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Author Topic: Sales slump  (Read 65428 times)

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« Reply #275 on: August 22, 2010, 13:15 »
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Right.  I funnel a large portion of my earnings into a combination of stocks and Treasury Inflation Protected securities.
Hmm... I really hate to sound perhaps obnoxious and it's not my intent to hurt, but when I compare your d/l on IS with mine (3200/1900) you won't probably be able to retire from your bonds. Let's assume you make 3x more as an exclusive than me, it won't do much if you count the depreciation of your gear (photo, PC, backup, software) and your internet.

Even if I earn about 4-6 times more on SS than on IS, I have to admit my microstock venture was a net loss, counting 3 cams, light, backups, props and model fees. When even Alamy reverted to 24c sales for hours of silly uploading, I think more and more submitters will disappear when they finally dared to do some proper accountancy. I didn't touch my cam in 2 months. The very relaxed upload limits on IS and DT are an omen.


lagereek

« Reply #276 on: August 22, 2010, 14:20 »
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When I said two search-engines, as default, it wasnt my idea, that was the idea of a friend of mine who is total computer wizard and who has been working with Adobe (Thomas Knoll) on a number of programs, i.e. one of the very best!

He explained: a search-engine is the making or breaking and in an industry which accepts thousands of applicants and millions of keywords all the time with one type of search and one CV. As the number of images, keywords grow the less effective the search, its an impossibility to maintain. Further, you cant build a CV and maintain an effective search based on generics.

Yap, I did some math begin of 2006 when sites were far below 1 million. With a linear set of of 40 keywords, any search engine will break down. It's pure math. I predicted sites would anticipate with a weighed keyword system, which would extend the relevancy algorithm till 10 or 50M items. As it turned out, the sites didn't change their concept at all. Just CanStockPhoto's Duncan tried it in 2007 and he was scorned away. What they do now is patching and patching with D/L, views, best match, but they've lost it.
Quote
Search algorithm breakdown

Now imagine this: the linear isolated keyword search won't be around that much longer. No doubt image agencies will follow along the Fotolia path sooner or later. With the advent of 1,000,000+ images and hundreds or thousands of similarly tagged images returned on a search quest, search algorithms based upon linear equal-weighted keywords are mathematically bound to break down.

Therefore, it would be wise if a photographer started to tag in order of relevance already now, as an investment in his adaptation to future search algorithm strategies of agency sites. It would be a tantalizing job to re-tag a large portfolio, but new images can as well be tagged this way.

This was written in 2006, when DT had 300,000 images...


Very, very interesting indeed!  mind, it doesnt surprise me at all and you know its gone so far now, its so messed up that its a hopeless job, there isnt a remedy for it and impossible to patch up.
It surprises me that they couldnt see this coming, sooner or later?

lagereek

« Reply #277 on: August 22, 2010, 14:20 »
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When I said two search-engines, as default, it wasnt my idea, that was the idea of a friend of mine who is total computer wizard and who has been working with Adobe (Thomas Knoll) on a number of programs, i.e. one of the very best!

He explained: a search-engine is the making or breaking and in an industry which accepts thousands of applicants and millions of keywords all the time with one type of search and one CV. As the number of images, keywords grow the less effective the search, its an impossibility to maintain. Further, you cant build a CV and maintain an effective search based on generics.

Yap, I did some math begin of 2006 when sites were far below 1 million. With a linear set of of 40 keywords, any search engine will break down. It's pure math. I predicted sites would anticipate with a weighed keyword system, which would extend the relevancy algorithm till 10 or 50M items. As it turned out, the sites didn't change their concept at all. Just CanStockPhoto's Duncan tried it in 2007 and he was scorned away. What they do now is patching and patching with D/L, views, best match, but they've lost it.
Quote
Search algorithm breakdown

Now imagine this: the linear isolated keyword search won't be around that much longer. No doubt image agencies will follow along the Fotolia path sooner or later. With the advent of 1,000,000+ images and hundreds or thousands of similarly tagged images returned on a search quest, search algorithms based upon linear equal-weighted keywords are mathematically bound to break down.

