgrade was a major downgrade. I now have five years of experience with Microstock and I still find it hard to do the most simple searches on Istock. And if I find it hard, try to put yourself in the shoes of the buyers visiting for the first time.... overwhelming...


Thats just it!  and can you imagine the nightmare for say an "amateur buyer"  or a first time buyer. I think they just give up and move on to another site.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 04:39 by lagereek »


« Reply #67 on: September 19, 2011, 05:57 »
0
When all platforms are offering the same images (more or less) fairness matters.

Nice :-) Thx!

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #68 on: September 19, 2011, 06:50 »
0
I remember Yuri saying in a recent interview that other agencies have been check-mated by istock years ago, that IS just does everything better, they are way ahead, and ceos' of other agencies are just amateur photogs... quite outspoken which is much appriciated imho. How does all that look now?

I personally don't think it's the economic situation yet. (it will be) Altho it's heading for a collapse, it works in weird way (thats one of the reasons it's likely to be a total collapse): despite being buried in debt, the western, developed world still has money to burn, loans on top of loans, untill everything implodes. The empty space from entities that have gone bankrupt and stopped buying, is likely getting filled up by the ones who are only on their way to becoming bankrupt and seek cheaper alternatives... so imho it's oversupply, maybe for different reasons. Oversupply on IS because they lost customers. Oversupply un SS simply because they have so much stuff, and they have a lot more high volume, high rate contributors. Almost 17 million shots as I remeber? vs. IS with about 10 mill.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 07:06 by lthn »

« Reply #69 on: September 19, 2011, 08:09 »
0
Global economic ideologies and policies scare people away and they won't spend!

Ed

« Reply #70 on: September 19, 2011, 08:49 »
0
I don't think anybody knows the correct answer and we can all theorize.  I agree with the theory of the economy but I also have a theory that won't be favorable among some of the contributors here....

I think another part of the issue is that we are licensing images on a royalty free basis.  Major buyers (I'm not talking new users, casual users, or the local small business) have licensed our images on a royalty free basis and have built a library of those images that they will continue to use internally until they go out of style.  Under the license agreement, they can do this...and they do.  Various marketing departments of these companies have a library of these images that they are going to continue to use over and over again.

In addition to that, these same buyers have a staff of designers that can manipulate these images in the same fashion other contributors do to create new images.  Bob Mizerak (rjmiz) was especially talented at doing that.  He was one of many that could take 6 images and manipulate them individually or together and create another 25 images from those 6.  It was a terrific talent - and these companies that have a budget to keep a libary of licensed images at hand, have the money to hire designers that can do the same.

I think in order to continue to realize gains in this industry, a photographer needs to spread his/her talents into different markets.  Shoot a little bit of micro/royalty free stock, and shoot some traditional stock.  Then find other sorts of income - whether ist's fine art or books or weddings or whatever.  Multiple streams of income is the best approach.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #71 on: September 19, 2011, 08:58 »
0
I think another part of the issue is that we are licensing images on a royalty free basis.  Major buyers (I'm not talking new users, casual users, or the local small business) have licensed our images on a royalty free basis and have built a library of those images that they will continue to use internally until they go out of style.  Under the license agreement, they can do this...and they do.  Various marketing departments of these companies have a library of these images that they are going to continue to use over and over again.

Good point and I'd agree with this.

RF may have worked okay for macro ten years ago when buyers only had higher priced images as an option. Now with the relaxed usage rights of RF, cheap micro prices, and the economy pushing buyers to be more frugal and reuse images, I'd say RF is a significant contributor to the current state. Plus, with RF, piracy is difficult to track because of the multi-use rights so plenty of people can get away with stealing whatever images they find on the internet, whether intentional or from ignorance. 

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #72 on: September 19, 2011, 09:03 »
0
I remember Yuri saying in a recent interview that other agencies have been check-mated by istock years ago, that IS just does everything better, they are way ahead, and ceos' of other agencies are just amateur photogs... quite outspoken which is much appriciated imho. How does all that look now?

I personally don't think it's the economic situation yet. (it will be) Altho it's heading for a collapse, it works in weird way (thats one of the reasons it's likely to be a total collapse): despite being buried in debt, the western, developed world still has money to burn, loans on top of loans, untill everything implodes. The empty space from entities that have gone bankrupt and stopped buying, is likely getting filled up by the ones who are only on their way to becoming bankrupt and seek cheaper alternatives... so imho it's oversupply, maybe for different reasons. Oversupply on IS because they lost customers. Oversupply un SS simply because they have so much stuff, and they have a lot more high volume, high rate contributors. Almost 17 million shots as I remeber? vs. IS with about 10 mill.

Please don't hide. Tell us who you are especially when making such bold quotes on my behalf.

« Reply #73 on: September 19, 2011, 09:10 »
0
Does anyone actually know the bottom line of these "agencies"? The money the little grubbers get to keep? Is it down over last March? Have enough small users downloaded enough of the same old, same old at their 25 per week to keep them in images for the next decade? Although I think most of you folks are really nice people, there is a certain righteousness to watching the micro community react to lose of sales. Too many of you folks thought you lived in an impervious bubble where the graphs only pointed skyward and BMEs could be seen into eternity.

XPTO

« Reply #74 on: September 19, 2011, 09:25 »
0
I think the "IStock especially" part could have something to do with the huge amount of bad will at the moment. I know I've stopped buying from them, and recommending them, and judging from the visits stats for the site I'm not the only one.
And there will be much more of that. When you start pushing commissions down to 15% that's when people really start uprising. I have about 300 direct/regular buyers and they all say the same when we have talks and they get to know that the commissions are that low: "wow, I did not know that, I will stop buying from them". When all platforms are offering the same images (more or less) fairness matters.

I have friends in the designing world who are costumers of IS. When we've started to talk about IS the first thing they commented was the continuous rise of prices, but when I've told them the commissions they pay to photographers... their jaw dropped! They were absolutely scandalized. That's when I've introduced them to other agencies...
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 09:33 by XPTO »


 

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