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Author Topic: Partner program sales strategy?  (Read 33739 times)

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« on: July 01, 2010, 13:15 »
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I notice that a growing proportion of my sales by number have been coming from the partner program over the last few months. This appears to have had a negative impact on my earnings.


Does anyone have any estimates of what proportion of my partner sales might be additional, and what proportion substitutes, at lower price, for regular iStockphoto sales?


Is there an optimal strategy for deciding which photos to opt in to the partner program and which to keep to iStockphoto?


For example, do cutouts do better on partner (in terms of attracting additional sales, rather than substituting for iStockphot sales)?


I have some photos that have good partner sales, but no iStockphoto sales. Should I take them off partner sales?


vonkara

« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 13:55 »
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First it's obvious that if you try to make additional incomes from 25 cents sales, you won't. Second the designers using the partners agencies probably not use Istockphoto, at least yet. Then they won't look at your portfolio in my opinion.

Something that might happen though, is a Istock buyer having an account on a partner website and happily download all your partner stuff

RacePhoto

« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 14:14 »
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I notice that a growing proportion of my sales by number have been coming from the partner program over the last few months. This appears to have had a negative impact on my earnings.


Does anyone have any estimates of what proportion of my partner sales might be additional, and what proportion substitutes, at lower price, for regular iStockphoto sales?


Is there an optimal strategy for deciding which photos to opt in to the partner program and which to keep to iStockphoto?


For example, do cutouts do better on partner (in terms of attracting additional sales, rather than substituting for iStockphot sales)?


I have some photos that have good partner sales, but no iStockphoto sales. Should I take them off partner sales?

Good plan. The photos are selling on the partner sites, not on IS,  so you are going to remove them and continue to get no sales on IS.  ???

I don't think that the demand for anyone's specific image is so unique that someone buying won't or can't find something else to meet their needs at the price point they want. In other words, if your images are selling on the partner site and you take them away, customers will just buy someone else's shots on the partner site.

If your shots are one of a kind, then it might make a difference.

lisafx

« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2010, 14:23 »
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I tend to think that over time some buyers will peel off from istock and go to partner sites instead, especially as they are being encouraged to do so. 

But I think that it is probably too early to see that effect fully.  I suspect that what you are seeing is just the general trend of sales falling off at Istock lately.  It is happening pretty much across the board if the forums are to be believed, regardless of exclusivity status and/or whether or not you participate in the partner program.

And the uptick in partner program sales is probably also normal.  Since they are still in the initial phase of growing the site, adding more content, and marketing it aggressively you are bound to see sales there increase.

So although I think PP will ultimately have a detrimental effect on Istock sales, I doubt that's what you are seeing this early in the game. 

JMHO - no way to know for sure.

vonkara

« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2010, 14:31 »
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I tend to think that over time some buyers will peel off from istock and go to partner sites instead, especially as they are being encouraged to do so. 

They won't in my opinion, since a lot of people are opted out. I am pretty sure that if I get a link on one of these agencies, I will LMAO at the poor results I get there

lisafx

« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2010, 15:16 »
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I tend to think that over time some buyers will peel off from istock and go to partner sites instead, especially as they are being encouraged to do so. 

They won't in my opinion, since a lot of people are opted out. I am pretty sure that if I get a link on one of these agencies, I will LMAO at the poor results I get there

Good point.  As long as most of the talent stays opted out.  But a lot of people seem to be opting in...

vonkara

« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2010, 15:21 »
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I tend to think that over time some buyers will peel off from istock and go to partner sites instead, especially as they are being encouraged to do so.  

They won't in my opinion, since a lot of people are opted out. I am pretty sure that if I get a link on one of these agencies, I will LMAO at the poor results I get there

 As long as most of the talent stays opted out.
I agree. I hope no one would be tempted by a ridiculous 30 cents or so. After all, how long last a 20$ in 2010. The risk in loosing a credit sale is too high compared to what a sub gives

« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2010, 17:23 »
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If, as Lisa suggests, the sales are likely to be additional, I will leave them for the moment.  The StockXpert buyers must have gone somewhere.  Yes, I don't like getting only 25c / sale, but it's better than 0c, if the sales really are additional.

« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2010, 17:40 »
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The problem still remains that thinkstock are offering most of us a much lower commission than other sites and if they succeed, it will probably hold all subs commissions back.  I wont be using them, I still think the number of portfolios missing from their site makes a difference.  It looks like SS and FT have some of the old StockXpert buyers and that suits me.

« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2010, 18:10 »
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If you don't have a huge portfolio or a distinct style I think you can neglect the number of buyers following you to the agencies where you sell your stuff.

Sure, there are picky buyers that want THAT shot and have to buy it for the price which is asked but I dare to assume that most buyers have chosen their favorite agency or are forced to switch due to lower prices to places like Thinkstock or Crestock.

I've made the mistake of signing up with Depositfiles. I haven't joined any other newcomer agencies in the last years but DP (or is it DF?) is just another dud. Also I see that they accept a lot of crap. They're just trying to stockpile so they can show off a high image total on the front page - who cares?

Now Thinkstock on the other hand simply delivers. Fine, it's not another Shutterstock right now but in the end I count the money at the end of the month that's coming into my bank account and TS delivers better than all "smaller" agencies.

We non-exclusives are slaves to the industry. We can't direct the microstock strategy. We just deliver the product. By now, we have so many contributors in this game that naturally sales will dissipate in the sea of so many contributors.

In fact and technically every non-exclusive would have to upload to every agency which is active (even one sale a year is active) to squeeze out the most of a portfolio. Since this is not possible of course you would think about what effort is justified or economically sane to still be able to produce (AND have a life)?

So we found ourselves contributing to 6, 8, 10 agencies maybe some more if mom and dad are paying the rent.

In any case I think it's useless to start throwing numbers around trying to figure out what the OP wrote. Think about how much time, effort and resources you would have to put into finding out which type of image sells better on IS rather than TS in order to decide to allow partner sales or not - I think you will go bonkers.

The math is easy for me. TS gets my pictures and not DP (DPF whatever you wanna call them) simply because they actually make decent money while DPF doesn't. Maybe it's just my style or maybe because I don't have 5000 images with them. I know though that I can make a living with my port from what I get on the big sites, so I it's a no-brainer right there, at least for me.

RacePhoto

« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2010, 20:24 »
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I tend to think that over time some buyers will peel off from istock and go to partner sites instead, especially as they are being encouraged to do so.  

They won't in my opinion, since a lot of people are opted out. I am pretty sure that if I get a link on one of these agencies, I will LMAO at the poor results I get there

 As long as most of the talent stays opted out.
I agree. I hope no one would be tempted by a ridiculous 30 cents or so. After all, how long last a 20$ in 2010. The risk in loosing a credit sale is too high compared to what a sub gives

I think I'd have to agree. What's the difference to people who lost StockXpert for 30c and opted out of ThinkStock partner? A whole nickle?   ??? Then others point out that they get more from SS, but I don't and until someone sells $500 at 25c a shot, they will be getting a crummy quarter, but I like the SS volume. So that led me to the conclusion that if I'm selling out for 25c on one site, and lost the 30c on another (which wasn't many sales) why shouldn't I "sell out" for 25c on ThinkStock? Some have complained that they lost the StockXpert income which they miss? That's 30c a download vs 25c a download?

I refuse to be a total hypocrite and send images to DepositPhotos which is doing nothing but adding one more sub site undercutting the already low priced sub sites.

I haven't had an EL on SS in so long that I can't remember what month it was. Those used to be the big difference for me that made it worth risking 25c downloads for an occasional $28! Haven't had one sale on the StockXpert images since January. That means those images can't possibly be competing with anything else, because no one is buying them.  ;D

Whatever anyone decides for themselves, IMHO the sub sites are not really taking a bite out of the overall market for some of the reasons others have pointed out. It's cheaper to buy what you want on demand or a smaller credit package, instead of paying for a whole month of downloads, or more, when you only need a few images. Subs are a good deal for high volume buyers and collectors. Not so good for someone looking for one or five images for a project.