Therefore, it would be wise if a photographer started to tag in order of relevance already now, as an investment in his adaptation to future search algorithm strategies of agency sites. It would be a tantalizing job to re-tag a large portfolio, but new images can as well be tagged this way.

This was written in 2006, when DT had 300,000 images...

lisafx

« Reply #278 on: August 22, 2010, 16:00 »
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You won't find too many contributors who want their DL numbers shown.  Really there is no reason to show them.  They don't show them in the macro world.  Shutterstock doesn't show them in the microstock world.  I think it would be a great first step to eliminate the DL numbers from everyone's view but the author of the image.  Given how many times this has been suggested, I don't figure it will happen.

I completely agree Dan.  Eliminating the DL numbers would reduce or eliminate two problems - the self perpetuating best sellers (and difficulty selling new images) and also a lot of the copying of best sellers.  It would make it easier for both buyers and producers to think for themselves!

lisafx

« Reply #279 on: August 22, 2010, 16:10 »
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Come on, Lisa is not the sole bread earner in the house. She has a husband, too.


Absolutely true, however I am the larger earner at this point.  It is my earnings that are needed to send my daughter through college, and if I want to grow my business it will be my earnings that have to pay for a larger house with ample studio space.  Those things will not be possible if I can't find a way to increase, or at least stabilize my earnings. 

Baldrick, those are very good suggestions about ways to insure your income against future drops in the industry.  Up to now I have been focusing all my energies on stock.  The type of images I like to do don't lend themselves to gallery sales.  I guess I could go back to portraits and weddings, but I would consider that a last resort, since I don't like doing it. 

Real estate investment is a good idea.  With real estate cheap right now it would be a good time to invest in it. 

Stock market - forget it.  No interest in that whatsoever.  My husband and I are the only people I know - literally the only ones - who didn't lose a penny of savings over the past couple of years because it was all in CDs.  If I wanted to gamble I could have a lot more fun in Vegas anyway ;)

« Reply #280 on: August 22, 2010, 16:20 »
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Stock market - forget it.  No interest in that whatsoever.  My husband and I are the only people I know - literally the only ones - who didn't lose a penny of savings over the past couple of years because it was all in CDs.  If I wanted to gamble I could have a lot more fun in Vegas anyway ;)

Ahhh...but you did lose savings.  Unless your CD's outpaced the 4-6% inflation we have all been swallowing to purchase groceries, or put gas in our tanks, or heat/cool our homes, then you indeed did lose money.  But according to the government, once you subtract out food and energy inflation is quite tame.  Too bad real people can't subtract out food and energy.   8)

lisafx

« Reply #281 on: August 22, 2010, 16:29 »
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But according to the government, once you subtract out food and energy inflation is quite tame.  Too bad real people can't subtract out food and energy.   8)

You mean you guys aren't all living on rainbows and lollipops?   ::)

Good point about inflation.  Nothing I can do about that one though. 

« Reply #282 on: August 22, 2010, 16:43 »
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Yes there is.  This is off topic, but look into Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPs).  They guarantee a return above the core inflation rate, pay a nice little divdend, and they are almost as safe as a CD.  You can get a low cost, diversified TIPs fund from Vanguard.  Many other large mutual fund companies have them.  They aren't very tax efficient, but for someone who wants to avoid the stock market, TIPs are about as good as it gets.

lisafx

« Reply #283 on: August 22, 2010, 18:08 »
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OT, yes, but maybe useful to a lot of people.  Thanks for the info!  I will check into it :)

« Reply #284 on: August 22, 2010, 19:23 »
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Yes there is.  This is off topic, but look into Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPs).  They guarantee a return above the core inflation rate, pay a nice little divdend, and they are almost as safe as a CD.  You can get a low cost, diversified TIPs fund from Vanguard.  Many other large mutual fund companies have them.  They aren't very tax efficient, but for someone who wants to avoid the stock market, TIPs are about as good as it gets.

Please remember, the official inflation figures from which the inflation "protection" is calculated are highly suspect.  They are discussed in detail at this website: http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts.  To make a long story short, governments have a very strong motivation to under-report the rate of inflation.  The less they have to pay out to widows and orphans (as it were) and for indexed pensions and other expenditures which are supposed to keep up with the rate of inflation, the more money they have for themselves and for their cronies.  Throughout history, inflation (whose technical definition is an increase in the money supply) has been a racket used by governments to swindle workers and savers and benefit the powerful and well-connected.  It was true in the ancient world and it is true right now in Europe, America, Japan and China.

