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Author Topic: What are alternatives for microstock?  (Read 28622 times)

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« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2011, 20:51 »
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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.

hmm .. so with 1500 designs on sale you make less than 300$/month ?


« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2011, 21:26 »
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I have half of that on IS and I never went over 100$ so 300$ aint bad :P

« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2011, 23:27 »
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Sorry about the long post :)

Thank you for the long post!   ;D  I've just been inspired.  It never occurred to me that we photographers could cartoonize our existing photos for a Zazzle store.  That's an awesome idea!!! 

« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2011, 02:14 »
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I see one huge problem with all micros, Zazzle, Cafepress etc. - they expect US to advertise. Even microstock gets huge revenue from free links and advertisement of its contributors, they provide "great tools" to promote not "your portfolio" but them.

I expect agency which gets 70-80% from my sale to do advertising on their behalf. Same with Zazzle, Cafepress, FAA - why . would I join them, pay them comission or store maintanance fee and then do ALL advertising myself? I can build my own website which is much much easily developed regarding SEO and it will be great place for my customers and Im safe about suddently changed fees, policies, webdesign and other nasty things. Im such case, I would definitely rather invest a little more to set up my own business rather then doing this.

« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2011, 02:53 »
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^^^Do you know anyone that makes more from their own site than they do from the top microstock sites?  If we all get our own site, are buyers going to sign up and look through thousands of different sites?

I'm waiting for someone to come up with a central search and payment system, so we can all have our own sites but the buyers only need to join once and can pay for anything they like.  There will also have to be some way of removing images that shouldn't be sold as stock.  I'm sure it's possible to do this but at the moment I'm not going to spend time and money on my own site when I don't think it will earn me much.

TheSmilingAssassin

    This user is banned.
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2011, 03:42 »
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Sorry about the long post :)

Thank you for the long post!   ;D  I've just been inspired.  It never occurred to me that we photographers could cartoonize our existing photos for a Zazzle store.  That's an awesome idea!!! 

Glad you found it useful :)


I see one huge problem with all micros, Zazzle, Cafepress etc. - they expect US to advertise. Even microstock gets huge revenue from free links and advertisement of its contributors, they provide "great tools" to promote not "your portfolio" but them.


I don't see a problem with advertising.  Why would you need to push yourself to promote yourself?  You get referrals from microstock.  Zazzle pays you an extra 15% if you land a sale from one of your refering links.  It takes time building good inlinks but once they're there, they're there.  Socialise with others as well, promote their work and you get 15%.  They'll get 15% from promoting yours. 

Quote
Im such case, I would definitely rather invest a little more to set up my own business rather then doing this.

Why don't you then?  Is it because you know that it takes big money and time to advertise?  Zazzle and the micros are well established and you get the benefit of their SEO.  If you really thought setting up your own business printing on t-shirts, mugs, business cards or whatever, and advertising on your own was a better alternative, microstock agents and POD sites would not exist.


I'm waiting for someone to come up with a central search and payment system, so we can all have our own sites but the buyers only need to join once and can pay for anything they like.

You mean like a microstock agent?  ;D

Who's going to go through the trouble of doing all that without wanting something in return?  Even if they start off building something like that out of the goodness of their hearts and dipping into their own pocket to finance it, how long do you think before they smarten up and start charging for it?  It will never happen.

« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2011, 04:03 »
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^^^I can't remember how many billions this industry is worth each year.  I'm sure someone will be come up with a better way for us to sell and buy images for a slice of that money.  I didn't say they would do all this for free, I just think the amount we pay the current sites is far too high and one day that's going to change.

« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2011, 04:09 »
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^^^Do you know anyone that makes more from their own site than they do from the top microstock sites?  If we all get our own site, are buyers going to sign up and look through thousands of different sites?


NO, unless you sell some hard to find or unique photos and you also contact buyers willing to pay for it.

« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2011, 04:31 »
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^^^I can't remember how many billions this industry is worth each year.  I'm sure someone will be come up with a better way for us to sell and buy images for a slice of that money.  I didn't say they would do all this for free, I just think the amount we pay the current sites is far too high and one day that's going to change.

it's not gonna happen.

think for instance .. woudn't it be logic that someone starts a business providing uploading, editing,and keywording for stock shooters ?
well, many tried and fail so far, it seems there's just no money on it even running this biz in india or bangladesh.

helix7

« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2011, 09:22 »
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it's not gonna happen.

think for instance .. woudn't it be logic that someone starts a business providing uploading, editing,and keywording for stock shooters ?
well, many tried and fail so far, it seems there's just no money on it even running this biz in india or bangladesh.