Oh yes, StockXpert accepted a small number of images that IS refused, and when they did the merge they are for sale on ThinkStock. If not for that, those same images would be for sale nowhere else except SS, where they are already subs for 25c. I'm not losing anything on that exchange.

My partner strategy is the same as people who sell on 25 agencies. Put the shots out there and let the buyers pay what they will. By the way funny thing, two shots that sell well on IS have never sold once anywhere else. My best seller on SS has one sale in two years on IS. I don't even get cross buying with my own images, subs vs packages and they are on four sites. I suspect different buyers look at different sites. IS still has the advantage with exclusives if I was a buyer looking for best quality images. After that the next 24 sites all have the same 5 million shots from the same 20,000 photographers.

If the same shot isn't on the top ten sites, then something like it is. Buyers don't really have to shop sites or prices to find common Micro images and concepts. They just buy from wherever they have an account.

« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2010, 20:55 »
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I was opted in to the partner program at first, but sales were just a joke (0.2 to 0.4% of total sales each month). I opted out last month and won't miss it one bit.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2010, 01:33 »
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@RacePhoto: completely agree!

in my experience, credits and subs serve two largely different markets which only slightly overlap. And most subs sales will simply not happen at credit price. I found out that the best way to maximise earnings is to spread pictures over a large number of sites -excluding non sellers of course- without caring *too much* about price. If we are earning more this way, then it means we are not competing with ourselves. This is true for me and probably for many photographers which are not recognisable as a "brand".

Things may be different for famous photographers - in which case buyers may actually shop around.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 05:40 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2010, 02:54 »
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I still don't understand why ThinkStock should charge their buyers the same as SS but pay us less.  They must have lower costs, as there are no reviews, they just take the images from istock or the old StockXpert site.  Can someone explain why other sites will continue paying us higher commissions if thinkstock is a success?  $0.05 might not seem a lot to some of you but these sites sell millions of images and are constantly looking for ways to increase their profits.  The difference between the higher commissions with SS is substantial.  How low will you go?  $0.20 is only another $0.05 less, perhaps paying $0.05 will be enough?  If we accept it, they will pay it.  Look at the way some sites have already cut PPD commissions, they will do the same with subs if they can get away with it.

If thinkstock charged their buyers less and had higher sales volume, it wouldn't be so bad but that isn't what they are doing.  They are just giving us a worse deal than the other subs sites.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2010, 05:49 »
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How low will you go?  $0.20 is only another $0.05 less, perhaps paying $0.05 will be enough?  If we accept it, they will pay it.  Look at the way some sites have already cut PPD commissions, they will do the same with subs if they can get away with it.

Agree, we must draw a line somewhere - $.25 is pretty much the limit for me (although it's worse than my current rate at SS).

I already renounced to my ideals when I joined microstock.

If I were to do what I like as a photographer -and I'm doing it as well- then I'd shoot obscure brutalist architecture on rainy days in remote locations in the UK (which would't result in a single sale), instead of objects on white and textures and famous landmarks with blue skies. It follows that I'm in here for the money.

I couldn't care less about what people do with the part of my portfolio which I shoot explicitly for microstock. They can buy at macro prices or (un)decent micro prices, or even steal my pictures if they don't care about legality.
When I scan a piece of cardboard just before throwing it away, and sell it for $.25, that's pretty much what it's worth. But $.25*n can result in a decent amount.  Then someone buys it at $30, and I can't help laughing. I don't feel I am competing with better photographers which shoot models and elaborate compositions and deserve better prices, I am competing (on these common pictures) with other thousands of similar textures and backgrounds so I don't feel guilty.

I am sure most employees are getting an even lower percentage of what their companies earn, yet they're fine with being part of a capitalistic system and having a "proper" job working full time at minimum wage. We microstockers are already luckier. As long as I can live - and support my real interest in photography besides microstock - I am happy with what I earn, I'm not looking to get rich.

