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Author Topic: Dropping The Crown?  (Read 19441 times)

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« on: May 06, 2014, 00:55 »
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Hi - I am new here, but not new to iStock. I have been an iStock contributor for nearly 8 years and have been an exclusive contributor for most of that time. I am quite seriously thinking about dropping my crown now for the first time. What I am curious about is how people who have dropped the crown in the last couple of years are fairing as independent contributors at this point.

I have read some conjecture on the iStock site in the exclusive contributor forum about how remaining exclusive is the best way to go and how you won't be able to replace the income so easily as an independent, but that is all opinions coming from exclusive contributors who only know what it is like from the perspective of being exclusive. On the other hand, I have not seen any actual stories from people who have dropped the crown and as to how they are really doing.

What I did find though is an interesting ongoing blog post from an independent contributor who has been shooting and uploading since about 2005. His blog post tracks his total monthly income for nearly the last 10 years and shows how it has steadily increased year by year. I looked at his portfolio on a number of stock sites and learned he has a bit over 10,000 images online on the other 3 of the Big 4 sites, and only a small portfolio on iStock with only about 1,300 images on iStock. So iStock isn't and never has been a major source of his stock income it would appear, yet he seems to have done fine without it.

So his story is quite positive. The question is are there other success stories like this from independents who dropped the crown on iStock? And are they at least doing as good as they were on iStock or perhaps better or worse?

I would appreciate any real life feedback people might be willing to share.

Cheers to all,

Craig
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 08:01 by CraigMiller »


« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 02:22 »
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Hi Craig,

if you look around you will find many people reporting their story going indie. I think Michael was one of the fastest to have regained his full istock income, he did it in six months. But Michael was very well prepared and is in general an extremely well organized man and hard worker. You can find his blog here:

http://www.michaeljayfoto.com/talking-numbers/same-earnings-non-exclusive-from-istockphoto/

He was blogging his monthly income on a regular basis and just stopped doing that recently after proving he had reached his goals, so if you go back over that blog, youll get a good idea of what happened.

I went indie after the Getty Google deal last year and also terminated my Getty House contract at the same time. But this doesnt mean I am not interested in macro as well as micro. I have been blogging in short comments on my facebook page about my journey, but my info is not as complete or interesting as what Michael did.

I took a whole year to understand the market and didnt upload that much. So I only have betweenn 300 - 800 files on the new agencies. But I am glad that I took my time, because it helped me to understand what sells. I find that there are big differences in what kind of files become bestsellers, it is usually not the files that were bestsellers on istock.

Overall you have to remember the world out there is not waiting for you or your content. The indies have tremendously good artist who have been building large portfolios for years and have top search positions for their files. Your portfolio is coming in new so you have to fight your way in.

However, even with the small portfolio I have I am now overall at between 35% - 50% a month of my former exclusive earnings. This includes income from photos, videos and of course my indie income from 3600 files on istock.

So for such small portfolios, I think I am doing quite well and I am very glad I went indie. You have a lot more balance. There can be wild differences in monthly earnings, especially on sites like SS that offer a mix of very low subs income and very high extended license incomes (80 dollars, 28 dollars etc...) but the mix of different sites balances it all out.

I am also a member of stocksy and Westend61 and imagebrief, agencies that follow a higher price model. I also sell videos,mostly on pond5 and SS.

The most difficult thing to learn is what kind of content will sell where - high price or low price, high volume site or specialist niche etc...

The most important agencies for me are Shutterstock, stocksy, pond5,fotolia,dreamstime. On Westend I am too new to see results. And of course I still upload to istock.

I am also uploading to many of the smaller players, but the agencies mentioned are the most important for me. If anything, I would recommend to upload very regularly to SS and maybe to bundle the uploads into larger batches,instead of uploading 2 images a day.

And of course I would recommend applying to stocksy, if you are ready to work with an edited collection.

Good luck with your journey. You are not alone, there will be many more people going indie this year.

shudderstok

« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 02:44 »
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and i am at polar opposites to cobalt. she has a lot of valid points for sure, however those points work for her. for me the logic of dropping the exclusivity of IS or dropping being a GI house contributor makes no sense at all, but that is what works for me.
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.
i personally don't think there is a simple answer to your question. nobody shoots the same work, nobody has the same diligence in their work effort, nobody has the same strategy, and nobody has the same results.
i think as jasmine has pointed out above, what she does works best for her, i think she is nuts, but then what i am doing works best for me, and i bloody well know she thinks i am nuts :) so the solution is to do what works best for you, do what feels right for you and hope it works out for you. some people could drop the crown and fly, and others could drop the crown and flop.
whatever you choose - good luck with it.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2014, 03:25 »
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Be sure to pay special attention to the experience of people with similar ports to yours.
Certain subjects or geographical biases may not do as well as others on SS. It seems if you don't do well on SS, you might as well keep the crown. (However, things may well get much worse on iS with the new subs.)
You might also like to consider the acceptance whims of certain agencies, and the partner and other policies of certain agencies.
All of these can be found by reading around on here.
Good luck, whatever you decide.

