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Author Topic: What are alternatives for microstock?  (Read 28585 times)

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« on: June 04, 2011, 11:34 »
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Hello,
Microstock sites are good way to earn money from design, but nowadays there's a lot of other alternative ways to do that. The mots pupular alternatives for microstock agencies i've found already discussed in this forum were:
Zazzle.com/Cafepress.com
Earning from design blog
Selling stock directly

But what about other ways and sites? For eample:
deviantart.com - way to sell your artworks
99designs.com - design marketplace
crowdspring.com - designer's competitions
brandstack.com - design marketplace
redbubble.com - sell canvas prints, t-shirts, other designs
spreadshirt.com - create and sell t-shirt's designs
threadless.com - sell t-shirt design

There are just several links. Are anyone working with these mentioned above or other similar agencies? Are You succesfull there? What are earnings there comparing with microstock agencies?  It would be great to hear some opinions :)


« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2011, 16:53 »
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I've tried zazzle and redbubble.  Sold a few things but I don't think I can make as much money as I can with microstock and it's really hard finding the time required to get enough on these sites to make money.

« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2011, 19:22 »
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my wife does the redbubble and zazzle

redbubble - a really nice group of people, we spent a bit of time last night chatting to a guy about geckos :), the impression I get is you want to promote yourself, we have about 500 images on and entered heaps of 'challenges' and done well with them (they are just a featured / ego thing) and even had an image on the front page of redbubble. So we like the site...but we have zero sales (and giving up on it), speaking to the gecko guy he's had one sale of $0.49. He said (so 3rd hand ;)) that knows a couple of people with daily sales, doing stuff like play on words of car companies, doing stuff for world cup etc. So my thinking is, good if you do very commercial stuff but not if you are just trying to sell nature / wildlife photos.

zazzle - sales tick along, mostly postcards and cards - my wife created a calendar last night and it got featured on todays best http://www.zazzle.com/space_calender_2011_calendar-158436813333424557 hopefully it will get some sales :)

« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2011, 23:27 »
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It is difficult to make a lot of money with Imagekind, RedBubble, ArtistRising. You have to promote your own stuff.

With Zazzle and Cafepress you can make good money. I don't like Cafepress that much, because you have to get a paid account in order to make real money with them. The free account is not good enough for it. So I focus more on Zazzle. Yes it is very time consuming, but you will see a return. Yes it works better if you drive traffic to your store, but you can do this with blog and list and ... You don't really need any paid advertisements.

Sorry can't really say anything to the others.

« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2011, 02:10 »
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They're all rubbish for the simple reason they don't spend in advertising and they expect YOU advertise for them on social networks and blogs for free.

Amazon might be the only decent alternative but it's limited and not easy to sell there.

As for fine-art it's a similar depressing situation, FineArtAmerica has some sales but i'm afraid they're mainly dealing with artists and their friends printing and buying their own stuff for vanity !
The guys running FAA are a bunch of complete assholes and they don't even print or frame everything as it's all outsourced to a third party company ... their forum is a joke to say the least, plenty of buffouns and hello kitties writing there.

redbubble and zazzle look good but where are the sales ?

case in point, i'm making a few calendars with my stock photos, and still wondering how to sell them as the options above look like just a waste of time even reading their enthusiastic forums.

« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2011, 07:39 »
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Quote
my wife created a calendar last night
It looks good but $23? That's pretty expensive.

« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2011, 10:26 »
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I wasted a lot of time creating what I thought were cool things on Zazzle and then realized they were all way too expensive - I'd be embarassed even to tell my friends about them.   And the only way you'll get any sales is by self-promotion.   

« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2011, 12:24 »
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Never sold anything at Zazzle and don't go there to waste time anymore. Maybe because I am not a designer.

Never sold anything at Redrubble either but it was a few years ago. All my images were deleted.

« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2011, 15:31 »
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Well, these replies doesn't seem very encouraging :) It's strange that many of You are dissapointed with Zazzle and Redbubble - because i've read many success stories about it. Well, maybe not all of them are true :) And as i understand, other similar sites aren't gainful either? I guess i'll have to keep looking for other alternative ways to earn from design, because i'm not happy with my microstock earnings yet :)

« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2011, 20:10 »
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I'm not an expert on Zazzle.   From what I've read, you can make some money if you grind out zillions of 'products' from images of cute babies and cats, pretty sunsets, sports themes etc.  or if you can get in front of a big event or trend with related imagery and slogans.   Otherwise it's just one more giant haystack in which to put a few needles.

