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Author Topic: interesting iStock fact-oid  (Read 7493 times)

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« on: October 01, 2006, 04:38 »
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Saw on another forum that a diamond exclusive was posting in.

From what he said I gathered the following information:

There must be only 57 Diamond members
He has 2,500 photos online (he said it is his hobby, not his job)
He made just under $25,000 in the last year
he said he averages $1 per DL so he must have sold ~25,000 photos or 10 each per year.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2006, 05:58 by CJPhoto »


« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 11:26 »
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The list of diamond members can be found here:
http://www.istockphoto.com/user_view.php?id=91126 and click under blog of that member.


« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2006, 13:34 »
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yep.. that's an allstar list allright.  I wonder how many of them do microstocks full time.

« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2006, 13:37 »
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just browsing a few portfolios there... this one sure has lots of downloads for not tons of files

mammamaart

only 723 images - 110,000 sales

really crisp images, but nothing surpisingly powerful.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2006, 13:39 by leaf »

« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2006, 16:02 »
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just browsing a few portfolios there... this one sure has lots of downloads for not tons of files

mammamaart

only 723 images - 110,000 sales

really crisp images, but nothing surpisingly powerful.


Yes, their photos are good, but so are many others that don't sell anywhere near those numbers.

I think that it has something to do with how long they have been a member.  They joined in 01/2003.  Once photos make it to the top of the Most Downloads on iStock (which many older photos do), it becomes a snowball effect.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2006, 17:34 »
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To me, it doesn't matter how those "stars" got their numbers.  The present reality is that no one who doesn't have either exclusive status or diamond status can upload enough images to make decent sales.  Let's look at this logically:

1.  Upload limits of 20 images per week for the majority of uploaders.  This "temporary" upload cap has been in place since August 15th.  I'd say a 46-day cap isn't temporary; it's a new policy.
2.  Given #1 above, no one can reach the fabulous (hint:  sarcasm alert) exclusive level of sales and get reasonable review times.  It's not like Istock hides it or anything--they give exclusives quicker review turnarounds.  So, everyone else has to wait even longer to achieve enough uploads to generate reasonable sales.
3.  Istock has ridiculous upload standards.  Even Shutterstock, notorious for it's no-noise policy, accepts a higher ratio of images.

Whether it is intentional or not, Istock's current policy is going to prevent a lot of photographers from reaching 500 downloads any time soon.  The number of exclusives will stay relatively constant, and because of the quicker turnaround and other preferential treatment, the current exclusives will continue to rack up sales.

This sounds like playing baseball in grade school and always being the person chosen last to play on a team.  I have more self respect than to allow some company to treat me like this, so I have taken my business elsewhere.  Not that this is the first time I've said that . . .

Yes, their photos are good, but so are many others that don't sell anywhere near those numbers.

I think that it has something to do with how long they have been a member.  They joined in 01/2003.  Once photos make it to the top of the Most Downloads on iStock (which many older photos do), it becomes a snowball effect.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2006, 17:39 by Professorgb »

« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2006, 00:48 »
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this sounds like getty is what it sounds like :)

With Istock where it is now, they don't want everyone and their dog submitting a billion shots. They want the cream of the crop.  It is not surprisnig they are getting super picky.  I think this is where microstock is going... really picky.  In which case us photographers have to choose between submitting clean crisp shots (and having 25% accepted) or submitting to the newer sites.

dbvirago

« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2006, 08:10 »
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But to expand on what Prof said, they can't pick the cream of the crop if they aren't looking at the whole crop. I was only uploding 20 a week before they improved their system. Now it's more like 3 or 4. Others, like Prof, aren't uploading any. Eventually, their 'crop' will stagnate.

this sounds like getty is what it sounds like :)

With Istock where it is now, they don't want everyone and their dog submitting a billion shots. They want the cream of the crop. It is not surprisnig they are getting super picky. I think this is where microstock is going... really picky. In which case us photographers have to choose between submitting clean crisp shots (and having 25% accepted) or submitting to the newer sites.

« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2006, 08:30 »
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The 68 diamond members on average added 59 photos last month. That is less than 20/week if 100% acceptance.

« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2006, 08:46 »
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I'm probably in the minority with this opinion but.... I really can't blame iStock for their business practices. They obviously want as many exclusives as the can get but they also want the best. I'm sure Getty wants to have the same image that they are portraying themselves in the RM market, that they are the best of the best. Whether it's true or not, perception is reality. If Getty can say that iStock has X exclusives and that the requirements for becoming exclusive are very strict, they can try to project that image. As annoying as it may be for us non-exclusives, it's their business and they can run it as they please.

« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2006, 10:14 »
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Exclusive criteria isn't strict is it?? (it is just having over 500DL??)

The rest of your comments I agree on and that is why they have a high reject ratio.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2006, 10:51 »
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The fact is, my sales on IS, and all the other micros for that matter, are random.  A high rejection ratio doesn't mean they're keeping the quality images.  It means they're being arbitrarily picky.  Just take a look at the front page at IS and examine the images recently accepted.  Many of them are garbage, with exposure, framing, and content problems.  And, the stuff they're taking is redundant with the current data base--I mean, they're still accepting photos of sunflowers, for Pete's sake (who doesn't have flowers in their portfolio?)!  In the current batch is a photo of a power tower, with electric transmission lines.  What is the sales potential for such an image?  Will it sell the hundreds of times needed to make it a profitable image?

If you're going to argue that Istock is trying to increase the quality of their images to be "the best"--or at least trying to make it look like they're increasing the quality--you should be able to say that the quality of what's currently being accepted is better than past work, and better than what's being accepted by competitors.  Clearly, that isn't the case.

Istock is everything that's wrong with the microstock model.  Low pay, arbitrary selection of images, rapacious profit-taking.  If they succeed in improving microstock's "image quality" standards, which I doubt, then truly outstanding photography will have no value.  (The images I'm talking about are those that sell for hundreds of dollars, with limited numbers of prints.)  The fact is that stock photography is not a way to earn a living.  Just calculate your honest hourly wage.  Take your earnings from the week, and divide that amount by the number of hours you've spent shooting, editing, keywording, uploading, and checking your statistics.  You'll find you're not being properly compensated for your efforts.  Macrostock has the same problem, so I suppose this isn't just a microstock issue, but a stock issue in general.  Stock may be fun and at times lucrative, but for those of us in countries with a high cost of living, it's not enough.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy having my photos sold, and the extra income has helped me improve my kit.  But, my goal is to become a photographer making a living wage from my images.  Stock won't do it.  It is my intention to make stock just a part of my photographic income stream.  If you look at the very best of the microstock suppliers, you'll see that they typically are doing other types of photography, with microstock just being one aspect of their professional lives.

We could all take a lesson from this, and not get too worried about microstock.  At least, I think I could take the lesson.  End of tirade, and thank you for reading.  I feel refreshed and ready to shoot more photos.

Exclusive criteria isn't strict is it?? (it is just having over 500DL??)

The rest of your comments I agree on and that is why they have a high reject ratio.

« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2006, 12:23 »
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on the part of your wage calculations.

I HAVE actually sat down a figured out what my hourly wage would be.. and I am more than happy with it.  I think it pays several times more than many of the other photography avenues i am pursuing.  The only problem is you have to wait 5 years to get it... however taken into account, the way (interest, and having to wait for it) i still think it is more than worth it.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2006, 12:49 »
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I don't think you can count on the income five years from now.  There isn't enough data at this point to make an accurate projection of earnings.  What you need to do is figure out what you're earning right now and divide that by the hours you are currently putting into microstock.  Don't look at how much you have in the microstocks that you haven't been paid, that hasn't hit the minimum required.  Add up all your microstock income from September, which is traditionally a good paying month, and divide it by hours spent. 

Of course, this calculation doesn't take into account the satisfaction with doing something you enjoy . . .

The only problem is you have to wait 5 years to get it... however taken into account, the way (interest, and having to wait for it) i still think it is more than worth it.

« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2006, 13:00 »
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well perhaps that method is more accurate, but not realistic. The glory os stock photography is that it keeps paying.  Granted it will be less in the future and how much less is impossible.. but i think it is worth a guess to try and see how much it is 'going' to pay me.

or perhaps said another way.

for me to spend significant amount of time i HAVE to make a guess.  If i was going to just take one months income, the first month i did stock i would have made $0.00 that means i worked 120 hours and got paid nothing.  not too good of a wage.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2006, 13:30 »
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And that's my point, I guess.  It's very hard to know how all this will play out in the future, and you have to be realistic, even brutal, in your assessment of the cost/benefit ratio.