Dook

« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2014, 03:37 »
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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!

shudderstok

« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2014, 03:52 »
+1

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.

« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2014, 07:36 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:30 by tickstock »

« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2014, 07:50 »
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However, even with the small portfolio I have I am now overall at between 35% - 50% a month of my former exclusive earnings. This includes income from photos, videos and of course my indie income from 3600 files on istock.

So for such small portfolios, I think I am doing quite well and I am very glad I went indie.
I know money isn't everything but making 35% of what you were, after a year of being independent, sounds really bad (not that 50% sounds much better).  I'm glad you feel good about your decision but those numbers are just to extreme for me to ignore.

Considering she is making that with 8% - 25% of her portfolio (300 - 800 out of 3600) uploaded to the other agencies that does not sound so bad...

« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2014, 07:56 »
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@Cobalt - Thank you for your very informative and well presented post. I am still a bit confused though why you haven't uploaded all 3,600 files to at least 3 or 4 of the other sites you are working with? I guess I am not sure I see the advantage of uploading what you have in small stages. Best wishes.

« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2014, 07:57 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:29 by tickstock »

« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2014, 08:05 »
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However, even with the small portfolio I have I am now overall at between 35% - 50% a month of my former exclusive earnings. This includes income from photos, videos and of course my indie income from 3600 files on istock.

So for such small portfolios, I think I am doing quite well and I am very glad I went indie.
I know money isn't everything but making 35% of what you were, after a year of being independent, sounds really bad (not that 50% sounds much better).  I'm glad you feel good about your decision but those numbers are just to extreme for me to ignore.

Considering she is making that with 8% - 25% of her portfolio (300 - 800 out of 3600) uploaded to the other agencies that does not sound so bad...
It's been a year.  Losing 50-65% or more of your income for one or two or three years is a big deal for some of us.   If my income was down by 65% for just one year I would be forced to do something else.

I agree, that is a significant hit.

What I wanted to point out: assuming that the rest of her portfolio will perform somewhat similar once uploaded, it looks as if she might be able to get back to old levels of income (or even more).

So this could be an example that going non-exclusive does not necessarily result in long term lower income.

« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2014, 08:08 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:29 by tickstock »

« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2014, 08:17 »
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I guess we have to hear what she says but your theory is she could be making a lot more but has chosen not to, for a year.  I know I could get 3600 images up on all the sites in a week if I had to.

You seem very efficient. Can I hire you as an uploader? ;)

« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2014, 08:18 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:29 by tickstock »

shudderstok

« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2014, 08:22 »
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I guess we have to hear what she says but your theory is she could be making a lot more but has chosen not to, for a year.  I know I could get 3600 images up on all the sites in a week if I had to.

You seem very efficient. Can I hire you as an uploader? ;)
Not that efficient, I would just work 12+ hours a day until it was done.

i'd say it makes more sense to feed the machine once to stay where you are, not thrice to try and catch up.

« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2014, 08:39 »
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i'd say it makes more sense to feed the machine once to stay where you are, not thrice to try and catch up.

I am actually starting to think that I don't like having all my eggs in one basket in case something goes wrong with my one agency. I am not saying the agency will ever fall apart, but they could do things to reduce income for individual contributors as they have done in the past. Royalty rate drops, offering subscription sales, no upload limits, unfavorable search indexing, deactivating files, etc.

I would actually feel much more secure earning the same amount of money per month from 4 different sources than just 1. And this way, if one of the 4 sources goes bad, you don't lose your entire stock photo income in one shot. So perhaps what Cobalt is doing for example is taking a step backward to take a step forward. Makes sense to me.

It's the same strategy that is always recommended for stock market investing. You never put all your money into one stock. You diversify your portfolio to spread the risk over a number of different stocks. So being diversified at this point with a multiple of agencies selling your images, seeing how iStock is making the model less and less appealing to exclusives as time goes on, sounds like perhaps a more secure way to go for the future.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 08:46 by CraigMiller »

Goofy

« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2014, 09:05 »
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"Dropping the crown"- more like the Crown of thorns being removed. Now you are free to join whatever agencies you desire. 

shudderstok

« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2014, 09:06 »
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i'd say it makes more sense to feed the machine once to stay where you are, not thrice to try and catch up.

I am actually starting to think that I don't like having all my eggs in one basket in case something goes wrong with my one agency. I am not saying the agency will ever fall apart, but they could do things to reduce income for individual contributors as they have done in the past. Royalty rate drops, offering subscription sales, no upload limits, unfavorable search indexing, deactivating files, etc.