 

« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2011, 22:07 »
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Well, these replies doesn't seem very encouraging :) It's strange that many of You are dissapointed with Zazzle and Redbubble - because i've read many success stories about it. Well, maybe not all of them are true :) And as i understand, other similar sites aren't gainful either? I guess i'll have to keep looking for other alternative ways to earn from design, because i'm not happy with my microstock earnings yet :)

judge by yourself looking at the recent sales on redbubble, they had a page for that.
last time i checked if was mostly made of cats, dogs, sunsets and other crap.

helix7

« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2011, 22:15 »
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@archibald I've heard of plenty of people making a living in microstock, but I've never heard of anyone making a living with the sites you mentioned. I'm sure there are a few who can manage to make a living with things like zazzle, but I highly doubt anyone can make a living participating in crowdsourced design contests.

« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2011, 22:36 »
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@archibald I've heard of plenty of people making a living in microstock, but I've never heard of anyone making a living with the sites you mentioned. I'm sure there are a few who can manage to make a living with things like zazzle, but I highly doubt anyone can make a living participating in crowdsourced design contests.

you could make a living with these POD sites but they simply DONT advertise and don't bring customers in.
as a matter of fact their whole business is luring contributors in and wait for them to bring buyers (friends etc), same s-h-it
wth FineArtAmerica and many more who also demand a 12-months fee.

AllPosters is a real agency instead, but of course they don't allow anybody in unless recommended by one of their partners.
If you join LonelyPlanetImages they also resell some photos via AllPosters but you've no control about it.

And at the end of the game the prices for the stuff sold in these sites are just too high in my opinion.
I think you can seriously make more money selling them by yourself on eBay or similar.

« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2011, 03:43 »
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Wouldn't big sites like Zazzle make more money by advertising?  It would also encourage more of us to sell more stuff there.  I can understand the small sites not spending money on advertising but Zazzle is huge.

« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2011, 04:24 »
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Wouldn't big sites like Zazzle make more money by advertising?  It would also encourage more of us to sell more stuff there.  I can understand the small sites not spending money on advertising but Zazzle is huge.

no, they expect YOU to make free advertising for them, that's the whole idea behing most of the POD sites.

besides, they also get further free adertising by their affiliates too.

you can also count sites like Etsy on this and on top of this they ask for a monthly fee.

so all in all it looks like a it's a ripoff apart rare cases.

« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2011, 10:04 »
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Seems like there's a consensus here, that the problem with Zazzle is the prices.   I have some cool coffee cup designs, and some ability to promote them myself, but $15 for a cup is a non-starter.

   

 

« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2011, 10:38 »
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Seems like there's a consensus here, that the problem with Zazzle is the prices.   I have some cool coffee cup designs, and some ability to promote them myself, but $15 for a cup is a non-starter.

   

 

yeah i think they target "vanity buyers" who are willing to spend a lot for hard to find items.


« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2011, 11:11 »
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Zazzle doesn't advertise or promote your products and their prices pretty much ensure you're wasting your time.  They do provide graphical tools for placing your images on products, and they'll produce a product at "quantity one" on demand, and ship it.  That's all they do.  I keyworded everything, made a nice looking store and never got a single page view.   

I (my wife actually) bought one of my cups and one of my bags, as gifts - and I was very pleased with the print quality.  If I could find ashop to do the same thing for a few dollars per item in small quantities, I could make some sales by word of mouth, at craft sales, 'art fairs' and so on.  Haven't found such a place yet. 

« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2011, 11:17 »
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I have seen advertisements for Zazzle in magazines, websites, and billboards before. They do advertisements. There was also a documentary/report about them on TV not to long ago.

« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2011, 11:26 »
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Zazzle advertises Zazzle.  They offer no way to promote your store or products specifically. There's a pathetic, totally inadequate set of 'cateogories' to waste your time with.    Basically they're just too big and unfocused - like I said they're a giant haystack and you're a needle.   It would all make sense if the prices were about 1/2 to 2/3 of what they are.

TheSmilingAssassin

    This user is banned.
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2011, 12:03 »
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The prices on Zazzle aren't too expensive.  There are a lot of people that would pay those prices.  There's a lot of crap on there that should be scrapped and not worth a dollar but good design and artwork are worth their value usually.

