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Author Topic: Nervous breakdown - Istockphoto, what else? Exlcusivity etc...  (Read 24113 times)

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« on: February 05, 2012, 17:44 »
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Hi to everyone here. My name is Mirko Pernjakovic aka Mirkic and I'm exclusive with Istock in video, audio and photo and I'm on a verge of a nervous breakdown cause of it. Here's my portfolio as an introduction and a bit more on myself.

http://www.istockphoto.com/search/portfolio/1104769/?facets=%7B%2225%22%3A%226%22%7D#142a61d5

Don't know how to shorten the link... sorry.

Anyways, I'm with Istock since 2006 and started out as a photographer mainly because there weren't audio or video at the time. When that kicked in, I stopped with photography and started with video and then audio. It was a healthy relationship until last year and now, I won't repeat everything regarding new RC stuff and sales slowing etc. But here's the deal - I depend on Istock's and Getty's income (getty footage) around 50% a month. I live in Serbia where a 1000-2000$ is a lot of money (well, it used to be and now it's a bit less but it's still serious money) and I cannot gamble loosing that amount of monthly income (much less than a 1000$ since summer 2011) but I cannot sit calmly and wait for a miracle to happen. I had a burst of uploads in summer/fall/winter and nothing happened with those. They tanked big time. Just my old files keep selling ("keep selling" is a relative term, remember, much less than a 1000$).
Anyways, I had a bad luck with my equipment three years ago (I was conned by a man that sold me my equpm. in the first place) and since than my uploads got thinner and so did the sales.
I picked up myself somehow and invested in new equipment, got a bank loan (very expensive one) and started working again and then Istock tanked even more for me.

I contacted every single person I know (video and audio, inspectors and managers)  including top, top, top contributors form audio and video mostly, asking them plain and simple about the future and telling them with most honest intent that I just don't know what to do anymore. I got various answers. Most contributors (top) told me the same story - we'll hang in there to see if it's a trend for another two, six, twelve months and after that we'll see... but they all report a down curve on sales. Pretty big one. And most of the management that I know told me that it's solely my decision to stay or go but they want me to stay off course. And don't get me wrong, I got an average portfolio and I'm a small fish...

Anyways, I was calmed to a point. Started thinking again to give them another chance... but that just varnished last night when Audio announced what they announced. That was over the top.
My video sales are horrid - if I'm lucky I'll get 20 sales a month...

Here's the last year numbers for video sales in 2011:
Jan 10
Feb 19
Mar 24
Apr 11
May 16
Jun 12
Jul 14
Aug 17
Sep 15
Oct 20
Nov 17
Dec 9

And just as an example, dl's for 2010 are 300% - 400% bigger and even more for 2009 depend's on the month. Audio's been more or less the same but dropping in the last months and the only thing that kept 2011 money the same were Getty footage sales that equaled the numbers from the past.

Sorry for such a big introduction and for the long reading but my question is down to this - from your experience, could I make more than 20 freaking dl's a month if spread my portfolio around? Got a 2000+ video clips. Not all on istock due to rejections. I'm considering to drop audio too but that's even more exotic story than this one...

Sorry again for the long reading and if there is any videographer reading this or anyone got something clever to say (everything right now is more clever than I can think of), please share your thoughts.
Thanks in advance.
Mirkic


« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 17:49 »
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Nobody can tell you what decision to make. It's your financial risk. I will point out that there are many videographers who claim to make more money from Pond5 than they do from iStockphoto. And I would think that if you combined Pond5 with Shutterstock video, you would be increasing your chances to keep or improve your current income level.

I don't envy your position. Good luck.

« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 17:56 »
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Thanks for that. And you are right, it's down to a person to make their own calls... I am aware of every single agency and already in the motion with some of them. And that's the only question I'm asking - is it possible to make those numbers with this kind of portfolio and new content coming in? And I know, one cannot give that answer because there are many things involved but just an insight into possibility... Thanks anyway!

« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 18:15 »
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I wish you all the best! This must be a terrible decision.

I only started video recently and have been uploading as a video independent since 18th Nov 2012. I only have about 50 clips. And my results so far:

Pond 5: 2 sales, total of 74 Dollars
SS: 2 sales total of 45 Dollars
istock: 2 sales total of 26 Dollars

So personally I am very optimistic, but my life doesnt depend on it.

My portfolio is completly different to yours, so it does not really help you. But I think my modest sales are a good start. Even if I was still exclusive, I would have made a lot less and I dont know if I would have had that many more sales. there is very little video content (yet), only a few hundred thousand files in total, so I doubt that best match is so important. A customer who is looking for something can easily drill down and discover your file.

