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Author Topic: Anyone cancel exclusive contract yet?  (Read 51063 times)

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« on: January 27, 2011, 16:13 »
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So it's only been a month, and I've been at IS long enough to know the year sometimes starts slow, but earnings are about half of what they have been (the last year). I know at best I will always make less at IS, and seriously considering dropping exclusivity, anyone done it in time for the first of the year, and how has it affected your download numbers? I worry most baout losing good placement in the searches, but with all of the site issues I don't think we get good placement any longer anyway.


vlad_the_imp

« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 16:17 »
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Be very careful. I know personally one person who gave it up, she's back at IS again having had disappointing results at other agencies (starting this late from scratch is harder than a few years ago) You may well hear different from others, all experiences will be interesting to hear.


vlad_the_imp

« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 16:22 »
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200+ pictures in 2.5 years.

jbarber873

« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 16:59 »
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   This is an interesting question, given all that has gone on lately at IStock. The flip side of the question is the strong support that Yuri has given to the concept of exclusivity at Istock being the best way to go, if he were starting out today. Despite all the mean and ugly things that the current management has done to contributors, they still have a brand recognition that is so far second to none. Getting lost in the searches may end up being a function of not being exclusive in the long run, and the higher payouts associated with vetta files may in fact make the overall return at IStock superior to being spread out at other agencies. I wish I could identify a likely competitor to Istock. SS has steady sales, but because of the pure subscription model, it's suited to a high volume contributor more than anything else. I've been kicking around the idea of going exclusive with Istock, if for no other reason than it's proven sales statistics for my images. Like everything else in the microstock world, the whole concept behind this business is at an inflection point. IF they can get through the current state of disarray and come out on the other end with a site selling unique images of high quality, they will end up redefining the the macro/micro model convergence in a way that could make them the ultimate winner in a big way. The hard part is to leave out the personal feelings about the treatment of contributors and look at it from a purely business point of view, which is how Yuri seems to view it. My experience in microstock is limited, but I've made a good living out of being a photographer for a very long time, and one lesson I've learned is that things are always changing. The hard part is to see the long trend amid the short term noise. Many contributors have talked of deleting portfolios, but I'm curious how many have made that decision based on emotion rather than business.

« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 17:13 »
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Funny you should ask.  I dropped my exclusivity (after 6 years having only been with iStock) in mid October (it was effective then).  I was just looking at my numbers from last year to this year, and in terms of downloads I really do not see a significant drop.  And while November and December were both down for me, with all the site issues since the F5 fiasco, I don't know that I could really count those, but they aren't down that much anyway and seem to be on trend with the past 3 years of decreasing downloads for me (despite more uploads and improvements in my work).

January is actually shaping up to be almost exactly the same as my download count for 2010.  I haven't even uploaded all my work to other sites yet, but the ones I have uploaded to I am starting to see some decent sales.  (except for StockFresh, which needs to bring in buyers still -they are too new).

ETA: I dropped mine based on business but there definitely was emotion involved.  I just took a good objective look at my personal situation and decided that I may well fare better as an Independent.  I have not and do not plan on removing my portfolio.  There is a difference between dropping exclusivity and dropping iStock completely.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 17:17 by jamirae »

« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 17:21 »
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The hard part is to leave out the personal feelings about the treatment of contributors and look at it from a purely business point of view, which is how Yuri seems to view it.
It's easy for Yuri to be 'dispassionate' as he is the only independent that hasn't had his commissions cut.

Back to the OP's question. I've always been independent but my data suggests strongly to me that IS have been in gentle but steady decline, relative to the greater market, for at least 6 months. This month they are projected to generate just 27.5% of my stock income compared to 36.2% in Jan 2010. That decline appears to be accelerating of late too, possibly due to the site issues. In the same timescale SS have increased from 23.8% to 34.4% this month, mainly due to a huge increase in PPD and EL sales. All the other agencies are largely holding their own.

Obviously it will take time for images to gain their rightful position in the default sort-orders at the various agencies but the cream will always rise to the top eventually. If you do go independent I believe you need to give it at least 18 months to determine whether it worked for you. At least then you will have enough data to make a good decision on where the future lies for your portfolio.

« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 17:53 »
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200+ pictures in 2.5 years.