I would actually feel much more secure earning the same amount of money per month from 4 different sources than just 1. And this way, if one of the 4 sources goes bad, you don't lose your entire stock photo income in one shot. So perhaps what Cobalt is doing for example is taking a step backward to take a step forward. Makes sense to me.

It's the same strategy that is always recommended for stock market investing. You never put all your money into one stock. You diversify your portfolio to spread the risk over a number of different stocks. So being diversified at this point with a multiple of agencies selling your images, seeing how iStock is making the model less and less appealing to exclusives as time goes on, sounds like perhaps a more secure way to go for the future.

yup makes total sense if that is what you want to make of the stock photo game. if you have it figured let us know.
i am just one of those boring dividend stock investors, not exciting by any means or even remotely sexy, but it's consistent, and when it all went south i stayed above water, and now that it has bounced back i am way ahead. but that is the nyse, nasdaq, tse, dax, IS, GI, SS, game.

« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2014, 09:17 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:29 by tickstock »

« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2014, 09:30 »
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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.

This month again SS is leading before istock, but it is still early for May.

If you have a small portfolio you will have wild swings, even more so when the earnings have a huge variance. It is just like having a portfolio on getty. One month you make several hundred dollars, the next month less than 5. But overall it balances out.

Again, my portfolios are small and I am not in a hurry. If you want to do it the fast way, have a look at what Michael did.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 09:33 by cobalt »

« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2014, 09:32 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:29 by tickstock »

« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2014, 09:34 »
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But then maybe you should focus on Michaels results. He did it in 6 months. So I suppose, so can others.

« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2014, 09:36 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2014, 09:41 »
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True, but how much of your new content is being moved to Getty? Is it still 20% of your new uploads that are getting into S+ and Vetta?

If it isnt, then what can you do? If your getty portfolio isnt being fed on a regular basis, then this income will drop over time,like on any other stock site.

If you really have good results with Getty and like working with them, then I think the artist that have a direct contract like shudderstock are at an advantage. At least they can keep feeding their macro portfolio whenever they want.

Anyway, everyone has to walk his or her path. And whatever you do, it is always hard work.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2014, 09:44 by cobalt »

« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2014, 09:47 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

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 »
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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 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2014, 11:05 »
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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 »
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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 »
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« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:28 by tickstock »

« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2014, 11:46 »
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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 »
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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 »
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« 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.

shudderstok

« Reply #50 on: May 07, 2014, 00:43 »
0
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.

i am still struggling where the benefit of dropping exclusivity makes sense - at least from my point of view. i'd drop from 35% to something like 18-20%. then i would lose all the extra royalties from GI and that is rather substantial in itself. then i would need to work 3-5 times harder to upload to as many sites in hope that i would make back what i just lost. and just judging by the poll to the right here, all of the reporting from all of the sites still falls very short of what exclusive reports, and it has been like that for years, so i am assuming there is a grain of truth to this poll. to each his own, but i have better things to do than spend my life uploading.
it boils down to whatever floats your boat and where you find your zen in the world of shooting stock.

« Reply #51 on: May 07, 2014, 02:46 »
+3

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.

This is where it gets interesting - my top sellers from istock are rarely top sellers on the new agencies. Dreamstime customers seem to like my traditional istock style most. On SS only two files that were regular sellers, but not my bestsellers made it into the current top 20.

I did upload a mix of what I hope are very nice/useful files from what I usually do - mostly seasonal images, lots of objects on white and some people shots. People didnt sell that well for me on istock, but they sell very well on SS. But not so much on Fotolia. I have lots of people shots I never processed, because the series never took of on istock. So maybe now they can start a new life on SS.

Hopefully all my files get their day in the sun by being spread over different agencies.

I dont know if 3600 files will give me 50% of my old istock exclusive earnings just from SS. But if the exclusive income keeps dropping and I keep uploading slowly and steadily, then maybe yes, they will.

Personally I believe that it is a combination of having your files in a good position in best match and your files in as many lightboxes as possible that give you the best steady income. Again a reason why I dont throw everything up in one week. It takes time to get noticed and bookmarked, so the steady weekly stream is necessary to keep attracting customers to my portfolio.

But I would definetly recommend to focus on SS first from the micros. I neglected them for a long time, because I thought they sell only subs. They dont.

Overall I think I will need around 3000 nice files (mix of old and new) to get close to my old exclusive income, keeping in mind that in 2012 my income was quite low because I had not been uploading regularly in a while. This will include video.

For full time living I would probably need 6-8000 like everyone else. But I still do other things, so my old 2012 istock exclusive income is my current target.

I will also be doing more lifestyle, because this is what is interesting for macro and what seems to sell best in my portfolio on SS.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 03:01 by cobalt »

« Reply #52 on: May 07, 2014, 11:39 »
+3
Thank you again Cobalt for all your great input and for sharing your experiences with us. I was hoping some other people would also chime in on their actual experiences too after dropping their crown. Cheers.

« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2014, 11:50 »
-3
.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 21:27 by tickstock »

« Reply #54 on: May 12, 2014, 15:58 »
+4
I think diamonds and black diamonds have a hard time dropping the crown because the stronger you are on the iS the harder it is to leave exclusivity even if your income has dropped by 40-50%. For example, if you used to earn 2000$ a month and now you're down to 1200$ it is still quite a lot of money even though you had to change your lifestyle and cut the expenses. Going from 1200$ to just 500 or so as non-exclusive would be a serious no-no.

So, to sum it up, the weaker and smaller you are on the iS, the easier it is to go indie and vice versa. Especially if your family depends on the istock income. That complicates this issue so much more. But on the other hand you can bite the bullet and just go indie for the sake of challenge. But you'd probably have to work 3x as hard to achieve something you had in the past. I know I didn't help you much, but it's just my current view. Of course, if things go really bad for iS, other options will have to be considered. I guess this year, 2014. will be crucial for iS. They are firing on all cylinders and do all they can to stay current in the market.

« Reply #55 on: May 12, 2014, 16:29 »
0
I think diamonds and black diamonds have a hard time dropping the crown because the stronger you are on the iS the harder it is to leave exclusivity even if your income has dropped by 40-50%. For example, if you used to earn 2000$ a month and now you're down to 1200$ it is still quite a lot of money even though you had to change your lifestyle and cut the expenses. Going from 1200$ to just 500 or so as non-exclusive would be a serious no-no.


Diamonds, and especially black diamonds earn much much more, so it is not comparable, but you get the point (just add one zero)

wds

« Reply #56 on: May 12, 2014, 20:36 »
0
Personally, if and when I see my income drop by 50% over the long term (at least 6 month average) with me putting in the same amount of effort, I will drop exclusivity and upload to the usual suspects.

shudderstok

« Reply #57 on: May 12, 2014, 20:47 »
0
Personally, if and when I see my income drop by 50% over the long term (at least 6 month average) with me putting in the same amount of effort, I will drop exclusivity and upload to the usual suspects.

that is also my take on it as well. my simple formula for  this is looking at the earnings on the side here, if the top tier - big 4 surpass IS exclusive earnings for 6 months on average or more, then it's time to drop the crown.

« Reply #58 on: May 12, 2014, 21:23 »
+7
That's a terrible gauge. The smaller exclusives, the ones who have less to lose are going to be the first to go. This is going to expand the gap not lessen it. The earnings rating for exclusives is actually likely to improve but not because people are earning more money. It is because only those making a lot of money are left and that is improving the average. It's a false positive.

shudderstok

« Reply #59 on: May 12, 2014, 21:38 »
+1
That's a terrible gauge. The smaller exclusives, the ones who have less to lose are going to be the first to go. This is going to expand the gap not lessen it. The earnings rating for exclusives is actually likely to improve but not because people are earning more money. It is because only those making a lot of money are left and that is improving the average. It's a false positive.

the only reason i remain exclusive is that i make money over there. for me  this is a business, and if i see the results fall below my expectations, then i am gone, simple as that. i ask myself daily, is it IS that is reducing the sales by their own selfish actions or is it an industry wide problem of cut throat activity, decreasing values on images, and an over saturated market. as much as i don't like IS or GI, they have much much more insight into the industry than i ever will. i personally think the market erosion is due to the factors i mentioned above. the whole industry is spiraling out of control.

« Reply #60 on: May 12, 2014, 21:44 »
+2
I completely get that and totally respect it. In fact if I had started earlier I would probably be in your shoes. I just don't agree with using the poll as an indicator. Using your own metrics based on your own experience and stats seems like a smarter and ultimately more trustworthy gauge.

wds

« Reply #61 on: May 12, 2014, 21:48 »
+1
I completely get that and totally respect it. In fact if I had started earlier I would probably be in your shoes. I just don't agree with using the poll as an indicator. Using your own metrics based on your own experience and stats seems like a smarter and ultimately more trustworthy gauge.

Yea, I would agree with "using your own metrics". There are just too many unkowns in a poll.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #62 on: May 13, 2014, 02:58 »
+3
I guess this year, 2014. will be crucial for iS. They are firing on all cylinders and do all they can to stay current in the market.
I really don't see them firing on all cylinders.
They won't even put in the resources to sort long-standing, customer-facing bugs.
They show no intention of reinstating quality or especially keywording standards.
I'd like to see your indications of positive moves on their part to even stay in the market.