The best thing is the very, very fast turnaround time! 1-3 days on SS, 1-3 weeks at Pond5, 24hours at clipdealer, 2-4 weeks at clipcanvas (but there was the Xmas break)

I still havent uploaded to Fotolia, revostock and many others. A friend told me that Fotolia has the fastest turnaround time (4 hours for him!) and he already had sales there.

Also many agencies take editorial video that you cannot sell on istock.

I only quit my video exclusivity because the waiting time was so terribly long at istock, even for exclusives. I am a video newbie and really want to learn about it, so I need fast review times to learn about video and the market. I was hoping to become video exclusive again in maybe 2 years, when I have more experience and my videos are good enough for the Vetta collection. But now I am not so sure, especially after they let go of a video inspector. Maybe it is good that the extremly long waiting time in the summer frustrated me to quit exclusivity.

I think it is great that I can set my own prices at pond5 and clipcanvas.

Dont you have a good friend who shoots similar video to your own, or a friend who is starting out where you can follow his/her progress? Maybe if you work with a friend for three months and then you compare results you will be in a better position to make such a critical decision.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 18:31 by cobalt »

« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 18:30 »
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The problem with going non-exclusive is that it could take a long time to get sales going on the other sites.  Can you afford to live on much less money for several months?  I like Pond5 but the other microstock sites haven't been great.  My portfolio isn't very commercial though, I have seen other people report good sales with SS.

Alamy are going to have video soon.  I presume istock exclusives will be able to sell RM video clips there?  I'm sure it will take a long time to get sales going there though.  I have seen people mention other RM video sites, they might be worth trying.

« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 19:33 »
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May I ask what is your %% for video and audio ?

« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 20:06 »
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Thanks for the replay's guys! They do help to get a different perspective on the matter!

@Cobalt
All those things you wrote are pros for me to turn non-exclusive! Faster review times, constant flow of things, new markets etc. Also, it sounds unbelievable to me that I cannot reach that amount of dl's on all other agencies but hey, I had a record with 11 days without a single dl in 2009 soooo everything is possible and that's why I'm asking for opinion from people already "somewhere" else.
And regarding friends and co-workers  starting out or working with other agencies, believe it or not, two of my close friends and my brother are quitting exlc at Istock or already did it in the last couple of days so, no, I cannot follow anyone's progress and that's why I'm here. And I know it's already been talked about and maybe even too much and also it's rude to just jump in and ask for people to tell you how are they doing elsewhere so one can jump boats but that's why I'm telling my own numbers just to help anyone else that is thinking the same thing about microstock global... Thanks Cobalt for the info.

@Sharpshot
Yeah, that's the main problem, to make a stand where I could "rest" for a month or two regarding money... But staying like this, it's my sanity and Istock or to just blew it all away and jump hard (and I can do that really well, work and warm up the seat :) ) on other sites...
Already comunicating with Alamy, SS and few others that have option to send in a hard drive with CSV metadata and they would do all the keywording and uploading for that amount of clips etc...
I think I can survive a couple of months, till the summer tops :) And I know, I'm smiling but it's a serious matter but what else can I do :)

@Aeonf
If you are asking for RC levels - Audio was at 35% and fell down to 30% in 2012 and video was silver before the RC's and now it's, well 25% or default :(

ShadySue

« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 20:30 »
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If you are asking for RC levels - Audio was at 35% and fell down to 30% in 2012 and video was silver before the RC's and now it's, well 25% or default :(
No help to offer, I'm afraid, but you are one that was really shafted by the splitting of media.
Is there any real benefit in being exclusive for video? Would you consider becoming exclusive for one (video) to test the waters?

« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 20:46 »
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If you are asking for RC levels - Audio was at 35% and fell down to 30% in 2012 and video was silver before the RC's and now it's, well 25% or default :(
No help to offer, I'm afraid, but you are one that was really shafted by the splitting of media.
Is there any real benefit in being exclusive for video? Would you consider becoming exclusive for one (video) to test the waters?

Well, the bigger part was me without a proper equipment but that changed and I gave a big shoot at working again but Istock gave a shoot at my head with everything (mine and several more people I know)...
I didn't understand your question, did you mean - consider becoming non-exclusive? If that's the question, than hell yes! I'm not considering it, I'm on a verge of doing it but my common sense is telling me that I need another opinion of other people on other markets itself cause being exslusive so long is a bit blinding for the world around you. I don't know anything except what I read in the forums (last couple of months)...

antistock

« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 21:21 »
+1
what did you guys expected ?

soon it will be impossible to make a living with microstock alone unless you're an agency or a top seller living on the shoulders of their big portfolios.

if that matters i see a steady decline also in macro RM sales, my feeling is many customers have simply cut their budgets to the bone, or switched to Flickr/piracy/CC/public-domain altogether.

and it's so sad reading a few designers forums where these guys even complain about micro images being too expensive ! yes, people is actually claiming 5$ for an image is too much ! wasting 50$ in beers with their friends instead is good and cheap !

velocicarpo

« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 22:42 »
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Hello Mirko,

I know exactly what you are talking about and you really touched me with your words. Companies like istockphoto are not only gambling with their numbers, but with our income and our lives. Many of us, including myself, are living in zones of the world where it is not really easy earning money, especially not an amount which enables you to live in a own place, being able to go out etc.

