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Messages - DWL

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1
New Sites - General / Re: Zoonar.de
« on: July 01, 2009, 15:53 »
Quick look, and the home page and search result pages are to cluttered for a stock imaging site, any serious stock imaging website aimed at higher paying professional buyers needs to be designed for the buyer and for a good "buyers experience", that is minimal clean and very functional no bells and whistles required.
  
A buyers time is valuable and they will visits a website to search and view images, but not one cluttered by advertisements, and where the thumbnails are way to small to view, the search results pages should be all about presenting larger readable thumbnails without the need to zoom every image, and not much else and these should be longest side about 170px and in 5 columns, lose the left menu that is taking up good real estate, as is the logon and advertisements, I do like the fact there is no mouse over pop-up!

In my opinion the first plan should be a site makeover from a buyers perspective, this might increase the poor reported sales.

Maybe the trick in choosing if to upload to a website is to look at the site as a buyer and see if the navigation and presentation are going to make you stay and bring you back.

This model has some of the features I like, the different image price points, and like Alamy the mixture of editorial and commercial, I may give this one a go and hope they sort the website out later and decide on the model.

David  ;D

2
"the cloud" ?  You mean this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing ?

That mentions:
Cloud computing customers do not generally own the physical infrastructure serving as host to the software platform in question. Instead, they avoid capital expenditure by renting usage from a third-party provider. They consume resources as a service and pay only for resources that they use.


That is correct many new stocksites use the "Amazon Cloud", when there is high demand in search requests there is an automatic system that will deal with this demand, server clones are quickly started up, these will multi-thread to deal with the traffic demands maintaining fast searches, as the traffic falls the clones are shut down, the stocksite only pays for the times each server is online and the traffic resources they used, this will maintain a minimum cost to market, and may allow for higher returns to the artists, technology is not a problem getting enough assets is a problem for new sites.
http://aws.amazon.com/what-is-aws/

When I started with microstock Istock were having problems with peak server demand, with the physical servers going to meltdown, to solve this there is a high cost in expanding their own the physical infrastructure to deal with peaks in demand, the higher costs to market affect what can be paid to artists.

There are online backup services for photographers that charge a monthly fee, I have an Amazon S3 bucket, in FireFox I have an S3 plug-in, I can upload store and download my assets into my own space for a much smaller cost, and I can take my laptop and providing I can get online have all my assets ready for download.
The selling point for me on this method is I only pay for what I use, if I do not upload or download then I am only charged for asset storage at micropayment rates, the first 150 images (900mb) I uploaded as a trail for a month cost $0.17, to upload, then $0.15 a month to store.  
http://aws.amazon.com/s3/#pricing

Many companies use Amazon Web Services so I do not see a problem:
Case Studies: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/
SmugMug: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/smugmug/
Alexa: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/alexa/
ShareThis: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/sharethis/

David

3
If you are going to contribute to MicroStock then Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom are more likely to be the industry standard and a better choice of editing software.

If you can download a 30 day trail of lightroom, try before you buy, then this article may help.

http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1324268

Lightroom 30 Day Trial: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=photoshop%5Flightroom

David  ;D

4
Quote
With many startups falling like flies, our risk to reward ratio is too high to warrant our investment without a financial risk from the new agency.

Many startups fail because established artists "sit on the fence" waiting to see what happens, a new agency could have $500.000+ of "financial risk" before going to market, it is not that cheap setting up a new business, the risk to the artist with a collection of stock quality assets is more of time and bandwith, the biggest risk is of faith "will this stocksite survive and not stuff the contributors later".

Nagging thoughts could be how can a new agency deliver higher percentages, one factor is cost, the older sites have the assets on olders technologies, newer sites are using "the cloud", SmugMug made a smart move and saved $1 Million back in 2007 moving to the cloud, so the new websites are starting with the cloud from a lower cost base, but without established artists submitting their portfolio's, new sites will pick up new contributors and a much higher cost with acceptance to rejections ratios which is a manual process and prepaid cost.  

