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Poll

I'd like to get into Microstock, what do you think?

Great Idea: Be a part of one of the world's fastest growing imaging phenomenons - microstock photography.
1 (0.9%)
It's hard work but if you invest the time and effort, and work smart, and learn, you can earn some money.
17 (15.7%)
You can make some money, but I'd look at Microstock as a side interest, don't depend on that income or growth of the market.
57 (52.8%)
Don't do it, find something else.
33 (30.6%)

Total Members Voted: 102

Voting closes: January 01, 2023, 10:45

Author Topic: You have a good photographer friend, who says...  (Read 6189 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Milleflore

« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2021, 16:18 »
+2
There is so much to learn, and secondly it depends on how much you want to earn.

Or How much does someone want to work and learn? That will usually equal, how much they will eventually earn?  :)

There's no easy money in Microstock anymore.

Thats correct. There is no easy money - at least in the beginning.

Ok so going back to your hypothesis, my 'friend' says they want to earn $1,000 a month. You would need to break that down to how many files you will need, how long to create those files, what content can they create, and how much time they are prepared to learn how to do that.

For example, if you have a specialty port, you don't need as many files as if you create content for a number of subject areas. For example, I have a lot of files because I cover 12 major holidays of the year, plus 4 other specialty areas.

Then you would have to try and work out average RPIs (maybe by asking around) for the different types of content areas. Plus lots of time to research what content to create.

Also, decide whether to shoot photos or video, or both. If video, then there's a longer learning curve, and more expense for equipment, storage for 4k+ files, and learning new editing software. 

For video, I would advise them to study up on the latest subscription models (eg on SS, establishing shots are often outside of the subs model so there is much more money in that). Establishing shots are used by filmmakers to 'establish' a location and used in TV, movies, and documentaries, and usually outside the standard subs models and therefore earn you the bigger bucks. So the extra learning curve and upfront costs, may be worth it in the long run. But editorial doesn't sell very well for these, so they would all have to be commercial, and you need to be very adept at editing.

Then you would work backwards to decide how many files you will need, how long it would take to create the files, what to learn, study up on your competition and how to be better/different. Basically, lots of things to consider.

Obviously, if you wanted to earn $1,000 or more a month, you would have to adopt a more focused approach than someone who is a hobbyist and just wants to take pics and upload to see if they sell. Nothing wrong with the later, that's probably what I will be doing next year. I've built up my port to where I want to take it, so now I just want to have fun with my photography and video.

But $1Kplus/month is do-able - but your files should usually be of higher quality than say a hobbyist to earn that, so being a good editor is also crucial. Its just a matter of effort, costs involved, and time. And being very focused.

(Anyway, that's how an accountant would work it out, Pete.  ;) ;D)

« Last Edit: December 15, 2021, 17:28 by Annie »


Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2021, 10:27 »
0

(Anyway, that's how an accountant would work it out, Pete.  ;) ;D)

What a great answer for those who ask that question so often, whether it is $100 a month or $1,000 a month or how much can I make. It's just what you wrote.

I have no doubts that people who make better money, have planned and studied and done their homework to determine what is the most effective path to making the most return from their work.

In the case of someone like myself, who is not income directed, but instead a happy snapper hobbyist, knowing what's right and doing what's best, aren't always in sync. Sometimes I take a photo, because I want to make the shot and not because it has any realistic hope of making good sales. Sometimes I'm shooting filler or Plop and Shoot.

Making popular Microstock is an art but it's isn't as much about "art".

I think one of the biggest problems for new people is the expectation that they can just upload photos they have done over the years, or old photos sitting on a hard drive, and make money from that. It's just not that easy!



Old photos sitting on hard drives on a computer...

Level6

« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2021, 12:37 »
+1
...

My reasoning is that since Microstock has no (practically) barriers to entry it can be a smart/easy way for my friend to earn a "free education" on the basics of a good commercial / editorial stock photo. If any $ is made is just a bonus. ...

if there are no barriers, how can you learn?  in olden times that was true, but there's little to be learned when everything is accepted

sad but true. no more initial tests that shutter had (7 out of 10 had to pass) back 10 or more years ago. Just get a smartphone and spray & pray method will work fine now!

While true on both, IS had a test, Alamy had a test, and both had standards for acceptance, back when. I don't do much with IS anymore, but I haven't gotten a rejection except for releases or Pro Sports, that kind of issue. Alamy, same what seems easier reviews, although I self review because I'm happy with my stars and don't want to get into that one fail all fail... lets upload everything all over again. DT takes everything now and for a couple years. (I ignore the rest)

Adobe is pretty much the last, general, open site that has serious quality reviews and human reviewers. Alamy/Stockimo has actually rejected some, but I have an iPhone SE which is far below current standards.

