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Author Topic: Dropping The Crown?  (Read 19484 times)

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shudderstok

« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2014, 10:03 »
+1


Anyway, everyone has to walk his or her path. And whatever you do, it is always hard work.

and that sums it up pretty correctly jasmine. it's always been hard work and always will be. that all said, i think microstock put a lot of people under the illusion that it was all a walk in the park.


« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2014, 10:07 »
+10
You forgot to mention the Microstock deal, the Getty Google deal, the new subs plan without RC credits on istock, the cancellation of choosing 20% for Getty, the unlimited flood of mediocre images coming in, the risk of getting kicked out with just 30 days notice if you are too vocal or ask too many questions, etc... etc ;)...in short all sites, including istock and Getty have problems and dramas. Except maybe SS, the drama factor there seems to be very low.

I understand that some people are reluctant to exchange the devil they know for many unknown other hounds of terror...but for me the freedom was worth it. Unless they all mess up at the same time, which I believe is unlikely, it is much easier for me to just focus on my work.

Michael also mentioned that in his article, that upon going indie his stress level dropped remarkably. And for me stress blocks creativity.

Again, if you prefer to be fully artist exclusive good for you. I certainly enjoyed being exclusive for many years.

But from what I have learned and seen on all the new sites, I would never go artist exclusive again. Exclusive images, yes please. And if istock offered this as a third option, I would send them exclusive content as well. Just like for westend,stocksy or Fotolia.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 10:12 by cobalt »

« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2014, 10:09 »
+1


Anyway, everyone has to walk his or her path. And whatever you do, it is always hard work.

and that sums it up pretty correctly jasmine. it's always been hard work and always will be. that all said, i think microstock put a lot of people under the illusion that it was all a walk in the park.

Oh the party was fun!!! Thousands of dollars for green grass and blue skies...and now we are back to reality. But I still love this job and wouldnt want to do anything else. :)

« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2014, 10:15 »
+3
My experience is old - I left exclusivity in June 2011 - and in addition to the differences in portfolio and exclusive experience, a lot has changed in the last three years, so old experiences are less relevant.

It took me 18 months to match my peak iStock exclusive earnings - Oct - Dec 2012 matched Oct - Dec 2010.

Some caveats: i was indie from fall 2004 to Aug 2008 and had my account at SS from before, so I didn't have to start at 25 cents; I had left Vetta and never submitted to Getty so I wasn't losing high priced downloads. On the other side of things, Fotolia wouldn't have me back (because of my prior organizing efforts with their intro of subscriptions) so I did the 18 month turnaround without one of the big 4.

I used to describe myself as one of the iStock middle class - not one of the high flyers, but a diamond exclusive, so not a peasant either :)

You won't be able to know up front how things will unfold. You can listen to other exclusives explain their view and some always-indies do the same. When the explainers are anonymous (regardless of their reasons for being so) you can't know if they're taking home $5K a year, $20K or $120K from stock photography - obviously if you're earning over $100K a year as an iStock exclusive, it's a ton harder to replace your earnings than for lower income levels.

It's true that you can't trust any of the agencies much - although Getty has the longest track record of hosing contributors, having started before the micros got big enough to get in on the act. I don't think there's a knight in shining armor anywhere out there at the moment.

If you're even thinking about becoming indie, work on your metadata (get it into the images and un-CV-ify it; people search for home and yard, not Residential Structure and Front or Back Yard)

« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2014, 10:17 »
+11
Walking away from Getty or iStock Exclusive is like leaving a wealthy, but abusive, manipulative and controlling spouse. Some continue to stay for financial security, some choose to be free, albeit poorer.

« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2014, 10:43 »
+5
I know I could get 3600 images up on all the sites in a week if I had to.

Good luck with that theory.

« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2014, 11:02 »
-2
.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2014, 11:05 »
+2
One thing which I didn't mention in my earlier post was that most, but not quite all, iStock contributors have been noting that their recent sales don't get looked at or bought. And if they do get bought, there's a curse of the download, where it actually goes down in the best match, below older files which haven't sold. So if people are hoping to grow, or even maintain, their income over the next few years, independence may be a more attractive option. I've looked at the ports of Diamonds and BDs who are still uploading new material, but have hardly any sales in their last hundreds of uploads.
There is also the huge price difference between indie and exclusive content, which is difficult to strategise round, as you never know when a new indie, with your specialty, is going to come in and undercut you.

« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2014, 11:10 »
+2
I know I could get 3600 images up on all the sites in a week if I had to.

Good luck with that theory.
If you drop exclusivity you have 30 days to get things ready.  Hopefully you have all your images keyworded before.  You can upload everything to all the sites in advance and then within that first week you should have nearly everything completed.

You can upload to some of the sites ahead of time, but not all. In particular, what you need is for it to be possible for your inspected images not to go on sale right away.

