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Author Topic: Starting a new RF stock site - would like some feedback.  (Read 17969 times)

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ICP

« on: August 20, 2012, 18:01 »
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I'm new to microstockgroup.com. I've spent a few days looking through posts here and I think there's a huge resource in the members here, for the members.

So... I have a design firm, which is the bread and butter right now, and have been contributing (both photo and vector) to SS, IS and BS for several years. Because of my design company I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to this but I've been horsing around for years with the idea of starting  a RF stock site and have finally gotten to a point I think it's ready, at least for external review.

Here's the site www.incolorphotos.com. I would appreciate any/all feedback from everyone with some time to do so. Good, bad and indifferent...it's all good...and you can't hurt my feelings.

Thanks in advance.


« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 18:22 »
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Looks nice. Ktools?

I would charge more for the images though. Probably 2 to 3 times more.

ICP

« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 18:41 »
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Looks nice. Ktools?

I would charge more for the images though. Probably 2 to 3 times more.

Yes, Ktools. Why charge more? And how do I know what's the right amount? Other stock sites are all over the place with pricing. I know I don't want to sell too cheap or it won't be taken seriously...but what's the balance between too expensive and reasonably affordable. I would like to be on the more affordable side of things.

« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 18:59 »
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Do you have lots of money for marketing, like a couple million bucks?

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 19:06 »
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Is this intended to be a site to sell your own stock, or are you planning to make it into an agency? 

For selling your own stock, this looks great.  You have some nice conceptual stuff there. 

Anyone will probably tell you, if you are planning on turning it into an agency you are in for an uphill battle. 

Best of luck either way :D

EmberMike

« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 19:21 »
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I think the name is a little unfortunate. For starters, it has the word "photos" in it, which completely ignores the vector side of things. Plenty of existing companies have stuck with names that included the word because they started before they were ever selling vectors, but being a new company you could do yourself a favor and kick it off with a more universal name. And who knows, down the road you might find yourself selling other assets beyond still images, and the name will become even less suitable.

I'd make the same comment about your logo. The camera icon really doesn't really suit the modern stock agency. Not to mention it's way overdone and dated looking.

If you have any plans to take this beyond a small one-man operation, I'd strongly consider renaming and rebranding the site.

Do you intend to take on any contributors? If so, what's your royalty rate plan?

ICP

« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 19:35 »
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Do you have lots of money for marketing, like a couple million bucks?

No, not a couple million. Frankly, if I had a couple million I probably wouldn't be looking into starting another business venture.

I realize marketing is important and expensive. Do you have any thoughts on the marketing subject?

ICP

« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2012, 19:41 »
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Is this intended to be a site to sell your own stock, or are you planning to make it into an agency? 

For selling your own stock, this looks great.  You have some nice conceptual stuff there. 

Anyone will probably tell you, if you are planning on turning it into an agency you are in for an uphill battle. 

Best of luck either way :D

My intention is to make it into an agency as soon as the software is capable. I know it'll be an uphill battle. But I'm hoping with high contributor commissions, good images and responsiveness to customers and contributors it'll do well.

What do you see as the challenges for making it an agency?

ICP

« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 19:51 »
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I think the name is a little unfortunate. For starters, it has the word "photos" in it, which completely ignores the vector side of things. Plenty of existing companies have stuck with names that included the word because they started before they were ever selling vectors, but being a new company you could do yourself a favor and kick it off with a more universal name. And who knows, down the road you might find yourself selling other assets beyond still images, and the name will become even less suitable.

I'd make the same comment about your logo. The camera icon really doesn't really suit the modern stock agency. Not to mention it's way overdone and dated looking.

If you have any plans to take this beyond a small one-man operation, I'd strongly consider renaming and rebranding the site.

Do you intend to take on any contributors? If so, what's your royalty rate plan?

Name: Yeah, I'm thinking it should change also. As you note, something less photo-focused.
logo: Agreed, the logo is a few years old and I've been toying around with something new.
contributors: Yes. I'm starting with 50%. The original contributors will retain 50% forever. Over time it will reduce for new contributors but my intention is to always keep it high. I'd like my contributors to be happy to add content. I've seen a lot of complaining about other stock agencies and I hope to be fair and responsive enough to keep everyone happy and keep the company on a steady growth path.

« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 20:31 »
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Yes, Ktools. Why charge more? And how do I know what's the right amount? Other stock sites are all over the place with pricing. I know I don't want to sell too cheap or it won't be taken seriously...but what's the balance between too expensive and reasonably affordable. I would like to be on the more affordable side of things.

I would say $10 is on the low end for high res files, and $30+ is on the high end in micro. There are sites that charge less than $10 for high res files, but that doesn't seem like a very good model for attracting "happy" contributors. I would shoot for the $15 to $20 range. That's around where I charge on my site now and that is around where I look for prices for my files on other sites. As a small site, you will get less sales and customers, so you want to make those sales count.

Also, think about what you want to earn, and how many sales will it take per month at that price point. At $6 a sale, it would take 5.5 sales a day or 166 sales a month to earn $1000. That's a decent amount of sales for a small site. By comparison at $20, it would only take 50 a month or 1.5 a day. That's still good sales performance, but a much lower bar.

Just food for thought. Good luck with the site.

« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 20:37 »
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Because of my design company I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to this but I've been horsing around for years with the idea of starting  a RF stock site

Agreed, the logo is a few years old and I've been toying around with something new.

If it's just a one man sales site, then it's just a KTools site which works fine, and you're a designer, so I'm sure you're comfortable with the design.

If it is supposed to go farther than that, then look, let's be honest - it sounds like you're not really serious about this with all the toying and horsing around.  You saw the software, thought it sounded like easy money with a little bit of work, so you bought it and started an "stock site", right?  Randomly picked prices and a contributor payment level, and you're good to go.

I think if you've been contributing, and reading here, you know that it takes a LOT more than that (ie., lots of $$$$ and lots of time), and that the people here are kind of tired of contributing their time and content to places where it is unlikely they will ever see a return.  If the design business is so busy, I'm not sure why you'd want to do this, aside from just having a hobby.

« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 20:43 »
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I realize marketing is important and expensive. Do you have any thoughts on the marketing subject?


If you haven't used them before, you can get $50-$100 in free advertising credits as a first time user at Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter.  First, sign up for free Google and Bing Webmaster accounts:

www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

Bing offers you the ad credit right off the bat.  For Google, you might need to wait for them to send you an email or snail mail coupon code.  Neither are amazing for conversions and they both have a good chance of not paying for themselves, but there is no downside to advertising for free until the credits are used up.  I would recommend bidding your ads at the absolute minimum price ($0.01 at Google and $0.05 at Bing).  I also recommend making your ads as narrow as possible on specific image keywords that you have decent coverage for and link them to a search result or category or even an individual image page to put the buyer as close as you can to a sale.  

There's no reason to bid ads higher if you are getting clicks and $100 on Google will give you 10,000 visitors at a penny a pop.

« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 03:04 »
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I can't get enthusiastic about new sites doing the same thing as all the others.  My advice would be, don't do it unless you come up with an alternative way to sell images.  It's going to lose you money and it wont make any money for us.

The big problem with starting a new site is that it's hard to get a decent sized collection when there's no incentive for us to upload.  There must be at least 100 sites that have never made the vast majority of contributors enough to get a payout.  Even if you do by some miracle get 1 million images, your expenses will go up and you still wont have any reason for buyers to switch from sites that have over 10 million images.  There's no point in asking for exclusive images because we wont give you them until you have lots of buyers.

So how does a new site become successful?  If I knew that, I'd be starting a new site.  I'm sure there's better ways to sell images than we have seen so far.  It seems strange that if we use 20 sites, we have to upload full size images 20 times.  The only idea I've had is to do something completely different.  Only have thumbnails and small preview images on the site and let the buyer contact the contributor direct to get the full size image with a payment through PayPal.  The site would have much lower costs and the contributor could get more commission.  Buyers could pay less because there isn't so much going to the site.  I'm not sure if that's how the Photographers Direct site works but if it is, perhaps that could work for microstock?  There's a big problem if the contributor couldn't be contacted quickly and the buyer needed the image fast.  Perhaps we could use something like Dropbox to store full size images and there could be an automated way of transferring images to buyers after a payment is made? 

