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Author Topic: Microstocksolutions  (Read 8293 times)

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« on: October 03, 2009, 09:04 »
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Hi,

This is Mark Milstein, the founder of Microstocksolutions www.microstocksolutions.com , Northfoto www.northfoto.com and Red Dot www.rdfoto.com

I would like to say hi, and introduce myself and Microstocksolutions to the greater microstock community.

Microstocksolutions offers microstock agencies --- big and small -- a chance to lower their image reviewing and processing costs.

This means savings all around, and more importantly it means money for contributing photographers.

It also means greater efficiency and quicker turnaround times.

We all know what it's like to wait for days or weeks to see our images appear online and begin to earn money.

The team at Microstocksolutions are all photo industry veterans, and speak your language.

We will be at UGCX and PhotoPlus in New York from Sunday, October 18th, through Sunday October 25th.

We'd love a chance to say hi over a beer or a cup of coffee.

Contact us if you are going to be there:

milstein@microstocksolutions.com


« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2009, 14:24 »
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Sorry, could you explain what 'microstocksolutions' actually does and why what that is would benefit me?  Thx.

« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2009, 16:10 »
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Sorry, could you explain what 'microstocksolutions' actually does and why what that is would benefit me?  Thx.

This isn't aimed at contributing photographers, its aimed at the agencies.

« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2009, 23:45 »
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Hi,

Yes, Microstocksolutions is more aimed at the agency level than at the individual photographer.

Microstocksolutions provides editors with a high level of microstock knowledge who add keywords, determine quality, verify model and property releases so that those images which can sell are put online as quickly as possible.

A good reviewer can go through between 600 and 1000 images per day.

Best,

Mark Milstein


« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2009, 00:32 »
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Good Luck with your venture, it might work for an initial first look to filter out the dross, but I would think that any good business would keep the final quality control in-house, the end collection is the brand.

David  ;)

« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2009, 03:29 »
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Hi,

The editors who work with Microstocksolutions are -- in effect -- full-time staff for whatever agency contracts with us.

There is no difference.

They are "in house."

The difference exists in the "head count" at that agency.

Our service allows agencies with high overhead costs, i.e., employing people in the US or Germany (where an editor might cost about euro 5000 per month) to reduce that cost dramatically by employing editors through Microstocksolutions.

The editors of that team sit in an office in Central or Eastern Europe and, using a VNC, Skype, video conferencing and full access to that agency's servers, etc., do the same work as would any editor sitting in an office in New York, Hamburg or Seattle.

We are lucky that there are a large number of experienced, English speaking microstock professionals concentrated in this region.

Let me know if I can answer any more questions, and we would love to invite anyone from the microstock community to visit our offices and speak with the editors who might have actually reviewed your images.

Mark Milstein


RT


« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2009, 04:38 »
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Our service allows agencies with high overhead costs, i.e., employing people in the US or Germany (where an editor might cost about euro 5000 per month) to reduce that cost dramatically by employing editors through Microstocksolutions.

I think you need to go back and do some more research, your figure quoted is a long way off what the microstock agencies pay their reviewers, based on the average fee the microstock agencies pay their reviewers each reviewer would have to review 50,000 images a month to get that amount!


« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2009, 04:50 »
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Hi,

Our estimates are based not just on what the reviewer gets in his or her pocket at the end of each pay period, but on the entire cost, i.e., social security, medical, taxes, cost of actually having someone in an office, IT, PCs, equipment, administration, etc.

I've been in this business for 25 years, and the rest of our team comes with nearly the same amount of time as either photographers, editors or managers of agencies.

As I have written, a good reviewer can process between 600 and 1000 images per day. That translates into a low of 12,000 images per month and a high of 20,000 images per month.

I hope this clears things up.

Best,

Mark

« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2009, 05:07 »
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Taking the median of the figures you quoted, say 800 images per day, would require the reviewer to inspect an image every 35 secs throughout an 8-hour day. Every day. I don't envy them.

« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2009, 05:25 »
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Don't the reviewers for microstock sites work from their own homes?  I don't think running an office full of reviewers would be cheaper than the system the sites currently use.

« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2009, 06:26 »
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Hi,

Yes, one or two major agencies have reviewers working from home.

Overseeing a vast number of reviewers spread out geographically can be a HR headache. Creating a team spirit, etc., is equally daunting.

Then there's the question of guaranteeing bandwidth, etc.,

However, the cost of doing business in Eastern and Central Europe is 70% cheaper than in Western Europe or North America.

This is with anl office, full onsite management, robust infrastructure, etc.

That's the savings.

Best,

Mark


RT


« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2009, 07:16 »
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Hi,

Our estimates are based not just on what the reviewer gets in his or her pocket at the end of each pay period, but on the entire cost, i.e., social security, medical, taxes, cost of actually having someone in an office, IT, PCs, equipment, administration, etc.

