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Author Topic: Considering Closing Account in 2008  (Read 34208 times)

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DanP68

« on: December 25, 2007, 23:52 »
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iStock was my top performer my first year in microstock.  So it is with some trepidation I am considering closing my account there in 2008. 

The 80/20 split has been gnawing at me the past few months.  When the money first started rolling in on my images there, I was too excited to consider the implications.  Now, I look at the $350 I have earned in my first months, and compare it to the $1400 they have earned off of me, and I am disgusted.  What was I thinking when I accepted an 80/20 split?

I came down to 2 choices -

1)  Go Exclusive, and get a better share of the profit
2)  Close the account after another payout

After looking at exclusivity more closely, it didn't seem such a great deal after all.  My share of the profit would still be on the low side of the industry average.  Even the Black Diamonds give up 60% of the sale.

I understand the arguments for the 80/20 split - namely the intense marketing iStock puts forth which certainly generates sales for contributors. 

But on the other hand, I am not doing this for a living.  I am a very small time contributor who has found some niche success, nothing else.  So the question is, do I want to earn $150-$200 per month in microstock from my sites, and yield 80% of my commission to iStock?  Or do I want to reduce my current monthly income to $80-$130, and know that I have kept a fair share of the profit for my work?

It's a tough decision.  It won't be made hastily.  But its clearly on my radar for the next 30-60 days. 

Without turning this into a firestorm, I would be interested in opinions from both sides of the aisle.  Thanks!


« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2007, 03:38 »
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Given the files are already up there and selling, I would regard 20 per cent of something as a superior alternative to 100 per cent of nothing. But they are your images, and if you want to reduce your income on a point of principle, that's fine. Personally I'm an istock exclusive, because it's less hassle than dealing with multiple sites, and the ego boost of downloads is at least important to me as the $$s -it's a form of vanity publishing that actually pays me. YMMV.
(edited because I've had too much Christmas spirit to spell!)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2007, 04:37 by Susan S. »

DanP68

« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2007, 03:59 »
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Nice point Susan.  I've definitely valued your input in my first months in microstock.

« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2007, 04:21 »
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I understand what you're saying but I currently make between 500 and 700 $/month on IS so can't afford to give that up on a matter of principle. Even though IS earn  4 times that out of me it still pays me a lot of bills.

grp_photo

« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2007, 04:58 »
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very brave!
But i did exactly the same (with exception of a few files left to have a personal input over the progress over there).
But my reasons are the totally opposite of you. I'm doing this (photography) for a living so i'm very concerned about the long-term-effects of some "deals". So i came to the conclusion that i don't want accept any "deals" under a 30% split. I'm also concerned about the too cheap sites (subscription, Albumo etc.).
I now that i alone can't change the industry. But looking at the development in the industry it's clear that the agencies getting richer and richer while the photographer are forced more and more to accept worse and more worse deals. In the past the normal split was 50/50 but at that time it was much more costly and personnel-intensive/labour intensive on the agency side (printing catalogs, handling sending trannies/slides/prints, the did the keywording in the past, handling financial transfers, calculating prices RM was the standard at the times, etc.)
Now once a website is up it runs nearly "automatically" (of course you have to do some marketing but that was not different in the past).
And the costs are very, very small compared to the past. Also the photographer does now nearly all the work (keywording etc).
I decided that i better say NO to some deals and missing some money in the short-term but hopefully can still make a living of photography in 10 and 20 years.
I learned this behaviour not only from stock i learned it actually by my assignments sometimes it's better to say NO once you accepted a bad deal you never get a chance for a fair deal.
I know that i'm in the minority most people don't care at all :-[
« Last Edit: December 26, 2007, 04:59 by grp_photo »

« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 04:59 »
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This thread raises many of the same old questions that have been asked since microstock first reared its ugly head many moons ago.

Are we undervaluing our work? Have we sold ourselves short? How much exploitation should we tolerate before saying is enough is enough?

Everyone will answer those questions differently but no matter how you argue the toss, that few gigs of pixels sitting on your HD is better off earning its keep than doing nothing at all. Or is it?

Personally, I wished I'd never got into MS and for 2008 I'm seriously looking at diversifying and NOT having any more 20c portfolios floating around that will ultimately do me damage over the long term.

« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2007, 05:56 »
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Have to say that I agree with you on this point. I am considering closing accounts as well. There are further aggravating points, some specific to an agency and some generalized:

1. With Fotolia: Most of my sales are in Europe, where the client pays 1 Euro per credit, but my earnings are in U$, so they are getting an additional 40% through the exchange rate difference!

2. With few exceptions these sites ignore any complaints and/or suggestions sent to them, and treat contributors as if we were just a necessary evil that they have to live with.

3. Most of these sites seem to be interested in selling their own work. Contributors material seems to be only used for "filling", so that they can advertise the millions of photos they have.

4. The agencies seem to forget (OR MAYBE THEY NEVER KNEW!) that they are merely go-betweens, bringing the client together with the photographer. They really are not arbiters of quality or any thing else, just a marketplace! They should act as such, and charge a commission based on what they provide to the photographer in the way of services.

In conclusion, I think that there is a big shakeout on the horizon. The few agencies that respect the photographer (FP, SnapVillage come to mind) will hopefully come out on top and should be supported by the community. The rest should be relegated to the dust bin until they learn to administer a business and respect both the providers of content and the end client.

« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2007, 10:01 »
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There are choices. Like some have said, you can take down your account, which won't get you any money. You wouldn't be the first that thought that IS undervalues your work. There are alternatives like Alamy where many photographers do well there. I'm going to beef up my account and see where that takes me. Other than that, there have been a few attempts to respect the photographer. (Totallyphotos.com comes to mind), but have mostly flopped. Other than that, I'm not sure what choices you have. Either you play the game, or get out...

« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2007, 17:08 »
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Well, most of the stuff I upload, is throw away shots from the freelance work I do. Why let it go unused just because a client chose a different pose or went another direction with the product?

It's a no brainer for me.

http://www.featurepics.com/Authors/Images.aspx?id=445.



« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2007, 17:30 »
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IS photographer's share is really disgusting. I think however they at least have a reasonable selling price plan, and gladly no subs plan.

I got 25c for an image in S size today.  In CS or CanStockPhoto the same image would have been dld in XL earning me the same 25c.  Who makes the good deal?  Not me.  But I find it more reasonable to receive these 25c from IS. 

Yes, I wished they increased our share - just imagine, mere 30% would mean an increase in 50%!  I do like FP price structure much better, and they're the site I advertise more in my siet (if you can call what I do advertisement...).

Regards,
Adelaide

vonkara

« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2007, 18:00 »
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Do I hear the beginning of a syndical movement. :D But no kidding, in my point of view it will be great whit a good organisation... Maybe

« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2007, 19:43 »
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It is absolutely time to do  some thinking. IS is a tricky case, since they sell well, and generate a decent income for many, in spite of the 20%.

One of my targets for 2008 will be to get rid of all subscriptions sites, and that includes SS. The problem is DT, which does well for me with non-subscription sales, and has no opt out possibility. The way I see it, subscription sales are much more destructive for the business as a whole, than microstock in general. Subscriptions enable customers to build large image archives that reduces the need to download photos in the future and thus our profit potential.

One thing that we can all do to help, is to stop linking to those agencies that pay the lowest, and at the same time use all available means to promote sites where we have a higher cut and/or can choose pricing structure ourselves. FP is an obvious choice, but SV is in my view also a positive contribution, although 30% is too little.

« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2007, 20:17 »
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Understand your point(s) prefectly well and this topic comes up every few months. 

The last time it raised it's head I asked if there was a start-up MS site today offering you 50% up front, would you support it?   Everyone comes back with questions of funding, staffing, marketing plans etc.. AND we'll wait to see how it goes!

You can't have it both ways...  start ups need your support to get going, but you make more money from ISP & SS.  At some stage you'll have to understand... the terms and conditions have been set BEFORE you began submitting.. you agreed (like everyone else) to the 20% commission...  simple as that.  Would love to see everyone find a start-up and truly support them..  but money will always talk.

Walk if you will... McGetty won't care

« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2007, 21:31 »
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The question is if we as photographers could do a more coordinated effort to promote FP. It would be in everybody's interest, even those who don't submit to them, since success for FP would put a pressure on commissions.

I agree that McGetty won't care though, and that probably goes for McCorbis as well. As much  as I like the system at SV, they are surprisingly unresponsive to feedback.

DanP68

« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2007, 23:25 »
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Really great feedback folks.  I've been reading with interest.

Featurepics is my next site to contribute to.  I haven't read much to suggest sales there are worth mentioning yet, but - as was brought up JC-SL - the new sites need our support to have a fighting chance.  And their structure clearly favors the photographer much better than iSP.

Absolutely - McGetty would never miss me.  At my port size, I doubt they know I exist.

grp_photo

« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2007, 04:10 »
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One thing that we can all do to help, is to stop linking to those agencies that pay the lowest, and at the same time use all available means to promote sites where we have a higher cut and/or can choose pricing structure ourselves. FP is an obvious choice, but SV is in my view also a positive contribution, although 30% is too little.
Yes very good idea! I also decided to support new sites if they have a reasonable pricing scheme and a fair deal (like zymmetrical for example).
Istock not only became so strong because they have been the first they also become so strong because of their Designer-Community that still support the site and do heavy free marketing for them. If we Photographers can create some kind of Community for "fair deals" we may able to change the current state of Microstock.
In general i like the idea of Microstock. What i don't like is the current state that the worst and most greedy agencies rule the business while the fair agencies lack behind. If we start to support more and more the fair agencies and at least don't let the unfair to be the first to have our new pics i really think we can change something in the business in the long-term. It would also a good idea to give the fair agencies some kind of specialties that you don't give the greedy and outseller ones.

« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2007, 04:30 »
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One thing those of us who are designers can do, is quite obvious: buy from FP whenever possible. There's a lot to choose from, also photos that can't be found elsewhere, since they accept most of what many of us upload, and editorial photos as well.

« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2007, 09:15 »
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i think u should just leave ur photos in istock. Dont close it. If you really must, then just dont load any more photos to istock. Who knows what decisions u may need to make in future? the microstock market is constantly evolving, at least in the short 2 years that i have been here and i believe it will continue to evolve over the next few years. It has not reach that stability yet and is still finding its place...who knows istock may move mid-market in future????

DanP68

« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2008, 05:20 »
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To come full circle with this thread, I have indeed officially requested my account be closed at iStock.  I don't expect them to get to it anytime soon, due to the holidays, and the fact that CR is notoriously slow.  In the meantime I have deactivated all of my strong selling images.  I don't have the patience to go through the rest.

It was a tough decision, and I appreciate everyone who chimed in.

Ironically, I want to thank iStock for giving me my first taste of microstock success.  In particular, I want to thank iStock for recently featuring one of my images as part of their "Featured Contributor" section.  For someone who just started shooting stock in June, to be featured by the industry leader is not something I would have dreamed possible in 2007.

I am not dependent at all on microstock earnings.  Therefore I can afford to make a choice that a lot of others cannot afford to make.  I have no ill-feelings toward iStock.  This is a personal decision, and one which I will of course revisit should the commission structure change.  Once more, I will not be missed regardless.

« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2008, 05:54 »
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I do not know was it a right or wrong choice. But being decisive helps in life.

vhpoto


« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2008, 05:59 »
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I have thought about leaving istock it is hard to know if the 20% I make there is worth the extra effort of their tedious upload procedure.  I have to go through every single keyword with them and it can take a lot of time.  That time could be used to produce more images for the other sites.

I hope that sites like StockXpert will give them strong competition in years to come and force them to raise commissions.  Exclusives should also get more.

They have paid me more in referral fees than some sites paying high commission, so I don't think I will leave.

It would be great if all the buyers went to featurepics as we could all get a better deal but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening.

« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2008, 07:13 »
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As a newcomer here I don't have any account to close. But I realised that it would take a lot of time and efforts to upload to several agencies (my broadband is not that broad and certain agencies - snapvillage and fotolia for example - are really hard to load upon with a lot of uploading lost somewhere in the Internet limbo). So I decided to try Alamy (my four pictures are on reviewing there at this moment) and Featurepics which already accepted five of my photos (my first five, in fact). So, from now on (and until my access provider can provide me with a serious access) I'll try to be exclusive with agencies which can provide a nice return for the photographer.
 

« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2008, 07:24 »
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I understand your point completely but walking away is not the answer. I have a few years
experience and I am certain these agencies need us a lot more than we need them.
I haven't got the answer yet but I am looking for one just want to let you know that there are many of us with similar views.
All the best
Pete
PS What share did the photographers get of the 50 million recently paid for their photos?

« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2008, 14:17 »
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It would be great if all the buyers went to featurepics as we could all get a better deal but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be happening.

 I've been studying FeaturePics very seriously, studying, studying, studying, and finally uploading.  Sharpshot's statement above is so true.  One recurring theme that I've been finding is this:  WE (the SUBMITTERS) need to promote Featurepics and our portfolios there in every way, shape, form, fashion, and size imaginable, and not give up even when we're tired of doing it.  What kind of promotion? You name it!!  Websites, e-mail signature links to your portfolio, talking to everyone you think might have an interest in downloading quality photos, and any other way you can find to do it.  I think we're only limited by our own imaginations, so use your imaginations, your contacts, the WWW, and whatever else!!.  With FP, the sky really is the limit.  We do the footwork for FP and ourselves, and we pocket the 70% commission, simple as that.  FP in turn provides the server space, customer relations, etc.   If you're really good with websites, you could build your own and do the same thing for your own pictures and keep even more %.  However, many of the rest of us are not so tech-savvy or don't have the time to learn, plus having a large collection of pics in one place will probably tend to draw more customers than a single individual's website, methinks.  The key to just about any business success is active promotion and marketing, not just one time of setting your sign out front and sitting and waiting for the customers to come in---you've got to keep trying to find them.   Istock does a huge amount of marketing and it costs them a lot and they pay us 20% or so.  Apparently, FP doesn't do a lot of self-promotion yet, but they pay you 70% and let you adjust your prices as you will.  Hmmm.  You figure out where that extra 50% comes from.  It's your choice.

« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2008, 14:34 »
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Ha!  I guess this has morphed into a FeaturePics thread.  Anyway, in keeping with my previous post, I was cruising another micro forum and found this:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aygodbI4Dr4" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aygodbI4Dr4</a>


Pete Baxter promoting his Bigstock portfolio as a video on YouTube.  Submit a video or 2 promoting your FP port, and right there is instant worldwide promotion!!

« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2008, 14:36 »
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To come full circle with this thread, I have indeed officially requested my account be closed at iStock.
I'm curious. You're upset about the 80/20 split yet you're still on SS? The subscription model is by far the worst business model for photographers, especially if you're worried about the value given to your photos.

I completely understand being upset about the 80/20 split, but I don't see how people can be upset about that and yet be ok with only making .25-.30 per license at another place. Especially since the size of the photo downloaded doesn't change your royalty.

My biggest problem with the industry is the number of prints per license. I hated seeing one of my image used in a major ad campaign and realizing that it didn't go over the allowed usages. $1.56 for use in a major ad campaign makes me want to cry.

« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2008, 15:27 »
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First,
Happy 2008 !!!

Seems that we agree. that is why Zymmetrical.com offers a 70/30 split to ALL contributors, detailed rejections, self pricing,  and we listen very closely to the needs, demands and concerns of our members. We be eive strongly that happy contributors make for a healthy and wealthy site.

Looking forward to seeing more of your images on zymmetrical.com this year !!

« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2008, 15:32 »
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I don't understand why people mock $0.30 when they are prepared to average $1 with per image sites.  If I was concerned about the amount I made per sale, I would only contribute to the traditional sites.

I have no problems with the shutterstock $0.30 as they sell huge quantities.  I would rather have 100 $0.30 a day than 20 $1.

Isn't this a similar argument the people at the traditional sites use about microstock?  They are used to selling for hundreds of dollars and can't see that sometimes selling lots at $1 makes more money.


DanP68

« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2008, 15:36 »
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To come full circle with this thread, I have indeed officially requested my account be closed at iStock.
I'm curious. You're upset about the 80/20 split yet you're still on SS? The subscription model is by far the worst business model for photographers, especially if you're worried about the value given to your photos.



This is a difficult one for me to resolve.  I have not yet decided where I stand with regard to subscription models, and the money I make at Shutterstock.  In terms of commission percentage, its anybody's guess what share we are taking.  I did some rough paper estimates and came up with 35%-45%.

However the 25c/30c price tag is awfully difficult to get past for me.  I never said I was happy with the Shutterstock model, even if it makes me money.  I opted out of StockXpert subscriptions too.  I do know that I sell a lot of images which probably otherwise would be very slow movers.  And as Sharpshot wrote, the volume is amazing.  Also, the SS share of EL's is quite nice, and I have had far more EL's in less time with SS than I ever had with iSP. 

You bring up a very valid point.  I won't argue with it, as it is always on my mind.  My guess is subscription prices will rise quite a bit, now that iStock is raising the bar on pricing.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 15:39 by DanP68 »

« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2008, 15:43 »
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This designer posted a link to her own blog on the LO Forum, in it she refers to LO as her new boyfriend and  "I am really glad to have found you, especially since my *insult removed* of an ex-boyfriend, iStock, has raised prices for the new year. (The cycle of abuse just never ends over there, Im telling you.) I am so done with that, and so ready for a new gig with you."

http://sabrinadent.com/?p=166

It's a nice little read from a designer - it's also good to know that IS pisses off designers as well as us.

« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2008, 16:00 »
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This designer posted a link to her own blog on the LO Forum, in it she refers to LO as her new boyfriend and  "I am really glad to have found you, especially since my *insult removed* of an ex-boyfriend, iStock, has raised prices for the new year. (The cycle of abuse just never ends over there, Im telling you.) I am so done with that, and so ready for a new gig with you."

http://sabrinadent.com/?p=166

It's a nice little read from a designer - it's also good to know that IS pisses off designers as well as us.

That blog read like a diary of a crazy teenage girl. Notice that she was mainly complaining about LO in the blog.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 18:28 by yingyang0 »

DanP68

« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2008, 23:43 »
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Notice that she was mainly complaining about LO in the blog.

She had best be careful.  I wouldn't want to upset the bearded lady.   :D

« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2008, 03:13 »
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My view: interesting decision Dan, but BIG mistake.

« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2008, 12:24 »
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That blog read like a diary of a crazy teenage girl. Notice that she was mainly complaining about LO in the blog.

Leaving my crazy teenage girlishness aside for the moment, I would characterise what I was doing in that post as providing feedback for LO rather than complaining. The actual people behind LO got in touch with me on the back of that post and have been very receptive to my points, so I continue to feel like my relationship there is a positive one. Obviously, every individual experiences their own ride, and I'm a buyer not a photographer so YMMV.

And yes, IS annoys me for any number of reasons and I've decided to abandon my existing credits there and just not deal with them any longer.

But what I really popped in to say is this:

I came here through my referrer links in my logs. As a buyer, I am largely unaware of the splits made for photographers on stock image sites. I'm very surprised at some of the numbers I've read in this thread.

I suspect most stock buyers are unaware of photographers' issues around specific vendors - splits, late payments, unreasonable levels for payments, whatever they are. But I also think that people like me would be interested in being educated about things like that. I'm not a power consumer but I spend probably $500 a year on stock images for myself and my blog, $100 for pet projects, and a couple of K on behalf of clients.

If I can spend that money ethically, for lack of a better term, with vendors who treat their artists right and pay reasonable money, then I will. But I have to know who those vendors are, and nothing about that has ever crossed my radar.  Sounds like a grassroots education movement waiting to happen!

« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2008, 13:08 »
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At the moment, of the reasonably sized sites, I think featurepics give contibutors a good deal, 70% commission for non-exclusive images.

Stockxpert, Dreamstime and Bigstock are good at 50%.

Fotolia is poor starting at 33% but it does increase with lots of downloads.

Lucky Oliver is poor at just 30% but those lucky enough to get 100 downloads can get 50% from the sideshow.

istock is the worst at 20%

« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2008, 13:44 »
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Sabrina, thanks for posting here.   And, LOL, we all like to complain but whenever we discuss the grassroots educational uprising not much happens with it.  Guys, maybe it's time we discussed that co-op thing again?

P.S.  I visit http://deepakchopra.com/ from time to time... now I'll think of you every time I visit!  If I was making an entry in my teenage diary I would say how wicked cool it was that I've "talked" to the designer...
« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 13:46 by Pixart »

« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2008, 14:08 »
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Looking at this from the contributor's perspective:  the truth is that most of us are in this for the money, whether it's just to keep us in camera gear for our hobby or whatever other reason, the money matters.  If you're dubious about that, just peruse this and other archives for all the heated threads about payment problems from stock sites, and you'll see just how much the money matters!  Unfortunately, Istock is at the top 1 or 2 total earnings spot of many if not most contributors' lists, the other one being Shutterstock.    Istock are a royal pain to deal with for contributors (tedious uploading, weird rejections, and on and on), but they pay well on volume even at 20% commission, and I almost never hear about them paying late.  It's definitely a love-hate relationship for many.  The cold hard fact is that contributors try to go where they get the best (read "most") pay, except for pure hobbyists who care more about community and the fun of getting their pictures sold anywhere (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, if that's what you like). 
  At this moment, LuckyO is not famous for bringing in large financial returns to the majority of their contributors, but hopefully that will change over time and they are definitely one of the most open and user-approachable sites out there.
  Now if FeaturePics at 70% could have the same volume of payments as IS....wow.  I think FP has the best overall interface for contributors of any site, but sadly they are lagging far behind the others in financial returns.
  So there's no easy answers for you.  The sites that are the most contributor-centered and pay the highest % also pay the least amount overall.  The coldest and least user-friendly sites have the lowest per-picture % but pay the most overall in terms of total $$.

« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2008, 14:44 »
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Well... not sure how to enter into a discussion about closing an iStock account... but since LuckyOliver came into the discussion... I'll add my two cents.

1. Sabrina, your insights are extremely valuable. Thank you.

2. To clarify the payout structure that sharpshot highlighted (it's not really apples to apples), our non-exclusive rate is .30 cents per token spent (but on volume purchases of tokens we absorb the discount, so the actual % is higher). We pay .50 cents per token spent for extend license and buyouts (we actually get a fair amount of extended license purchases). We also run image drives in which payouts on images are up to .60 cents per token spent.

The Sideshow is a free market system that allows artists to price their own work and also receive .50 cents per token spent. 

3. Exclusive images are .60 cents per token spent.  While our volume isn't quite there yet, longer term it's important to reward people for only having images at LuckyOliver.  It's not for everyone, but we have a lot of artists that want to earn money with only one company. 


« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 14:48 by bryan_luckyoliver »

« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2008, 14:45 »
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And yes, IS annoys me for any number of reasons and I've decided to abandon my existing credits there and just not deal with them any longer.

This benefits IS even more. By not using credits that you have paid for IS  gets to keep all the money instead of passing at least 20% of it on to the photographers.

DanP68

« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2008, 15:03 »
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I agree Sabrina.  At least use your credits up.  Follow the link to someone's portfolio who is still active with iStock, and give them a New Year's present.  With all the talent in these forums, you are sure to find plenty.

I don't know a good way to communicate with buyers regarding which agencies best treat its contributors.  Obviously we are all very happy that you are concerned enough to learn.  I would suggest to any buyer that they read through these forums to see who the artists are, how they work, and how they are treated.


« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2008, 15:40 »
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Extraordinary thread that asks all the wrong questions and gets all the wrong answers (except HSI's input).

CUSTOMERS, ladies and gentlemen.  What a business needs is CUSTOMERS.  Without customers we are all doomed to failure.

And to get customers an agency needs to invest in marketing, development, PR and systems.  That takes money.

Paying too much to artists leaves little money to get customers.  No customers = no sales.

Anyone looked at iStock's 'most popular' list lately?  Some of those pictures have sold up to 8,000 copies in three months.  Let me repeat that - 8,000 in THREE MONTHS.

Now simply ask yourself this question: "would you like 20% of 8,000 sales, or 50% of nothing?"

As HSI points out - the two agencies that generate the most income for most people pay the lowest per sale.  But they both invest heavily in marketing to generate customers.  That benefits them, and it benefits the artist.

Don't tell me about percentages, because any % of zero will always be zero.  Tell me about customers.

And this is why Dan's decision is the worst one he could have made - he's focussed on % and not on customers; he's just said goodbye to the agency with easily the largest number of customers; it's equivalent to removing his goods from Wal-mart's stores or saying "no" to having his product bundled with Windows because Microsoft would only offer him 20c per sale instead of 50c.

Customers are the most valuable asset a business can have.  It doesn't make any sense to say goodbye to them.

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2008, 15:42 »
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I think IS will reconsider the commission structure within a year or two. The thing is, that it is becoming increasingly easy to beat IS in income on other agencies. Maybe all the other agencies only amount to half the Alexa traffic of IS, but at twice the commission or more, they win in both income and ethics. I am having a lot of thoughts about what agencies I want to submit pictures, I have started to think twice especially about the subscription model.

I know from a backend source that the average subscribers only use about 15 - 30% of the full potential of their membership. This means that most pictures in a subscription sell at a 5-6USD price-point in average, giving us about 35 cents in commission. A bottom-line commission of about 5 percent. Even if I was totally wrong and every subscriber actually downloaded the double of what I have heard, the commission would still only be 10%.

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2008, 15:48 »
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Now simply ask yourself this question: "would you like 20% of 8,000 sales, or 50% of nothing?"



That is a very odd business calculation model you got going here. Everywhere I go I hear the exact opposite. Microstock could easily handle a 500 percent raise in prices and would probably lose 50% of their customers doing so. Net result is 250% more in income. When FT allowed me to price my images at 3 credits per image because of being in the highest contributor category, this gave me an instant raise of about 30% (going from 2 to 3 credits as minimum) with no visible loss of amount of pictures sold per day.

« Reply #43 on: January 02, 2008, 15:52 »
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As HSI points out - the two agencies that generate the most income for most people pay the lowest per sale.  But they both invest heavily in marketing to generate customers.  That benefits them, and it benefits the artist.

Istock does a huge amount of marketing and it costs them a lot and they pay us 20% or so. 

I understand the arguments for the 80/20 split - namely the intense marketing iStock puts forth which certainly generates sales for contributors. 

I have heard many people talk about how much marketing IS does, but I have never seen any proof of this.  Does anyone have facts about how much money IS is spending on marketing (vs the competitors)?  I'm just wondering why everyone seems to think that IS does so much marketing, but have never read any stats on this.

Just because they give us 20%, doesn't mean they are using the other 80% for marketing.  They could just be reaping the benefits.

« Reply #44 on: January 02, 2008, 15:56 »
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...I know from a backend source that the average subscribers only use about 15 - 30% of the full potential of their membership. This means that most pictures in a subscription sell at a 5-6USD price-point in average, giving us about 35 cents in commission. A bottom-line commission of about 5 percent. Even if I was totally wrong and every subscriber actually downloaded the double of what I have heard, the commission would still only be 10%.

I don't know if that is a good estimation.  Perhaps your source only downloads 15-30% but I am sure there are others downloading 100%.  I don't think there is a way to get a good estimate of the % commission we get from subscription sites.

« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2008, 15:59 »
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Quote
I have heard many people talk about how much marketing IS does, but I have never seen any proof of this.  Does anyone have facts about how much money IS is spending on marketing (vs the competitors)?  I'm just wondering why everyone seems to think that IS does so much marketing, but have never read any stats on this.

Just because they give us 20%, doesn't mean they are using the other 80% for marketing.  They could just be reaping the benefits.


istock usually has a full page advert on the inside cover of 'Photoshop Creative' in the UK.  I sometimes see shutterstock adverts and Crestock has a two page advert this month.  I am sure istock advertise in other magazines as well.

« Reply #46 on: January 02, 2008, 16:25 »
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Well of course I bow to your greater industry knowledge (and contacts) Yuri.

However I'm sure you understand the point I am making - % isn't everything.

I suspect that to get the best balance of % and investment for growth, the appropriate artist payment is somewhere around 40%, meaning that IS is too low and some others are too high.

If you are correct with your understanding of the subscription model and its profitability, this would explain why the other agencies (DT, 123 and StockXpert) have been so keen to jump on that bandwagon.

It would also mean that Shutterstock is considerably more profitable than I estimate.

« Reply #47 on: January 02, 2008, 17:02 »
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It would also mean that Shutterstock is considerably more profitable than I estimate.

iStock started from nothing and was sold to Getty for 50 million dollars a couple of years later. That's where the money is going to. Not to marketing, not to contributors, but to Getty that has to get its 50 million back - with interest. Getty doesn't win much, the current iStock people don't win much. The original founder(s) won much, and they count their greenbacks in the Bahamas with a big smile, Champagne and caviar on the table and a fat cigar in their mouth. It's that simple. The sweat of the Photoshoppers and shooters gets converted into caviar. Such is the magic of Capitalism. Correct me if I'm wrong; economy was never my best side  ;D
« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 17:09 by FlemishDreams »

« Reply #48 on: January 02, 2008, 17:55 »
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This benefits IS even more. By not using credits that you have paid for IS  gets to keep all the money instead of passing at least 20% of it on to the photographers.

