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Author Topic: Where's the money? Exclusive or independent?  (Read 10597 times)

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abimages

« on: January 18, 2009, 11:16 »
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This year I plan to dedicate more time to shooting for microstock and am thinking hard about how best to maximise return on those efforts.

I want to ask, what is the general concensus regarding IS exclusive or not, if ones aim is to earn the maximum money from a portfolio. I'm not looking for reasons whether I should or shouldn't, just your thoughts on the above question.

The feeling I get about this subject, having been in microstock for three years, is to stay independent if you want to earn more money. However, I see many exclusives doing really well too, and I feel it's the only way to get the best from IS.

BTW saving on uploading time etc is not a factor in all this for me. I have plenty of time to dedicate to this, so I'm looking for maximum monthly income.
Cheers
Anthony



« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2009, 11:27 »
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I think you will find exclusives mostly have good reasons from being exclusive and believe that they overall make more money this way. While non exclusives have good reasons for being non exclusive and overall make the most money this way. Some exceptions apply.

Peter

« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2009, 12:01 »
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(...), what is the general concensus regarding IS exclusive or not, (...)

Consensus? You must be new at MSG.  I don't think we ever had it here.   ;D

I would never recommend someone to start as exclusive to a site.  I think it's better to try a few sites, see how you perform in them, and then later make a choice.  Unless you really don't want to bother about having the work to upload to more than one, but even then it is hard to assert what is the best choice without any test.

Regards,
Adelaide

abimages

« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2009, 12:09 »
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(...), what is the general concensus regarding IS exclusive or not, (...)

Consensus? You must be new at MSG.  I don't think we ever had it here.   ;D

I would never recommend someone to start as exclusive to a site.  I think it's better to try a few sites, see how you perform in them, and then later make a choice.  Unless you really don't want to bother about having the work to upload to more than one, but even then it is hard to assert what is the best choice without any test.

Regards,
Adelaide

Adelaide
I appreciate your input but I think you misunderstood my question. I'm not new at any of the sites, I've been 'testing' for three years now.

« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2009, 12:16 »
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Well, if you've been "testing", then you have a good basis to make your own decisions.  Take your IS downloads, multiple them by your exclusive cannister rate, and see if you're happy with that as a minimum.

« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2009, 12:54 »
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I agree with sjlocke. If your images perform well in IS, then it may be the right choice for you. I don't normally get more than 25% of my earnings in any site, so none of them look attractive enough for becoming exclusive.  What I have been doing lately is reducing the number of sites I submit to.

Regards,
Adelaide

helix7

« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2009, 21:17 »
0
...Take your IS downloads, multiple them by your exclusive cannister rate, and see if you're happy with that as a minimum.

That's the best way to do it. Do the math and make the call.



« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2009, 21:33 »
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It seems pretty clear that exclusives get more than just better royalties on istock. Surely attempting to factor that in to a business decision is a reasonable thing to do. Of course istock also seems to be the most erratic, with best match changes and such...

ironarrow

« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2009, 22:08 »
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If the best match is going to stay the way it is right now I will go exclusive at IS in a heartbeat!

If it goes back to what it was in November? Hell, No!!!

You get the idea:) It is much more consistent and safe to stay non-exclusive. Unless IS will sign a contract with me "guaranteeing that best match will never change" in a way that is not in my favor.

Otherwise what's the point? Why would I risk my income from microstock by going exclusive?

helix7

« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2009, 23:03 »
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It seems pretty clear that exclusives get more than just better royalties on istock. Surely attempting to factor that in to a business decision is a reasonable thing to do...

Only if those incentives are reasonable. Which I suppose is open to interpretation but in my opinion, some business cards and the opportunity to go to some exclusive events don't add up to much in terms of worthwhile incentives. The only factor I'd consider in deciding to go exclusive is the money, and that also doesn't add up to nearly enough.



« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2009, 23:50 »
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It's been hinted at once or twice here that exclusives get significantly better placement in best match. Worth a bit more than Moo cards, I think.

bittersweet

« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2009, 00:43 »
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some business cards and the opportunity to go to some exclusive events don't add up to much in terms of worthwhile incentives.
and much faster inspections
and much higher upload limits
and open track to submit to Getty at gold, and possibly at silver

shank_ali

« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2009, 02:21 »
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Stay independant as if you submit to several sites your images will be in front of several group of buyers.Perhaps buyers will leave istock after the latest price rise and go to RF123
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 14:06 by shank_ali »

« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2009, 07:33 »
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It's been hinted at once or twice here that exclusives get significantly better placement in best match. Worth a bit more than Moo cards, I think.