For now, I don't think subs - and expecially partner programmes which take their pictures from a number of inconsistent sources - are damaging credit sales too much. Most subs sales simply wouldn't happen at credit price. Buyers looking for quality will stay with IS where they can find what they need without looking too much. Volume buyers will buy from TS. I don't even think buyers will switch from SS to TS to deliberately damage us, since the cost is the same for them. Should I notice a change, then I will stop submitting to TS.

Microstock is not about photography, it's about selling pixels by the pound.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but I'm just trying to be direct and sincere, it's my punk attitude. Feel free to disagree: I hear ya.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 10:39 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2010, 08:53 »
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Hi,
This forum is not about making friends and being nice with each other, right? It's about being honest, even if it sounds harsh. At least so I've heard.
I'm going to take Microstockphoto's example above and be honest.

@Click-Click,
no. You didn't upload to Deposit Photos because they were new and you were trying to help them grow.
You uploaded because they paid you. That's why you uploaded. For the money.
There's no point in calling them names now. You were paid for your efforts and you got what you wanted.
You upload to ThinkStock for the same reason. You want the money, and you want it now, regardless of consequences in the future.
You're right, you're on a mission to 'squeezing'.
I'm not.

Before you go on and ask the question, I uploaded to Deposit Photos too.
But in a different way.
First 5 batches - 10 photos each - for free.
I was fully aware of the bonus, but I didn't activate it. I wanted to help, that's all.
Did you do that?
I never got a payment from Deposit Photos. Not enough images included in the promotion and that's fine by me. From time to time I get a sale - always more than 0.25 cent, sometimes a lot more, great, they're still new and I'm still uploading.

@Godrick,
I'm sorry, I can't give you any meaningful advice regarding your images.
But I can tell you one thing for sure.

ThinkStock is the crappiest site in the industry.
Hands down.
Absolutely nothing about that site is how it should be.
They're the sad result of the squeezing mentality. Milk IStock for all its worth. With very little investment they're looking to get their hands on the highest possible profits.
Question is, *the* question is - are you into squeezing yourself?
It sounds harsh, but this is what it boils down to.
The site is crap, the payment is crap, but those 0.25 cent might be too much of a temptation.
I can understand why an exclusive would want to give it a try. They're locked in, they have nowhere else to go.
But as an independent you've got better choices and you should be thinking about the future. You don't want to undercut your better paying agencies. You don't want those buyers to move to ThinkStock.
Keep on uploading to ThinkStock and one day they will.
It's not a good idea.

« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2010, 09:31 »
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[email protected],
no. You didn't upload to Deposit Photos because they were new and you were trying to help them grow.
You uploaded because they paid you. That's why you uploaded. For the money.
There's no point in calling them names now. You were paid for your efforts and you got what you wanted.
You upload to ThinkStock for the same reason. You want the money, and you want it now, regardless of consequences in the future.
You're right, you're on a mission to 'squeezing'.
I'm not.

Before you go on and ask the question, I uploaded to Deposit Photos too.
But in a different way.
First 5 batches - 10 photos each - for free.
I was fully aware of the bonus, but I didn't activate it. I wanted to help, that's all.
Did you do that?
I never got a payment from Deposit Photos. Not enough images included in the promotion and that's fine by me. From time to time I get a sale - always more than 0.25 cent, sometimes a lot more, great, they're still new and I'm still uploading.

I'm sorry if I have hurt anyone's feelings with my post - it wasn't my intention.

First off, when I did a test upload of 500 images to Deposit Photos the promotion was already over, so I didn't get one cent for uploading. I don't know why you thought I did.  ???

Second, I opted into TS because they have massive resources in terms of cash and experience to get this thing off the ground. I have several hundreds of downloads with them each month which simply doesn't compare to Deposit Photos performance.

I can't and I don't want to convince anyone to opt into TS for any reason. I just post my experience with them so far.

I respect you opinion about TS. I'm just saying that as long as my IS earnings are going up month after month while my TS earnings go up, I see no issue. This could be just because of the type of images that I have.