I've been in this business for 25 years, and the rest of our team comes with nearly the same amount of time as either photographers, editors or managers of agencies.

As I have written, a good reviewer can process between 600 and 1000 images per day. That translates into a low of 12,000 images per month and a high of 20,000 images per month.

I hope this clears things up.

Best,

Mark

Hi Mark,

As I said you need to do your research, I don't know of any microstcok sites that employ reviewers, they work from home and get an amount (very small) for each image they review, the sites don't pay social security, medical,  there's no overheads for IT equipment or office costs and the only admin costs are paying the reviewers.

You say you've been in the business 25 years, microstock hasn't been around ten years yet, I think you're basing your figures on traditional stock agencies that are run in a completely different way to the microstock one's.

However I'd be happy to hear of an example of a microstock agency that does employ it's reviewers.

I'm not trying to knock your business, just don't think you realise how this side of the stock business works.

Good luck though.

As a side note, as you've stated above your business isn't aimed at the contributor, why then have you come to a forum for contributors? Wouldn't it make more sense just to contact the agencies direct.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2009, 07:25 by RT »

« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2009, 07:46 »
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It does seem kind of an odd venture.  Afaik, most micro houses already employ off site inspectors.  That already keeps costs low, although you get what you pay for. I guess.  Especially since each site has its own vision (as we in micro know) of what they want in the collection, it would seem like outsourcing en masse would actually raise (a variety) of costs.

All I see this enabling is someone with a domain and server space to envision themselves creating the next istock with minimal effort.  Though we all know where new micro startups end up these days. 

« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2009, 08:05 »
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Hi,

Microstocksolutions is my third venture.

I founded former Soviet Europe's first online agency, Red Dot www.rdfoto.com, and it's leading editorial and stock agency, Northfoto www.northfoto.com

Before that i was a photojournalist who covered more than 20 conflicts and worked in 60 countries for Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and numerous other major news outlets. This is where my 25 years of industry experience comes from.

Microstocksolutions was founded not as a fishing expedition, but as a result of a well established microstock agency approaching us to do exactly what I have been describing.

To date, it's been a successful venture.

Microstocksolutions already provides the services I describe on behalf of a number of major agencies. Dreamstime has a similar center down the street from us in Bucharest, Romania. They too recognized what we already knew. Quite a few other agencies do exactly the same.

Other agencies are already in negotiations with us to do the same.

Hope to meet some of you at either UGCX or PhotoPlus.

Mark






« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2009, 08:23 »
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"recognized what we already knew"

What, that people in Eastern Europe will work long hours for minimal pay?  Ok, then, I guess that could be a selling point.  Good luck!

RT


« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2009, 08:47 »
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Microstocksolutions already provides the services I describe on behalf of a number of major agencies.

Well as they're aren't that many major microstock agencies, four in actual fact and only two of them are what most people would actually describe as major, perhaps you could tell us who you provide services for?

And your comment "Other agencies are already in negotiations with us to do the same." brings me back to my earlier question, why have you come to this forum, I'm not trying to be rude I just don't understand why you're here, even the people here that might believe what you say would surely be scratching their heads at why a company that is of no use to a contributor is plugging their services to contributors, call me old fashioned but the first lesson I learnt in marketing was to market to the target audience.


« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2009, 09:29 »
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Hi,

While the majority of this forum's readers are photographers, quite a few industry leaders come here to learn about your thoughts, gripes, trends, etc.

Believe it or not, your opinions count.

From Dreamstime to Fotolia, all of the major microstock agencies have someone on staff or on contract who regularly come here and to other similar sites.

Our interest in starting this thread had more to do with getting to know the photographers behind the pictures, then actually pushing our services.

On the other hand, not every microstock photographer is based in North America, and by talking about Microstocksolutions we get to know photographers with the kinds of skills who might want a job with us.

It's already happened once in the past few weeks.

Lastly, if you hadn't weighed in on this conversation you might not never have known that such companies like ours even exist.

The microstock industry is growing and maturing. Microstocksolutions is part of that.

Best,

Mark









RT


« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2009, 09:52 »
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From Dreamstime to Fotolia, all of the major microstock agencies have someone on staff or on contract who regularly come here and to other similar sites.

Are you telling me you haven't contacted Dreamstime or Fotolia yet!! have you considered going on a sales course, here's a couple more for you - try iStockphoto and Shutterstock just in case their staff don't notice this thread when they pop by.


 




« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2009, 10:38 »
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Are you telling me you haven't contacted Dreamstime or Fotolia yet!! have you considered going on a sales course, here's a couple more for you - try iStockphoto and Shutterstock just in case their staff don't notice this thread when they pop by.

Oh __ tsk, tsk! It's an interesting thread and the more we contributors understand about the inner-workings of the industry, the various players and how it is all developing then the better for us.

I have to say I have never been a fan of 'out-sourcing' though for a variety of reasons. It generally costs more to employ someone to employ someone else on your behalf and you have less control (NB: no need to come back with your sales pitch Mark __ I'm not buying!).

