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Author Topic: Cutting all ties with Small/Low Earners  (Read 5636 times)

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DanP68

« on: May 09, 2008, 21:09 »
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In the past 24 hours, I have cut ties with 2 low earners.  There is only 1 left, Albumo, which of course won't close my account. 

It seems weekly there is a new microstock site popping up, and a positive review from someone on these boards about how "this one will be different," and "the future is bright."

I want to take the time to flesh out the small sites I have joined, and subsequently left in the last year.  The old adage that one shouldn't pull pictures from these sites, because they don't cost you a dime to sit there, no longer rings true for me.

In the past year I have joined, and quit:

Snap Village
Featurepics
MostPhotos
Crestock
LuckyOliver ***
Albumo ***

*** - These sites still hold my images despite my request to close my accounts.

None of these sites made me any money, at all.  They all ranged from supreme time wasters, to ugly endings.

Snap Village was an absolute chore to upload to thanks to the lack of FTP.  Spent a few months uploading pictures, but never had a sale.  My keywords were changed by admin to bizarre keywords which didn't match my concepts.  I requested to close my account in September.  They finally got around to closing my account in December.

Featurepics was easy to upload to, and they accepted every picture I sent to them.  But in the end, it was pointless.  A nice group of folks running Featurepics, but alas no advertising and not a single sale.  Account closed.

MostPhotos was also easy to upload to, but the site was incredibly slow at times and difficult to navigate.  During my stay, I was hit with several "sniper attacks" by other contributors purposely giving my images bad reviews to drive down my "ratings."  I felt like I was in high school again.  Had this nonsense not been going on, I would have given the site longer.  But after a few months, I decided to close this account since I basically had no views, to match my zero sales.

LuckyOliver was an unmitigitated disaster.  For anyone who thinks there is no harm in leaving images with a non-performer, look at LuckyOliver.  I talked about leaving multiple times, but each time a certain board member here told me to stay, and that the future was bright.  I believe the last time I was told this was about 2 weeks before LuckyOliver announced it was closing shop.  The company earned a few bucks off my images, none of which I will ever see.  I requested my account be closed, but of course they ignored me.

Albumo is another headache.  Where is all the advertising this agency promised?  Why have they suddenly stopped posting here?  They sold one image for me over several months, and I have 50 cents sitting in my account for my troubles.  I'll never see it.  They have ignored my request to close my account, so I am stuck deleting 1 image per day, which is all they will allow.  So another 2-3 months, and I will finally be rid of these weasels.  In the meantime, my options in microstock with regard to exclusivity status are trapped by this do-nothing company.

Crestock honestly did not get the benefit of the doubt.  I feel a little bad about it, but I think I was right to get out this soon.  I joined 1 month ago, very reluctantly, on the request of one of their admins.  Several contributors had warned me to stay away, claiming sales were non-existent, but I listened to the pitch and gave it a go.  After 1 month, and 25 cents earned, I cut my ties quick.  Maybe some other day, if commissions are raised to something reasonable, and respectful of contributors, and advertising pays off with actual sales.  Until then, no thank you.

And now the latest buzz is for the coming of Yaymicro, Cutcaster, Zymmetrical.  Whatever.  There is no need to be the first in line for every show.  Until any of these sites start producing real earnings competitive with a BigStock or 123RF, I see no reason to rush forward.

As the past year has shown me, especially with the case of LuckyOliver and Albumo, you can do a lot worse than simply waste time when dealing with these companies.  You can sell photos but never see a dime because the company quits on you prior to payout.  You can have your images held ransom, preventing you from going exclusive with an agency, or placing individual images as exclusive. 

For the past year, the same Big 7 have continued to exist.  Nothing has changed.  Until someone joins to make them the "Big 8" I am not bothering with any more of these hype machines.

The upside is for the past 2 nights, I have only had to upload to 7 companies.  It was a breeze.  What excited me even more was knowing all 7 of these companies have produced reliable earnings for me from Day 1.  I knew with every ounce of bandwidth spent that I was investing in my future earnings.  The sun seemed a little brighter.  It was a good day.   8)
« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 21:14 by DanP68 »


« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2008, 21:21 »
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I tend to agree with your philosophy, but strangely, i seem to enjoy signing up to the new sites - i must have a hole in my head.

As with every site, results are different for everyone. I (and i suspect you see this coming) disagree with you on the analysis of LuckyOliver... I did see sales there and banked almost $300 thru image sales. Tho it was very hit and miss and the marketing just never came thru the way i hoped.

