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Author Topic: New MicroStock site concept -- need feedback  (Read 25355 times)

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« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2011, 07:37 »
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If a portion of the images were exclusive to the site, that would be something to bring in buyers. But of course there would have to be an incentive for uploading images exclusively. But that has also been discussed.
Looking forward to seeing the result


« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2011, 07:38 »
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I wish you well with your idea Todd but I do wonder if you appreciate the likely cost of entry to the microstock market nowadays?

The last agency that started-up and made a sustained impact was probably Fotolia in Nov 2005. To gain credibility and the portfolios necessary to grow the library they had to pay contributors 20c-50c per image accepted. Back then there was probably less than 1M microstock images in existence. Today you'd probably need a minimum of 3M images just to offer the choice that buyers have come to expect. Then you'll need to finance a heavy marketing campaign for at least a couple of years.

My guess is that a serious new entry would have to be prepared to sink something like $10M of start-up capital into the project. However I reckon the total microstock market is worth roughly $500M annually and is also eye-wateringly profitable for the 'Big 5' agencies that dominate it. If you can grab a 10% share of that market then the $10M entry-fee is going to look very cheap.

Also, it isn't just about trying to lure contributors with "higher royalty rates".  As Gostwyck said, what do the buyers get out of it?  They aren't going to change buying habits just because you showed up with more of the same.  'Images as low as $1' etc.  There has to be something new and different, not just another front on the same stuff everyone else has.  You've got a positive attitude, and whilte today you "think it is ridiculous that an artist makes less than half of the "sale" price of the creative", tomorrow will likely be different and not surprisingly, you want to "own a small (yet majority stake in the company)", so, really, the contributors don't have a say in anything.

So, basically, just another site at this point.

lisafx

« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2011, 09:07 »
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I congratulate you on your goal of improving this industry for artists.  Unfortunately, most of us have already seen sites with similar stated goals fail to get off the ground or attract any customers.  See the Clustershot thread where they sold a grand total of 386 images before having to close (sell) shop.

For those of us with larger portfolios and established customer bases, it is too big an investment of time and energy to come on board with a new site unless there is some incentive to reimburse our time.  As unhappy as many of us are with the current situation, our time will still probably be more productively rewarded growing our portfolios on existing sites. 

There are already other fair trade sites in existence - Stockfresh, and GraphicLeftovers, to name a couple.  Also, many of us are in the process of building our own sites, both in groups or individually. 

I'm not trying to throw cold water on your idea.  Just suggesting that you should probably have some concrete site infrastructure in place BEFORE trying to recruit contributors, if you want to be taken more seriously. 

« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2011, 09:40 »
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to answer your original question... I would put it in the new sites area or the general stock discussion area.

No worries though, if you post in the wrong area, it is pretty easy to move a thread. 

« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2011, 14:16 »
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I think there is still room for new agencies.  If I were to go beyond the collection of contributors idea and build a full agency, I would look for a cap of about 1-2 million images maximum.  I would stress that the agency was premium stock.  Show me an agency with 15 million images, and I will show you an agency with 13 million images that nobody wants.

Also I feel the door is wide open for offering a better buyer's experience.  Beyond the technical difficulties at IS, if you look at how they treat some of their buyers in the forum, I'd say their customer relations is terrible.

« Reply #30 on: March 27, 2011, 14:30 »
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Hi Todd, there have been a few sites that have tried paying the contributors a big commission and so far none of them have been successful.  I don't understand why people continue uploading to istock when I'm sure their costs have come down over the years but they have cut commissions.  It makes no sense to me but I think you need to be a psychology expert to understand why big companies can pay so little to their contributors while increasing their profits every year.  There's a huge fear factor, people don't want to miss out on earning money by making a stand.  They see the amount of money they can make with the sites that pay low commissions and the small earnings from new sites.  They are unwilling to back new sites.  Buyers usually stick with the sites they know, they aren't interested in new sites with smaller collections of images.

I think the only way to break out of this horrible situation would be to go to the buyers and get them interested in a site that's better for all of us.  Pay us higher commissions and we can keep prices low.  We can spend more making new images and it will keep the best contributors motivated to stay in this business.  At the moment, a lot of us can't see a long future in microstock.

I really hope you don't put any money in to this without working out how to attract buyers to the site and keep them there.  Contributors have a real lack of patience with new sites, many of us are wondering if it's worth using new sites at all.  Lots of people upload there portfolios and delete them in a few months if there's low sales.  There's a real barrier to entry that most new site owners haven't anticipated.  If you can work out how to make your site different to those that have failed in recent years, you will make money but the odds are heavily stacked against you.

