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Author Topic: What is keeping you from going full time in Microstock  (Read 4494 times)

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tab62

« on: June 27, 2013, 15:28 »
0
I have often thought about going full time on this hobby but have continued to do part time for the following reasons-

1. Fear that I am not good enough
2. Too many changes occurring on commissions
3. My day time job income and benefits are too high to achieve in the MS world
4. Afraid I might run out of ideas

Yet, I often think about what if...

Your thoughts?


Ron

« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2013, 15:43 »
0
Not enough money to pay the bills, by a mile. LOL

« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2013, 15:48 »
+1
]
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 12:44 by Audi 5000 »

Ron

« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2013, 15:53 »
+2
Why give up a $60K day job for something completely unsustainable?

tab62

« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2013, 15:55 »
+1
"Seems straight forward, you aren't ready to do it."

I guess I would know if I am ready? I've been told if you don't go for it you will never know...

« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2013, 16:08 »
+3
Why give up a $60K day job for something completely unsustainable?

Exactly I thought about it in the past and I am fortunate I did not take that fork in the road.  I do not want my main income coming from corrupt and unstable sites that are willing to throw us under the bus for a dime.

lisafx

« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2013, 16:37 »
+14
I went FT when this was a growing, thriving industry with raises every year for contributors on most sites (either through higher commissions or higher prices or both).  Seemed like a very strong decision at the time and paid off well for a few years.   

The last couple of years the trend is toward lower commissions, and lower prices.  Combined with market saturation, I wouldn't dream of giving up a day job to go into stock shooting FT today.  In fact a number of folks who went FT in the glory days seem to be posting about getting day jobs again. 

« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2013, 18:11 »
+3
These days, if you are going to earn a fat sum from microstock you need to have pretty much world-class photographic and photoshop skills .... and if you've got those, why not use them for something that pays better?

It's worked out well enough for me but, like Lisa, I started a long, long time ago and now it seems that if I am going to make decent money from new material I need to start making print sales.

shudderstok

« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2013, 19:45 »
+3
Why give up a $60K day job for something completely unsustainable?

you couldn't pay me 60K per year to take a day job.

shudderstok

« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2013, 19:49 »
+1
These days, if you are going to earn a fat sum from microstock you need to have pretty much world-class photographic and photoshop skills .... and if you've got those, why not use them for something that pays better?

It's worked out well enough for me but, like Lisa, I started a long, long time ago and now it seems that if I am going to make decent money from new material I need to start making print sales.

It's always been this way, you need to be skilled at what you do, microstock just allowed those with lesser skills into the stock industry with high expectations of making a FT living. in all the articles i have read about "making millions" shooting microstock, there is never a mention of being skilled and working your arse off, or rather treating it like a full time day job. just sayin.

lisafx

« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2013, 22:52 »
0

It's always been this way, you need to be skilled at what you do, microstock just allowed those with lesser skills into the stock industry with high expectations of making a FT living. in all the articles i have read about "making millions" shooting microstock, there is never a mention of being skilled and working your arse off, or rather treating it like a full time day job. just sayin.

Yeah, no kidding.  Anyone who actually was/is successful at doing microstock FT already knows this.  And all those folks coming in droves expecting easy money were most likely quite disappointed. 

« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 00:41 »
0
Why give up a $60K day job for something completely unsustainable?

you couldn't pay me 60K per year to take a day job.

I'd give up my day job, which pays considerably more than that, in a heartbeat to work on photography full time, if I didn't have other priorities that I want even more than being a full-time photographer.  Repairing and renovating our currently flood-damaged and otherwise crazy-layout house so we have a cosy home to live in for the rest of our lives is one of those priorities, the other is private but very important to me.  Oh, and since I was an irresponsible young adult and currently have practically no pension, I should probably get a bit more money into that first (oh, the excitement!).

I'm hoping in ten years or so I can give up the day job, take that hit in income as I know photography will never provide an equivalent, and work my butt off making a living in photography, but from what I've seen so far I doubt it'll be microstock that provides that living for me when I do.

« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 02:08 »
+1
These days, if you are going to earn a fat sum from microstock you need to have pretty much world-class photographic and photoshop skills .... and if you've got those, why not use them for something that pays better?

It's worked out well enough for me but, like Lisa, I started a long, long time ago and now it seems that if I am going to make decent money from new material I need to start making print sales.