Each site that fails adds strength the big players position and weakens the artists power base, it could be wise to "bite the bullet" to get behind a couple of new agencies and see what happens, maybe a special commission rate for one to two years with a coupon code from MicroStockGroup?.

It is a matter of Fair Trade, Chickens and Eggs: http://tinyurl.com/l8dqvb

David  ;D
    

5
If you think the time you spend uploading could be better spent shooting, preparing, you have a good acceptance rate and you are expecting to recoup more than 3c after uploading an image to an agency, read this blog!

http://microstockinsider.com/guides/isyndicacom-one-upload-multiple-sites

Quote from: Microstock Insider blog
I've just sent 8 different images to 12 agencies with isyndica, by the time I had finished uploading image number 8 (all 8 were done in a single step) and I clicked on the catalog tab to see the results I saw the first 7 images had already gone to all but one agency, the 8th was soon to follow - impressive stuff!

Great idea but the biggest showstoppers at the moment are expiring credits, and it does not support IS and SS.

David  ;D  

6
It is nice to spread happiness "Yippee!", it is also good to deal with un-happiness.

It looks like many are quite Happy with revenue, but un-happy with other aspects like rejections, I would fit into that option but it is not there to choose, some take the rejections to hard and personal, so my thoughts are not aimed at anyone specific.

There are many thousands of assets rejected every day and a very vey small percentage of these will be overturned, some may be reprocessed and accepted later, others will just never be acceptable by that website and not always on quality, but because they are just not needed, there are three ways that these rejections and feeling are dealt with and one of these can possibly reduce the number of rejections by using problem solving skills to change your target sites or workflow.

http://tinyurl.com/mfumm7

David
   

7
I must confess I am perplexed. Apparently most people are happy shooters, I just don't understand how this thread has become one in which some people fantasize about other people's failure and flaws, without even knowing them. I thought the question is about your own state of mind.

Do we have to point our fingers at others? If you are happy, can you just spread the good news and happiness?

Did this thread ask you for advice?

Does speculations on other people's failure and judgement on other people's unhappiness make you happy?

 ???

I am not sure where your comments are directed maybe at my thoughts, "some people fantasize about other people's failure and flaws", "Do we have to point our fingers at others?", where is this coming from, but I will answer in general terms.

This thread is a Topic in a shared multi-user forum, which like most other topics is a starting point for a diverse discussion, these topics or threads very often take another direction and will have different views, and I think that most users like to see these different opinions shared, if you wanted only your views then I can suggest http://www.wordpress.com where you can open a blog and have polls of your own.

Does anyone really think that sound free advice that may give a different perspective to someone that is un-happy as judgemental, then they may need to step back and consider their own thinking!

However I would agree if a thread attacks another user then that could be deemed as judgemental and it would not make me happy, but if by sharing another perspective and personal experiences can help someone then I would be happy, the bottom line is you read what you want, and can take or leave any comments or advice, what might not suit your perceptions might suit anothers.

When someone says they a happy you say "good" and do not often ask why, but when someone says they are un-happy you take time out to see if you can offer any advice that may help!

Current thinking:
There are three ways of dealing with un-happy feelings:
  • Avoidance: ignore and put things off, hope they go away
  • Emotionally: just blame everyone else and do nothing, after all it is all their fault
  • Problem focused: decide where you are and where you want to be, then action the 7 steps to get there, one element of these is seeking advice

The first two are easy but destructive, the third often requires hard choices      

David

8
Just think way back when when you first uploaded your first images.  Back when I started if I uploaded 10 I would get 9 or 10 accepted and they would sell within hours.  Now if I uploaded those same 10 I would get if I was lucky 1 or 2 accepted and then I would be lucky to sell anything within a month.
Bob
The problem here is that some will still be uploading the same content and have not learnt from the rejections and changed the content and workflow, as you say some will not understand take it as a personal insult and leave, others will take the same view as a soccer coach and play the averages, 100 shots and hope a couple get through.