I'm sure one day someone will come up with the solution and we will all use a site that pays better commissions and I really hope you're the man to do this.  I wish you lots of luck.

Good post, and I appreciate the candor. I "feel your pain" when it comes to feeling as though you are being squeezed by the big guys.  And you're right, the key to all of this is attracting buyers.  Without buyers, the best idea in the world is dead anyway.  A key component to my plan is artist-ownership and revenue sharing.  Maybe it's being done now, or has been done before -- but either way, the idea is not the industry-standard; so there is opportunity there.  I feel that if the contributors have ownership, then they will have incentive to help market the site.  After all, each time an image is purchased, or a good is produced...whether with their own artwork or not, they will profit. 

« Reply #31 on: March 27, 2011, 14:32 »
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I am a little perplexed though....what part of my plan (though very little has been disclosed) would prompt "outraged disbelief?"  I mean...if someone wants no part of it, then why get worked up over it?
I think that some IS exclusives see any new site as a possible threat to IS. That means a threat to their income. And, also, it is emotional: (most) IS exclusives love IS to a certain extent, so they must hate all other sites that same extent.

Then, some people are iconoclasts by nature, and feel compelled to attack any new idea.


Reality check.

"Iconoclast" - Dictionary definition, "One who exposes or destroys impositions or shams; one who attacks cherished beliefs; a radical."

Exactly the opposite of your understanding of the word.

Gannet77 -- just wanted to point out that I didn't say anything about an "iconoclast."  That was a post by someone else, and I commented on it.

« Reply #32 on: March 27, 2011, 14:42 »
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I wish you well with your idea Todd but I do wonder if you appreciate the likely cost of entry to the microstock market nowadays?

The last agency that started-up and made a sustained impact was probably Fotolia in Nov 2005. To gain credibility and the portfolios necessary to grow the library they had to pay contributors 20c-50c per image accepted. Back then there was probably less than 1M microstock images in existence. Today you'd probably need a minimum of 3M images just to offer the choice that buyers have come to expect. Then you'll need to finance a heavy marketing campaign for at least a couple of years.

My guess is that a serious new entry would have to be prepared to sink something like $10M of start-up capital into the project. However I reckon the total microstock market is worth roughly $500M annually and is also eye-wateringly profitable for the 'Big 5' agencies that dominate it. If you can grab a 10% share of that market then the $10M entry-fee is going to look very cheap.

Well...I think there are different levels of entry for any business or industry.  I am a big dreamer, but even planning to gain 10% of the market is not in my scope -- at least not right now anyway ;)

I've said earlier, that my area of expertise lies in vector art and illustrations.  I am Graphic Designer by trade, so I have been involved from all levels...buyer, contributor -- and now, hopefully, agency.  Along with my background in Design, I have a background in printing, marketing, fulfillment.  I feel these things go well together and will offer opportunities for cross-selling and other markets.

So with all that said, I am starting to lean toward specializing in the niche market that I know up one side and down the other, and that is marketing graphics to t-shirt and sign companies, and also marketing the site directly to the printed apparel and graphic market.  We're talking, CustomInk meets Istock.

Microbius

« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2011, 14:42 »
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I think your idea is very exciting.
We have spoken about this a few times here, a co-op or site run like the John Lewis Partnership for contributors, but nothing has happened yet, hopefully you could be the man for it. Try a search on the forum for "John Lewis"
I think the main stumbling block to getting people to sign up is that the other sites may view it as a breach of terms; running a competing stock site.

« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2011, 14:54 »
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Hi Todd
Thanks for posting your personal info here, it helps to know who we are talking to, especially when you are asking for other people's trust.

We have a lot in common and we're almost neighbors. I'm a freelance graphic/web designer in Greenville.

I've been in microstock since 2005. I only have a port of about 600 images, but I would be interested in your idea. Not as an owner, though. I don't mind paying a royalty to an agency but it has gotten way out of hand. 85% to them is WAY too much.

I will continue to follow your thread and see what develops. I wish you success with your venture.

Yes, G'ville is right around the corner!

I agree that 85% is out of hand...and you're not only talking about a low percentage, but in a lot of cases you are losing money because the images are priced lower than they should be.