SS lets you opt your portfolio out so you can do that. For DT I had to have support suspend my account (what they do when investigating reports of copyright or plagiarism) - and I made sure I wasn't going to have some sort of black mark on the account as a result.

DT has upload limits (although at the moment they've raised them so high you'd be able to upload 3,600 except if you're a newbie). You'd be lucky to get a few hundred images through the inspection process in a month - it's very slow right now.

For those considering leaving exclusivity, I think it would make more sense to take advice from people who submit to sites other than iStock when planning how to submit to sites other than iStock

« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2014, 11:13 »
+1
I would think dropping your crown and your downloads on iStock will go up as your content gets cheaper. Of course you will be making less from both lower pricing on your files and a lower royalty rate. But you will be in a more price competitive level with your portfolio. That makes you more attractive to buyers. Who knows. If your downloads double or triple because of your new, lower pricing you might end up making about the same on iStock as an indie as you were as exclusive.

Also very good point about new files not selling on iStock. The future isn't so bright anymore. Shoot, upload, repeat seemed to stop working on iStock shortly after they removed upload limits. So if only old content is selling then it's only a matter of time before your income starts dropping on iStock to irreplaceable levels.

« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2014, 11:15 »
0
.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2014, 11:46 »
+9
No matter how you look at it, exclusives on iStock are bound to make less in the future than they are now. So when you compare what you make on other sites you have to factor in a declining iStock income. You can't compare it to old iStock sales figures but need to compare to declining future iStock income figures. Growth seems impossible on iStock now with new files not selling. So there isn't much upside. And many exclusives will be dropping a royalty rate level next year because they won't hit targets again this year and most likely iStock won't give everyone a free ride again for another year. So there is in itself a quantifiable fall in income from one year to the next. Then you have the declining monthly GI income. Everything is going down on all sides. And subs sales has got to really hurt sales too on higher priced exclusive content. Then old files get older and more seen by iStock buyers and eventually sell less and less. Indy contributors are taking away sales too from exclusives with their cheaper content. It's not so rosy anymore. Exclusives then have their "available from iStock only" content to be happy about. But is that what most buyer's really care about? If they did then would Shutterstock sell so many more files than iStock? On the other hand, if you move your iStock files to a whole bunch of other sites, then you have a whole bunch of new buyers looking at it. It's new stock again. It seems like a pretty obvious equation to me.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 11:48 by iStop »

« Reply #37 on: May 06, 2014, 11:52 »
+2
And the week after that, what do you do tickstock? Or a month later, or a year later? When the best match of the different agencies favors files from other weeks,other months,other years?

In total I have over 5000 files on my hard drives (I still have tons of older stuff I never uploaded to istock). And I am still producing new work on a low level every month.

Again, I am not in a race to upload as many files as possible. I want to make as much money as possible in a reliable,steady way longterm. Uploading "everything everywhere" will not take me there. I need to understand the different agencies and what sells on their individual markets first. I also need to understand their individual yearly cycles and many other things. I also had to apply to stocksy and westend61, I needed to hear about imagebrief and try it, learn about the video sites etc...

With just 300-700 files (plus istock) I am earning 35-50% of what I had before. I think I am doing extremely well. I see enough people with larger portfolios than me earning less.

But to each his own. I am sure there are others who upload all their files in the first week and are happy with their results as well.

Maybe it is best to just ignore my path and focus on what Michael did. If you ever went indie, you would probably want to follow his path. But then, you will never go indie, so it doesnt really matter what we do anyway. the more exclusives leave, the less competition you will have.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 11:55 by cobalt »

shudderstok

« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2014, 11:56 »
0
And the week after that, what do you do tickstock? Or a month later, or a year later? When the best match of the different agencies favors files from other weeks,other months,other years?

In total I have over 5000 files on my hard drives (I still have tons of older stuff I never uploaded to istock). And I am still producing new work on a low level every month.

Again, I am not in a race to upload as many files as possible. I want to make as much money as possible in a reliable,steady way longterm. Uploading "everything everywhere" will not take me there. I need to understand the different agencies and what sells on their individual markets first. I also need to understand their individual yearly cycles and many other things. I also had to apply to stocksy and westend61, I needed to hear about imagebrief and try it, learn about the video sites etc...

With just 300-700 files (plus istock) I am earning 35-50% of what I had before. I think I am doing extremely well. I see enough people with larger portfolios than me earning less.

But to each his own. I am sure there are others who upload all their files in the first week and are happy with their results as well.

Maybe it is best to just ignore my path and focus on what Michael did. If you ever went indie, you would probably want to follow his path. But then, you will never go indie, so it doesnt really matter what we do anyway. the more exclusives leave, the less competition you will have.

food for thought...

we are all making 100% of what we are making.

« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2014, 12:05 »
-2
.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

« Reply #40 on: May 06, 2014, 12:18 »
0
Surprisingly many of my old files from 2005 are doing very well. But it is other files than those that were bestsellers on istock. Some agencies sell people images much better than still life, others just seem to like my backgrounds, another agencies makes me most of the money with video...etc...

Older files have small sizes, because in the beginning I just had a 6MP camera. So that is the biggest problem with old files. But on the other hand I dont see that files with XL or XXXL sell more than those with 6 mp. Again, this might be different for other artist, this is just my personal experience.

So dont discount your old files, they might surprise you.

Obviously working with 6 or 8 different agencies, a mix of generic micro, stylish edited collections, macro and video is confusing, at least at the beginning. But I think I am getting there. Right now I just need results from Westend61, but because they have a mix of direct sales and distribution over their 200 partners, it will take a long time to get a proper feedback I can analyze.

I was also a very slow uploader on istock and getty. I spent a lot of time looking at the collection what is already there, what is missing, how can I do something new in a subject field that is full of images, where is a niche that is underrepresented. I know there are many people who are more talented than me, so I try to get ahead with detailed market research before I shoot. For me this has worked well and seems to be paying off now also.

I will never be a high volume producer. So I am sure it is possible to make much more money than me with higher uploading and production rates.

« Reply #41 on: May 06, 2014, 12:27 »
+7
Discussions like this on iStock exclusivity always seem to focus heavily on the risks involved in going independent, but not so much on the risks of staying exclusive.

I agree - it's definitely an individual choice based on each person's circumstances, but as per iStop's post, if people are seeing their sales at iStock in serious decline, and with signs that this will continue (given that it's now far more difficult to sell new work; to get content into S+ or Vetta; to get content across to GI, etc) it's more a case of trying to predict how much it might cost in the long term to remain exclusive with iStock vs how much it might cost to drop exclusivity and work with other companies.

It's whether to go for safety in numbers by spreading the risk more widely or to keep it all together with a company that's willing to frequently ignore the terms of their agreement with contributors, and do things like (pretty much) give away contributors' most high value work to Google for free distribution, then intimidate contributors to the extent that nobody is even willing to try to get answers about it in the forums.

My approach for the moment is to spend more time and effort on other sources of income in photography, and devote less effort on stock photography until hopefully a clearer picture emerges in time.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2014, 12:45 »
+3
Walking away from Getty or iStock Exclusive is like leaving a wealthy, but abusive, manipulative and controlling spouse. Some continue to stay for financial security, some choose to be free, albeit poorer.

Exactly.  And that's why I walked away from both....although I can't relate to the spouse analogy.... ;)

« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2014, 13:15 »
+4
Besides the unsubstantiated and hopeful promise that if you stay exclusive with iStock that you will make more money than if you go Indy, I am yet to see any logic evidence to support that notion. Meanwhile, there have been many logical reasons posed as to why there is a greater potential to earn more as an Indy at this point. Especially given all the reasons why income of exclusives on iStock is guaranteed to fall and if for no other reason than dropping royalty levels next year and a shrinking monthly GI bump. What is the notion that staying exclusive will make you more money even based on? That you are on a higher royalty percentage than if you are an Indy? That's not enough to stand on. If downloads keep declining on iStock for contributors as they have been, and many people have seen their downloads drop to 25% of what they were 3-4 years ago, then whether you are getting 15% or 35% of what could eventually become 0 downloads per month then your income on iStock will still be 0. Now that equation makes logical sense to me. So $1 earned on another site could then easily become more than you are earning on iStock if your downloads on your old stuff eventually goes to 0 because downloads on new stuff are generally already at 0. If this sounds a little too hard to fathom, over the top, or sensationalism then simply take the percentage factor by which your own downloads per month have gone down in the last 3-4 years and apply that declining factor to calculate your anticipated downloads per month over the next 3-4 years on iStock and where does that leave you? God bless those who still have faith in exclusivity.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 13:32 by iStop »

Dook

« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2014, 15:30 »
0

for me the biggest reasons of remaining exclusive on IS and being a house contributor at GI are quite simple, i am very well established in GI, and also well established in IS. i can't think of one reason i would want break up what i have. i also have no interest whatsoever in uploading to several sites as it is very time consuming trying to sort out each sites quirks. i like that i can shoot what i do, and send what i deem to be the better work to GI and can either flag it as RF or RM or let them decide for me. i like the fact that i can also send what i deem to be second rate work and submit it to IS and let it settle where it does, and if for whatever reason IS or GI decide it is to be on both sites then i can double dip. for me it is more important to maintain my lifestyle and be free to shoot what i want to shoot and spend less time uploading to several sites.