To make a feeble effort to bend this to the topic at hand, this is probably the real reason behind the slump.  Inflation has eroded really profitable businesses and individuals' personal wealth and diverted real wealth into the hands of those with power.  When there is a less fizzy economy then businesses suffer, advertising agencies suffer, and the poor schleps who provide stock materials to those agencies suffer.  More and more wealth is being concentrated in the hands of the government (virtually nationalizing housing, mortgage and banking industries, manufacturing, oil industry, etc.) and they simply don't need a diversity of visual materials to advertise their "services".  You have no choice but to accept government "services" so they have no real need for a lot of exciting and artistic images to sell what they do.  Their sales pitch is a simple "Do as we say - OR ELSE."

Sorry to be a downer!  But IMHO your best chance to survive and prosper is to first understand what you're up against so you can formulate a plan to based on facts and not on fantasies.

« Reply #285 on: August 23, 2010, 10:47 »
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Sorry for helping to derail this topic with extraneous chatter (see above).

I just wanted to say that right now, for the last week or so, at IS it seems like approval times (for non-exclusives), sales and even the # of views per day per image has become . . . r . e . a . l . . . s . l . o . w . . .

I don't fully understand the "Poll Results" on the right hand side of this web page, but I noticed that it's been almost entirely "red" (down arrows) lately.  Is this indicative of an across-the-board slowdown?

lisafx

« Reply #286 on: August 23, 2010, 11:07 »
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I don't fully understand the "Poll Results" on the right hand side of this web page, but I noticed that it's been almost entirely "red" (down arrows) lately.  Is this indicative of an across-the-board slowdown?

If the talk around here is to be believed there is certainly an across the board slowdown.  Where there seems to be some debate is the cause.  Could be summer slump, worldwide economic slowdown, market saturation/competition, or any combination of the above.  ???

« Reply #287 on: August 23, 2010, 12:12 »
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In a way, the slowdown has been going on for almost six years. That's the last time that I was getting $1 per upload per month and that was with just one agency. The growth in the market has not kept pace with the growth in supply. It is really remarkable that the market has continued to grow fast enough to deliver any worthwhile return at all to individuals.

From the agency perspective, of course, it is quite different. Instead of selling each of 100,000 images 6 times a month for $1.50, they are selling a tenth of ten million images per month, for - say - $10. So instead of making $500,000 they are making $10m, but the photographer with 1,000 images isn't making $1,000 any longer, he or she is making  one tenth of 1000 x 20% of $10 = $200.

We have no way of knowing if the advertising spend is continuing to rise or not, because the dilution effect of all those extra shots hides the state of the market from us. We need to hope for a point where the spending growth and the speed of growth of the collections becomes equal. Until that happens (if it ever does) then our returns will continue to fall.

From the photographer's point of view, the industry is a bubble: It has to inflate for ever if we are going to be able to keep our earnings flat for ever. Not a happy thought. But maybe at some point the earnings per file will fall so low that hardly anybody will continue uploading. That won't really hurt either the buyers or the agencies as the huge back-catalogue will keep both of them happy for a long time, as long as there is just a sprinkling of new stuff coming through.

« Reply #288 on: August 23, 2010, 15:00 »
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I agree with your last assessment BT.  Markets tend to self correct.  I can see a lot of image producers becoming disillusioned soon and slowing down, or completely ceasing image production.  Personally I'm doing pretty well, but even so I have little to no desire to keep feeding images to my agency for ever diminishing returns.  I can't imagine how it feels for the noob who has an 80%+ rejection rate and just wants to reach his/her first payout sometime in the next few years.

alias

« Reply #289 on: August 23, 2010, 15:23 »
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Very good assessment BD. You and FD should form a think tank together :)

« Reply #290 on: August 23, 2010, 15:43 »
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I agree with your last assessment BT.  Markets tend to self correct.  I can see a lot of image producers becoming disillusioned soon and slowing down, or completely ceasing image production.  Personally I'm doing pretty well, but even so I have little to no desire to keep feeding images to my agency for ever diminishing returns.  I can't imagine how it feels for the noob who has an 80%+ rejection rate and just wants to reach his/her first payout sometime in the next few years.