« Reply #35 on: March 27, 2011, 15:06 »
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Also, it isn't just about trying to lure contributors with "higher royalty rates".  As Gostwyck said, what do the buyers get out of it?  They aren't going to change buying habits just because you showed up with more of the same.  'Images as low as $1' etc.  There has to be something new and different, not just another front on the same stuff everyone else has.  You've got a positive attitude, and whilte today you "think it is ridiculous that an artist makes less than half of the "sale" price of the creative", tomorrow will likely be different and not surprisingly, you want to "own a small (yet majority stake in the company)", so, really, the contributors don't have a say in anything.

So, basically, just another site at this point.

Part of the reason I posted this in the first place, is to find out "what's missing" for contributors....that they would like to see in a site.  By providing ownership for the contributors, I feel a lot of the needs will be met by the owners/partners demanding it.  And while I want to maintain the majority stake in the project, in no way does it mean that contributors don't have a say in anything.  There has to be someone in charge -- and I would be that person, at least initially.  But I hope you can tell from my posts, I think it should be run on a "majority rules" basis.  It's not at all what "I" want, but what the community wants, that will be overriding factor on how it all pans out.

« Reply #36 on: March 27, 2011, 15:12 »
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If a portion of the images were exclusive to the site, that would be something to bring in buyers. But of course there would have to be an incentive for uploading images exclusively. But that has also been discussed.
Looking forward to seeing the result

You're right, the real key is getting and maintaing buyers.  The plan, while in initial stages at this point, is starting to take shape and this theme will definitely be addressed.

« Reply #37 on: March 27, 2011, 15:17 »
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I congratulate you on your goal of improving this industry for artists.  Unfortunately, most of us have already seen sites with similar stated goals fail to get off the ground or attract any customers.  See the Clustershot thread where they sold a grand total of 386 images before having to close (sell) shop.

For those of us with larger portfolios and established customer bases, it is too big an investment of time and energy to come on board with a new site unless there is some incentive to reimburse our time.  As unhappy as many of us are with the current situation, our time will still probably be more productively rewarded growing our portfolios on existing sites.  

There are already other fair trade sites in existence - Stockfresh, and GraphicLeftovers, to name a couple.  Also, many of us are in the process of building our own sites, both in groups or individually.  

I'm not trying to throw cold water on your idea.  Just suggesting that you should probably have some concrete site infrastructure in place BEFORE trying to recruit contributors, if you want to be taken more seriously.  

You may have misunderstood my initial post.  I have a concept in place -- and currently working to build the infrastructure; which is why I have all the questions.  I am looking for the community to tell me the changes they would like to see.  The site will be built "for artists, by artists."  I am not trying to recruit contributors...please tell me where in my postings that it seemed I was at that stage, and I will edit the post so that others will not misunderstand this.

« Reply #38 on: March 27, 2011, 15:53 »
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I think there is still room for new agencies.  If I were to go beyond the collection of contributors idea and build a full agency, I would look for a cap of about 1-2 million images maximum.  I would stress that the agency was premium stock.  Show me an agency with 15 million images, and I will show you an agency with 13 million images that nobody wants.

Also I feel the door is wide open for offering a better buyer's experience.  Beyond the technical difficulties at IS, if you look at how they treat some of their buyers in the forum, I'd say their customer relations is terrible.

Good post...I think we're on the same page here.  Let me just say that I have some experience on the contributor's side...and have dealt with "management" at a particular agency, and the attitude I encountered was unlike any I have ever experienced before.  I vowed at that time to give Artists an alternative to what I viewed as a dictatorship -- with emotion and personality (or lack thereof) taking precedence over merit and substance.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 15:59 by eStockArt »

« Reply #39 on: March 27, 2011, 16:39 »
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"And while I want to maintain the majority stake in the project, in no way does it mean that contributors don't have a say in anything."

A say is great.  Control is better.  Why don't you give the contributors control?  Otherwise you're just another guy running an agency.  A guy with no track record here to back you up.

« Reply #40 on: March 27, 2011, 16:41 »
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"So with all that said, I am starting to lean toward specializing in the niche market that I know up one side and down the other, and that is marketing graphics to t-shirt and sign companies, and also marketing the site directly to the printed apparel and graphic market.  We're talking, CustomInk meets Istock."

There's already one of those at least.  Signstock or something.  Search the forum.

lisafx

« Reply #41 on: March 27, 2011, 16:42 »
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You may have misunderstood my initial post.  I have a concept in place -- and currently working to build the infrastructure; which is why I have all the questions.