Excuse me for a bit off topic question.
Shudderstok, what is GI house contributor and how do you become one? Are you just sending your files via Vetta slot or is there some other deal? If it's just Vetta deal (no Exclusive+ option anymore), how do you get whatever you decide through inspections since they are very picky these days, especially after this Signature, Signature + thing?
Thanks!

no worries. GI house contributor basically means you signed a contract with GI directly and abide by those terms. i have been with GI since pretty much day one and thus have become a GI house photographer. i think at one point they were offering a select few from IS the option to become a GI house photographer as well but am not 100% sure of this, they did offer me but i declined as i was already with them so i did not pay much attention to the details. i think the only way to become a GI house contributor these days is to simply apply to GI and if they are confident in your work they will offer you a contract though i am not sure if it is a house contributor one or not. perhaps there are others on this forum that can offer you more insight. hope this answers a few of your questions.

Thank you for the valuable info, very kind of you!

MxR

« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2014, 16:30 »
+2
Exclusive killing the crown:

1. Before drop the crown, keyboard your photos and upload in all agencies will be interested

2 - when you finish your exclusivity you only have to give the button "submit for review" to the standby photos, yes you are in other agencies but with 0 active images (but 10000images waiting in the stock web unfinished images cloud with releases and actegories ready), same or other user name and respecting the exclusivity.

3 - do not pull the madness to kill the crown and then begin tagging and uploading photos. Make your plans carefully.

« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2014, 20:09 »
+3

For persepective:

From February to March Shutterstock saw an upswing of 94%. So if it dropped by 57% from April to March, I am on par with February and overall on a continuing upwards trend. In March I also earned more on SS with around 700 files than I did with 3600 files on istock.

I think a very tangible takeaway on all this from Cobalt on the big question if you can match your iStock exclusive income by going independent is that in March she earned more on Shutterstock with less than 25% of her portfolio online than she did on iStock with 100% of her portfolio online.

Granted she is at a much lower royalty rate right now on iStock than when she was exclusive, but I think we could fairly assume that if she uploaded all 3,600 of those images to Shutterstock that she would probably earn at least 50% from Shutterstock of what she was earning on iStock when was still exclusive.

That tells me that she should be able to replace 50% of her previous exclusive income by uploading all her images to one Indy site. And hopefully the other 50% can be made up from uploading all 3,600 images to Dreamstime, Fotolia, and 123RF.

« Reply #47 on: May 07, 2014, 00:08 »
+2

I think a very tangible takeaway on all this from Cobalt on the big question if you can match your iStock exclusive income by going independent is that in March she earned more on Shutterstock with less than 25% of her portfolio online than she did on iStock with 100% of her portfolio online.

Granted she is at a much lower royalty rate right now on iStock than when she was exclusive, but I think we could fairly assume that if she uploaded all 3,600 of those images to Shutterstock that she would probably earn at least 50% from Shutterstock of what she was earning on iStock when was still exclusive.

That tells me that she should be able to replace 50% of her previous exclusive income by uploading all her images to one Indy site. And hopefully the other 50% can be made up from uploading all 3,600 images to Dreamstime, Fotolia, and 123RF.

Not if she uploaded only her top sellers. 80% of my sales come from about 20% of my photos.

« Reply #48 on: May 07, 2014, 00:21 »
+2
Besides the unsubstantiated and hopeful promise that if you stay exclusive with iStock that you will make more money than if you go Indy, I am yet to see any logic evidence to support that notion. Meanwhile, there have been many logical reasons posed as to why there is a greater potential to earn more as an Indy at this point.
There's a reason why 9 of the top 10 exclusives from 6 years ago are still exclusive.  And of the 2 that switched spots, the non-excl turned excl was the one made by choice. There is I suppose, some evidence. That being said and to try to get back on topic, I do think the decision has a lot to do with your portfolio. Quality still life, editorial, on-white type of stock may do better as an indy, where as high volume quality lifestyle may do better as exclusive. Not saying they can't also do ok vice-versa. My 2 cents anyway.

« Reply #49 on: May 07, 2014, 00:42 »
+1
I think there are still plenty of reasons to keep exclusivity. If your images have good placement in the searches and especially if you have good sales with the higher priced collections you will take a huge hit leaving.  If you have a more generic port then you won't take nearly the hit leaving, and at some point unless istock turns things around your income will drop down to a small percent of what it was before anyway. You need to compare your income after a year not to what you made a year ago at IS, but to what you would make at IS now (which of course you won't know), but if you have dropped 20% every year for the last few years, you can expect that is likely what will happen next year. So if you lose 20% in the first year and then it starts going up - you win. It will be more work though, especially at first.

I think the top contributors are sort of locked into IS (or made special deals), so unless your income at IS continues to rise or you fall into that category, you have to at least think about giving up the crown. Maybe you choose not to, but at least looking at the options makes sense.

A while ago every time I started thinking about going exclusive IS would change the best match and my sales would drop 20-50% and I was glad for the sales at other sites.


 

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