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Author Topic: Considering Closing Account in 2008  (Read 34804 times)

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« 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.


 

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