But now to your situation: Your advantage is that you produce not only Photo, but too video and audio. this means that you can give up exclusivity "piece by piece". It will be a hard switch, yes, but I think you will have to make it if you want to survive. Audio: I do not know much of the Audio stock world, but seeing that you have good sales with audio I suggest you stay exclusive with Audio and abandon exclusivity with video, since Pond5 video sales are alot better than istocks (for me). So you can balance a potential loss of istock sales volume with new other sites like pond5 or revostock.

Besides: Abandon exclusivity with Photo. It does not seem to be a big deal for you, so you can start to play with it, apply and upload to the otehr big ones, and you will notice you can compensate ALOT of istock losses with sales at e.g. shutterstock.

Hard choices....I know.

Furthermore: I have to say for many stockers here and out there it is a hard time. Including myself. Dropping sales is increasing my anxiety about the future and although I work like crazy, the returns seems to be stuck on a low level or even falling. At least the possibility to spread out due to no exclusive agreements gibes me more stability.

Good luck and welcome here!

lagereek

« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 01:26 »
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The excuse so far and for many years have been " hang in there" or "ebb and flow", etc, etc,  well I am sorry but as the poster above says, when they start gambling with your lives and incomes, its time to quit, time to move on to other avenues. No point in  lingering.
Ofcourse its a gamble but so is everything and the grass isnt perhaps much greener on the other side of the fence but at least it carries more nutritions and vitamins.

best of luck

« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2012, 04:40 »
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Hi Mirko,  I left exclusivity with iStock in October 2010 and since then have been blogging about my new sites and experiences with full dollar transparency.  You can find my blog here if you are interested,

http://stockcube-stockcube.blogspot.com/

Best of luck,
Bridget

« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2012, 05:40 »
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Quote
believe it or not, two of my close friends and my brother are quitting exlc at Istock or already did it in the last couple of days so, no, I cannot follow anyone's progress

Surely you will be able to follow their progress once they are established as independents though? It may be that waiting 3 months to follow their progress would be worthwhile, rather than doing anything hasty. I have read very varying accounts of giving up exclusivity, so best to be very wary of listening too much to others, and if you have people close to you and whom you can trust to give honest feedback on their progress, I would hang on and follow their progress first.

lagereek

« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2012, 05:58 »
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Quote
believe it or not, two of my close friends and my brother are quitting exlc at Istock or already did it in the last couple of days so, no, I cannot follow anyone's progress

Surely you will be able to follow their progress once they are established as independents though? It may be that waiting 3 months to follow their progress would be worthwhile, rather than doing anything hasty. I have read very varying accounts of giving up exclusivity, so best to be very wary of listening too much to others, and if you have people close to you and whom you can trust to give honest feedback on their progress, I would hang on and follow their progress first.

I agree with you!  dangerous to listen too much to others. However, out of all the exclusives that I personally know, the only ones making any revenue are the ones heavily involved in Vettas,  all the rest are way down and I am talking diamond and gold levels here.

ShadySue

« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2012, 06:03 »
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I agree with you!  dangerous to listen too much to others. However, out of all the exclusives that I personally know, the only ones making any revenue are the ones heavily involved in Vettas,  all the rest are way down and I am talking diamond and gold levels here.

However, the OP is mainly involved in audio and video, so his experience will be different, whether he stays or becomes indie.

« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2012, 06:12 »
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wow.  this is my first post here but I feel so sorry for your situation.  It really brings me to tears to see so many suffering like this.

« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2012, 06:36 »
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Thanks to all that replied and gave their two cents on the matter!

I will follow closely my friends and my brother but their portfolios are waaaay different than mine and smaller for that matter. Also, I cannot linger for another three months and end up in a summer slope at istock. That's the main problem! If the sales were "ok" or "steady" flat line... I would wait. But like this, no matter what I do, it's like someone pressed a button that say - BELLOW1000$GUY!