There is a cost to the business for every image inspected accepted or rejected, it is 'Free' to upload many contributors think, so they keep up the high uploads of so-so images and a few will get accepted, but they are wrong as the cost is being meet by keeping commissions low and using some of the sales revenue to pay for the higher rejection rate, simple economics, the higher the rejection rate the higher the cost for each accepted image.

As libraries are starting to reject more images the costs to market are increasing and this will lead to another squeeze on the contributors, if these stocksite want to maintain contributors percentages then they need to look at the inspection cost and how they can deal with these and return higher percentages to the contributors.

Inspection is a manual process and the inspectors need to be paid, lets say an inspector is paid 0.05 (5 cents) to inspect a single image, the example above 2 from 10 accepted means the cost of getting the two images accepted is 0.25 cents each, a lot more per accepted image than the contributor that gets 8 from 10 accepted, but the careful contributor will get the same commission for a sale, the website will still have the cost of storing the rejected images for a while to answer any email complaints etc:

There are a few of ways to address this cost, first as some do now ban or limit the contributor uploads for a while, second is to reduce the contibutors share by a small percentage based on rejections, another being if you have an established collection and getting good sales, and a contributor is persistently getting high levels of rejections then charge 0.10 for each failed image back to the contributor this would make them realise there is a cost for rejected images and maybe do some research on each site as to what is getting accepted so they can target specific images to different website, this wil help with diversity.

The other comments about the same images coming up on all sites in searches, now with the size of the libraries there could be a couple of hundred images that are a keyword best match, and many of the same quality, how does and image with no views compare to the first in the search, as it has never been seen by a buyer they may never know.

The website weighs the images again with all sorts of fancy formulas, this is what brings the same images up on all sites, you have sort options for Best Match, Views, Downloads, Date etc:, these always start with what the website thinks is the Best Match.

One options missing is 'Random' just to to randomize the images within the search results, this would give a far better selection of images with high and no views on the same page to compare, and bring good images that may have been buried to the top.

David

9
Well, like everyone else, I have happy moments and unhappy moments. But I'd like to know if you are happy or unhappy in general.

Personally I am not very happy these days. I am frustrated that I have not reached my goal in sales, the agencies sometimes reject good images for "not for stock" and change the terms whenever they see fit. I also feel unhappy when I see photographers attack each other when there are differences in opinions in the forums, even though I have never been personally attacked.
The one thing you have total control over is the setting of goals, these goals should be small manageble milestones, and at any point you should be able to be realistic and adjust these as you need to without losing sight of the end game or feeling bad, you have already pointed out that many factors are out of your control, so concentrate and set goals on the ones that are within your control and you may feel better.

This is a general observation and not aimed at anybody specific, but you will see it every day, "I have just been accepted and I will have xxxx number of images online and be earning $xxx by the end of the year", this ends with the photographer aiming for their 'goal' by not preparing the assets correctly and taking a chance on uploading so-so images hoping they get through, feeling upset at rejections and the so-so images not getting views, zooms or sales, so the photographer then blames everyone else.

By not setting one distant goal, but many manageable ones the photographer could feel a lot better about things, by setting small goals, like being self paced and not worrying how others that started the same time are doing, prepare one or two images a day, only upload a maximum of 10 a week for six months, seek advice on rejections and adjust the workflow, review these goals once a month, so if the acceptance rate is falling or low, just add or change a goal to address this, by cutting the 10 uploads a week to 5 and looking at the content or workflow more.

what is more likely to bring in revenue uploading a target of 20 images by including so-so images, or uploading 5-10 fewer but more stock worthy images.

Many are seduced by the "earn money from them snaps" marketing scams, and come along and think an online business can be built in a few weeks, but there is a steep learning curve they are unaware of and many hurdles, but all these are manageable by taking one step at a time and each hurdle when you reach it, and setting many small manageable goals.