Oh, bugger. I hadn't even thought of that! You're very right. I'll go spend money and close out my credits. Thanks for pointing that out. Just goes to show how different operations look from opposite sides of the fence.

Pixart, thanks, that's so nice of you. That site was done in 4 days for an emergency facelift deadline but we're going back to it this month, should be fun!

Bryan, that was three cents. You owe me a download credit!  :P But certainly, as a buyer I appreciate it when I'm heard as a customer, so thanks for being so cool about it.

DanP68, buyers will not normally come here because this site is very specifically not targeted at them. I only came here by accident, because people were visiting my site from here and the thread URL was turning up a lot in my logs. I was interested in what I learned but I wouldn't have ever even though to search that information out.

If you really do want to put the word out, probably the best strategy is for someone to register ethicalstockphototography.com or something, stick a blog in there and put information on it that is just targeted for buyers - who pays what, who is good to their artists, and the most highly read stuff: who stinks!

Gossip and porn: what the internet was made for.

« Reply #49 on: January 02, 2008, 18:07 »
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The thing is, that it is becoming increasingly easy to beat IS in income on other agencies. Maybe all the other agencies only amount to half the Alexa traffic of IS, but at twice the commission or more, they win in both income and ethics.

Maybe that's because everyone on the internet knows you're available on the cheap at places like SS.  You're part of your own problem, wouldn't you say?

« Reply #50 on: January 02, 2008, 18:15 »
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iStock started from nothing and was sold to Getty for 50 million dollars a couple of years later. That's where the money is going to. Not to marketing, not to contributors, but to Getty that has to get its 50 million back - with interest. Getty doesn't win much, the current iStock people don't win much. The original founder(s) won much, and they count their greenbacks in the Bahamas with a big smile, Champagne and caviar on the table and a fat cigar in their mouth. It's that simple. The sweat of the Photoshoppers and shooters gets converted into caviar. Such is the magic of Capitalism. Correct me if I'm wrong; economy was never my best side  ;D

So very true.  However, it appears that the sweat of the photoshoppers in this case is totally voluntary (i.e., we were not forced to join at gunpoint and we won't starve without micro, I hope) :D

And I do agree with Hatman---I would rather have 20% of 8000 downloads on IS than no downloads at all by not being on Istock.  Again, nobody is forcing me to stay at Istock or at any other microstock agency.  I just wish there was a way in reality to persuade them to up their base commission.   Sometimes exclusivity is tempting....and most of the time it's not.

« Reply #51 on: January 02, 2008, 18:34 »
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I know from a backend source that the average subscribers only use about 15 - 30% of the full potential of their membership. This means that most pictures in a subscription sell at a 5-6USD price-point in average, giving us about 35 cents in commission. A bottom-line commission of about 5 percent. Even if I was totally wrong and every subscriber actually downloaded the double of what I have heard, the commission would still only be 10%.

Sounds about right. Just like retail gift vouchers \ tokens etc get given as presents but often don't get used. So the retailer wins twice.

Shutterstock is so cheap that I can certainly believe that the vast majority of independent designers would never get anywhere near their maximum download limit. Even given that offices and teams certainly share the accounts unofficially without taking out multi seat subscriptions.

Pleased to see Getty and IS looking to take stock towards sustainable pricing.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2008, 18:37 by AAC6D63 »

DanP68

« Reply #52 on: January 03, 2008, 01:10 »
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The thing is, that it is becoming increasingly easy to beat IS in income on other agencies. Maybe all the other agencies only amount to half the Alexa traffic of IS, but at twice the commission or more, they win in both income and ethics.

Maybe that's because everyone on the internet knows you're available on the cheap at places like SS.  You're part of your own problem, wouldn't you say?


I would think the most obvious reason Yuri can outperform through other agencies is due to the IS upload limits imposed on non-exclusives.  At the rate he churns out new material, his portfolio can grow considerably faster at other sites.

« Reply #53 on: January 03, 2008, 02:06 »
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Leaving my crazy teenage girlishness aside for the moment, I would characterise [sic]what I was doing in that post as providing feedback for LO rather than complaining.
I'm glad to see that was a stylized exercise in creative writing. I'm also glad to see this thread brought out the heavy hitters (yuri and sjlocke). Though I'm still trying to figure out why the zymmetrical guy decided to post in a thread that had nothing to do with zymm.

What yuri said about SS's subscription based model confirmed my suspicions that contributors there get paid a worse percentage than most thought.

My question for the heavy hitters and others is whether you believe the IS price increase will yield diminishing marginal returns. In other words will the percentage price increase cause an equal revenue increase, a smaller revenue increase, or will revenue possibly go down?

« Reply #54 on: January 03, 2008, 02:17 »
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Quote from: yingyang
What yuri said about SS's subscription based model confirmed my suspicions that contributors there get paid a worse percentage than most thought.

Why?  How can Yuri have enough data to know this?  I think the only people who know how much commission we make with shutterstock are the shutterstock management.  It would be nice if they told us:)  They do post here sometimes and a rough figure would do.

« Reply #55 on: January 03, 2008, 03:17 »
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I'm not sure "Ethics" really come into this.  After all many of us sell the same picture at many different prices (some places size matters some it doesn't).  Some customers might not consider that particularly ethical.

I just look at it like this.  I am letting iStock try and sell my picture for between  $.23 and $1.35  depending on size and Shutterstock sell the same picture in all sizes for $.25.  Do I really care what iStock or Shutterstock makes on it?  What I really care about is whether they sell them at all so that my effort in providing them is rewarded with an amount I consider profitable.  fred 

« Reply #56 on: January 03, 2008, 04:12 »
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Right, I would not care to much about ethics.... You can buy the same pair of shoes for 50 $ while in another store they might cost 75 $. You can go to the internet and use these surch-engines which tell you where to get the best price for a computer, for a camera - and you'll see a huge range of different prices... The same trip to Mexico that you just booked might have cost you 50% less in another travel agency.

I have some images in german stock sites, where they are more expensive than on the US sites  (especially if you consider the exchange rates) But it seems that some german customers rather pay more than go to the cheaper companies. Maybe just because it is more convenient for them to use their native language - but it is their choice.

DanP68

« Reply #57 on: January 03, 2008, 05:18 »
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I'm not sure "Ethics" really come into this.  After all many of us sell the same picture at many different prices (some places size matters some it doesn't).  Some customers might not consider that particularly ethical.

 ???

So if The Simpsons Movie DVD is available at Wal-Mart, and Target, as well as Best Buy, all at different prices, then something unethical is going on?  I don't follow that argument at all.

« Reply #58 on: January 03, 2008, 06:53 »
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It's not the just the fact that there is a difference in price - prices differ on just about everything - it is the magnitude of the price difference.  I think you will be hard pressed to find the same DVD on sale for $10 and $50 (or even more if we want to talk about RM image differences) at different stores.

And I am not saying there is anything unethical about it - I am pretty much a Caveat Emptor kinda guy - but customers might find it as exploitive as photographers might find a 20% commission.   Where you stand depends on where you sit.  fred

« Reply #59 on: January 03, 2008, 09:33 »
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Quote from: yingyang
What yuri said about SS's subscription based model confirmed my suspicions that contributors there get paid a worse percentage than most thought.