It's always been this way, you need to be skilled at what you do, microstock just allowed those with lesser skills into the stock industry with high expectations of making a FT living. in all the articles i have read about "making millions" shooting microstock, there is never a mention of being skilled and working your arse off, or rather treating it like a full time day job. just sayin.

Yes, the articles are deficient. But back in 2004 you didn't need to have anything more than average point-and-shoot skills to get good money from iStock. And I was getting almost a dollar per file per month from "low commercial value" pictures (I've never done people). A lot of the stuff was poorly lit, too, but it still got through and sold. Much of it has ended up in the "value bin" now but some of it still sells.  I was lucky to be able to learn on the job (so did Yuri, actually, but he did it a damned sight faster than I did).

« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 02:25 »
0
Nothing is stopping me. I'm doing it almost full time ( combined with another photography part time job ). Unfortunately, in my country it's very hard to get jobs with those huge salaries like you guys say you have ( 60k salary, even the number scares me  :o ). Here, you have to work until exhaustion even for 200 dollars a month. And pass the limits of exhaustion for more than 200 dollars. My brother for example, he has around 2000 dollars a month ( that's simply HUGE for this country ), but has no time to spend with his family or even eat/sleep properly. Of course I wouldn't mind that sum, but I wouldn't be able to live like that.

This is why I do microstock + the other job full time. I can work whenever I want, wake up late, get a vacation when I need it and decide my own schedule. Not to say that I absolutely adore what I do. I get around 300-400 dollars from these two activities combined, which is perfect for my needs at the moment, because I don't have a family to feed or rent to pay. And I hope I'll earn even more after I finish university and will have more time for work. My portfolio is still tiny.

I'll probably not going to do it full time forever, because I'm building another career besides photography. But if I do get a full time job, I'll do it because I love my other hobby as well and not because I don't get enough money from photography ( at least at the moment ).

shudderstok

« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2013, 02:40 »
0
These days, if you are going to earn a fat sum from microstock you need to have pretty much world-class photographic and photoshop skills .... and if you've got those, why not use them for something that pays better?

It's worked out well enough for me but, like Lisa, I started a long, long time ago and now it seems that if I am going to make decent money from new material I need to start making print sales.

It's always been this way, you need to be skilled at what you do, microstock just allowed those with lesser skills into the stock industry with high expectations of making a FT living. in all the articles i have read about "making millions" shooting microstock, there is never a mention of being skilled and working your arse off, or rather treating it like a full time day job. just sayin.

Yes, the articles are deficient. But back in 2004 you didn't need to have anything more than average point-and-shoot skills to get good money from iStock. And I was getting almost a dollar per file per month from "low commercial value" pictures (I've never done people). A lot of the stuff was poorly lit, too, but it still got through and sold. Much of it has ended up in the "value bin" now but some of it still sells.  I was lucky to be able to learn on the job (so did Yuri, actually, but he did it a damned sight faster than I did).

i guess i am lucky in this regard, i have been shooting full time for 25+ years, and used IS as a dumping ground for all my getty rejects after a lot of deliberation in bringing myself to sell my images for next to nothing, and hit a second gold rush by doing so. at one point it was yuri who???? basically replicating what was already being done in lifestyle photography over at the traditional agencies but selling for a fraction of the price and coming out of nowhere. one thing for sure, the micros sure changed the profession in terms of professionalism and to some degree quality, and without a doubt the valuation of income derived from it. lots of great micro shooters out there for sure, but the ratio of poor quality defies me as being accepted.

« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 05:17 »
+1
These days, if you are going to earn a fat sum from microstock you need to have pretty much world-class photographic and photoshop skills .... and if you've got those, why not use them for something that pays better?

It's worked out well enough for me but, like Lisa, I started a long, long time ago and now it seems that if I am going to make decent money from new material I need to start making print sales.

It's always been this way, you need to be skilled at what you do, microstock just allowed those with lesser skills into the stock industry with high expectations of making a FT living. in all the articles i have read about "making millions" shooting microstock, there is never a mention of being skilled and working your arse off, or rather treating it like a full time day job. just sayin.