If anyone can think of a much better way to sell images, that gives more commission to contributors and is good for buyers, I don't think it will need any marketing budget.  We would do all the marketing through Facebook, twitter etc. and everyone that is in contact with buyers would be telling them about it.

« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 03:13 »
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Because of my design company I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to this but I've been horsing around for years with the idea of starting  a RF stock site

Agreed, the logo is a few years old and I've been toying around with something new.

If it's just a one man sales site, then it's just a KTools site which works fine, and you're a designer, so I'm sure you're comfortable with the design.

If it is supposed to go farther than that, then look, let's be honest - it sounds like you're not really serious about this with all the toying and horsing around.  You saw the software, thought it sounded like easy money with a little bit of work, so you bought it and started an "stock site", right?  Randomly picked prices and a contributor payment level, and you're good to go.

I think if you've been contributing, and reading here, you know that it takes a LOT more than that (ie., lots of $$$$ and lots of time), and that the people here are kind of tired of contributing their time and content to places where it is unlikely they will ever see a return.  If the design business is so busy, I'm not sure why you'd want to do this, aside from just having a hobby.

I'll echo this. 
If it's your own site, it looks good and more power to you.  You might get some sales and it might be worthwhile.. you can only try.
If you are thinking about setting up an agency - you need more than a cookie cutter site and a few dollars to do so.  DepositPhotos came in with $50,000,000 and has had further funding - they are your 'new guys' competition.  20 sites have been and gone from the sidebar on the right - and that is hardly an extensive list, that was just the sites that looked even a tiny bit promising.  If someone was going to set up a new agency I'd expect more than a ktools install.  Ktools is a very nice software solution for the individual but not what I'd expect for an agency.

« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 06:28 »
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I'd echo most of the comments above - the name, the pricing and the need to be serious to invest time and money if you want to be an agency vs. just selling your own work.

I'd also add a comment about the one price for everything approach, regardless of whether that's $6 (which is way too low IMO if you're including even the largest images; if I shoot with an expensive 21 MP camera, you'll sell my images for the same price as those shot with an 8MP point and shoot). Pricing vectors at a single level is a non-starter, IMO. You need to allow for very complex work commanding a higher price or you'll not get anyone to give you complex vectors. It would get even more complicated if you added video - who's going to give you a high def video clip if you sell it for the same price as a point and shoot photo?

Being fair to contributors is about much more than offering 50%. If your sales are zero (or close to it), 50% is irrelevant. Generating income for contributors - which is what we care about - requires volume as well as a reasonable royalty. Volume doesn't just happen.

« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 06:35 »
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I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to this but I've been horsing around for years

sorry this really isn't inspiring.

« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 06:38 »
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One more note is that your search doesn't work. I did a search for palm tree and found many random images, including cracked asphalt and a brick wall. The few images I checked had neither palm nor tree as keywords


« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 06:50 »
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One more note is that your search doesn't work. I did a search for palm tree and found many random images, including cracked asphalt and a brick wall. The few images I checked had neither palm nor tree as keywords

I wonder if that's a problem with the ktools search.  I have results for palm tree on my site too and I don't have any palm trees in my port.  I think the search looks for the search terms like this *tree* and *palm*

so if you have the keyword street then yep... there is a tree in there sTREEt - simply put, ktools needs a bit better search.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2012, 07:30 »
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It seems strange that if we use 20 sites, we have to upload full size images 20 times.  The only idea I've had is to do something completely different.  Only have thumbnails and small preview images on the site and let the buyer contact the contributor direct to get the full size image with a payment through PayPal.

I always wondered about the same thing. I would suggest a slight variation to your solution, that doesn't require direct contact with contributors, because I don't want to be contacted by buyers in first place, and they don't want to wait for the hi-res file:
a central repository (on Amazon S3 or similar) to which we upload our pics, and then we give agencies the right to access our files as long as we agree with their terms; when a new agency pops up, they can have our full port immediately, with our consent; if they change their tos, we can block access immediately; of course, a consortium of all the agencies which adhere to this model should pay for storage, not us; they're are going to pay for storage anyway even with their current model.

« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2012, 08:25 »
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I always wondered about the same thing. I would suggest a slight variation to your solution, that doesn't require direct contact with contributors, because I don't want to be contacted by buyers in first place, and they don't want to wait for the hi-res file:
a central repository (on Amazon S3 or similar) to which we upload our pics, and then we give agencies the right to access our files as long as we agree with their terms; when a new agency pops up, they can have our full port immediately, with our consent; if they change their tos, we can block access immediately; of course, a consortium of all the agencies which adhere to this model should pay for storage, not us; they're are going to pay for storage anyway even with their current model.

In my musings on various things, I've come up with sort of the same idea, but it seems like a huge thing to implement, at least in the form I was thinking.  And we've discussed parts of this before.

A central vault, that holds the hirez.  The description, keywords, all meta, etc.  The contributor is charged for storage in the vault.  Agencies interested in pulling from the vault would have to supply parameters, such as license terms (either options from a standard set, or custom terms), as well as sell cost, royalty percentage, etc.  They would be able to select the portfolios they want to "represent".  The contributor would have the option of yes or no to the request.  An API provides access to the content and data and it is pulled into the Agency database.  Daily updates are done, so a contributor could deactivate images or agencies from the vault side, and new work is passed on.  There should never be individual interaction with the agency.  Any sales are reported through the API to the contributor's account, and payments are transmitted to the vault for withdrawal.

Problems are - a lot of work on the Agency side to import and report.  Alternatives include the contributor setting up accounts everywhere, and then using an import function to pull content into each site and then having to interact with each site - that would be a simpler set-up.

This would be a huge project, imo, and my programming skilz aren't up to it.

This would be your "collective" and would put the contributor in control.  

eta:  This can go further, to the point where the Vault can offer easy installation of agency (Ktools or similar) software, so anyone could set up an "Agency" on their domain, licensing, to pick up extra cash, almost like a MLM scheme.  You'd have to implement the whole thing so it was secure, so the installer couldn't just go modify the php to keep sales hidden or to gain access to the content, etc.  Kind of like Zazzle is a warehouse of product, and anyone can set up a sales site to offer that product (I think...).
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 08:31 by sjlocke »

Lagereek

« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 08:29 »
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Do yourself a favour!  forget the whole project!  look how bad the 4 major sites are going and then ask yourself:  what chance have I got?

« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 10:13 »
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Wow! This one really went off the rails.  ;D

I'd say good luck with the site. It can be hard work, but it can also be worth the time. I enjoy running my own site and make money from it every month.

ICP

« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2012, 10:18 »
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One more note is that your search doesn't work. I did a search for palm tree and found many random images, including cracked asphalt and a brick wall. The few images I checked had neither palm nor tree as keywords


I wonder if that's a problem with the ktools search.  I have results for palm tree on my site too and I don't have any palm trees in my port.  I think the search looks for the search terms like this *tree* and *palm*

so if you have the keyword street then yep... there is a tree in there sTREEt - simply put, ktools needs a bit better search.


Actually, it's a matter of knowing the proper way to use a search engine. Search any site for Palm Tree and you'll get every image that has palm and tree in it. Do a search (with quotes) "Palm Tree" and you'll only get "palm tree" results.

Check out this site, http://www.exalead.com/search/web/search-syntax, and start utilizing search engines correctly...it'll save you lots of time wading through irrelevant results.

ICP

« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2012, 10:21 »
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One more note is that your search doesn't work. I did a search for palm tree and found many random images, including cracked asphalt and a brick wall. The few images I checked had neither palm nor tree as keywords


Actually, it's a matter of knowing the proper way to use a search engine. Search any site for Palm Tree and you'll get every image that has palm and tree in it. Do a search (with quotes) "Palm Tree" and you'll only get "palm tree" results.

Check out this site, http://www.exalead.com/search/web/search-syntax, and start utilizing search engines correctly...it'll save you lots of time wading through irrelevant results.

« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2012, 10:29 »
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Do yourself a favour!  forget the whole project!  look how bad the 4 major sites are going and then ask yourself:  what chance have I got?

Yah!  I agree with this comment.  Why not  beat facebook instead of all these stock sites.  It would be just as easy to take on fakebook as getty.  It should be a breeze with the software set up for you and all.  Piece of cake!

Next week I am replacing the airplane with something better!


 

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