So test? Why? Spray and Pray with a cell phone is the truth. No barriers on the mass sites, there are some on the places like Arcangel, Stocksy, and Canva.

The agencies have changed, the values have changed, the whole market is different, including agency reviews with lower standards.

That's true, but the real motivation should not be in getting your content accepted, but in getting it sold.

 8)

There is so much to learn, and secondly it depends on how much you want to earn.

Or How much does someone want to work and learn? That will usually equal, how much they will eventually earn?  :)

There's no easy money in Microstock anymore.

Times have changed, I remember when applying 10 years ago for a camera operator job at a local TV station the news director was watching my reel and he saw a but of camera shake on the vector scope, not visible on the monitor but that was the end of the interview.  "You can't shoot".

Today?, home videos shot on cell phones is the standard for broadcast news, the phones are getting better but still.....

Milleflore

« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2021, 14:03 »
0

(Anyway, that's how an accountant would work it out, Pete.  ;) ;D)

What a great answer for those who ask that question so often, whether it is $100 a month or $1,000 a month or how much can I make. It's just what you wrote.

I have no doubts that people who make better money, have planned and studied and done their homework to determine what is the most effective path to making the most return from their work.

In the case of someone like myself, who is not income directed, but instead a happy snapper hobbyist, knowing what's right and doing what's best, aren't always in sync. Sometimes I take a photo, because I want to make the shot and not because it has any realistic hope of making good sales. Sometimes I'm shooting filler or Plop and Shoot.

Making popular Microstock is an art but it's isn't as much about "art".

I think one of the biggest problems for new people is the expectation that they can just upload photos they have done over the years, or old photos sitting on a hard drive, and make money from that. It's just not that easy!



Old photos sitting on hard drives on a computer...

Thanks Pete.

I have always thought and treated microstock as just a numbers game. The key to all of that, of course, is to find out all the respective average RPIs for the different types of content areas.

Doug Jensen used to willingly give us his on the SS forum. I think the most recent was about $24.00 for his video port - and that was after SS introduced video subs. (It was higher before that.) And a lot of his clips fell into that establishing shots area.

I think we also did various other exercises like that on the old SS forum. One of things I remember is that Editorial Street Photography was quite low. Easy photography but low returns.

But, yeah, if one could collect RPIs, you could really zoom in on what to shoot. But you can still do that within your own port. Thats what I did for the first 4 or 5 years - separate subjects into different sets and 4 times a year calculate all the RPIs and their movements. i.e. were they going up or going down compared to the last time. That tells you what to shoot more of, what to stop shooting, etc.

PS. I love your concept shot - old photos on hard-drives. Very clever.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2021, 14:52 by Annie »

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2021, 10:52 »
+1
Thank you it's how I waste time, instead of working in the Winter. Concept shots that are useless. (with things I find around the house) I could be doing Memes instead, I suppose? Since people come and go, I tend to re-use them as the subject applies. Or maybe doesn't sometimes.

Back to how to make whatever with Microstock. For certain, studying and planning and tracking what works and what didn't is very important. You mentioned Doug who has a great location for doing what he does, but that doesn't mean that someone else can't find their own niche of something that's not common and easy to shoot, everywhere else, by anyone else.

Nothing is absolutely guaranteed. I can have a shot that sells and I make 10 more, and they never sell. I've run some of my idea projects and lets say 50 images, all different, but using the same basic direction and market. Three sell, the rest just languish. And a year later, the same three still sell and the other 47 still do nothing. It's difficult to plan or analyze when that kind of result is where I try to get my direction and data?

What I mean is, for myself, why did one image do better than the other ten? Sometimes the one I would have said was the best, isn't! There are some subjects and shots, that I can predict will get some downloads, but there's a limited demand and market. I can't make 1,000 of them, because after the first 100, there are more than enough variations for any buyer.  :) That's the discover a niche and fill it part?

I still say, if someone asks me, I'd stick with, have a good time and don't expect to make money from just uploading old photos or doing what you already do. Have fun and make what you get as a hobby that helps pay for equipment, so you can enjoy what you do.

If someone else says they want to do this as a living or for income, they would need to treat this as a serious business, look at the market, consider expenses and returns. Study the competition, know the buyers, the kind of things you do. I like what some others have said over the years, learn your trade with Microstock and then spread out and find other ways to earn more. (everything you have suggested in the most recent posts)

In other words, is this really a business or is it just a hobby? We're not all playing in the same game.