Yes, the articles are deficient. But back in 2004 you didn't need to have anything more than average point-and-shoot skills to get good money from iStock. And I was getting almost a dollar per file per month from "low commercial value" pictures (I've never done people). A lot of the stuff was poorly lit, too, but it still got through and sold. Much of it has ended up in the "value bin" now but some of it still sells.  I was lucky to be able to learn on the job (so did Yuri, actually, but he did it a damned sight faster than I did).

i guess i am lucky in this regard, i have been shooting full time for 25+ years, and used IS as a dumping ground for all my getty rejects after a lot of deliberation in bringing myself to sell my images for next to nothing, and hit a second gold rush by doing so. at one point it was yuri who???? basically replicating what was already being done in lifestyle photography over at the traditional agencies but selling for a fraction of the price and coming out of nowhere. one thing for sure, the micros sure changed the profession in terms of professionalism and to some degree quality, and without a doubt the valuation of income derived from it. lots of great micro shooters out there for sure, but the ratio of poor quality defies me as being accepted.

Yuri wasn't the pioneer of copying lifestyle (and other) work. That was Lise Gagne.

Ron

« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2013, 05:28 »
0
Why give up a $60K day job for something completely unsustainable?

you couldn't pay me 60K per year to take a day job.
I agree, if I made 100k a year taking photos, or 50k for that matter, I wouldnt take a day job either. But I am not giving up a 60K day job for full time microstocking, which has a very shaky future. And I am not good enough yet to generate thousands of dollars per month with photography. As soon as I can make a living with photography in general, I would give up my day job in a second.

« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2013, 05:42 »
0
I was a full time designer/illustrator before microstock..

I am still a full time illustrator and prefer to do a lot LESS custom work and more microstock..

this question does not really apply to me but I joined shutterstock in 2007 (the first site I joined) and since 2008, I consider myself a full time microstock illustrator who still occasionally does custom work..

« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2013, 07:51 »
0
Unless I earn a 5 figure income every month in microstock, I can't afford to give up my day job.

Tror

« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2013, 08:20 »
0
Wow, you guys talk about earning sums way higher that I am used to ....60000 y year? Monthly 5 figure...wow! I would love to have a job like that.

I do not live in a poor area of the world, earn a low 4 figure in Microstock and am almost full time.  Microstock is stress but so is any job. There are not many securities anymore in the world and nothing seems to be too stable anymore. Plus I do not have to deal with the total PITA Monster called "Client" :D


« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2013, 08:40 »
+6
Luckily, I'm in a place where my huge drop in earnings isn't immediately an issue.  However, if I was just starting out, I can't imagine thinking, "Boy, maybe I could survive on this", like I did in 2005.  Where the more you worked and uploaded, and the more IS innovated and pushed, the more my income jumped.  You could see results.  Now, with more than 1000 images on P5, and not a sale in 15 days, I don't know how anyone would think positively.

« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2013, 08:42 »
+1
Wow, you guys talk about earning sums way higher that I am used to ....60000 y year? Monthly 5 figure...wow! I would love to have a job like that.

You might not. I took about an 85% pay cut when I switched to full time - and I've never been happier. It's the most stress-free lifestyle I've ever had (if I'd carried on with what I was doing before I would be both a millionaire and dead by now!).
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 08:45 by BaldricksTrousers »

« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2013, 09:09 »
+1
Luckily, I'm in a place where my huge drop in earnings isn't immediately an issue.  However, if I was just starting out, I can't imagine thinking, "Boy, maybe I could survive on this", like I did in 2005.  Where the more you worked and uploaded, and the more IS innovated and pushed, the more my income jumped.  You could see results.  Now, with more than 1000 images on P5, and not a sale in 15 days, I don't know how anyone would think positively.

IF you really spread your content to as many agencies as you can (15-20 for optimal results) I think it is impossible for you to earn less than istock..

Istock represents 1/15 of my earnings right now and I don't see how going exclusive would compensate the loss..

I am sure you are not yet fully taking the advantage of non-exclusivity..

Oh! and I am not on pond5.. not expecting much from them..

« Reply #23 on: June 28, 2013, 09:11 »
0
FT and IS will force me to abandon my full time Microstock... ;)

« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2013, 15:18 »
+2
I have often thought about going full time on this hobby but have continued to do part time for the following reasons-

1. Fear that I am not good enough
2. Too many changes occurring on commissions
3. My day time job income and benefits are too high to achieve in the MS world
4. Afraid I might run out of ideas

Yet, I often think about what if...

Your thoughts?