What is this thing about anti-newbies. Not all newbies get 80+% rejection. Can not a newbie also get
20% rejection ? Or even 40% Istock rejection ?  Or is all newbie painted with broad brush in this narrowminded
mentality here?

« Reply #291 on: August 23, 2010, 16:04 »
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Very good assessment BD. You and FD should form a think tank together :)

Carrying on trying to think it through - the back catalogue that sustains the agencies will obviously also sustain some producers - obviously those who have a large portfolio will do best. The stock factories are going to like that but there will be others.

Once the new input dies and the customer market growth stalls, then I guess there would be a very, very long tail of earnings for a small number of well-established players. Without submitting anything else, they could see earnings decline only very gradually over a long period. But although fairly constant, the earnings per file would be very low.

In other words, if old files have been killed in the past by the influx of new files, then a drop-off in new material will tend to prolong the life of old stuff.

Maybe what we are going through now is the traditional August panic, but I think the anecdotal evidence suggests that the point at which it was attractive to become a microstocker - or even to keep being one - has passed.

There will always be a trickle of high-calibre newbies who can achieve something (and don't have 80% rejection rates!) but against the background of overall collection size, their impact on the earnings of others will probably only be marginal (unless they happen to supply an underpopulated niche, and there aren't many of those around).

Lefty, I think that dj's comment was meant to be sympathetic rather than insulting. Some newbies come in with a well developed skill set, many others don't. Personally, for economic reasons, I like the crowd who get 80% rejections more than the few who get 80% approvals ... but that's just self-interest talking.

« Reply #292 on: August 23, 2010, 16:28 »
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Lefty, I think that dj's comment was meant to be sympathetic rather than insulting. Some newbies come in with a well developed skill set, many others don't. Personally, for economic reasons, I like the crowd who get 80% rejections more than the few who get 80% approvals ... but that's just self-interest talking.

BT, not offended. We all in same boat . I understand the emotional here. If there is a slump it is not 100% due to newbie taking a piece of pie but also other factors too obvious . Over saturation, subscription, low price, etc etcetc.
But buyers still need pictures . If slump was evident , only question is where are pictures taken ?
Flickr? Theft of derivative? Cd compilation? Torrents ?
But the mood here point only to blame rejection and higher rate of stupid reviewers.
I am not convinced stupid reviewers are what agencies enjoy to hire.
The agency know there is already over supply of pictures. As they say, there are no stupid pictures, only stupid photographers.

I too, being newbies , wish more people quit. Oldtimers especially, because so much better for me,
and you, and whoever stay. Of course, it is my self interest too. The more people think microstock stink
the better for me too. My piece of pie is bigger.  So no, not offended. Just only reading with much interest.
Thank you for pointing out. I point out too, no offense felt by me. Only happy the air is focused to reality.

We ask question Slump of Sale. We like to know what causation of slump.
Maybe too, buyers sick of same stupid pictures that stupid photographers make. Why back to Yuri on Yay?
Maybe clones are not welcome. Maybe buyers sick of copycats.  But yes, still enough copycats
submission new stuff.
So what? More copycats of old stale stuff mean better chance for you or me who try to find other stuff to shoot.
Only problem, I say before, find me on page 100, to 1001.
So stupid old stale picture still sell more. So stale old picture get me approval. Why I am so stupid to make new idea if reviewer is going to prefer stale picture and same concept?
If they want stale hamburger? Why we try not to accept the reality.
Until best seller drop from view, we make stale hamburger.

Hope my explanation understood.

« Reply #293 on: August 23, 2010, 16:39 »
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Lefty, the reviewer doesn't decide where you picture ends up in any search. That's all done by computer.

The reason not to offer stale hamburgers is that the buyers probably will find new, original stuff.

An original idea stands by itself. In a row of hamburgers, it is very likely that my hamburger will be better than yours, because I have been doing this for so long.