Why?  How can Yuri have enough data to know this?  I think the only people who know how much commission we make with shutterstock are the shutterstock management.  It would be nice if they told us:)  They do post here sometimes and a rough figure would do.


Ha Ha!!!  Does anyone think the SS management is even going to give us a little hint at what our real percentage is on their site??  No way, they want to keep us dumb and happy, ignorance is bliss, so don't look for them to make an appearance here or anywhere else with regards to a real percentage quote, rough or otherwise.  ;D

I would trust Yuri's guesstimate over most anyone else's, though.

« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2008, 10:45 »
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It's not the just the fact that there is a difference in price - prices differ on just about everything - it is the magnitude of the price difference.  I think you will be hard pressed to find the same DVD on sale for $10 and $50 (or even more if we want to talk about RM image differences) at different stores.

And I am not saying there is anything unethical about it - I am pretty much a Caveat Emptor kinda guy - but customers might find it as exploitive as photographers might find a 20% commission.   Where you stand depends on where you sit.  fred
But - when it comes to dvd's - Walmart will buy 100,000 and Big Dan's Video Drive-In will buy 3.  There will certainly be a price difference, or a huge difference in "commission".  I hope that an agency that only gives 20/30%can spend more on promotion.

I have been very happy with DT lately.  They give 50% and for me, were within top last month by a couple bucks.

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #61 on: January 03, 2008, 11:54 »
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Quote from: yingyang
What yuri said about SS's subscription based model confirmed my suspicions that contributors there get paid a worse percentage than most thought.

Why?  How can Yuri have enough data to know this?  I think the only people who know how much commission we make with shutterstock are the shutterstock management.  It would be nice if they told us:)  They do post here sometimes and a rough figure would do.

Even based on common sense you can get this estimate. You do not need to be the SS management to figure this out.

Try to imagine yourself maxing out an SS membership, every day, no weekends etc. and see what percentage you actually end up with. I would estimate that a consistent effort to max out ones membership would only be at 80-85 percent or so of the full potential. Then count in all the people that dont max out their membership, and since we (the photographers) sell way less in the weekends about one third of the sales on a normal workday this indicates that buying patterns on SS are similar to those on other agencies, again indicating that people in fact DO NOT max out or come even close to maxing out their membership if so the download count would be the same on working days as in the weekends. Do you follow my argument?

My estimate: that a subscription buyer uses about 15-30 percent of the full potential can hardly be incorrect. The ration between weekdays and weekends tells us that at least two third of the members are not maxing out (at 80-85 percent) and are probably just downloading when they need pictures.

An optimistic estimate would be that subscription buyer uses about 30 percent of the full potential, but a realistic estimate would probably be lower, leaving us the photographers with one of the lowest commissions in the industry.

I still submit my pictures to subscription sites but just not at full res. The low net-commision in subscrition based stock selling is just a fact of the industry and something one can live with or not.

« Reply #62 on: January 03, 2008, 12:10 »
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Hopefully we will get another raise this year.  ;)

« Reply #63 on: January 03, 2008, 15:26 »
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Quote from: yingyang
What yuri said about SS's subscription based model confirmed my suspicions that contributors there get paid a worse percentage than most thought.

Why?  How can Yuri have enough data to know this?  I think the only people who know how much commission we make with shutterstock are the shutterstock management.  It would be nice if they told us:)  They do post here sometimes and a rough figure would do.

Even based on common sense you can get this estimate. You do not need to be the SS management to figure this out.

Try to imagine yourself maxing out an SS membership, every day, no weekends etc. and see what percentage you actually end up with. I would estimate that a consistent effort to max out ones membership would only be at 80-85 percent or so of the full potential. Then count in all the people that dont max out their membership, and since we (the photographers) sell way less in the weekends about one third of the sales on a normal workday this indicates that buying patterns on SS are similar to those on other agencies, again indicating that people in fact DO NOT max out or come even close to maxing out their membership if so the download count would be the same on working days as in the weekends. Do you follow my argument?

My estimate: that a subscription buyer uses about 15-30 percent of the full potential can hardly be incorrect. The ration between weekdays and weekends tells us that at least two third of the members are not maxing out (at 80-85 percent) and are probably just downloading when they need pictures.

An optimistic estimate would be that subscription buyer uses about 30 percent of the full potential, but a realistic estimate would probably be lower, leaving us the photographers with one of the lowest commissions in the industry.

I still submit my pictures to subscription sites but just not at full res. The low net-commision in subscrition based stock selling is just a fact of the industry and something one can live with or not.


I don't see how you can work out much from the weekend data.  These people might be downloading a high percentage on week days.  It is a big presumption that because they don't download their max at the weekends, they only use 15-30 percent of their full potential downloads for the entire week.

Because the prices are so low with SS, I don't think the buying patterns are like the other sites.  People buy just about anything I upload there.  This doesn't happen on other sites.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 15:28 by sharpshot »

« Reply #64 on: January 03, 2008, 19:19 »
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I have a designer friend whose agency has a subscription with SS and I know for sure they don't download anything they don't have an immediate use for it, usually 4-5 images of the same kind to prepare roughs and mock-ups.

Professionals have better things to do than wasting time browsing images they don't need for the job they have to do (usually with pressing schedules), it would cost them a lot more money than the wasted subscription capacity. Think about it.

I'm not saying that none will use his subscription to the full limit, but probably they are hobbyist, bloggers and the Pa and Ma that also use microstock sites. Knowing the customer base percentages would be very useful indeed.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 19:22 by ale1969 »

« Reply #65 on: January 03, 2008, 21:34 »
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A week ago I read Robert Kiyosaki book about financial and bussiness, after read this topic I just realize that microstock agency use photographer as their bussiness leverage just like RK said.
Leverage is very important in bussines strategy, do you thing (as photographer) the microstock agency is your bussiness leverage? if not, how to make microstock to be photographer bussiness leverage?

maybe I know the answer...

« Reply #66 on: January 03, 2008, 22:46 »
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Yuri may have a point as to how many DL SS customers make, but his arithmetic is wrong.
A subscription costs $199 for one month.
For that, you can DL up to 750 images.
Let's say you take Yuri's lowest guess, 15%.
That means you DL 112 images in a month.
$199 /112 = $1.78 per image, NOT $5/$6.

If you take more than 15%, you pay less per image.
If you take a subscription for more than one month, you pay less.
So if Yuri is correct, the least subscribers pay for an image is $1.78.
We get 30 cents, which is 17%.
Obviously, the more a subscriber DL's, the higher is our per centage.

It's that time of year for stats, so I took a look at ours, and was surprised at my results.

I separated SS from all the other sites, and calculated the average amount per DL for the other sites, against SS payout:-

2005  All sites except SS, average per DL   39 cents
          Shutterstock                                       20 cents - just over half  :)

2006  All sites except SS, average per DL    54 cents
          Shutterstock                                        26 cents - just under half :(

2007 All sites except SS, average per DL      83 cents
         Shutterstock                                          31 cents - a lot less than half  :o


So, Shutterstock is definitely falling behind on returns per DL.  I was very surprised to get these results. Has anyone else got similar?

Linda
 










« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 22:56 by Travelling-light »

DanP68

« Reply #67 on: January 03, 2008, 23:44 »
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Good breakdown Linda.  It is still rather sobering though, even with a more optimistic projection.