The question was "anyone cancel exclusive contract yet?" So I guess you are pointing that out because this person must not count? You've been hanging around the IS elitists for too long.  ::)

lisafx

« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2011, 18:07 »
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Here's an excellent blog where a former Istock exclusive documents her experiences since giving up the crown a couple of months ago.

http://stockcube-stockcube.blogspot.com/

« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2011, 18:40 »
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Here's an excellent blog where a former Istock exclusive documents her experiences since giving up the crown a couple of months ago.

http://stockcube-stockcube.blogspot.com/


That's an interesting read. I was interested in the IS poll she posted, too. She is right, it is a small portion of the total number of contributors, but I would be willing to bet the percentages would be about the same if ALL contributors responded.

« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2011, 18:42 »
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I haven't cancelled, but have thought very seriously about doing it. I did enquire of CR what happens if you start the 30 day clock and then during that 30 days change your mind. The answer is that you can't back out, so you have to wait out the remainder of the 30 days as an exclusive, spend your 90 days as an independent, and then can re-apply.

So don't start the clock if you aren't serious about becoming independent :)

I was independent for nearly 4 years, so I am a bit "rusty" but still have a pretty good idea of what the issues are. I was pushed back onto the fence just as I was about to jump for independence by FT announcing their latest commission cut.

In spite of all the bugs and crap, my January so far is ahead of Jan 2010 (by about 10%) and the month isn't over, so I think I'm going to sit tight for a bit.

I don't know that anyone - independent or exclusive to one site - is in a good situation right now. We all have a set of risks and concerns about how things will play out over the next 2-3 years. So when I see swapping one set of icky circumstances for another, I'm much less motivated to drop exclusivity. Of course IS could tip the scales a bit if they made the partner program mandatory or pulled some equally numb-skulled move...

« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2011, 19:07 »
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I also see that Brigit has a forum on her site and has a "roll call" where this info is.

check it out here
http://the-independence-day-forum.983074.n3.nabble.com/Roll-call-td2162588.html

jbarber873

« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2011, 20:41 »
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The hard part is to leave out the personal feelings about the treatment of contributors and look at it from a purely business point of view, which is how Yuri seems to view it.
It's easy for Yuri to be 'dispassionate' as he is the only independent that hasn't had his commissions cut.

Back to the OP's question. I've always been independent but my data suggests strongly to me that IS have been in gentle but steady decline, relative to the greater market, for at least 6 months. This month they are projected to generate just 27.5% of my stock income compared to 36.2% in Jan 2010. That decline appears to be accelerating of late too, possibly due to the site issues. In the same timescale SS have increased from 23.8% to 34.4% this month, mainly due to a huge increase in PPD and EL sales. All the other agencies are largely holding their own.

Obviously it will take time for images to gain their rightful position in the default sort-orders at the various agencies but the cream will always rise to the top eventually. If you do go independent I believe you need to give it at least 18 months to determine whether it worked for you. At least then you will have enough data to make a good decision on where the future lies for your portfolio.

   I was really thinking about the John Lund blog post where Yuri said that he would be exclusive at Istock if he were starting out now. I understand that he is in a good position. My question about Istock is if being exclusive is the only way to sell at Istock going forward, since the agency, vetta and exclusives seem to crowd the search results. All of the independents are getting pushed down the line, it seems. Since this post was about dropping exclusivity, i was hoping that some exclusives could weigh in about both sides. It is a difficult choice to make, but I've only got a little over 1000 files, so it's not the huge big deal that it would be for someone with 20,000 files. As for SS, the sales are good and getting better, but many images that sell at both sites get far higher total payouts from Istock, with far fewer sales.

« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2011, 20:45 »
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I was exclusive the DT but have canceled my contract.  My contract will expire on Feb 16th.

I know I will get a decrease in sales from DT but hope to significantly increase my sales on the other sites and also on the Business Cards, Zazzle type sites.  As a wildlife photographer, my sales will never match the "grip and grin" photographers but I am hoping spreading myself a bit thinner will help increase the income.  We shall see.

« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2011, 21:13 »
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Here's an excellent blog where a former Istock exclusive documents her experiences since giving up the crown a couple of months ago.

http://stockcube-stockcube.blogspot.com/


That's an interesting read. I was interested in the IS poll she posted, too. She is right, it is a small portion of the total number of contributors, but I would be willing to bet the percentages would be about the same if ALL contributors responded.