« Reply #63 on: May 13, 2014, 05:20 »
0
I guess this year, 2014. will be crucial for iS. They are firing on all cylinders and do all they can to stay current in the market.
I really don't see them firing on all cylinders.
They won't even put in the resources to sort long-standing, customer-facing bugs.
They show no intention of reinstating quality or especially keywording standards.
I'd like to see your indications of positive moves on their part to even stay in the market.

Well, I think that is all you can see from istock nowadays. It is what it is. My opinion is that they don't have enough of the resources to fix all the bugs, to add and promote new featured content, to answer all those contributor relations requests, fix getty connector transfer, etc. Let alone add something new and visionary for contributors and buyers. They are overwhelmed with just keeping the istock running. They need like 10 or so days to fix css settings of the site and months to sort best match issues. They are also desperately promoting subs with the yellow banner. Again, they honestly don't have the resources, enough of quality staff and artists to run this business. Istock is currently much bigger than the team who operates it. If this trend continues it will certainly backfire.


the only reason i remain exclusive is that i make money over there. for me  this is a business, and if i see the results fall below my expectations, then i am gone, simple as that. i ask myself daily, is it IS that is reducing the sales by their own selfish actions or is it an industry wide problem of cut throat activity, decreasing values on images, and an over saturated market. as much as i don't like IS or GI, they have much much more insight into the industry than i ever will. i personally think the market erosion is due to the factors i mentioned above. the whole industry is spiraling out of control.

And I 100% agree with you. That's the another side of this coin - the oversaturated market and ever-growing competition.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 05:51 by maboleth »

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #64 on: May 13, 2014, 05:37 »
+9
Since they have taken away almost all of the original benefits of being exclusive the only thing left is money. And when the money drops far enough exclusivity has no more value.

I've added IPTC data to all my images if it's time to drop the crown. My income has been fairly stable over the past few years. This month it's down 50% so far. Is this a total coincidence that subscriptions launched around the same time? I'm also a Getty contributor but I'd question its value anymore.

And while the latest 100% royalty day is nice it may be a bit too late. They've been wringing contributors dry since 2009 and it's going to take a lot more time and effort to reverse that damage.

My focus now is driving traffic to my own site and sales are picking up. If that growth continues than exclusivity becomes an obstacle rather than a benefit and from a financial standpoint I'd have no choice but to drop the crown. 

« Reply #65 on: July 01, 2014, 15:39 »
+9
It's been two months since I dropped the crown.  Here's my experience so far:

I was an exclusive (diamond) vector illustrator since 2006 with a port of about 2300 images. After the 2010 changes, I took advantage of the 'partial exclusivity' loophole that allowed us to upload raster illustrations to the other agencies while maintaining vector exclusivity, so I wasn't starting from scratch. I'm really glad I did that, considering how things turned out.

The preparation was a nightmare, especially rekeywording the metadata for the JPEGs. Uploading was slow and I haven't finished uploading to the smaller sites.

I am never uploading to Fotolia because of that site's reputation and I deleted my small port at DP because of the subs nonsense.  Veer doesn't seem to be working or earning anymore, so I probably won't bother with them. That's too bad, I remember when Veer was cool.

May was my first month as an independent and there was an expected earnings drop, but it wasn't much more than the month to month drops on istock.  If you doubt that exclusivity still has any value, understand that your istock earnings will really plummet once you give up the crown.  If you're doing well, you should probably keep doing when you're doing.

June was the first month of having most of my files up on a few sites.  I nearly had a best month of the year but missed it by about $50.  I'm hoping the smaller sites will provide more flow but there's little activity, even with a larger portfolio so I don't anticipate much change going forward.

The best and worst part of the experience was having the time to look over my entire portfolio again as a collection and seeing how much lousy, lazy and inconsistent crap I have. I really appreciated the chance to have a painful reevaluation. The 2010 changes at istock, esp the RC system, knocked the enthusiasm out of me and I never got it back so I'm really looking forward to this fresh start.

TLDR; A lot of work but almost had a BMOTY in 2nd month.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 15:42 by blamb »

« Reply #66 on: July 01, 2014, 15:58 »
+1
Glad to hear things are starting well for you - and in the summer too

BoBoBolinski

« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2014, 05:49 »
0
"My focus now is driving traffic to my own site and sales are picking up"

Aren't you an exclusive at IS though? Are you allowed to sell files on your own site?

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #68 on: July 02, 2014, 06:20 »
0
"My focus now is driving traffic to my own site and sales are picking up"

Aren't you an exclusive at IS though? Are you allowed to sell files on your own site?

RM is fine.

« Reply #69 on: July 02, 2014, 06:43 »
+2
Congratulations on a successful start to independence. Looking at the earnings chart  on the right I am shocked to see that exclusive income seems to be in drastic free fall. Wasnt that number somewhere around 340 before?