And I do re-shoot my hamburgers to get them up to the highest standard I can. I know a lot of my old work isn't up to the standard I can manage now. Rather than let someone else dive in and take away my sales with a better photo, I offer a new version.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #294 on: August 23, 2010, 19:59 »
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I agree with your last assessment BT.  Markets tend to self correct.  I can see a lot of image producers becoming disillusioned soon and slowing down, or completely ceasing image production.  Personally I'm doing pretty well, but even so I have little to no desire to keep feeding images to my agency for ever diminishing returns.  I can't imagine how it feels for the noob who has an 80%+ rejection rate and just wants to reach his/her first payout sometime in the next few years.
What is this thing about anti-newbies. Not all newbies get 80+% rejection. Can not a newbie also get
20% rejection ? Or even 40% Istock rejection ?  Or is all newbie painted with broad brush in this narrowminded
mentality here?

It's not anti-newbies. It's usually fact.

All stock newbies have different levels of experience and for the first few months will have different acceptance rates. 

The "I have a Point & Shoot camera and never heard of Photoshop" newbies will probably be in the 0-20% range.

The "I just got my first DSLR and do some photo editing" stock newbies are probably in the 20-40% range.

The "I've had a DSLR for a couple years and know a little Photoshop" newbies are probably in the 40-70% range.

The "I'm an advanced photographer/web designer/photoshop pro who works for an advertising agency" stock newbies might be in the 70% and up range.

Obviously this varies. Is this fairly accurate for Istock based on your experience and acceptance rate?

« Reply #295 on: August 23, 2010, 20:10 »
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I agree with your last assessment BT.  Markets tend to self correct.  I can see a lot of image producers becoming disillusioned soon and slowing down, or completely ceasing image production.  Personally I'm doing pretty well, but even so I have little to no desire to keep feeding images to my agency for ever diminishing returns.  I can't imagine how it feels for the noob who has an 80%+ rejection rate and just wants to reach his/her first payout sometime in the next few years.
What is this thing about anti-newbies. Not all newbies get 80+% rejection. Can not a newbie also get
20% rejection ? Or even 40% Istock rejection ?  Or is all newbie painted with broad brush in this narrowminded
mentality here?

It's not anti-newbies. It's usually fact.

All stock newbies have different levels of experience and for the first few months will have different acceptance rates. 

The "I have a Point & Shoot camera and never heard of Photoshop" newbies will probably be in the 0-20% range.

The "I just got my first DSLR and do some photo editing" stock newbies are probably in the 20-40% range.

The "I've had a DSLR for a couple years and know a little Photoshop" newbies are probably in the 40-70% range.

The "I'm an advanced photographer/web designer/photoshop pro who works for an advertising agency" stock newbies might be in the 70% and up range.

Obviously this varies. Is this fairly accurate for Istock based on your experience and acceptance rate?

Perharps so. But if I recall the millionth seller IStock top LisaGagne started as newbie without a clue what camera was. She bought camera from second hand store and now she is outselling everybody at Istock.
Even you those who look down on newbies and expect only 20% acceptance is too much condescention
. You all forget where you started? And now you assume all newbie start at same ignorance point as you .
That is silly.

« Reply #296 on: August 23, 2010, 20:30 »
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^   Standards were quite different when Lise started.   Things are different today.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #297 on: August 23, 2010, 20:37 »
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Perharps so. But if I recall the millionth seller IStock top LisaGagne started as newbie without a clue what camera was. She bought camera from second hand store and now she is outselling everybody at Istock. Even you those who look down on newbies and expect only 20% acceptance is too much condescention . You all forget where you started? And now you assume all newbie start at same ignorance point as you .
That is silly.

Where in my post did I put down any newbies?

Are you just here to bash anyone who's not a newbie?

« Reply #298 on: August 24, 2010, 00:30 »
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Lefty, everyone is your competitor in this game. It doesn't matter a * what they think of you or me or newbies or old-times. What we try to do on this forum is try to understand what is happening in our marketplace.

If you want to kick the old-timers, go and take sales off them by outclassing them. Newbie or not, that will get you their respect (but not their love).

lagereek

« Reply #299 on: August 24, 2010, 01:27 »
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Lefty is using a Kodak Instamatic,  1982 model, typical neewbie stuff.


 

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