It's not likely to happen, but it could. There are enough holes in just about every microstock company business model that we can all imagine a more ideal agency. Ideal for artists and customers. Hell, I've thought about doing it myself. Assembling a team, getting funding, setting up a HQ, etc. It just doesn't suit my personal life right now. I'm enjoying being a work-from-home-dad and I'm not about to change that. But believe me, I've got an idea in my head for what the perfect stock agency would look like and how it would operate, and I think it would kick the crap out of every microstock business currently in the market.

It's not hard to imagine. A solid site, bug-free (unlike istock), simpler search functions, simple pricing (NO collections and varying pricing tiers), support for modern formats (no more EPS8), 40% royalty rate, etc.

The hard part is having the time and the balls to do it. It wouldn't be easy. And it would take some serious start-up money. You'd need a savvy business partner who can navigate the VC world and help secure funding. It would take a serious investment in systems, hardware, office space, and a crew of reviewers and IT folks to at least build the system, and then support it. Then sales and customer service personnel to handle customers and accounts. It's a company. It would need to be started like any other web startup. But it could be done. And there's sure as hell money to be made. There's a good reason why the StockFresh team got back into the business after selling StockXpert. They know there's still good money here.

It wouldn't come from within the microstock community, but I think it would need some inside info to be successful. Maybe a web-savvy entrepreneur partnering up with a microstock industry veteran. Like Kevin Rose partnering up with Yuri Arcurs to start a company. Imagine that... :)

It's crazy, I know. But if I can picture something better than what's currently out there, I'm sure there are people with the knowledge, resources, and connections to actually imagine it and build it. I think it will happen. istock is far from perfect. So is SS, FT, DT, all of them. They all are flawed, in many ways. The door is wide open for someone to step in and do it better.

lisafx

« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2011, 09:34 »
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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 :)


Amazing post Pseudonymous!  Your suggestions are great!  Very creative! 

You seem to have a natural talent for design, that I don't think I share.  But I will give some thought to the idea.  It sounds like FUN.  Something to break up the monotony of shoot/upload/repeat :D

« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2011, 10:11 »
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well ... i can tell you why istock's search sucks big time.

imagine they have 10 million images online, each with dozens if not hundreds of fields (name, date, filename, keywords, etc) and you must run hundreds of SQL queries per minute ... in PHP they would also probably use the function "LIKE" of SQL which takes another huge toll on the CPU ... you would need almost a data center just for the search.

caching : you can not cache anything for logged users so everything must be computed in real time and this means a cluster of expensive servers, a skilled IT manager, network engineers, technicians, etc

the site : what CMS will you use for your project ? last time i checked the commercial ones used by many stock agenies were pretty expensive, requiring also onsite installation, onsite training of your workforce, etc etc or do you think you can run your business on an open source php cms ?

bandwidth : you will need quite a lot of it, terabytes per hours if you have thousands of users logged in and this costs a LOT, see the prices for some space in any data center near you...

sales : this is the core point, and the very reason getty rules the market.
how do you think you can screw all the competitors who already doing microstock since 10 yrs ?
how many millions can you invest in advertising ? photo fairs, public events, onsite salesmen knocking the door of the major design firms .. ? how many cars can you buy for your salesforce, their lunch and dinner, their laptops, mobile phones, a skilled sales manager... ?

look at Fotomoto for instance, it's a good idea, maybe it will work or maybe not, and what the VCs gave them ? only 1.2 million $ ... that means it's barely enough to rent an office and hire a team of 10 guys for a couple years, no salesforce, 100% online.

for a project like yours you more, a LOT more .. but what do you offer apart a fair price for both buyers and photographers ? the VCs don't give a s-hit about it, by opposite if they even fund you they will order you to squeeze as much as you can from the contributors, that's the way they do business, always been always will.

good luck.

helix7

« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2011, 11:50 »
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I know what it would take to do it, which is exactly why I'm not doing it. I'm just saying it could be done, and it's not hard to imagine a stock site that could beat the industry vets. I think it's more of a $10mil investment goal, and more than a year building. But again, it could be done. It's just not the typical territory of VCs these days. They're usually looking at software startups, app dev, mobile, etc. But that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be enough interest in a startup that could potentially topple istock.

« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2011, 12:22 »
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It's not hard to imagine. A solid site, bug-free (unlike istock), simpler search functions, simple pricing (NO collections and varying pricing tiers), support for modern formats (no more EPS8), 40% royalty rate, etc.

Those goals are closely related.  The way to get solid, bug-free software is to start fresh and make it simple.  The hard part is KEEPING it simple and this is where I think IStock got into trouble, as their new owners demanded all sorts of changes and additions to the search functions and other aspects of the site.  When you have managers running in the door every couple of days with new lists of changes and "features" for immediate implementation, this is what you get: chaos.  And the more changes you make, the worse it gets. Soon every attempt to fix one problem creates another.  Eventually no single person really knows how it all works anymore, and... well it's better to just look away at that point.

I've spent 30 years in software development. I've seen it all.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 12:41 by stockastic »

« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2011, 12:55 »
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Thanks for all the great tips on this topic. I have a ton of ideas for adding some of my photos/illustrations to my zazzle store, and just can't seem to find enough time. Your stats are pretty motivating, though!

suwanneeredhead

  • O.I.D. Sufferer (Obsessive Illustration Disorder)
« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2011, 13:48 »
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I have two Zazzle stores, one is for photography and one is for illustration... the photography store is growing mold on it (not sure Zazzle is marketing for wall art too much), and my illustration store is producing more money each month than my #1 microstock site (actually I have two, iStock and Shutterstock run neck-and-neck every month), and more than all the others combined... it's ramping up quickly but so is my product count. Zazzle is SO much more creative than microstock because you don't have people telling you what they do and don't subjectively 'like,' the buyers tell me what they like and what they don't. I love that.  As I sit here and make products, I get sales that keep me motivated... $11 commission off ONE iPad case, and they are selling very well!

Zazzle does market us... when a product goes up, it gets cataloged by Google and listed immediately on all search engines... and I market myself through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, my own blog, whatever I can put out there. I'd rather be making products than marketing so I don't spend much time on it... however I get hundreds of views a day on my stuff so apparently their marketing is working!  I did a search on "diamond bling monogram" (my new design series) and everything that came up on page 1 on Google was MINE.  Pretty impressive.  Okay, yeah, that's a bit of a narrow search but not out of the realm of possibility, and I have sold more of those "diamond bling" items than anything else so far, so it must be working.  My illustration store is http://www.zazzle.com/suwanneeredhead and my photography store is http://www.zazzle.com/staceylynnpayne (thanks for looking and sorry if I wasn't supposed to put this here).

Love this thread, great ideas, guys!

Stacey
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 15:01 by suwanneeredhead »

« Reply #41 on: June 07, 2011, 14:20 »
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I've got a Zazzle store and I'm on Threadless but haven't done any shirt designs yet.  I'd like to though and I don't think I could do to terribly bad with it regarding some of the simple designs I've seen there and stuff.  I might have to look into that next week when I get my stock stuff sorted out.

I've only ever sold one thing through Zazzle a coffee mug over a year ago.  Like most of us it's trying to find the time to make things and get them up on the store.


helix7

« Reply #42 on: June 07, 2011, 14:33 »
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...my illustration store is producing more money each month than my #1 microstock site (actually I have two, iStock and Shutterstock run neck-and-neck every month), and more than all the others combined... it's ramping up quickly but so is my product count. Zazzle is SO much more creative than microstock because you don't have people telling you what they do and don't subjectively 'like,' the buyers tell me what they like and what they don't. I love that.  As I sit here and make products, I get sales that keep me motivated... $11 commission off ONE iPad case, and they are selling very well...

Very impressive, Stacey. I can't say I've given zazzle a fair chance, but the $1.24 that's sitting in my account doesn't exactly motivate me much. :) Good to see you've made it work for you.

suwanneeredhead

  • O.I.D. Sufferer (Obsessive Illustration Disorder)
« Reply #43 on: June 07, 2011, 15:11 »
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Very impressive, Stacey. I can't say I've given zazzle a fair chance, but the $1.24 that's sitting in my account doesn't exactly motivate me much. :) Good to see you've made it work for you.