They have really let the exclusives down badly. And it would be so easy to reverse the trend. Just let people nominate 20% of their portfolios for E+ again and mirror that content on Getty. It would make a huge difference for shooting new content and investing in your production if you know you can have some control over prices and dual exposure.

istock revenue used to be over 300 million dollars, now it is just 180 million. And probably going down if more and more customers switch to subs.

So it is encouraging to hear that you had a good start. i think many people are building vector and video portfolios (and some RM photos) to balance the loss of income when they jump.

Others sadly give up on stock completely. But the market is still there, the customers are just elsewhere.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 06:56 by cobalt »

wds

« Reply #70 on: July 02, 2014, 08:04 »
+2
Congratulations on a successful start to independence. Looking at the earnings chart  on the right I am shocked to see that exclusive income seems to be in drastic free fall. Wasnt that number somewhere around 340 before?

As an iS exclusive I am not shocked if the chart on the right has dropped significantly. The trend seems to be a strong downward one. It is getting to the point where it feels like it is almost just a matter of time before the decision to go non-Ex will not be a difficult choice to make.

« Reply #71 on: July 02, 2014, 10:26 »
0

istock revenue used to be over 300 million dollars, now it is just 180 million.

Where did you get this information please?

« Reply #72 on: July 02, 2014, 10:42 »
0
Jim Pickerell mentioned in one of his articles that istock had a revenue of 180 million. And a few years ago an istock admin told us that the revenue was over 300 million.

It is of course possible that some of that revenue has been redistributed to getty or thinkstock. But this doesnt help the istock exclusives who make most of their money on istock itself.

ETA: he says that 75% of their sales make 180 million in revenue. So total revenue would be a little higher. Sorry.

http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/can-istock-turn-midstock-sales-around
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 10:52 by cobalt »

« Reply #73 on: July 02, 2014, 12:47 »
+2
Jim Pickerell mentioned in one of his articles that istock had a revenue of 180 million. And a few years ago an istock admin told us that the revenue was over 300 million.

It is of course possible that some of that revenue has been redistributed to getty or thinkstock. But this doesnt help the istock exclusives who make most of their money on istock itself.

ETA: he says that 75% of their sales make 180 million in revenue. So total revenue would be a little higher. Sorry.

http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/can-istock-turn-midstock-sales-around


Ok thanks. I thought it was being stated as an audited fact rather than just Jim's guesstimate ... although I don't think he's too far off. I'm pretty sure that IS's revenues have been in constant decline for ages anyway. You only have to read the monthly sales thread for the evidence of that.

It's interesting that exclusives are reporting sales declining by say 30%, compared to the previous year, whilst revenue has usually declined by a lesser number like 5-10%. It can only mean that IS are still trying to maintain revenue by continually bumping up prices ... which leads to fewer sales ... and so on. When will they ever learn?

« Reply #74 on: July 02, 2014, 12:52 »
+2
Jim Pickerell mentioned in one of his articles that istock had a revenue of 180 million. And a few years ago an istock admin told us that the revenue was over 300 million.

It is of course possible that some of that revenue has been redistributed to getty or thinkstock. But this doesnt help the istock exclusives who make most of their money on istock itself.

ETA: he says that 75% of their sales make 180 million in revenue. So total revenue would be a little higher. Sorry.

http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/can-istock-turn-midstock-sales-around


Ok thanks. I thought it was being stated as an audited fact rather than just Jim's guesstimate ... although I don't think he's too far off. I'm pretty sure that IS's revenues have been in constant decline for ages anyway. You only have to read the monthly sales thread for the evidence of that.

It's interesting that exclusives are reporting sales declining by say 30%, compared to the previous year, whilst revenue has usually declined by a lesser number like 5-10%. It can only mean that IS are still trying to maintain revenue by continually bumping up prices ... which leads to fewer sales ... and so on. When will they ever learn?


If I could choose, all my files would be S+, at S+ prices. According to my own experiencie (after having about 33% of my files demoted from S+ to S) it produces far better revenue.

« Reply #75 on: July 02, 2014, 13:14 »
+2
I'm an indie there with a tiny port but I sure miss the income from when I could promote images to S+ - They actually got seen and the ratio of sales to views was very close.

It's got to be a tough decision when you've got a huge port. Best of luck, whatever you decide.

« Reply #76 on: July 02, 2014, 14:56 »
0
I'm an indie there with a tiny port but I sure miss the income from when I could promote images to S+ - They actually got seen and the ratio of sales to views was very close.


Me too. Income halved there when they got rid of P+.

« Reply #77 on: July 02, 2014, 15:49 »
+2
Yeah, I had all my images as P+. I don't think it made much difference as far as the number of sales, but it doubled my take, and if someone didn't like the high price they could buy it somewhere else where I probably still got paid just as much.