Also, I re-lived in my head all the possible (most of) scenarios, all the variations of leaving, not leaving, working 100% on this and delaying that, even staying with Istock and working harder and smarter than before... but hey - I remember last year when I invested in my equipment with such confidence - Istock going down? My sales with 3.500 files online going down... No way! I will always have enough to pay for the bank loan and for the car and bills... I was saying that and I jinxed (cursed) it! Moron! Who could of known!
I could swear that I wouldn't ever fall bellow 500$ a month... and bellow 300 at getty... and wallaaaaa! I did last summer! And in november with getty! 140$ month!

Anyways! Thanks everyone for their opinions! They do mean a lot to me! And helping me making my descision... I will post here when things changes and how will they change...

ShadySue

« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2012, 07:12 »
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If you are asking for RC levels - Audio was at 35% and fell down to 30% in 2012 and video was silver before the RC's and now it's, well 25% or default :(
No help to offer, I'm afraid, but you are one that was really shafted by the splitting of media.
Is there any real benefit in being exclusive for video? Would you consider becoming exclusive for one (video) to test the waters?
I didn't understand your question, did you mean - consider becoming non-exclusive? If that's the question, than hell yes! I'm not considering it,
[/quote]
I meant, would you consider becoming indie for video first, since it seems you have less to lose by keeping exclusive with audio for a while and trying out independence with video. There seem to be quite a few sites that do as well as, if not better than iStock for selling video; but like anything else, it will depend how well your particular content matches with the particular buyers who use any particular site. Also how the market/sites/buyers change in the future.

Good luck whatever you decide.

antistock

« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2012, 08:54 »
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I could swear that I wouldn't ever fall bellow 500$ a month... and bellow 300 at getty... and wallaaaaa! I did last summer! And in november with getty! 140$ month!

then look at the long term scenario : the only ones surviving in stock photography will be the few agencies left, and a few dozen top sellers with huge portfolios.

it's math, people don't realize it because the decline is so slow and month by month with up and downs in the middle but it's just a matter of time.
this in turn will kill the actual oversupply as new contributors will not spend a long time uploading and editing when they face a meager or zero return.

it's the same in every market actually.
RM/RF stock has simply reached the end of the road, both by quality and quantity.

lisafx

« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2012, 09:46 »
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Mirkic,  I wish I could give you good advice. I don't shoot video, so any experience I have would not be relevant to you. 

Just wanted to express my sympathy with your situation.  It's so sad to see how real people's real lives are affected by the decisions that the bean counters at the top are making, just to pad their already obscene profits....

FWIW, Shadysue's suggestion about going indie with video first to test the waters, while leaving photos and audio exclusive makes a lot of sense to me.  With multiple types of media, you are in an excellent position to try out being indie with one media, and see how it works out for you. 

Wishing you the very best, whatever decision you make.

« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2012, 11:40 »
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Is it possible for your to add wedding-videos, or are you already doing that?

« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2012, 18:36 »
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I could swear that I wouldn't ever fall bellow 500$ a month... and bellow 300 at getty... and wallaaaaa! I did last summer! And in november with getty! 140$ month!
it's math, people don't realize it because the decline is so slow and month by month with up and downs in the middle but it's just a matter of time.
this in turn will kill the actual oversupply as new contributors will not spend a long time uploading and editing when they face a meager or zero return.

it's the same in every market actually.
RM/RF stock has simply reached the end of the road, both by quality and quantity.

if it really is the end of the stock work then what? what is left?  pack up our bags and go home?

antistock

« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2012, 19:56 »
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if it really is the end of the stock work then what? what is left?  pack up our bags and go home?

it's gonna take a few years to reach the point of non-return but the die has been cast.

agencies can survive without too many contributors, but contributors can't survive without agencies.
the OP has 3500 images on IS and he's starving, soon you will need 5000 images, then 10.000, and then it will be finally financially unsustainable and people will give up.

this industry has been completely cannibalized and it lived on his laurels for too long.
there's simply no more cake to eat and buyers are screaming for even  cheaper prices (!).

antistock

« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2012, 20:04 »
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the paradigm here is  ... the stock industry is on its last leg because of the internet, not because of digital.

the actual oversupply and overabundance of saleable images should not be blamed just on modern cameras and photoshop but first and foremost on the internet, which allows everybody in a worldwide scenario to join the market at zero costs and in real-time.

you're not competing with your local or regional photographers, you're actually against the whole world army of photographers shooting the same subjects and using your same gear !

so it's definitely a buyer's market now and it's not gonna go back.
top-tier photographers who can produce both quality, quantity, and innovative concepts will survive and succeed but all the others will have a very hard time to stay afloat as due to oversupply the bar has been raised consistently in the last few years and i can't see any space left for newbies or amateurs.


 

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