OM

« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2021, 21:10 »
0
I agree with almost everything said by Pete and Annie...especially Annie about the numbers game. As a starter in microstock today, the numbers are stacked against you. For me the numbers mean, "What are the chances of my latest upload staying on page 1 of 'New' of the category long enough to be seen and bought by potential buyers looking for something other than they've already seen on pages1-5 of 'Popular'.

When I started around the same time as Annie, my new shots could be found on the first page of 'new' for around 3 days even in the most popular categories. Then SS has ~35K contributors. Now it has 650K+ and for me that says that your new image/illustration/vector has nearly 20X less chance of being seen and bought today compared to when I started (2012). That new image today could be gone from page #1 of 'new' within an hour of approval no matter how good it is/was. That to me seems more like a lottery than a business!

I consider myself very fortunate in starting when I did (albeit a little late) and get a fairly regular $150/month form SS and Adobe with only 900 photos in both. Accounts have now been static for 3 years, Uploads seemed to gain no traction after 2018 so I stopped feeding the beast. Considering getting back in soon and with photos in a similar genre to those that still sell regularly (simply because both SS and ADBE show other similar subjects from that contributor's portfolio which gives advantage....not so much for non-established contributors).

Still find it difficult to recommend microstock to anyone other than a hobbyist that wants to make a few bucks from their photos. In the good ole days (2013-2016), I was making 3X what I make now from 50% less photos......then it was great but now not so much! ;D

( Have to add that with a couple of commissions/year I can make $10K for 2X3 weeks work on location and that 5 years ago I saw microstock  as as a way out of commissioned work. Build up the portfolio etc etc to such an extent that $10K+/year from microstock was doable. Very difficult to do today starting out for all the reasons outlined above. It is possible ( see Annie's suggestions re video with scene setting shots) but the amount of work required for stills seems horrendous. That's why it's difficult for anyone established to offer advice to newbies...advice is colored by their experiences in the past and what was valid then for newbies is almost certainly no longer valid for newbies of the present day.... hmm difficult!)

Milleflore

« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2021, 23:32 »
0
I agree with almost everything said by Pete and Annie...especially Annie about the numbers game. As a starter in microstock today, the numbers are stacked against you. For me the numbers mean, "What are the chances of my latest upload staying on page 1 of 'New' of the category long enough to be seen and bought by potential buyers looking for something other than they've already seen on pages1-5 of 'Popular'.

When I started around the same time as Annie, my new shots could be found on the first page of 'new' for around 3 days even in the most popular categories. Then SS has ~35K contributors. Now it has 650K+ and for me that says that your new image/illustration/vector has nearly 20X less chance of being seen and bought today compared to when I started (2012). That new image today could be gone from page #1 of 'new' within an hour of approval no matter how good it is/was. That to me seems more like a lottery than a business!

I consider myself very fortunate in starting when I did (albeit a little late) and get a fairly regular $150/month form SS and Adobe with only 900 photos in both. Accounts have now been static for 3 years, Uploads seemed to gain no traction after 2018 so I stopped feeding the beast. Considering getting back in soon and with photos in a similar genre to those that still sell regularly (simply because both SS and ADBE show other similar subjects from that contributor's portfolio which gives advantage....not so much for non-established contributors).

Still find it difficult to recommend microstock to anyone other than a hobbyist that wants to make a few bucks from their photos. In the good ole days (2013-2016), I was making 3X what I make now from 50% less photos......then it was great but now not so much! ;D

( Have to add that with a couple of commissions/year I can make $10K for 2X3 weeks work on location and that 5 years ago I saw microstock  as as a way out of commissioned work. Build up the portfolio etc etc to such an extent that $10K+/year from microstock was doable. Very difficult to do today starting out for all the reasons outlined above. It is possible ( see Annie's suggestions re video with scene setting shots) but the amount of work required for stills seems horrendous. That's why it's difficult for anyone established to offer advice to newbies...advice is colored by their experiences in the past and what was valid then for newbies is almost certainly no longer valid for newbies of the present day.... hmm difficult!)

Thanks for your comments, OM. Its always good to have other people's perspective on these things.

I made a mistake above with Doug's numbers - it was his RPD (average return per download, not RPI) - but still, $24.00 compared to 10c (or 50c or whatever) is pretty good. ;)  And as for the content, it doesn't all have to be rocket ships. ;)  ;D  A whole lot of things fall into that category. Buildings, apartment blocks (think of 'Friends' famous establishing shot), hospitals, police stations, driving povs, famous landmarks, major cities streets and skylines, and of course, all the drone shots. But I don't think Doug had a drone.  So you dont have to have one to do what he did. He was definitely a tripod-on-the-ground man.