David    

10
Quote from: FAQ
Is there any copyright information or a watermark in the image / content which I license from Pixamba?
No. (there is nothing more to say)

That means that all asset metadata is stripped out of the downloaded image, I had never looked before and just checked one from Istock,  that has only Exif data, I would have thought that the stocksites would add a line of metadata with a transaction reference to reduce theft.
 
David  :o

11
If I am correct SAA do not deal with the microsites and are more geared at Traditional Photographers, the fee looks to be positioned to keep out the part-time and hobby shooters.

SAA do represent views to the agencies, but do not have much of a say as the balance of power is already firmly with the agencies.

Reading many posts here the artists are to fragmented and protective of what they already have, 20% of something is better than coming out of their comfort zone and trying something new.

It makes me chuckle when I see a new startup and a photographer saying "40% commission is a good deal", the agency commission rates are between 20% - 70%, with one of biggest paying 26%, but they do not payout nothing like 26%, as 75% of Artist never make a payout 0% Commission, other artists delete their images and leave 0% Commission, some like me think they are clever and convert the earnings and download images to help others but this comes out at 5% commission.

Lets say the real commission paid is in the region of 10% - 30%, that leaves a lot of revenue for the stock sites, these type of percentages should be what the agencies get not the photographers.

When a new stock site launches many ask about marketing plans, but it is the chicken and egg, they cannot market without stock so they offer high percentages to get the photographers assets, when they have enough of them they can go to market, if they get off the ground they become a target for hostile takeover, selling out the 'Community' loyalty of the photographers that make the site a viable business.

The new agencies need to grow their collections quickly as organic growth is not an option in this business, their business will grow or fail just on numbers, sheer quantity of downloads and how little they can pay the Vendors.

With agencies taking up to 100% from some photographers sales, as a community we should all be unhappy, but the happy replies here just show how photographers have been blinded by the industrial crowd sourcing hype!

Things will not change unless a new fair model is found to deliver the assets to the buyers, what other business takes an asset and markets it, if a company needs a new employee the agency charges 15%, if you sell your property 1%-3%, a merchant company will charge around 15%, but when a stock site sells a licence for your asset they collect 50% - 80% and you are happy?

I would much prefer Ebay and PayPal to look at a Digital Asset Logistics system, you pay a fee to insert each image for a year, and for every sale they charge a small commission, maybe we should get together and talk to them!

David  ???  

13
I posted some thoughts on my blog about potential new markets and how we can open them up, then I posted some comments in another thread, but did not want to hijack it so here are some thoughts.

The Blog Text:
There are many services being launched around the Digital Artists Assets, many are just new sites that are just mirrors and mimic the existing big players business models, many of these services will fail quickly, because the market is already saturated with these services which do not have a unique selling point, all are trying for a share of the existing revenue pool which causes dilution and artists commission or royalties to be cut, where are the new ideas and markets going to come from?

Lets look at potentially the biggest untapped market, blog and article writers, I wrote the blog entry offline with Microsofts Live Writer, a picture replaces many words and will attract the viewers attention, so what if I needed an image to emphasise that many of these new services will fail?

I will need to join a stock imaging site buy credits or a subscription package for a couple of web sized images.

Ok off I go to Istock and enter the search Failed Online Business, the search returns 108 search results for Failure AND The Internet (Technology) AND Business.

After registration I choose a Pay as you Go plan, the option I choose is the lowest available, 12 Credits for 14.00, so that is 1.16 a Credit, I now download two images I had added to a lightbox, to be used in my post on the future of many of these new and existing services and their programmers.

These are the two I have chosen all I needed was XS and paid 1 credit for each.
<<< Blog with the Images http://tinyurl.com/mxtr9f >>>
    
But what if I did not have 14 to spare, or could not be bothered to go to the website, login, search and download, the Digital Artists and website owners have lost a needed Sale.