You also didn't list NaturalLifeStock which shut its doors in April.

There's also Pico which i joined because they had a special section for dance images (which i shoot a lot of) and alas, i've had zero sales there too - tho i've only uploaded 20-25 images... the whole library is very small there.

I think however, that in the long run, you're right about focussing on the established sites.

« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2008, 21:38 »
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luckily I didn't go through all that nonsense... I am with the top 7 sites and Alamy. I have a simple criteria for joining a lesser known site - their Alexa traffic rating has to be equal or better than BigStock or 123RF (I forget which has the lower rating), both of which I am making a respectable income on. I don't understand people spending all their time uploading to those weak sites - does early adaption give you special privileges? Just wait until one of them breaks free from the low-earning pack (that's a big IF and WHEN) and gets a reputation for making money and then start uploading to it.

« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2008, 22:18 »
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to me, these sites (can / cre / fp / alb / lo / zymm / scan / snap / most / etc etc) are in the range of each earning .5%-1.5% of total sales for most people. so together roughly 5-10% of sales.

to me the question that someone has to ask is, is your sales worth gaining an extra 5-10%.  for someone earning $100 a month this is about $5-$10 across half a dozen sites so payouts aren't going to happen and you're wasting time but if you're earning say $5000 a month then they earn $250-$500 and you will get regular small payouts.   

I'm not at $5000 a month, but they are all pretty good for uploading time, I can use works bandwidth so can upload 25 images to 10 sites in 10-20 minutes.  I dont get rejections for overabundant category etc, hopefully they will grow :).  I have had payouts from lo, cre, can, alb,  I get $50 from featurepics about every 6-7 weeks so compared to istock it's not much, but I appreciate every $50 I get :)

I have sales at most and zymm which dont have all my portfolio yet and these are sites I hope will grow.  I think midstock will replace much of whats left of traditional stock and these could be well positioned to do so.  of course like we see with lo if you dont do marketing, chances are you are going to be around long term.

of course some people say only istock is worth uploading to, we all have different views :)

Phil


« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2008, 22:42 »
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....I just talked about this on another thread (yesterday?)...    2 years ago when I got into this thing... I did just that,  uploaded to every one I could, got up to 13.
     To date only SS & IS  really produce.  DT & BigStock, I've had occassional payouts.  LO is into me for $75 which I hope to get... but, that took me well over a year to get and only because of a couple EL's.  123rf and StockXpert,  I'm still willing to hang for awhile... but the rest...   FT, USPS, ScanStock, NLS, FP,  etc...   total waste of time,  several didn't generate one sale yet.  Darn near the exact same 'folio on all of them.  So far,  ScanStock, USPS, and now LO & NLS  are history. I only have one picture left on FT.   And more are about to go the same route.
     I will probably whittle down to IS, SS, StockXpert, DT, BigStock & 123.  And I will think long and hard about hooking up again with others.  With my new 5D I will expand my folio with Alamy and what I don't use there I'll probably only place with SS & IS for now.
      I used to promote the thought too,  "hey, doesn't cost anything to stay onboard"    but,  I learned my lesson.  With some of those rates of sales,  it will be my great grandkids that may get the 1st cashouts. I'd rather bail out now and lose a few bucks than wait   YEARS  to realize payouts.  I'm not even worried about losing the few bucks.  I just bailing out.  Why give them spending money while I may never realize my share.   
       I am grateful for MSG.  The reading here has kept me from making many more mistakes with these upstart agencies. I'm right in line behind DanP68.  Cutting my losses.   8)=tom

DanP68

« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2008, 22:53 »
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You also didn't list NaturalLifeStock which shut its doors in April.


LOL, true enough Mitch.  But I only listed the agencies I bothered to waste time with.  I never even heard of NaturalLifeStock until they announced they were closing.   :-\

Tom,

I'm surprised to hear you aren't seeing results from Fotolia.  They seem to be firmly in the Top 4 by most people's ports, but it is funny how our performances vary from site to site.  I do "ok" there.  I put them somewhere between DT and BigStock for earnings.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 22:56 by DanP68 »

« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2008, 01:07 »
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Tom,

I'm surprised to hear you aren't seeing results from Fotolia.  They seem to be firmly in the Top 4 by most people's ports, but it is funny how our performances vary from site to site.  I do "ok" there.  I put them somewhere between DT and BigStock for earnings.