+1, good link

« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2011, 22:08 »
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Thanks everyone so far. Lisa and Jo Ann, good stuff. I guess I should have made more clear I was looking for first hand experience of people who had been exclusive until the last few months at IS. Still on the fence, been really happy so far as a Gold level contributor, but dropping from $2000 a month to maybe $800 this month is disturbing. Most likely will see what Feb. brings and go from there, just not too optimistic about IS with all of the site issues. Just don't don't think they have the expertise or motivation to get it back like it was. Not wearing any rose colored glasses about how great it is at other sites either, but need to try and make up the difference if I can.

« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2011, 23:15 »
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Still on the fence, been really happy so far as a Gold level contributor, but dropping from $2000 a month to maybe $800 this month is disturbing.

That's not good. iStock has been pretty bad for me this month too. I wasn't sure if that was a pattern or just my numbers.

vlad_the_imp

« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2011, 04:29 »
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Quote
but dropping from $2000 a month to maybe $800 this month is disturbing.

That is a huge drop, I'm not sure that's usual. I must admit if I saw such a big percentage drop I'd be seriously considering leaving. The IS exclusive I quoted above saw a similar drop in income AFTER she'd left exclusivity, and she came back because her income at other sites nowhere near made up the difference. My income has dropped compared to last January but nothing like that.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 04:36 by vlad_the_imp »

« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2011, 05:10 »
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My income at IS (non exclusive) has dropped 30% compared to january last year and almost 50% compared to january 2009. I'm at Istock since 2007. As SS income has increased 30% with last january.

« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2011, 11:30 »
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Still on the fence, been really happy so far as a Gold level contributor, but dropping from $2000 a month to maybe $800 this month is disturbing.

That's not good. iStock has been pretty bad for me this month too. I wasn't sure if that was a pattern or just my numbers.

Yikes, that does give cause for concern. 

My numbers are up about 40% from last January and up from December 2010.  HOWEVER, I am at a higher royalty rate from last January (went Silver to Gold and, luckily, stayed there in January) AND the size of my portfolio increased by probably 40% or more in 2010.  So, I am not so sure the increase I am seeing is what it really should be and is likely more of a leveling off or perhaps even a decrease.  Only time will tell...

« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2011, 12:21 »
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JOANN- do you have any ranking at Fotolia still, you were likely around Gold were you?  Would you get that ranking back or do you have to start from scratch.

Also, my month at Istock is the worst since Nov 2008.  I hate to say "to be fair to Istock" I wonder if we all wouldn't have had a much better month if they hadn't f*cked everything up so royally for buyers.  Hopefully they take their magnificent site problems into consideration when they ever-so-fairly set next year's goal posts  ;) .

grp_photo

« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2011, 12:37 »
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The flip side of the question is the strong support that Yuri has given to the concept of exclusivity at Istock being the best way to go,
It was a tactical interview (remember he studied psychology). Though I agree with most of his points he made, his intention wasn't to promote the exclusivity program he wants the other agencies to raise the price level too and bring up some Vetta and Agency Collection - pricing for important contributors (him). Though I'm all for higher prices it isn't clear at all that IS will survive the recent changes without damage. Remember iStockPro? This was a disaster and it was in essential what Vetta and AC is today with pricing between Macro and Micro.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2011, 12:40 »
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Hopefully they take their magnificent site problems into consideration when they ever-so-fairly set next year's goal posts  ;) .

The site's been fouled up since F5, and even more so with the launch of 'facetted search'.
However, they won't need to 'take that into account', because the targets are a movable bell curve (such as teachers used up to about 1990), with points based on how many contributers they are prepatared to tolerate at each percentage point, and the need not to 'lose' their top independent.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_curve_grading
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 12:48 by ShadySue »

« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2011, 12:47 »
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JOANN- do you have any ranking at Fotolia still, you were likely around Gold were you?  Would you get that ranking back or do you have to start from scratch.


I didn't delete my FT account; just all my images. At some point after that when I went back to the site (probably to check on a forum post mentioned here) I couldn't log in any more. No communciation with me as to why that happened, so I can only guess.

I don't know if I'd be able to pick up where I left off, but if I were to go independent again, I'd eat whatever humble pie was necessary and at least ask. Worst they could do is say no :) Regardless of the merits of any of the sites, I think as an independent you need to do IS, FT, SS and probably DT to make it make financial sense.

« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2011, 12:57 »
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I think as an independent you need to do IS, FT, SS and probably DT to make it make financial sense.

+1

And anything else that has a really easy upload system (e.g. canstock)


 

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