That certainly used to be the case in previous versions of the best match although any advantage is much less obvious now. Even so in my view it actually made very little difference to overall sales. One of the many evidences of that being Yuri's sales. If your images are good enough then the buyers will find them.

IMHO you get a significantly higher and much more stable income from being independent. I'd be absolutely gutted if my entire stock income was suddenly slashed by 30% or more by a best match change (as it has been in the past) but it makes it much easier to bear if the overall effect is less than 5%.

Also I never fail to be surprised how sales vary on image series between sites. It always seems to me that if I upload a series of say 6 images, the best-selling image of the series on IS will often be the worst performer on SS __ and vice versa. Weird how it always seem to happen and it suggests that pure luck does play a part.

Most importantly I don't see IS being anything like as dominant in the future as it has been in the past. Four years ago IS peaked at nearly 60% of my stock income but last month it had slipped to an all-time low of 27.7%. This month (so far) it has recovered to 32% but the trend is invariably downward in marked contrast to SS, FT and StockXpert all of whom are exhibiting steady growth in my experience.

I believe that IS some time ago set out to appeal primarily to the less price-concious, high-spending corporate segment of the market. It is more concerned about profitability per sale than sheer volume or maintaining market share. In many ways I'm glad they did as they have been the leader in increasing image prices rather than ending up in a price war with all the others. The downside is that in doing so they've possibly abandoned a sizable chunk of the overall market which is being greedily snapped up by their competitors.

All the time that you remain independent you always have the option of exclusivity __ but it is almost impossible to reverse the decision later if you have a sizable portfolio. Rewards steadily increase with rank/sales at SS, DT and FT and personally I'd hate to be starting again at the lowest level with each agency.

It's also more fun watching the market develop and observing how each agency performs each month.

« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2009, 10:19 »
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There are 14 sites other than istock that make money with my portfolio.  I am sure they can make more than istock alone.  I am also against one site gaining too much control of the microstock market, as that will inevitably lead to them lowering our commissions to increase their profits. 

Hopefully one day istock will fall behind so far that they will be forced to accept exclusive images from non-exclusive contributors.  That would be much more acceptable.

abimages

« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2009, 10:56 »
0
It's been hinted at once or twice here that exclusives get significantly better placement in best match. Worth a bit more than Moo cards, I think.

That certainly used to be the case in previous versions of the best match although any advantage is much less obvious now. Even so in my view it actually made very little difference to overall sales. One of the many evidences of that being Yuri's sales. If your images are good enough then the buyers will find them.

IMHO you get a significantly higher and much more stable income from being independent. I'd be absolutely gutted if my entire stock income was suddenly slashed by 30% or more by a best match change (as it has been in the past) but it makes it much easier to bear if the overall effect is less than 5%.

Also I never fail to be surprised how sales vary on image series between sites. It always seems to me that if I upload a series of say 6 images, the best-selling image of the series on IS will often be the worst performer on SS __ and vice versa. Weird how it always seem to happen and it suggests that pure luck does play a part.

Most importantly I don't see IS being anything like as dominant in the future as it has been in the past. Four years ago IS peaked at nearly 60% of my stock income but last month it had slipped to an all-time low of 27.7%. This month (so far) it has recovered to 32% but the trend is invariably downward in marked contrast to SS, FT and StockXpert all of whom are exhibiting steady growth in my experience.

I believe that IS some time ago set out to appeal primarily to the less price-concious, high-spending corporate segment of the market. It is more concerned about profitability per sale than sheer volume or maintaining market share. In many ways I'm glad they did as they have been the leader in increasing image prices rather than ending up in a price war with all the others. The downside is that in doing so they've possibly abandoned a sizable chunk of the overall market which is being greedily snapped up by their competitors.

All the time that you remain independent you always have the option of exclusivity __ but it is almost impossible to reverse the decision later if you have a sizable portfolio. Rewards steadily increase with rank/sales at SS, DT and FT and personally I'd hate to be starting again at the lowest level with each agency.