I had problems with someone using my credits to buy pictures. I never got any answer out of FT.  I don't reccomend FT to any of my photog friends breaking into the micro's.     
      If you are doing well with them, good for you and others.  As for me, my experience causes me not to trust them.    >:(=tom
« Last Edit: May 12, 2008, 23:27 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2008, 01:10 »
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So in the end, there will be only IS and SS, and they can lower the photographer's cut to 1.5%, and we will all smile, because we don't have to waste time supporting the competition. Monopolies are good, diversity sucks   ;)

« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2008, 01:25 »
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So in the end, there will be only IS and SS, and they can lower the photographer's cut to 1.5%, and we will all smile, because we don't have to waste time supporting the competition. Monopolies are good, diversity sucks   ;)

Fair point, epixx.  I understand where that's coming from completely and I can agree with those thoughts on many levels.
   On the other hand,  I don't think the likes of USPS, NLS, ScanStock, Crestock, Albumo, LO... and a dozen or two others...  even collectively, are/were any real competitive threat to the likes of SS & IS. 
   I agree with many others that we will see a major shift in the paradigm of the microstock industry in the near future anyway.
    LO is a perfect example.  Of the many new agencies sprouting up in the last 2 years,  LO seemed to be one of great potential.   Turned out to be like  spit in the ocean,  like taking sand to the beach.  Looks like Snappy might be from the same box. 
      So yeah, when the dust settles, there very well may be only a handful of agencies...  but then,  the competition may even be better, tighter and more fierce...   who knows.....     
     But, .......your scenario also has possibilities as well.     8)=tom

DanP68

« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2008, 02:27 »
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So in the end, there will be only IS and SS, and they can lower the photographer's cut to 1.5%, and we will all smile, because we don't have to waste time supporting the competition. Monopolies are good, diversity sucks   ;)


It's unfortunate how casually people throw around the term "monopoly."  It seems any successful company is dubbed as a monopoly these days.  The underachievers are for some reason championed.

By even the most rudimentary definition of the term, you are mistaken by having named 2 companies - Istock and Shuterstock.  And don't say they are a "duopoly", as that suggests the companies are helping each other dominate.  A good example of that might be Intel for interior PC parts, and Microsoft for software.  Two independent companies, but they design their products to work with the other's products as a default.

In the case of Istock and Shutterstock, we are talking about fierce rivals who more than likely take market share back and forth from each other every month. 

There are no less than 7 worthwhile microstock companies by my count.  Hardly a monopolistic situation.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 02:36 by DanP68 »

« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2008, 03:44 »
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Many of the smaller/start-up agencies shoot themselves in the foot by setting their standards too low.

They appear to accept almost anybody - and there are loads of incompetent photographers out there who are happy to say 'I'm with an agency'. As a result their libraries are rubbish and no one buys from them.

I've just had a e-mail from an agency I'd never heard of before called StockphotoPro in San Francisco, telling me they'd seen my images, were impressed  ::)   and asking if I'd like to join them.

I checked their site. They had wonderful images on their home page, but when I checked the stuff they had for sale it was mostly dreadful.

I guess they spam anybody and everybody they can find, and a lot of the Flickr types may well be honoured to be approached by an agency. But unless they can build a 'critical mass' of good images they're doomed. It's a vicious circle, unfortunately.

I'm not even going to make ties with them. It would be a waste of time.

Whatever you say/think about Crestock, at least they set high standards for their library.


« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2008, 03:47 »
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A good example of that might be Intel for interior PC parts, and Microsoft for software.  Two independent companies, but they design their products to work with the other's products as a default.

If you mean that Microsoft is a good example of the positive sides, we are further apart than I imagined. People don't buy Windows because they want to. They buy it because they have to. Here in Asia, most people use pirated software, and I can't say that I blame them.

If it's a monopoly or not isn't really interesting. If the market is dominated by a small number of players, the suppliers will get screwed.

« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2008, 03:58 »
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Quote from: epixx

Here in Asia, most people use pirated software, and I can't say that I blame them.

Just remember this if you see one of your images being used by a "Pirate", they might say "it ok to steal and use because the Photographer Don't Blame us!"

And the next time you buy full priced software, insurance or pay your taxes, the price you pay could be as much as 50% less if there was no scammers, I for one do not share your view on this  ::)

« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2008, 04:01 »
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If it's a monopoly or not isn't really interesting. If the market is dominated by a small number of players, the suppliers will get screwed.


It's interesting that open source software seems to be rapidly overtaking the proprietary stuff.