I concur with your statistics.  My average earnings/dl at iStock was about 63 cents, and at Dreamstime about 67 cents.  Shutterstock came in around 29 cents.  All numbers include EL sales.

On the other hand however, SS more than doubled iStock in average DL/month over this time frame.  How do your statistics show the rate of downloads moving as an industry comparison?  If the earnings per sale at SS is losing ground, then they had better be lengthening their lead in sales per month. 

« Reply #68 on: January 03, 2008, 23:52 »
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Yuri may have a point as to how many DL SS customers make, but his arithmetic is wrong.
A subscription costs $199 for one month.
For that, you can DL up to 750 images.
Let's say you take Yuri's lowest guess, 15%.
That means you DL 112 images in a month.
$199 /112 = $1.78 per image, NOT $5/$6.
Here's the problem with your math Linda. SS keeps the $199 period. So any non-used downloads becomes retained earnings that would otherwise be distributions to contributors. It's the difference between the subscription model and the pay as you go model. To compare IS (the lowest percentage payer for non-exclusives) and SS you have to consider that if they were equal SS would have to distribute 20% of it's subscription income to the contributors (i.e. $38.8 per subscription). If people are in fact downloading 112 images per subscription then contributors should be getting $0.346 per download. The fact that they're not tells you that SS pays less than even IS.

Also, we know for a fact that people don't download anywhere close to the amount allowed per subscription from many reasons. One is that if they did then the brake even payout for SS would be $.26 per download (not including expenses). Also, it's a daily limit rather than a total monthly limit at SS set at 25/day. Since most people don't work on weekends and most of the clients at SS are real business clients and not mom&pop operations, 8 days per month or 200 downloads aren't used just because of the weekends. I don't think Yuri's guess is low, I think it's right on.

P.S. my average per download at IS (adjusted to exclude exclusive bonus) is now $.96.

« Reply #69 on: January 04, 2008, 00:31 »
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Dan, we have spent a lot of time travelling and haven't uploaded evenly, so it's hard to compare.
We have uploaded to both pretty steadily most of this year, and both sites finished the year within a few dollars of each other in total earnings.
With IS announcing another price rise, SS could fall even further behind this year, unless of course IS have overcooked things and lose business. But at this point, who knows?

Yinyang, if you look again, you will see my maths accounts for SS keeping the whole $199.
You are doing very well on IS,  our average is 77 cents :)
Linda

« Reply #70 on: January 04, 2008, 03:30 »
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Yinyang, if you look again, you will see my maths accounts for SS keeping the whole $199.
You are doing very well on IS,  our average is 77 cents :)
Linda
You're right, I just look at it a different way.

As for my average, I think it's because the images that do sell in my portfolio are mainly those that would be best suited for the whole image use rather than just as part of a compilation. I've noticed that my isolated shots sell smaller versions more often. In other words I'm sacrificing quantity. I think I might actual start selling lots of isolated shots now that I got fluid mask for Christmas. I'm not a photographer by trade, nor am I good at photoshop. I got into micro on a whim because a client had me investigating it, but I'm going to make a push this year to get an actual portfolio.

Yuri_Arcurs

  • One Crazy PhotoManic MadPerson
« Reply #71 on: January 04, 2008, 07:07 »
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Yuri may have a point as to how many DL SS customers make, but his arithmetic is wrong.
A subscription costs $199 for one month.
For that, you can DL up to 750 images.
Let's say you take Yuri's lowest guess, 15%.
That means you DL 112 images in a month.
$199 /112 = $1.78 per image, NOT $5/$6.

If you take more than 15%, you pay less per image.
If you take a subscription for more than one month, you pay less.
So if Yuri is correct, the least subscribers pay for an image is $1.78.
We get 30 cents, which is 17%.
Obviously, the more a subscriber DL's, the higher is our per centage.

It's that time of year for stats, so I took a look at ours, and was surprised at my results.

I separated SS from all the other sites, and calculated the average amount per DL for the other sites, against SS payout:-

2005  All sites except SS, average per DL   39 cents
          Shutterstock                                       20 cents - just over half  :)

2006  All sites except SS, average per DL    54 cents
          Shutterstock                                        26 cents - just under half :(

2007 All sites except SS, average per DL      83 cents
         Shutterstock                                          31 cents - a lot less than half  :o


So, Shutterstock is definitely falling behind on returns per DL.  I was very surprised to get these results. Has anyone else got similar?

Linda
 

Your numbers are true! I would hate to think that Jon is just trying to pull out as much profit out of SS as possible. My income on shutterstock is at a stand-still, and thats even when uploading more then 400 images per month. The falling behind on returns per DL really shows these days.

Last year SS put up prices with almost 100 percent and put up commission with 25 percent, which was probably enough to maintaing a status qou in income but not progress.  Since then I have not really had any progress that is comparable to that of the other agencies I am with.

From being my number one earner, SS is now my third and soon to be forth :(
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 07:09 by Yuri_Arcurs »

« Reply #72 on: January 04, 2008, 07:44 »
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My earnings are stable on SS too.  All the other sites increase when I upload more.  It is the heavy bias for new images that seems to cause this.  In a way, I like this, as new images can take a long time to sell on other sites but I don't like uploading lots and not seeing an increase in earnings.

I wish SS had tried harder with their per-photo-sale site or included per-photo-sales in their subscription site.

If those with big portfolios see a flattening of sales, SS must be losing out too.  They should be able to come up with something to improve this.  I like the lucky oliver sidebar and SS could implement something like this for images that sell a lot initially but stop when they are older.

Perhaps we should start a thread in the forum over there with some ideas?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 07:47 by sharpshot »

« Reply #73 on: January 04, 2008, 07:45 »
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duplicate post.

DanP68

« Reply #74 on: January 04, 2008, 07:48 »
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Sharpshot -

Expect to be shot down by the true believers.   ;D 

They have to raise commissions significantly this spring.  In light of the forthcoming price increases at iStock, it would be disgraceful to keep commissions the same or only bump them slightly.  They could also ramp subscription prices too, or keep the package price the same but lower the available downloads per package.

After you bring this up in the SS forums, make sure you head over to the iS forums to suggest a reasonable commission for non-exclusives.  It should go well, I would think.

« Reply #75 on: January 04, 2008, 08:56 »
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Here is my 6 days experience with SS. In 6 days SS surpassed 123rf, Fotolia and Bigstock by money earned. On those 3 sites I have been 2.5 months. I have uploaded 193 files that were approved to SS. On those 3 sites I have around 300-400 images each. It seams that SS favors  not only new photos, but also proportion of newly uploads to the size of porfolio.

vhpoto

« Reply #76 on: January 04, 2008, 11:33 »
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I read somewhere - might have been here - so I don't know if I'm just spreading a myth here - but it was stated that SS favors new contributors in search results.   This inspires contributors to quickly upload everything they have.  I was totally impressed with the way SS took off...

I thought it was just a December thing, but my downloads crashed.   I had been uploading since March, so my 6 month newness should have expired in September.  They haven't picked up yet in 08 either.  My new uploads haven't hit the search yet so we'll see what happens going forward.  I'm afraid my new uploads will appear on the weekend now, which may be as helpful as not appearing at all.

« Reply #77 on: January 04, 2008, 13:02 »
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I don't think SS favors new contributors, it is just that all their images are new and the search is heavily biased towards new images.

DanP68

« Reply #78 on: January 04, 2008, 17:49 »
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In the interest of full disclosure in this thread, I will not be closing down my iStock account at this time.