Thanks!  I think your style is suited to Zazzle very much... now you just have to select which of your stuff, and create new stuff, that appeals to consumers (its a totally different market than microstock), and once you have a pulse on that, your sales take off.

I've only ever sold one thing through Zazzle a coffee mug over a year ago.  Like most of us it's trying to find the time to make things and get them up on the store.

Anita judging from your ports, I think if you put your mind to it (and time), you could be making an income comparable to your microstock income and then some, with Zazzle.  I think your style lends itself very well to the application.  The people buying stuff for themselves are looking for cute, different, artistic artwork that sets them apart from their friends, and helps them make a statement about themselves. Just think about what designs of yours could be put to that use, I'm sure you have lots of them already... and the funny thing is, once you get a bead on that, new ideas start jumping into your head like crazy!  Because its a different market than what we draw for microstock, its more wide, diverse, creative, so your brain will go nuts thinking of things to "Zazzle" (it's a verb now, too).

Ha ha yeah, not like I want the competition, but good luck guys because I know you could be some stiff competition for me. I introduced Kirsty Pargeter to Zazzle and now she has a beautiful store, I'm sure she is going to blow us all away with her amazing work... but we're good too!  Zazzle advertises all over the place so I can imagine we are getting some real grassroots exposure to the consumers of the world and I think we're just beginning to see the great results.

Good luck guys!

Stacey

« Reply #44 on: June 07, 2011, 15:28 »
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Stacey did indeed introduce me to zazzle and i am so glad she did! (thanks stacey!) Although i have only had a few sales in the few weeks i have been there i can see the potential there. Yes it takes time to get your store to have enough products to be noticed and yes you do have to promote your products but it is addictive once you start! Plus, the best part for me - there are no reviewers!!!! I am loving spending time on zazzle and i really do hope it will be worthwhile.

Now here is the shameless plug of my zazzle store :)

Www.zazzle.co.uk/kjpargeter [nofollow]
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 15:30 by kjpargeter »

« Reply #45 on: June 07, 2011, 20:22 »
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I've spent 30 years in software development. I've seen it all.

i agree .. and why they just don't use the same CMS as Gettyimages.com ?

from my experience the search is the most unfruitful scenario to develop,
unlike google which is based on the "page rank" (reciprocal links etc in a nutshell)
how can you page-rank images which aren't linked or whatever else ? all the algorithm
can do is play with pageviews, clicks, zooms, age, filename, keywords, etc but try that
with 10s of millions of images ...

the backend of IS is also absolutely awful and illogical .. why not a single sidebar on the left with all
the functions ? why i need 3-4 clicks to see the stats i need or click on a top menu ?

« Reply #46 on: June 08, 2011, 13:32 »
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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.

hmm .. so with 1500 designs on sale you make less than 300$/month ?

Black Sheep,

I do not make $300 a month on those, no. However what I should have said is rather than designs, is products.  I may have 500 designs up there spread across 1500 products, but probably fewer. So I wouldn't expect to make $300 a month. That said, I think those with far more creative designs then my, particularly a good graphic artist could make a killing.  Straight photography I think has far less potential.

helix7

« Reply #47 on: June 08, 2011, 14:40 »
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Thanks!  I think your style is suited to Zazzle very much... now you just have to select which of your stuff, and create new stuff, that appeals to consumers (its a totally different market than microstock), and once you have a pulse on that, your sales take off.

Alright, you've talked me into it. I'm putting a few designs up there in iPhone and iPad products. We'll see what happens.

« Reply #48 on: June 08, 2011, 15:58 »
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Thank you Stacey.  I did a few things last night on there and probably won't get back to it for a few days as I'm buried under other stuff at the moment but I will get back to it.  Hopefully it'll start to take off that would be nice :)

« Reply #49 on: June 08, 2011, 17:06 »
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Thanks!  I think your style is suited to Zazzle very much... now you just have to select which of your stuff, and create new stuff, that appeals to consumers (its a totally different market than microstock), and once you have a pulse on that, your sales take off.

Alright, you've talked me into it. I'm putting a few designs up there in iPhone and iPad products. We'll see what happens.

This has seriously intrigued me to... it looks like i have to log onto my zazzle account i opened up 3 yrs ago. I think the potential is there for the ipads and the iphones


 

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