Yes, apparently I did misunderstand your post.  A lot of people come in here blowing smoke, and very few actually deliver anything.  If you have been following these forums for some time, or do a search, you will see the landscape is littered with also-ran agencies that never got off the ground.  

As I said, I am not trying to pour cold water on your idea.  Just to explain the reasons for some of the skepticism you are seeing.  Hopefully you will be that one-in-a-million who follows through and builds a successful agency.  

Wish you the best of luck.  :)

« Reply #42 on: March 27, 2011, 17:06 »
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Don't get us wrong eStock.  I doubt there are too many people here who would want to see you fail, as most of us are looking for some way out of our current agencies.  It's just that we all have some idea what the barriers to entry are in microstock, and you are going to have to hit the cover off the ball from Day 1 if you are going to survive, let alone make a mark against iStock, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime.

« Reply #43 on: March 27, 2011, 19:02 »
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"And while I want to maintain the majority stake in the project, in no way does it mean that contributors don't have a say in anything."

A say is great.  Control is better.  Why don't you give the contributors control?  Otherwise you're just another guy running an agency.  A guy with no track record here to back you up.

Actually the contributors would have control -- collectively.  I was saying I wanted a majority stake, not majority control.  Obviously, since this is an initial fact-finding mission, the details are not worked out -- but since I would be the founder of the organization, I can't see any one person owning more than I would; but if there's a scenario where it makes sense that it be structured another way, and it would benefit the group as a whole -- and it would still be worth my while (time + investment vs compensation), then I am open to suggestions.

The money is important, but I already earn a living through my business, so it's not THE driving force.

« Reply #44 on: March 27, 2011, 19:22 »
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I think your idea is very exciting.
We have spoken about this a few times here, a co-op or site run like the John Lewis Partnership for contributors, but nothing has happened yet, hopefully you could be the man for it. Try a search on the forum for "John Lewis"
I think the main stumbling block to getting people to sign up is that the other sites may view it as a breach of terms; running a competing stock site.

I read the thread you mention, and it seems very similar to what I am proposing.  I have never been on these forums before yesterday.  Yet, I have had this concept in mind for several years.  When I first started as a contributor, I did it half-way and still made some decent money.  I thought it was the best thing going.  I realized that compensation was low, but I was thinking "what the heck," I've got my business and this is a good way to supplement my income.  Then, it all changed.  I had a "run in" with "management" and was treated like I child.  I didn't like it, and I am still PO'd about it -- even years later.  People should not be treated like "cattle" and that's how (some of them) treat you.

Now...I know that there are several contributors out there making BIG money in microstock with the big agencies.  But it's a lot like the NFL.  You have your "stars" making huge money year in and year out, and then you have the guys in the trenches...working hard, for "base" pay.  IMO, it's time that the "regular guy" get paid his due.

If you are already making a boat-load of money....then if I were you, I would stay with the status quo and keep making my money.  My concept is for those that are fed up and want to do something about it.  And if successful, it would benefit the whole lot of contributors.

« Reply #45 on: March 27, 2011, 19:44 »
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"You have your "stars" making huge money year in and year out, and then you have the guys in the trenches...working hard, for "base" pay.  IMO, it's time that the "regular guy" get paid his due."

So, your concept is socialist micro?  Seriously, you can't go in saying 'I'm here to reward the regular guy', because, to be honest, the 'big guys' are big because they make what sells.  For starters, just stick with the idea of a very modest, at least 50%, royalty for everyone.  Not that that will matter.  There are those who offer more that fail because the buyers aren't there.

So, is this another images for $1 site?

« Reply #46 on: March 27, 2011, 19:44 »
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"So with all that said, I am starting to lean toward specializing in the niche market that I know up one side and down the other, and that is marketing graphics to t-shirt and sign companies, and also marketing the site directly to the printed apparel and graphic market.  We're talking, CustomInk meets Istock."

There's already one of those at least.  Signstock or something.  Search the forum.

The site I found (isignstock) specializes in stock art for sign industry, this is not what I am talking about.  Please let me know if it is a different site you had in mind.  However, in this case, I am not going to be discouraged if someone else is doing what I propose with the cross-merchandising...because if they had the market covered, I would have known their name without having to think about it, and you could have told me their exact name.  Besides, I don't have illusions thinking I am the only guy with "an idea" out there.  Things are improved upon every day.  Look at what happened to MySpace when Facebook came along.  And does anybody remember RebelArt.com? This was WAY before istockphoto...but they were crushed when somebody came along and did it better.  Aside from that, I am not even looking to crush the competition....just to put an alternative out there for people who are like-minded.