Reasons 1-4 pretty much sum it up for me  ;D

« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2013, 10:09 »
0
I know many people who have made it through FT.  Full time microstock may not work until you have staff to handle your various things.  Going full time would also involve thinking like a business man who would be able to generate money to feed people and keep staff available.  I think Microstock + Agency like Getty or better publications would work if someone wishes to leave day Job.

Google for a book "photographer's market 2013" by Mary Burzlaff Bostic, (I have no biz with the publishers or authors), I found it interesting. The guys who survived in this market, found better way of marketing their work. Microstock alone will not do the trick for new entrants. I do not have resources right now to become FT.

« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2013, 11:27 »
+2
I agree with Lisa.

I think it is mathematically feasible to go full time in Microstock. It becomes a matter of having enough marketable images at a majority of the successful agencies. The problem is, as Lisa and others have noted, you cannot depend on the agencies to not burn you when you least expect it. Commission cuts, and in the case of one former IS exclusive - outright expulsion for defending his images' copyrights, have brought us to the point where the only way to defend your future is to sell on your own, or sign a contractual agreement with an agency where your terms are guaranteed for X number of years.

Who would go full time today not knowing if your commission percentage tomorrow will be 50%, 20%, or 15%? Or if your credit sales will suddenly become ultra low commission subscription sales? Or if your images will be given away to Google as part of some half-wit promotion? It just isn't worth the risk to me. So microstock remains a healthy side income for me. I would never depend on it.

tab62

« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2013, 12:18 »
0
new addition to my concerns' list on why I wouldn't go full time to MS world-


5. No PP payments on time unless you consider 60+ days after month end on time...

« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2013, 14:33 »
+1
Who would go full time today not knowing if your commission percentage tomorrow will be 50%, 20%, or 15%?

That's it, in a nutshell.   Images can take years to pay off even if commissions remained steady.   Basically you're producing a product and handing it to someone else to sell at any price they choose. 

The steady rain of commission cuts has killed the motivation of current microstockers and discouraged potential new ones. 
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 15:30 by stockastic »

« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2013, 14:55 »
+1
My main problem is that I'm living in a nordic country. It's very expensive to live here, If I'd move to - let's say - Poland, I could quit my other work instantly.

I also like some of my commissioned work: I like to meet interesting people and visit interesting places - I would not like to quit that completely. But I would certainly like to be able to say "no" to certain clients :)
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 15:22 by Perry »

« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2013, 15:02 »
0
A mortgage to pay and need to boost retirement savings, along with a bit of instability in my husband's job are the main reasons.  Day job is relatively painless and too lucrative to give up right now.  But in about 6 years I'll be at a reasonable retirement age and mortgage will be paid off so I may be pulling the trigger and going full time or at least a lot more hours of part time.  Of course that will depend a lot on the state of the industry at that time.

« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2013, 15:05 »
+1
Microstock for me is my full time job which was fine when I started out.  Back when I started I was a stay at home mom which was fine it brought in extra money to help pay the bills and incidentals.

That has definitely changed this year with sales being really terrible to start the year off I've started looking for a regular job in the last two months.  Very hard to come by even with my diverse work history that I had before I had kids.

If you can do it that's great I wish those that are full time the best of luck, for me I have to get back into the rat race.

« Reply #32 on: July 04, 2013, 18:11 »
0
FT and IS will force me to abandon my full time Microstock... ;)

That's what I was thinking exactly.  I am shifting my shooting to build a big POD collection and more RM with my underwater work.  I am also going to start experimenting with video.  I am not full time either, but I work like it. I am working after my day job, before my day job and every weekend for 12-14 hours.  My goal isn't to go full time right now, but in five years when I am still in my 50's. My house will be paid off by then and it becomes more feasible once that monkey is off my back. We'll see.  I got into MS too late so I am feeling the bug tug to get ahead.  More uploading does not = more revenue.  It's all I can do to break even each month, let alone be happy I only lost $200-$300 bucks.

« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2013, 20:43 »
+3
I came very late to the Microstock market... started off as an exercise to keep away the Christmas blues this year.

My expenses are very low ( I can live nicely on $10 a day) so I am really considering putting the push on to be a serious Microstocker. 

One of the things that is holding me back is burn-out. The last time I lived off of the proceeds of my photography I ended up hating my camera and losing the desire to shoot.

Now that my camera and I are friends again, I don't want to destroy that relationship.

« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2013, 22:23 »
0
]
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 12:25 by Audi 5000 »


 

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