Adobe has a good blog about establishers:
https://www.adobe.com/au/creativecloud/video/discover/establishing-shot.html

Oh, and as for looking at the number of contributors/competition nowadays, I know it can be pretty mind-blowing and off-putting, but I always think of it as: the only competition you have are those who share the same content and keywords as you. Narrows it down somewhat and also then puts it back into the control of the photographer. Be different.

The guy who taught me video said to me, 'If its easy to do, then everyone will be doing it'.  Thats the difference I think - and also I think the point that Pete was making above: if its easy to do, then you are likely to make less money. Bottomline.



« Last Edit: December 17, 2021, 23:40 by Annie »

Milleflore

« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2021, 03:41 »
+2
Ha ha. I just saw this on social media. Kind of sums it up  ;)


« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2021, 04:42 »
0
I Voted "Don't do it, find something else."
Most of the microstock photographers don't earn much money but investing lots of time.
So if earning $4000 a year, there are some costs and taxes. After costs an tax there are maybe $1500 left /year - $125 month.
If i am just canceling my two coffees to go a day i will save about the same amount that hundreds of hours work a year for microsstock will bring.


« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2021, 05:03 »
+1
If the goal is to make as much or more money as working at a regular job, then I will say "forget about it". It would be very hard to make even $10 per hour from microstock nowdays, probably impossible. Then I will start my story... "Listen to me, kid, back in 2006, things were different..."

(I wish I would have invested all my time to microstock back in 2006 and not do any work for clients.... I could have probably earned a million or two even if everything dried up 10 years later, and I would probably still get a monthly income with a 10x bigger portfolio, now it's just peanuts.)
« Last Edit: December 22, 2021, 05:10 by Perry »

Level6

« Reply #35 on: December 22, 2021, 15:55 »
0
Ha ha. I just saw this on social media. Kind of sums it up  ;)

I love this and it's so true on all three counts. 

Level6

« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2021, 16:09 »
+1
If the goal is to make as much or more money as working at a regular job, then I will say "forget about it". It would be very hard to make even $10 per hour from microstock nowdays, probably impossible. Then I will start my story... "Listen to me, kid, back in 2006, things were different..."

(I wish I would have invested all my time to microstock back in 2006 and not do any work for clients.... I could have probably earned a million or two even if everything dried up 10 years later, and I would probably still get a monthly income with a 10x bigger portfolio, now it's just peanuts.)

Sadly, but it's the agencies that took away our ability to make a living.

« Reply #37 on: December 22, 2021, 17:31 »
+2
Ha ha. I just saw this on social media. Kind of sums it up  ;)


That's me! Just walked around 11,000 steps and took around 25 unique photos that worth to upload. Unfortunately I need one more hobby to make money :)

Milleflore

« Reply #38 on: December 22, 2021, 18:44 »
+1
Ha ha. I just saw this on social media. Kind of sums it up  ;)


That's me! Just walked around 11,000 steps and took around 25 unique photos that worth to upload. Unfortunately I need one more hobby to make money :)


ha ha ha !

« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2021, 19:34 »
+2
If the goal is to make as much or more money as working at a regular job, then I will say "forget about it". It would be very hard to make even $10 per hour from microstock nowdays, probably impossible. Then I will start my story... "Listen to me, kid, back in 2006, things were different..."

(I wish I would have invested all my time to microstock back in 2006 and not do any work for clients.... I could have probably earned a million or two even if everything dried up 10 years later, and I would probably still get a monthly income with a 10x bigger portfolio, now it's just peanuts.)

Sadly, but it's the agencies that took away our ability to make a living.

No, it's just how our market system works.  when MS first started photographers used to getting hundreds of dollars for analog stock images made the same complaints

Level6

« Reply #40 on: December 22, 2021, 20:01 »
0
If the goal is to make as much or more money as working at a regular job, then I will say "forget about it". It would be very hard to make even $10 per hour from microstock nowdays, probably impossible. Then I will start my story... "Listen to me, kid, back in 2006, things were different..."

(I wish I would have invested all my time to microstock back in 2006 and not do any work for clients.... I could have probably earned a million or two even if everything dried up 10 years later, and I would probably still get a monthly income with a 10x bigger portfolio, now it's just peanuts.)

Sadly, but it's the agencies that took away our ability to make a living.