« Reply #78 on: July 02, 2014, 16:11 »
0
I read of contributors making high and low percentages of what they used to make but no one ever posts dollar amounts, What, for instance, is considered a good weekly amount of royalties from IS. I also contribute to DT &Fotolia  but my "home base" is IS. I have about 3200 pics in my portfolio but my total earned income for several years of work is below $400. Am I that bad or are some people  stretching the truth.
Don Treadwell

« Reply #79 on: July 02, 2014, 17:25 »
+2
I read of contributors making high and low percentages of what they used to make but no one ever posts dollar amounts, What, for instance, is considered a good weekly amount of royalties from IS. I also contribute to DT &Fotolia  but my "home base" is IS. I have about 3200 pics in my portfolio but my total earned income for several years of work is below $400. Am I that bad or are some people  stretching the truth.
Don Treadwell

Reason many do not post numbers is it will encourage copycats.  Another reason is if you are anonymous here, posting numbers might let agencies guess who you are. 

I might misunderstand you.  Do you mean you make $400 a week at Istock, or that is the total amount you have earned all together in stock ever?  If so I am surprised.   $400 total take for several years of work and 3200 images is very low.  I don't see why to keep trying if that is all you are making off so much effort.

Also I did not give you the -1.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #80 on: July 02, 2014, 17:43 »
0
I read of contributors making high and low percentages of what they used to make but no one ever posts dollar amounts, What, for instance, is considered a good weekly amount of royalties from IS. I also contribute to DT &Fotolia  but my "home base" is IS. I have about 3200 pics in my portfolio but my total earned income for several years of work is below $400. Am I that bad or are some people  stretching the truth.
Don Treadwell

Well, I'm not sure what's considered good or bad anymore. An MSG poll from a while back showed 50-75 cents per image per month was about average. So based on that you're at about 10-20 cents which would seem below average. But again, that poll was a year or two old. The average may have dropped to 10-20 cents by now.

ShadySue

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« Reply #81 on: July 02, 2014, 18:03 »
+1
I read of contributors making high and low percentages of what they used to make but no one ever posts dollar amounts, What, for instance, is considered a good weekly amount of royalties from IS. I also contribute to DT &Fotolia  but my "home base" is IS. I have about 3200 pics in my portfolio but my total earned income for several years of work is below $400. Am I that bad or are some people  stretching the truth.
Don Treadwell

Well, I'm not sure what's considered good or bad anymore. An MSG poll from a while back showed 50-75 cents per image per month was about average. So based on that you're at about 10-20 cents which would seem below average. But again, that poll was a year or two old. The average may have dropped to 10-20 cents by now.

As PixelBytes observed, DTCOP said $400 was his "total earned income from iStock", not weekly or monthly. If it really is his total income, on 3200 images over 'several' years, I also don't know where he gets his motivation.
However, it was suddenly much more difficult to license files uploaded after late Sept 2012, so it depends how long the 'several' years really are.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #82 on: July 02, 2014, 18:28 »
+1
I read of contributors making high and low percentages of what they used to make but no one ever posts dollar amounts, What, for instance, is considered a good weekly amount of royalties from IS. I also contribute to DT &Fotolia  but my "home base" is IS. I have about 3200 pics in my portfolio but my total earned income for several years of work is below $400. Am I that bad or are some people  stretching the truth.
Don Treadwell

Well, I'm not sure what's considered good or bad anymore. An MSG poll from a while back showed 50-75 cents per image per month was about average. So based on that you're at about 10-20 cents which would seem below average. But again, that poll was a year or two old. The average may have dropped to 10-20 cents by now.

As PixelBytes observed, DTCOP said $400 was his "total earned income from iStock", not weekly or monthly. If it really is his total income, on 3200 images over 'several' years, I also don't know where he gets his motivation.
However, it was suddenly much more difficult to license files uploaded after late Sept 2012, so it depends how long the 'several' years really are.

You're right. I just re-read that.

DTCOP, I hate to be blunt but there's really no way to candy coat the answer to your question. If you're saying you've earned $400 total after several years with 3,200 images, that's pretty bad. And as a business owner I can't imagine how anyone can financially justify the massive amount of time and cost it takes to produce 3,200 images to get $400 in return after several years.

But, that also could be the state of microstock today. A few years ago maybe $1,500-$2,000 per month would have been average for 3,200 images. I don't think that's true today. If this is the kind of financial return newer contributors are getting that's pretty scary.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 18:37 by PaulieWalnuts »

« Reply #83 on: July 02, 2014, 18:34 »
+3
I can't imagine it's $400 total with 3200 images. I have a tiny port there, 86 images, and I've made more than that. Even $400 a year would be very low. $400 a week on the other hand would be $6.5 per image per year (RPI), a tad more than 50 cents per image per month RPI, which would be in the ballpark others have mentioned, assuming you're not an exclusive.