My motto was: If you don't try, you'll never know. If I just wave my hands around about the fact that they only pay 25 cents per download I would never have started at SS in the first place. So what do i know?

RacePhoto

« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2010, 14:18 »
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I still don't understand why ThinkStock should charge their buyers the same as SS but pay us less. 

If thinkstock charged their buyers less and had higher sales volume, it wouldn't be so bad but that isn't what they are doing.  They are just giving us a worse deal than the other subs sites.

Because they can get away with paying us less and have a large group of contributors around the world willing to take any small pittance for a sale. Sub-Micro?  :)

Your point on reviews is also accurate. They got the whole StockXpert collection without any added work. They get many of the IS files which have already been reviewed. What's missing is these debates is that there are multiple other agencies that Getty bought that are featured on ThinkStock. This isn't all about US! I listed the long list of names of agencies featured on ThinkStock, and that's their plan. Think about this. They pay no one for those sales, they own the images outright. That's their site. A collection of collections, sold cheap. IS material is just frosting on the cake.

I can't claim this means anything but one image that I have up on SS and IS and is on ThinkStock (rejected by BigStock but that's another amusing issue) sells regularly as PPD and sub. This weekend, AKA horrible July 4th slump, a Saturday sale and all that, I got an EL from IS for the same image. My July is already ahead of the June total on IS, not including the PP sales which haven't been calculated yet.  :o

Strange!

« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2010, 16:54 »
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Right or wrong but But I still haven't sales fromSXP in the Hemera collection ...
My photos are on the TS from the beginning of May
« Last Edit: July 06, 2010, 12:27 by borg »

« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2010, 17:38 »
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I adjust the price of each picture based on the sales:

- The top sellers get E+ pricings.

- Modest to Good sellers get Normal Istock pricings.

- Poorest sellers get the partnership pricings.

I try not to have files on both Istock and partnership sites.

« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2010, 18:38 »
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Right now as an independent I only have files with less than 5 sales opted into the partner program. However, within the next month I plan on finally going exclusive and may opt the rest in. I still haven't decided on that.

As for the different collections, I will make my top sellers E+ like most others.

« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2010, 17:35 »
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Just my two cents, but at the moment there is a 3 months+ delay for the transmission of images from Istock to TS. There is no way to upload directly to TS. IS still has horrendous uploading limitations and new material is not doing well there these days (I had new images go through in 2 days, which as a non-exclusive seem to be a strong indication that many are not uploading until the next best match shake).

That means that loads and loads of new material goes to SS and others way ahead of TS, if it ever gets there. Buyers are bound to notice eventually and go where the fresh stuff is, IMO. I'm starting to think that driving customers to subs might backfire on Getty and actually help SS once buyers shop around a little and look at what's available to them out there.

vonkara

« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2010, 17:41 »
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However, within the next month I plan on finally going exclusive and may opt the rest in. I still haven't decided on that.


You shouldn't


As for the different collections, I will make my top sellers E+ like most others.

You definitely should and add some of them in the Vetta collection. Though I couldn't get any in Vetta, E+ give a earning jump

Dook

« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2010, 10:22 »
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Can exclusives upload their new pictures to TS, because I read somewhere that only 18+ months old exclusive images can go to TS?

Dook

« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2010, 10:25 »
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Just my two cents, but at the moment there is a 3 months+ delay for the transmission of images from Istock to TS. There is no way to upload directly to TS. IS still has horrendous uploading limitations and new material is not doing well there these days (I had new images go through in 2 days, which as a non-exclusive seem to be a strong indication that many are not uploading until the next best match shake).

That means that loads and loads of new material goes to SS and others way ahead of TS, if it ever gets there. Buyers are bound to notice eventually and go where the fresh stuff is, IMO. I'm starting to think that driving customers to subs might backfire on Getty and actually help SS once buyers shop around a little and look at what's available to them out there.
I agree with you. I think they have to open a new port for direct upload to TS, with different acceptance than IS. I wouldn't be surprised to see StockXpert start doing this.


 

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