« Reply #47 on: March 27, 2011, 19:58 »
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Things are improved upon every day.  Look at what happened to MySpace when Facebook came along.  And does anybody remember RebelArt.com? This was WAY before istockphoto...but they were crushed when somebody came along and did it better.  Aside from that, I am not even looking to crush the competition....just to put an alternative out there for people who are like-minded.

I'm not sure what you're improving upon here.  I mean, the existing sites market to all kinds of buyers, including apparel makers and cards and everything.  You haven't said anything about groundbreaking site ideas or how the site would be different for buyers.  Contributors are (relatively) easy to get - all you need to do is offer a high royalty rate, but if you can't back that up with buyers, it means nothing.  Or offer payment for uploads, but even that doesn't drag them in anymore.

There are plenty of alternatives out there.  I can google all day long and find microstock sites.  I'm not seeing anything different here.  And since you still keep the majority, you can still change things to benefit you in the end.  No surprise there.  Good luck if you have something hidden in your back pocket.

« Reply #48 on: March 27, 2011, 20:27 »
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"You have your "stars" making huge money year in and year out, and then you have the guys in the trenches...working hard, for "base" pay.  IMO, it's time that the "regular guy" get paid his due."

So, your concept is socialist micro?  Seriously, you can't go in saying 'I'm here to reward the regular guy', because, to be honest, the 'big guys' are big because they make what sells.  For starters, just stick with the idea of a very modest, at least 50%, royalty for everyone.  Not that that will matter.  There are those who offer more that fail because the buyers aren't there.

So, is this another images for $1 site?

I hope nobody else is getting this vibe from me ("socialist" concept, and $1 images) -- so the answer is "no" on both counts. 

When I say "regular guy," I mean the guy who is not already doing 6 figures (or close to it) in microstock.  If you are making big money, you probably don't care what the cut is, as long as you are making an amount of money that most only dream about. 

I think there are A LOT of contributors out there that would really step up to the plate if the payout % were better, but they don't see the use.  Why spend 4 hours doing a piece of art, then take the time to upload it -- when you know that even if it is downloaded 10 times in a month, you are only going to see about $20?  (if that much)  On the contrary, if your percentage was such that you could get $60 month from such images, you might be enticed to produce and load more (quality) images. 

« Reply #49 on: March 27, 2011, 20:37 »
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"You have your "stars" making huge money year in and year out, and then you have the guys in the trenches...working hard, for "base" pay.  IMO, it's time that the "regular guy" get paid his due."

So, your concept is socialist micro?  Seriously, you can't go in saying 'I'm here to reward the regular guy', because, to be honest, the 'big guys' are big because they make what sells.  For starters, just stick with the idea of a very modest, at least 50%, royalty for everyone.  Not that that will matter.  There are those who offer more that fail because the buyers aren't there.

So, is this another images for $1 site?

I hope nobody else is getting this vibe from me ("socialist" concept, and $1 images) -- so the answer is "no" on both counts.  

When I say "regular guy," I mean the guy who is not already doing 6 figures (or close to it) in microstock.  If you are making big money, you probably don't care what the cut is, as long as you are making an amount of money that most only dream about.  

I think there are A LOT of contributors out there that would really step up to the plate if the payout % were better, but they don't see the use.  Why spend 4 hours doing a piece of art, then take the time to upload it -- when you know that even if it is downloaded 10 times in a month, you are only going to see about $20?  (if that much)  On the contrary, if your percentage was such that you could get $60 month from such images, you might be enticed to produce and load more (quality) images.  

I agree with you. I'm small potatoes, but I have heard from some who have WAY more images than I about how unmotivated they are. They are looking for a reason to be motivated again.

Quote
From Sean:
So, your concept is socialist micro?  Seriously, you can't go in saying 'I'm here to reward the regular guy', because, to be honest, the 'big guys' are big because they make what sells.  For starters, just stick with the idea of a very modest, at least 50%, royalty for everyone.  Not that that will matter.  There are those who offer more that fail because the buyers aren't there.

There are plenty of "small and medium-sized contributors" who have images that sell...but it's tough when the "big guys" have flooded the site with thousands of images and everyone else gets pushed back in the search just from the shear volume.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 20:39 by cclapper »


 

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