No, it's just how our market system works.  when MS first started photographers used to getting hundreds of dollars for analog stock images made the same complaints

End of a way to make a living I guess, combination of the agencies cutting commissions disguised as "new opportunities" and the free content.

Maybe SSTK did the the right way then, they announced the massive pay cut and it was take it or leave it, not pleasant but you knew it's over as a way to make a living. It didn't go over well but it was direct and take it or leave it, no going back no matter who the contributor is.

Others went a different route and that route was basically false pretenses, there was no exciting news or new opportunities and the "incremental revenue" it was all lies.......when pond launched the exclusive program, if you look at all the testimonials on YouTube who wouldn't buy in? and we know how that panned out.

I didn't fall for the exclusive program but I did stay in the game past April 2019 and what a mistake that was it had it's ups and downs and this year starting in May it went down and didn't bounce.

With zero transparency we have no way of knowing who is dealing our content behind the scenes, in the other the stock market they have the market makers and dark pool trading that stays off the radar and depresses the value of certain stocks and here we have this.

Hard to believe it's come to a complete end as far as making a living, I personally went from $3500/month with editorial video to almost nothing.  I can get 10 cents a photo or $1.70 a video on SS for it....



« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2021, 22:42 »
+3
I would start with "microstock is a long term losing proposition". Then I would talk about how much work you would have to put in to make X money, and how X will decrease for as long as the supply vastly outstrips demand.

Sure, with skill and hard work you can make $, but with skill and hard work you could probably make more doing something else.


OM

« Reply #42 on: December 23, 2021, 04:05 »
+2
Under the 'Wish I'd thought o' that at the time' category.......I wish I'd invested half my microstock earnings from the beginning in bitcoin when it was under $100.  ;)

For Real

« Reply #43 on: December 23, 2021, 10:55 »
+1
"You have a good photographer friend, who says"----what have you done to me lol!  8)

« Reply #44 on: August 07, 2022, 01:28 »
0
Like others have said, use it too get a bit of side money, which can pay for better photography equipment and then go into something you enjoy doing in the photography world, microstock does teach you to be technically sound with your images, which many genres don't..

For instance, I did stock for several years upto the point was I was earning around 100 a month then I got into landscape photography and started my own photography store here if your interested in looking https://scoellphotography.co.uk [nofollow] I'm glad I did microstock it paid for my setup, my Canon 6D and a few decent lenses, but the work involved for the returns isn't worth it in the long term IMO
« Last Edit: August 07, 2022, 01:33 by motherhupit »

« Reply #45 on: August 08, 2022, 03:22 »
+1
Get into Microstock ...
... if photography or filming is your favorite activity,
... if you don't do it primarily for the money,
... if you don't care that agencies lower the royalties for contributors every year, so you earn the same or less despite having more media in your portfolio,
... if instead of recognition from the agencies you get a blocked portfolio because you have submitted too many similar works, or for some other reason, but which is not given to you,
... if you have a tendency to masochism

« Reply #46 on: August 08, 2022, 04:13 »
+1
Times have changed.
Before 2020 i would say "So cool, go for it!" and help.
But now in 2022 i would say "Avoid like a plaque, it will destroy your desire to shoot, kill creativity, and will not reimburse your time and equipment"

« Reply #47 on: August 08, 2022, 04:42 »
+1
I would also tell my friend that microstock is a business.
And that people are used in a business and are also exploited.
That there are businesses that can be regulated by contract and that there is no contract in the microstock business.
That a contributor works under conditions today that can be changed by the agency tomorrow.
That a contributor can earn something, but that he can also lose all his work with an agency if the agency goes bankrupt or deletes the portfolio.
That there are agencies that delete a contributor's portfolio because they don't like it anymore, and they don't even answer a mail from the contributor. And that even though the contributor has software subscriptions with the agency in question and pays monthly!
That the microstock business is an ugly business.
That a photographer/filmmaker must not think about the ugly business if he wants to continue to practice his hobby.


« Reply #48 on: September 08, 2022, 12:22 »
0
I would say don't do it. Unless you have zero expectations of earning significant money.

With over 12k images as an IS Exclusive for 12 years, I retired on my income stream. But that has all changed over the past few years due to the drop in my revenue for the reasons we all know well. I still upload some but have put my time and energy into product, architectural, family and wedding photography and video bringing my skills from shooting stock to these niches.

It requires additional business and people skills but is worth the effort. I make much more than i ever made in stock now and more satisfied creatively. Plus, that anger I had from how the stock agencies have treated us, is subsided.

I focus on my creative craft and efficient workflow to make a very good income now.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2022, 15:02 by Shooter »


 

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