How could this be addressed when what I really want as an article writer or blogger is a simple way to add an image to my post with the least effort.

A Pay as you Go system that uses the PayPal micropayments system for verified users in real time, with a plug-in for my browser and desktop applications like Live Writer and Microsofts office suite to deliver the Digital Assets in real time.

I would gladly pay 2.32 instantly to enhance a presentation, article or blog post, but I am not always up to paying 14.00 up-front for credits I will use over a period of time.

Think of the potential asset use with this untapped market waiting for a simple asset delivery system, one which is fair to all artists and end users alike, and how much illegal use would such a system quickly stop?.

Phil asked this question on the other thread
Quote from: Phil
hi, just read your blog and I think integration with software will have to come (with a cut for the software producer), but then fotolia has agents / partners etc how hard would it be for software producer to get the agents cut.  Thinking about I bet there are some software producers who would definetly be keen.

The question springs to mind, how much extra would you be willing to pay to buy a single (or two) credits? (I'm not a buyer so dont know) would you, knowing you only want xsmall say pay 1.5 or 2 rather than 1.16 (sorry cant do the symbol ) knowing that buying 12 credits gets them at 1.16 each.  Would this cover the extra costs to the agency?

Phil


I would be happy to be able to insert an image for 1.5 into a presentation, article or blog, via a software or browser plug-in, what do others think?

PayPal have a business relationship with Ebay, why not have somthing to deliver Digital Assets with the same PayPal relationship?

David  ;D

14
Trying to help the new customers to get in, we offer small 5-credits packages to start with. It's not really micro-payments yet and from the other hand it gives the buyers a quick and cheap option to try us  and to 'taste' our collection.
David,
That package is a good offer, the problem is I cannot find the package prices on the website without registration, I would never sign up for anything without knowing the cost per credit or package before joining.

As to micropayments, the payment gateway providers like PayPal and Amazon have realized the potential and are making micropayments a viable option and affordable, so it will not be long before a company picks this system up and runs with it, I am talking more about getting new business and markets, I have just posted my thoughts on my blog about this.

David

15
Plan for attracting customers, preferably new customers not another dilution of the existing pool.
No categories

There is a massive potential New Customer base are out there, but the existing model will not attract them the images need to go to the Customers not the Customers to the images, and they need to purchase instantly via a browser plug-in, only what they need at the time, no registration, no credits and no subscriptions.

Why do you say no categories, the way forward is standardization this means categories and controlled vocabulary tools.

David

16
Good Luck with your site, but in my opinion you are joining an over saturated competitive marketplace with just another microstock offering.

In todays market any new offering needs to have a unique selling point for Buyers and Photographers, looking at the lifestyle category and some of the first images I see are from Yuri Arcurs nothing new and exciting there.

The search is fast enough, but I much prefer websites where the longest side of a thumbnail is about 170px plus, it would be nice (on all sites) to be able to switch of the irritating mouse over previews.

Looking at the selected image I do not need to see 100 keywords, or the number of views or comments, these might be nice for the photographer but no use to the buyer, the downloads count does have some merit for a buyer.

As already said the $100 payout level for a new website is not good news for the photographers that needs a major re-think maybe a payout of any royalties under $100 at the year end, or is the fact that 75% of contibutors with sales never make a payout part of your business plan.

Where and how will this website be marketed, what is the unique selling point that will see the buyer downloading the same lifestyle image from Yuri Arcurs or any other Photographer from pixamba and not from any of the other major microstock websites, as a buyer I would not care if the photographers share is higher or the site is designed by yourself, only what I am getting as a buyer.

I think for any new offering entering the current market with the same model as many rivals it will be a struggle without a unique selling point, but I do wish you well.

David        

17
Newbie Discussion / Re: Microstock Database Sizes
« on: June 26, 2009, 01:08 »
Why database size?

If you are thinking about cost of server space there is a lot more than the physical database size.


David

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