In the past 24 hours I have talked to 2 iStock admins.  The first contacted me, and showed genuine concern for my issue with the commission rate.  While I was not told that the rate would be changing, I did get the impression that it would be higher a year or two down the road.  It meant a lot to me to be contacted regarding my concerns, and not simply brushed aside. 

The second admin I contacted directly.  He/she helped me re-activate some files, and essentially got my portfolio back into working order.  I still have quite a few files de-activated which were good sellers, but I will deal with those when there is more time.

I remain uncomfortable about the 20% commission structure.  However, some valid issues have been raised in this thread, and others, regarding subscription plans.  In the end, I wasn't as sure of my position as I had originally felt.  Apparently pondering this for the last 2 months was not enough.   :P 

The past week has been spent gearing new material toward the other sites I contribute to, and I will continue to do so.  Until I think about this further, I will continue to direct my efforts in their direction.  When I feel more comfortable with the iStock commission structure, I will become more active.  At least this way I do not burn the bridge between iStock and my portfolio, and I buy myself more time to think things through.

Once again, I appreciate the varying opinions and the level of honesty and concern from the other posters in this thread.  Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

« Reply #79 on: January 04, 2008, 17:52 »
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Good decision Dan.

« Reply #80 on: January 04, 2008, 18:51 »
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Now... the burning question we all want to know.....

Dan.  Why did Istock contact you?  Was it an "exit interview" or are they reading this thread?

« Reply #81 on: January 04, 2008, 19:11 »
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I don't think SS favors new contributors, it is just that all their images are new and the search is heavily biased towards new images.

I would agree with you Sharpshot...to a degree.  I just came from checking my sales for today at SS..    Low and behold, another EL... this on a picture that I uploaded on 4/17/07... and never sold before.  I still get the views and I'm still selling stuff well over a year,  year and a half old. Still selling pix out of my very first batch at SS.  I don't feel like I'm being edged out..
       SS  continues to be my #2 money makers... if this keeps up, it will gain back 1st from  IS  this month. 
   On the other hand, with SS  I continue to only upload a few pix at a time, twice or so a week. ...   who knows if that really is a factor..... does it make a difference, is it keeping me 'fresh'?? don't know    8)=tom
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 19:13 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #82 on: January 05, 2008, 11:12 »
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I agree that there split is pitiful a minimum 30/70 would be better considering that even with the price increase we still make more per image on most other sites. We have chosen not to upload any new work until split increases and an FTP upload system is in place.

« Reply #83 on: January 11, 2008, 17:14 »
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Now... the burning question we all want to know.....

Dan.  Why did Istock contact you?  Was it an "exit interview" or are they reading this thread?

Just as an FYI, they would be reading this thread.  It will turn up in their referrer logs, plus anyone in marketing over there worth their salt will have a vanity feed set up with Google Alerts and more extensive monitoring services. Less for snooping, more for PR disaster avoidance. When people are talking about you, you need to know about it because things - particularly bad things - spread very fast online.

Disclosure: I work in marketing and PR for my day job, and as of a few days ago (but after my letter to LO and after my previous posts in this thread) I blog for LuckyOliver.

« Reply #84 on: January 11, 2008, 17:53 »
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Now... the burning question we all want to know.....

Dan.  Why did Istock contact you?  Was it an "exit interview" or are they reading this thread?

Just as an FYI, they would be reading this thread. 

As a matter of full disclosure Dan ought to have also said that this was not the only place he posted, so it may not have been this thread they were reading!

vonkara

« Reply #85 on: January 11, 2008, 18:14 »
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Now... the burning question we all want to know.....

Dan.  Why did Istock contact you?  Was it an "exit interview" or are they reading this thread?
I also want to know that... Do there's Istock spy?

« Reply #86 on: January 11, 2008, 23:44 »
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Just as an FYI, they would be reading this thread.  It will turn up in their referrer logs, plus anyone in marketing over there worth their salt will have a vanity feed set up with Google Alerts and more extensive monitoring services. Less for snooping, more for PR disaster avoidance. When people are talking about you, you need to know about it because things - particularly bad things - spread very fast online.

People, the admins are just ... people.  They read blogs and boards and stuff.  One of them probably just came across the post in one of many places.

« Reply #87 on: January 12, 2008, 02:26 »
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I would imagine that it would be very foolish of istock not to have someone nominated to monitor forums where microstock in general and istock in particular are discussed, if they want to keep an ear to the wind of public opinion.

DanP68

« Reply #88 on: January 12, 2008, 10:41 »
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Now... the burning question we all want to know.....

Dan.  Why did Istock contact you?  Was it an "exit interview" or are they reading this thread?

Just as an FYI, they would be reading this thread. 

As a matter of full disclosure Dan ought to have also said that this was not the only place he posted, so it may not have been this thread they were reading!


This is true.  I posted a similar thread to the Micropayment Yahoo message group.  I agree with Sabrina however.  They likely read both, since both are followed by a large amount of contributors.

« Reply #89 on: January 12, 2008, 13:43 »
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I suppose most sites (if not all) have someone keeping an eye on forums (MSG and others).  Some are clear about it, like Steve-Oh or Zymmetricaldotcom, others are members who have some connection with the site (reviewers), and many possibly only lurk without us never knowing their connection.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #90 on: January 12, 2008, 13:52 »
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I remember sometime last year someone (who's name I won't bring up) was asked privately if he wouldn't rather close his account at SS over something he said here.   

Can't remember what it was over - but I do remember that he hadn't posted anything malicious or that I personally found negative.  We need to listen to his advice to post with caution. 

« Reply #91 on: January 12, 2008, 16:45 »
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I may be wrong, but if you close your account with some of these microstock agencies then don't they reserve the right to still sell your images? So if you close your account with an agency then you are letting them sell your images and keep all of the money. Maybe it's just certain agencies. I think that Zazzle.com operates that way.

« Reply #92 on: January 12, 2008, 18:22 »
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I may be wrong, but if you close your account with some of these microstock agencies then don't they reserve the right to still sell your images? So if you close your account with an agency then you are letting them sell your images and keep all of the money. Maybe it's just certain agencies. I think that Zazzle.com operates that way.
I think that's unusual. Closing an account means no portfolio for most agencies! With RF you always own the rights.

« Reply #93 on: January 12, 2008, 18:40 »
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Whenever I go to the istockphoto site, I watch the connecting bar at the bottom left of the Firefox screen. It goes to istock, then to google-analytics. Gee, I wonder why? By the way, istock isn't the only site that monitors you.

« Reply #94 on: January 12, 2008, 19:19 »
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Whenever I go to the istockphoto site, I watch the connecting bar at the bottom left of the Firefox screen. It goes to istock, then to google-analytics. Gee, I wonder why? By the way, istock isn't the only site that monitors you.

As a web designer at times I'd say it's pretty stupid NOT to have google analytics on your site.

« Reply #95 on: January 15, 2008, 21:59 »
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Quote
If you are correct with your understanding of the subscription model and its profitability, this would explain why the other agencies (DT, 123 and StockXpert) have been so keen to jump on that bandwagon.
I don't know how long many of you have been doing microstock, but FYI 123 didn't jump on the bandwagon, they actually started out as a pure subscription site like Shutterstock. Since they started selling on a per picture basis as well, my income on 123 has increased considerably there,  and most of it is per image sales. If 123 can do it I wonder why  Shutterstock hasn't been successful with per image sales?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2008, 23:07 by marcopolo »


 

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