RT


« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2009, 11:01 »
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Are you telling me you haven't contacted Dreamstime or Fotolia yet!! have you considered going on a sales course, here's a couple more for you - try iStockphoto and Shutterstock just in case their staff don't notice this thread when they pop by.

Oh __ tsk, tsk! It's an interesting thread and the more we contributors understand about the inner-workings of the industry, the various players and how it is all developing then the better for us.

Totally agree, just trying to help Mark by pointing out that it would be better to contact the agencies direct rather than relying on a member of staff popping by here and noticing the service he is offering.

I'd be interested to see which agencies are using his services because personally I can't see any of the big one's letting the reviewing go 'out of house', I can see this would be an advantage to a start up or some of the minor players though.



« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2009, 11:34 »
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I'd be interested to see which agencies are using his services because personally I can't see any of the big one's letting the reviewing go 'out of house', I can see this would be an advantage to a start up or some of the minor players though.

Hmm __ it might not be entirely coincidental that they happen to be 'just down the street' from DT!

I can see advantages in reviewers being trained and monitored from one place and also consistency in the numbers of images being reviewed per day/week. That must be difficult to control with maybe up to 100 individuals dotted around the globe. If SS are approving up to 90K images per week then it is feasible that nearly double that figure might actually be being submitted. That's about 250 man-days per week reviewing at the speed discussed above. It is way bigger than the 'cottage industry' it was 3-4 years ago.

« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2009, 12:17 »
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I work as a contracted Software Analyst and Developer in the UK, the product is Microsoft Dynamics NAV I have done this for over 13 years, during this time outsourcing companies in India have tried to grab a share of consultancy from the resellers on the same business model as this, saved overheads, payroll and costs, sounds good at first.

But they have been tried but none have taken any real market share and the projects have all come back in-house, although the main core product code is written in india, all the quality control is done in the US and the localisation in each countries version, this is because the people in each country know the market needs, this is the same as stock, QC need the feedback from searches and talking to customers they may have to adjust quickly, good local knowledge of trend and experience cannot be taught or passed on easy to outsourcing companies in other countries.

If we look at Alamy with 16 million plus images, the development, data centres, support and initial image check is already done in India where they have built a base, if I remember right they did try to QC from the indian operation a couple of years ago and batches were being approved all hours evenings and weekends, but all the QC is now done in weekday hours in the UK or US and less bad batches are getting under the radar, as they do not reject on content only quality, if this did model did not work for them with thier own india based staff, I am not sure who outsourcing could work for, maybe a new startup trying to build a collection, but in time they will want in-house control by thier own resource, outsourcing QC makes a company vunerable.

This is not a dig just my observations and opinon.

David  ;D

« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2009, 13:16 »
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Hi,

Our teams all work under the direct supervision of  lead editors back at the "agency's main office."

At this time, all of our teams act as the first set of eyes on the images as they arrive from the contributors.

Using a fixed, web-based interface, they assign a level of quality, note the availability or non availability of a model or property release, decide whether to keep or reject an image, etc.

Each agency has developed its own interface, and has refined the number of steps every reviewer has to take with any one image.

The work of any team is monitored by that lead editor and quality is continioully ensured. This scheme is not any different than any other photo agency, newspaper or magazine with a heirarchy of editors.

All said, the bottom line is cost.

Microstock agencies are being flooded day after day with thousands of photos. In order for any microstock agency to be profitable and to reward its contributors with monthly royalties, photos must be processed quickly, uploaded to their servers and be correctly keyworded so that paying users can actually find them.

Having enough reviewers with the skillset necessary to make the archive successful is costly.

This is where we come in.

Not all microstock agencies work with a business model which allows them to outsource their reviewing, still there are enough that do and that's why we exist.

Mark








RT


« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2009, 14:38 »
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Hmm __ it might not be entirely coincidental that they happen to be 'just down the street' from DT!

Who knows, but it would be one way to kill of the competition  :D

I've had enough experience of reading between the lines of corporate waffle to bow out of this thread now.

« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2009, 16:30 »
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"reward its contributors with monthly royalties" ?

Reward?  I'd be careful of your wording there.

To be honest, what this is sounds like what is in place already at agencies.  Lead editors, ratings, etc.  The only thing new is trying to concentrate the workers in low paying countries.  Again, good selling point. ;)

« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2009, 15:12 »
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Does it mean all agencies will have now same reviewers and the will be no discrepancies in rejections between them? Now I would know that something is objectively bad or good. Now one agency says it is crap the other takes it and sells. No more confusion.

« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2009, 11:08 »
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From Dreamstime to Fotolia, all of the major microstock agencies have someone on staff or on contract who regularly come here and to other similar sites.
Perhaps this might explain the "unusual" rejections that FT and DT have been handing out as of late ;)


 

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