Edited to add:
Aside from one of my old P+ files which is a decent earner, most of my sales even today are on the 35 images I uploaded from my acceptance in February 2011 through late 2012 (I joined in 2009, got rejected, tried again, then didn't bother for nearly 2 years). I took a look and more than half the photos I've uploaded since September 2012 have no views at all, and the rest have very few views and very sparse sales, if any. So this could certainly be affecting Dan's returns.

With so many millions of photos, new photos can't get any traction without some sort of bump. That's why I miss the old P+
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 18:52 by wordplanet »

« Reply #84 on: July 03, 2014, 18:38 »
0
Okay, the consensus seems to be that I am wasting my time because I am making  so little money. On the other had I am a photography addict so unless they have a rehab for it I'm in for the full ride. Because of this I will ask, humbly, for a mentor or mentors to get some help. Samples of my work can be seen  at newbielink:http://www.flickr.com/photos/willied [nonactive]. I shoot with a CanonD5 MkII and I have been a serious photog for about 13 years. I qualified for iStock in 2006 but got quite active about 3 or 4 years ago. Right now I have 3099 photos in my port, have sold195 for a total earnings of $387.56. I have researched keywords extensively and I do not seem to have a problem there... that I know of. I know my earning are low so I am asking for someone... anyone... to offer some helpful advice. And quitting is not an option. Thanks in advance for any takers.

« Reply #85 on: July 03, 2014, 19:05 »
+2
I don't suppose that any of the images in that Flickr link are on iStock, so that won't help.

If you want advice on your IS stock portfolio, provide a link to that (I did a google search for your name and iStock but nothing came up). I have only 109 images left at iStock (I pulled my 2,500 images last February 2nd over the Google drive deal) but I'm a diamond contributor (in other words I have some real world experience of selling at iStock). I don't mind taking a quick look at your iStock portfolio to give you an idea of why sales have been so thin on the ground for you.

« Reply #86 on: July 03, 2014, 19:10 »
+1
perhaps IS is not the place to sell your work - Unless you are exclusive or are really set on it, I would research other sites and join ones that look like a good match.

IS made nearly $2,200 off your images. But that does still seem low.

« Reply #87 on: July 04, 2014, 22:00 »
0
I have been IS exclusive contributor for about 6 years,but it seem to be more and more harder to increase my income on it.

KB

« Reply #88 on: July 04, 2014, 22:38 »
+2
I have been IS exclusive contributor for about 6 years,but it seem to be more and more harder to increase my income on it.
Increase your income?

I'd guess that most exclusives these days would be happy to not decrease their income. I'm down less than 10% for the first half of the year as compared to last year. But the downtrend appears to be accelerating, so I'm not terribly hopefully for the next 6 months.

« Reply #89 on: July 04, 2014, 23:35 »
+1
I have been IS exclusive contributor for about 6 years,but it seem to be more and more harder to increase my income on it.
Increase your income?

I'd guess that most exclusives these days would be happy to not decrease their income. I'm down less than 10% for the first half of the year as compared to last year. But the downtrend appears to be accelerating, so I'm not terribly hopefully for the next 6 months.

Me too, 15% down compared to last year.

« Reply #90 on: July 05, 2014, 03:49 »
+2
Likewise, my YTD iStock revenue down 15% compared to this time last year - although if I compare the last 12 months with the 12 months prior to that it's almost exactly the same amount, which is not so bad.

So for me it really depends on the performance during the rest of 2014, and whether or not the RC targets are applied this year (they haven't been for two years now) as, if they are, my revenue would go down seriously next year...

Tror

« Reply #91 on: July 05, 2014, 04:38 »
-1
Wow, still istock exclusives existing? I mean, leaving all the financial stuff out, it must feel really bad supporting such a screwy company and depending on them...
« Last Edit: July 05, 2014, 04:44 by Tror »

BoBoBolinski

« Reply #92 on: July 06, 2014, 14:53 »
+8
"I mean, leaving all the financial stuff out, it must feel really bad supporting such a screwy company and depending on them..."

Why not try engaging brain before posting? You're insulting people whilst having no idea of other contributors circumstances.

« Reply #93 on: July 14, 2014, 21:32 »
+3
I have been IS exclusive contributor for about 6 years,but it seem to be more and more harder to increase my income on it.
Increase your income?

I'd guess that most exclusives these days would be happy to not decrease their income. I'm down less than 10% for the first half of the year as compared to last year. But the downtrend appears to be accelerating, so I'm not terribly hopefully for the next 6 months.

Me too, 15% down compared to last year.

Down 15% over the last 2 months here.
Definitely looking at plans to drop the crown if the downward trend continues over the coming months
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 18:49 by ceeker »

Goofy

« Reply #94 on: July 14, 2014, 22:50 »
0
Dropping the Crown? More like 'Punting' the Crown  :-[




 

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