For example, it's commonly believed that with SS you have to continuously contribute images to maintain your income, if not make it grow.  Income will not be constant, or even grow linearly; it will grow initially and then begin to decline when your submissions decrease.  While old images will keep selling, the amount of income each image generates will eventually decline.  This kind of thing makes it hard to project realistic earnings. 

To determine if microstocks are a feasible way to earn a living, you have to figure your hourly rates based on current payouts.  And, even if you figure hourly pay based on anticipated income, you have to add up all the hours you already put into microstock, plus the number of hours you anticipate working in the future, and then divide that number by total income.

To me, what this would argue is that we should do photography first--portraits, weddings, local sales, etc.--and then recycle our old images into the stock/microstock system to generate additional income.  This is a more stable business platform that won't rely on an income stream without much of a proven track record.

or perhaps said another way.

for me to spend significant amount of time i HAVE to make a guess.  If i was going to just take one months income, the first month i did stock i would have made $0.00 that means i worked 120 hours and got paid nothing.  not too good of a wage.

« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2006, 13:48 »
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I might be inclined to do it the other way, and spend half a year doing full time micros, or other stock and THEN start branching into other things while stock continues to pay me for my time.  I guess this is somewhat what I have done, as I am now spending quite a bit of time doing other photography things, but half a year ago i was spending 100% of my time on the micros.

As for how sales go after you quit submitting.  I haven't submitted an image anywhere since the middle of april (except for lucky oliver but that doesn't count cause there are no sales there anyhow)

I have about 2000 images on most of the sites and 1700 on dreamstime, and 700 on istock.  My revenues went down 10% right after i stopped submitting (thanks to shutterstock) however, since the first drop it has kept steady on that level.  Shutterstock has kept it's level as well and has even risen about 5% since the first drop... so i personally don't really see the massive drop off after stopping to submit that people often talk about.  I agree it will get lower but it hasn't yet.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2006, 13:52 »
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Thanks for the info, Tyler.  That kind of sharing of information is what I like so much about this forum.

It sounds like you've made a good decision, especially since the microstock income can help support your other efforts while you launch them.  Congratulations, and I hope for continued success.  You certainly give me more confidence in the enterprise.

« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2006, 14:08 »
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well not that you're interested ;) but i think / hope that an average image should last between 5-10 years.  A picture of a hammer will be a hammer still in 10 years.  Quality standards may change by then, but perhaps not tons.  Pictures of people will start to look outdated in 5 years easy... but they also earn more on average.

I have a guesstimat that each image will earn $50.00 in it's lifetime (on average).  But since you don't like guessing, perhaps i should have kept that to myself :)

Quevaal

  • Rust in Peace
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2006, 22:54 »
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well not that you're interested ;) but i think / hope that an average image should last between 5-10 years. A picture of a hammer will be a hammer still in 10 years. Quality standards may change by then, but perhaps not tons. Pictures of people will start to look outdated in 5 years easy... but they also earn more on average.

I have a guesstimat that each image will earn $50.00 in it's lifetime (on average). But since you don't like guessing, perhaps i should have kept that to myself :)

Wouldn't you just love to have 2000 photos from the 60s? :) When you retire, you can re-upload today's images and sell them as retro pics!

« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2006, 00:31 »
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absolutly... except they would be 64 kilopixels, and probably not cut it. :S

« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2006, 02:18 »
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I suppose the big question are you a glass is half empty or a glass is half full kinda person is microstock an investment or a gamble

The former believe that once word of microstock spreads everyone and their grandma will start uploading flooding the marketing diluting everyone's share. Thoug presumably the sites will start tighter controls to prevent themselves getting overwhelmed.

The later believe that once the word really gets out their will be a very big market for all of images.

Not sure where I stand but with the increasing number of images keywording will be all important some searches at Alamy will produce a sickening amount of images its a wonder anybody finds anything

Time for bed

« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2006, 02:37 »
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i am a glass is half full.. or just over half full type of guy :)

I believe once everyones hears of microstock, then there will be more sales.
There will be more submitters too, but the average submitter won't be able to submit cause they are not good enough, or don't have a good enough camera.  the sites are going to get pickier and pickier.  We allready see this happening with dreamstime and istock.  Or perhaps i should rephrase, SOME sites will get pickier.  There will be the sites that have nice images and lesser (like dreamstime) and some that will accept most of everything and sell on quantity.

and yes agree, keywords are the KEY.

alamy ceases to amaze me, how they accept EVERYTHING... I guess that is their niche... they also have pictures of EVERYTHING... even if they are poor images.


 

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