I sell microstock, zazzle and 99designs.  I love zazzle and recently got back into 99designs.  I was wondering if I should give you guys this feedback because I would hate for you all to sign up and make it harder for buyers to find my products but let me put things in perspective for you.

I'm new at this game... have only been in it for just over a year.  I have a tiny portfolio... about 89 images and I use these to make my zazzle products.  Sometimes I make Zazzle products and end up with artwork for microstock that I would never have thought of.  I design on 99designs and have won 3 contests in 4 days.  I get a lot more out of it than just prize money, I get ideas, I get a bigger understanding of design, I get inspiration, I learn new skills hanging around top designers and anything that loses leaves me artwork I can pop onto Zazzle and microstock.  I'm smart about it.  I avoid logo designs where I can (unless it includes a useful icon) and only enter comps where I can reuse the image or part of the image elsewhere.  I'm also in the process of creating a logo for someone who contacted me yesterday via Zazzle to create a logo for them similar to an image on my business cards.

Here's a breakdown of last May's paycheck:

Microstock:    $134.46
Zazzle:          $347.82
99 designs:    $410.00

I love Zazzle.  I hope none of you join!  I also love 99designs so please stay away from there too :)

« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2011, 12:09 »
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Has anyone approached clubs/schools/teams?    The major feature of Zazzle etc. is NO MINIMUMS.  Usually a team has to order at least 12 screenprinted items.  If you make your own catalogue you could work out a fundraising project with a football club or dance team and you make your commission, they take their markup and they have an incredible selection to choose from.  Instead of kids getting one boring white t - they might order one pink tank, one hoodie, 3 red t's for the family.  My daughter's school always orders black, but somehow I gave birth to a princess and a princess wouldn't be caught dead in black.  If they had pink or purple t's, she would convince me to buy several.

Charge them a flat fee to set a store up in their name.

Yes, it's a different way to approach things and maybe too much work when one is used to the crowd sourcing idea - but I do think "no minimums" is very attractive here.  I'm guessing that a dance school would give you permission to use their logo for say a 12 month period, open a store in their name - or if a fundraiser they send out a (fundraising) catalogue and set their own markup.  A group order also cuts the price of shipping for each individual.  Yes, they could do all this themselves, but they don't need to know how easy it is :)

« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2011, 12:52 »
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Quote from:
 link=topic=13505.msg204045#msg204045 date=1307379794
The prices on Zazzle aren't too expensive.  There are a lot of people that would pay those prices.  There's a lot of crap on there that should be scrapped and not worth a dollar but good design and artwork are worth their value usually.

I sell microstock, zazzle and 99designs.  I love zazzle and recently got back into 99designs.  I was wondering if I should give you guys this feedback because I would hate for you all to sign up and make it harder for buyers to find my products but let me put things in perspective for you.

I'm new at this game... have only been in it for just over a year.  I have a tiny portfolio... about 89 images and I use these to make my zazzle products.  Sometimes I make Zazzle products and end up with artwork for microstock that I would never have thought of.  I design on 99designs and have won 3 contests in 4 days.  I get a lot more out of it than just prize money, I get ideas, I get a bigger understanding of design, I get inspiration, I learn new skills hanging around top designers and anything that loses leaves me artwork I can pop onto Zazzle and microstock.  I'm smart about it.  I avoid logo designs where I can (unless it includes a useful icon) and only enter comps where I can reuse the image or part of the image elsewhere.  I'm also in the process of creating a logo for someone who contacted me yesterday via Zazzle to create a logo for them similar to an image on my business cards.

Here's a breakdown of last May's paycheck:

Microstock:    $134.46
Zazzle:          $347.82
99 designs:    $410.00

I love Zazzle.  I hope none of you join!  I also love 99designs so please stay away from there too :)

Based on my experience, I would have to agree with Pseudonymous. While I make nowhere near what he/she does...there is definitely money to be made on Zazzle for those, who are smart, creative and like to work hard. Their prices are expensive, I agree wholeheartedly, but I have seen folks drop hundreds of dollars on products I've created, and I also get regular sales there...though more on the small side then the large.

Those who make a living on Zazzle, are the same ones who make it on the Micros. If you offer something really unique that matches up with what people want to buy you are going to make a sale. If you know how to really promote yourself, you are going to make even more.