Firefox is ousting Internet Explorer. Foxit is replacing the dreadfully bloated and slow Adobe Reader. Open office is gaining ground over Microsoft's version ... and so on.

CofkoCof

« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2008, 05:22 »
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I'm only submitting to big 7 + MP. I'm sticking with MP since uploading is so easy and even one sale could earn me the same ammount of money as I make at BigStock in the whole month. I also tried SV (3 sub sales) and crestock (4 sales) but I stopped uploading there for now. Others are just not worth it, I rather make new illustrations/photos than upload there.

DanP68

« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2008, 13:06 »
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A good example of that might be Intel for interior PC parts, and Microsoft for software.  Two independent companies, but they design their products to work with the other's products as a default.

If you mean that Microsoft is a good example of the positive sides, we are further apart than I imagined. People don't buy Windows because they want to. They buy it because they have to. Here in Asia, most people use pirated software, and I can't say that I blame them.

If it's a monopoly or not isn't really interesting. If the market is dominated by a small number of players, the suppliers will get screwed.


I'm not sure why you think I was putting a positive spin on Microsoft.  I simply pointed out that you are way off if you are calling iStock and Shutterstock monopolies, and gave an example of what a duopoly is.

You are welcome to champion the underachiever.  But keep in mind that being #2, or #100, does not make you more ethical. 

Here in Asia, most people use pirated software, and I can't say that I blame them.

A pretty sad example of your view of ethics.  I suppose you will champion people pirating your images?
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 13:08 by DanP68 »

lisafx

« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2008, 13:29 »
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Dan, I agree with you completely.  I never joined any of the sites you listed except Crestock, and for me they are doing okay.  Not great, but have made several payout levels there and close to another, so it isn't a complete waste of time. 

The only really low performer I have hung on to way too long is Canstock and I have finally decided to bail on them when I reach the next payout.   Great people, but sales there have plunged to all time lows.  I used to see one or two sales a day and now haven't had one in a week.  That is with roughly 3500 pics. 

I used to believe that it was better to leave your stuff there, but with the low per image payouts and the pitiful .25 subscription sales (and no raise in three years) I just can't justify leaving images there. 

jsnover

« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2008, 18:00 »
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In the past 24 hours, I have cut ties with 2 low earners.  There is only 1 left, Albumo, which of course won't close my account. 

I have cut ties with 2 of the sites I've joined - and as with others who joined Albumo, would like to drop them but currently can't (I did get the payout for my uploads, so it isn't a total loss, but $85 isn't much to be happy about!).

I dropped Gimmestock about 10 months after I uploaded there (July 05 - May 06) as the early trickle of sales just dried up - no marketing.

I dropped CanStock earlier this year after 3+ years (low sales, rotten subscription commissions)

I have a portfolio (not up to date) at ScanStock, and although it's never taken off, the sales are steady and in Euros. I will wait until the next payout (50 Euros) and then decide if I pull out from there.

The other candidate for zapping is 123rf. They've been much better this year (perhaps because Alex wrote about selecting Faves, which I did; perhaps they've just improved), but they're always at the bottom of the earnings heap. BigStock, for example, typically has a great Christmas season (for me), even though it's never otherwise in the top tier of earners. In general, BigStock earns about twice what 123rf does each month.

I suppose the bottom line for me is that in addition to looking at my earnings total and my time spent, I'd like to focus on supporting the sites that are (or are showing strong potential for being) a long-term success. All those sites that start up as they want a piece of a good thing are just chipping away at the success built by the other sites.

At one point I think it seemed to me that my best interests lay with encouraging new players who'd open up new markets. The reality of most of the new players is that they're just trying to cannibalize the existing markets. The last new player who really seemed to bring in a new pool of buyers was Fotolia, who brought European buyers in by giving them sites in their languages and with their currencies. So I think my new model is supporting only those sites that are really working at building the business and delivering the sales. I don't see anything out there at the moment that looks promising.

I think the idea of collections at existing sites - Fotolia's Infinite and 123rf's EVO; I guess the Getty slots that are open to iStock exclusives would fall in here too - is great in theory. In practice, Fotolia's got a pile of over-priced, out-dated rubbish that shouldn't be on the site at all, let alone selling for $520 for the largest size.

123's EVO has good quality images, but they honestly don't look very different from those in the regular price collection. And looking at a few, there are other images shown in the More of this Model which are the regular price. The price differences aren't quite as large (regular vs. EVO), so maybe buyers won't mind so much.


 

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