It's also more fun watching the market develop and observing how each agency performs each month.

Gostwyck  thank you ,you raise some very good points, and very well put too. Many thanks

lisafx

« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2009, 11:07 »
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I think in general that exclusives are heavily favored in the search at istock and have been for a couple of years.  Whether that will continue to be true with the rollout of best match 2.0 I don't know. 

I don't know for a fact, but I am pretty sure that the top exclusives at istock are making more as exclusives than I am as independent. 

If it were just a money issue I probably would have gone independent back when istock was more than half my income.  My main reason for remaining independent was that istock is pretty irratic.  They frequently change major things about the site with very little beta testing, and it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty that I am just not comfortable with.    Guess I am not cut out to rely that heavily on the ever changing whims of one site. 

And at this point I feel very committed to supporting the sites that have treated me well, like Dreamstime, SS, and BigStock. 

« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2009, 11:10 »
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Cause to worry: Having just one outlet. No leverage. No control. No options. Just, "Yes sir". "Grab my ankles? -- Yes sir."
"May I go to the latrine now sir?"

« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2009, 12:32 »
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IMO istockphoto's exclusivity is good for both very lazy and for very busy people. If you are in the middle between lazy and busy, then being independent might be the better choice.

helix7

« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2009, 23:29 »
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and much faster inspections

I actually argued once that this was a really good incentive, but others convinced me that over the life of an image online in stock, the added time an exclusive image spends online is pretty much insignificant in terms of earnings. We're talking a couple of days difference, for images that can spend years for sale. So it is highly questionable as to whether or not this is an incentive that yields additional profits.

and much higher upload limits

Not bad for photographers, but insignificant to vector artists (which I am) so it wouldn't apply to me.

and open track to submit to Getty at gold, and possibly at silver

Also highly questionable as to whether this yields any worthwhile profits. Not much discussion goes on in forums about this, but in the little I've read, results were disappointing for most.



DanP68

« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2009, 23:33 »
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If your images perform well at IS, you should definitely consider exclusivity.  You could probably make a bit more money contributing to all of the Big 7 and staying independent, but at a major time cost too.  Ultimately, you should do what makes you happiest.

« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2009, 07:02 »
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If your images perform well at IS, you should definitely consider exclusivity.  You could probably make a bit more money contributing to all of the Big 7 and staying independent, but at a major time cost too.  Ultimately, you should do what makes you happiest.

Happiness!! What a concept!!

c h e e r s
fred

michealo

« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2009, 07:09 »
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This is the wrong question, its not being exclusive or non exclusive that makes a difference its being good at what you do ...

« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2009, 08:22 »
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Istock makes on average <30% of my month income. So the bonus percentage wouldn't make enough of a difference to go exclusive. The great unknown is the better placement in the best match search which seems for alot of people to be significant. I was about level with another contributor at 500DL he went exclusive I didn't, from that point his DL numbers out paced mine by about 3:1. I later worked out that this was mostly due to an exceptionally good seller in the dollar bin.

The decision either way has risk to it (which is very hard to quantify), but for me there appears to be more upside on the independent path. Every situation is different and some portfolios fit in the Istock customers eyes than others.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 08:25 by qwerty »

bittersweet

« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2009, 09:24 »
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and much higher upload limits

Not bad for photographers, but insignificant to vector artists (which I am) so it wouldn't apply to me.

and open track to submit to Getty at gold, and possibly at silver

Also highly questionable as to whether this yields any worthwhile profits. Not much discussion goes on in forums about this, but in the little I've read, results were disappointing for most.

I think the original poster is a photographer, so while it may not apply to you personally, it may make a significant difference to them. It is often one of the main reasons why people feel their overall performance is inhibited at istock. Obviously some have overcome these limitations (such as lisafx for example) but to others it may be an important factor, and therefore part of the equation.

As far as the Getty thing goes, initial reports were lackluster, but recent discussions paint a very different picture. Again, I wouldn't dismiss it just because you think it doesn't apply to you.

That being said, if there's enough history to the stats, it really does boil down to a simple math problem. And be sure to add the correct percentage. It's not an additional 5 or 10 percent (or whatever level applies) of your current income. It's an additional percent of the full credit sale. So from a 20% commission to a 25% commission is really a 25% increase to your income, not 5%.


 

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