For my part I treat Zazzle, like I do all the other sites, another outlet to sell the photos I produce. Once I put my designs, which there are about 1500 of, I don't have to think about them anymore. Yet despite this I haven't touched the site in several months, but the sales continue to march on. Have I paid for all my efforts, probably not, but unless the sale dry up unexpectedly, eventually I should. The same could be said for the micros.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 12:57 by gwhitton »

lisafx

« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2011, 15:20 »
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Here's a breakdown of last May's paycheck:

Microstock:    $134.46
Zazzle:          $347.82
99 designs:    $410.00

I love Zazzle.  I hope none of you join!  I also love 99designs so please stay away from there too :)

All very good info Pseudonymous.  Congrats on your success at Zazzle! 

If I may say so, I think your portfolio, with lots of vivid, eye-catching vectors,  is ideally suited to the medium.  I don't know if, for example, my people heavy photography port would work.  Wish I had the artistic talent to produce illustrations, like some of you can.  I would probably give it a try in that case.

But either way, I appreciate your sharing the information. 

TheSmilingAssassin

    This user is banned.
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2011, 19:33 »
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Thanks Lisa, but I don't agree that my images are more suited to that medium more than anyone elses.  If anything my images are suited to the products I create on Zazzle but looking at your brilliant portfolio, I see $$$ signs on Zazzle because there's a lot of photography used on products as well... for instance take graduation invitations as an example.  Take a pretty girl wearing the graduation gown, sporting a pretty smile, throw a background behind her, a border around her and you have a nice invitation or flyer.  I'm limited on Zazzle because I don't do photography.  I'm also limited on 99designs because of it.  If I did photography, I would probably steer away from icon designs and illustrations and work more on web design, packaging, book covers etc., which by the way, pay a lot more.

Looking quickly at the first three pages of your port, your isolated bird can go on an exotic pet business card.  Santa on a christmas card.  Apply a filter to him and make him look 'cartoony', pop a Christmas backround behind him and you have all sorts of Christmas products.  Put him on a t-shirt or a mug with a funny caption, on buttons, stickers etc.  Put him on Christmas sale flyers offering discounts for a limited time.   The margarita (yum by the way!) on a cocktail bar business card and on a bachelorette invitation or card.  The jack-o-lantern can go on all sorts of Halloween products.  I would have a field day with your port.  Even the people isolations, you could do lots with them either as is on a background, or if you processed them, traced them and created cartoons from them, you could do all sorts of things.  Looking at your isolated plumber, I just did a google search for "plumber" on 99designs.com

"plumber site:99designs.com"

Take this contest for example:

http://99designs.com/web-design/contests/air-conditioning-heating-company-website-design-76937

If you learned web design, you could easily create these sorts of documents using your plumber in your port.  The bonus of using your own stuff is that the contest holder doesn't have to purchase a separate licence for the images that other designers use and you can use that as a selling point... especially when it comes to print designs.  

Trust me, I hadn't looked at a graphics design program before a year ago.  I was an artist, painting on canvas and this computer generated stuff was all new to me.  Anyone can pick it up, you just need a good eye and a bit of determination, which obviously you have.  Look at you now, you've got your own website selling your own images.  A year ago, I remember you saying you had no clue about doing something like that.  Microstock is going down the gurgler.  Agents are making more money but contributors are making bananas.  In the future it will be difficult earning a living out of it.  We'll have to work much harder just get the the same amount and lets face it, people got into microstock so they don't have to work that hard.  That's what attracted us in the beginning, right?   Instead of becoming a slave to the agents, we need to pick up some new skills and make the money we're going to lose elsewhere... that's what I reckon anyway.

I don't look at Zazzle or 99 designs as alternatives to microstock.  To me, they all marry in and complement each other.  One feeds the other.  It's probably because I have a management accounting background and I'm always looking at detail and how I can maximise the profits on an image, or what images I need to add to my portfolio to maximise profits overall.  

I know time's a big factor, but the way I see it with you is that your massive port is so established that you could quite easily walk away from microstock for a couple of weeks here and there.  The money will still come in whether you're counting it or not.  I would check out some of the contests on 99designs and even if you don't participate, they give you great ideas for new images that you would never think about.  For me, being on Zazzle and 99designs, it makes me look at the industry from every angle.  They make me see things from a company's point of view, a designer's point of view and from an average consumer's point of view.  

Sorry about the long post :)
« Last Edit: June 06, 2011, 19:37 by pseudonymous »


 

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