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Messages - PowerDroid

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1
Microstock News / Re: Microstock has reached a plateau...
« on: July 15, 2010, 05:50 »
There's the glass half full and the glass half empty point of view. I prefer to look ahead to all the great new stuff happening ahead. If the micro model dies a slow death, well, that's fine, because i know that there will still be a demand for good images. The digital revolution opened many more new paths than it closed. Microstock photographers proved that image creation, and creativity, did not have to belong to a select group of photographers in the major cities with access to labs that could process 8x10 film in 1 hour and located next to model agencies and prop rental houses. That was too bad for those photographers ( i was one of them), but it changed the world for the better. Go back and look at some of the magazines from the 70's, and tell me that the quality was better than the microstock competition today. It wasn't!
Okay, i get paid far less than i did back then. But the overhead that existed back then was crazy- $50,000 a year for rent, $40,000 a year for film and processing, the same amount for assistants, then messengers, insurance, promotion, and when you got the job you paid 25% to the rep who got you the job. Spend 3 weeks without a job and you were out of business. Today, every one of those expenses is gone. Instead, you have to pay the website to sell your images. Well, to me, they are welcome to it.
   The rights managed business came out of an era when to sell a stock image you had to publish a 300 page catalog and send out 10,000 copies for FREE, and do this 3 times a year. You had to duplicate every image at a cost of $5 a dupe just to have images to send out on approval. The rights managed era died because the delivery mechanism changed.
    All I am really trying to say is, if you feel that you are a good photographer ( or artist), then don't worry about where the future will be. Just try to be the best at whatever you do, and that quality will be recognized. I'm living proof that you can survive change, if you embrace change as the oppourtunity it is.

It is about time somebody finally said it.

Said what??????? something we didnt know? something which hasnt been said over a million times?  beats me!

best.

Great post, jbarber873.

I just find it funny (or sad) that so many here are so beaten down and angry that they feel they have to squash every note of optimism that sprouts up.  If it's from a relative newcomer like me they'll say "enjoy your little fantasy world while it lasts" and predict doom, or if it's from a seasoned pro like jbarber873, they'll dismiss it as worthless ramblings.

It's clear that certain people are doing well and want to tell everyone that the sky is falling to scare off new competition.  And it's clear that others believe the negativity they're spewing... microstock isn't working for them anymore and they're hell-bent on trash-talking it forever (so why do they spend so much time on it, particularly in a forum focused on something they clearly hate?)

I used to feel I got a lot out of participating in this forum -- good information and inspiration.  But now it's just depressing.  This is the last you'll be hearing from me. 

To all those who are here because you see a brighter future and wish to learn, best of luck, and don't let the complainers get you down.

To those who wish to squash the dreams of others so you can keep the downloads for yourself, shame on you.

And to those with the giant chips on your shoulders who do nothing but spread your poisonous negativity, find something productive to do with your time.

Power Droid out.  Good bye.

2
Microstock News / Re: Microstock has reached a plateau...
« on: July 14, 2010, 21:07 »
The issue here is the Micro model, the concept and if you think this present model will remain for another 10 years, well then Im afraid youve got youre head in the sand and pretty much deeper then mine. sorry.

Powerdroid still thinks his newbie graphs will continue going upwards forever. Let him enjoy the fantasy for now __ he'll learn soon enough!

Do I think my newbie graphs will continue going upwards forever?  I have no idea.  I just know that they've shown pretty consistent growth (not astronomical, but steady increases) for nearly two years.  But you're right... if this "fantasy" ends, I will learn, as you said.  I will learn that if my efforts stop paying off, it will be time to turn my energies to another endeavor that will, rather than plugging away at a standstill.  You can bet I will learn and move on.  But until then, I'm enjoying the fantasy -- creatively and financially.

3
Microstock News / Re: Microstock has reached a plateau...
« on: July 14, 2010, 12:44 »
Must say, you sound very optimistic indeed or perhaps afraid it has reached a plateau?  Im not, Ive also been in the stock-business for over 20 years, seen very good agencies bite the dust, in fact the entire RM industry has been in a decline for the past 3 years and there is absoloutely nothing in this world that says Micro wont go the same way.
We are all wishfull thinkers though, arent we?

I think you're missing the point.  He said he expects there are changes coming but that people will always need images.  Do you think we'll revert to a text-based world and suddenly the billions of attention-span-challenged people will prefer to read information instead of taking it in visually?  Of course not.  Then you have to believe that the demand for images will only increase.  Next, do you think buyers will pay high prices for those images?  No, price pressure will only grow, making microstock or something like it the most viable business model for supplying low-priced images for some time.  Yes, microstock could and maybe will be replaced by another model (free downloads with contributors paid via advertising, or some other variation of the free model that compensates contributors), but if you think there's no future for image-producers, then you have your head in the sand and the industry will pass you by.
 

4
Microstock News / Re: Microstock has reached a plateau...
« on: July 12, 2010, 06:32 »
I think it's a bit silly to state that a particular industry has reached its peak while we're in the middle of one of the worst global enconomic recessions in recent history.  Buyers have scaled back their purchases in ALL areas, including microstock.  Yes, large companies and ad agencies have gone from macro to micro to cut costs, but consider the case of small businesses, which have taken the biggest hit during the recession.  They have scaled back to survival levels, cutting marketing and advertising completely, or have gone out of business altogether.  Considering all this, it's shocking that microstock isn't completely in the toilet.

Now think about a global economic recovery, which will happen someday, hopefully soon.  Companies large and small will ramp up their communication efforts very quickly, and as their budgets return, they'll have learned from the lean times to spend it very wisely.  Microstock will be the big beneficiary from this. 

No, microstock has not already reached its plateau.  Tomorrow people will still need images to help their businesses communicate, and they'll want to pay as little as possible for those images.   For the forseeable future, until another business model emerges that makes sense to contributors (free? that's an argument for another thread) microstock will prosper, and will become much larger than it is today.

5
Veer / Re: Introducing the new Veer
« on: July 11, 2010, 22:11 »
Good to see the commitment to improving the site.  If I see sales pick up for me there, I may resume uploading. (Though I'd like to know that the randomness and inconsistency of reviews, and the tendency to reject an entire batch at once, isn't an issue any longer.)  Best of luck!

6
Dreamstime.com / Re: Less sales, but even less subs
« on: July 11, 2010, 11:16 »
As Ellen Boughn stated in an interview recently, image supply will become a lower-wage countries business, just like what happened with the production of sneakers.

Yes, this is an inevitable reality we're all being faced with.

Copycats in lower-wage countries -- and, of course, in EVERY country -- will see what sells well and duplicate those endlessly.  Today, microstock images are already a COMMODITY, where lower price wins and only those who supply in high volume will profit.   This scenario will become more and more widespread.

But is there another way to survive and even thrive?  YES.  Don't produce COMMODITY images, those with no creativity involved and those that can be easily duplicated by copycats.  Put your brain to work... create imagery that provides a unique perspective, says something about emerging business trends or new issues facing workers, families, the environment, etc.  There will ALWAYS be new subjects to cover, and there will ALWAYS be buyers for these images.  The first to market with good images that address these needs will profit with early sales, then the copycats will follow.

A small percent of contributors will understand this and remain at the top tier of producers catching a customer's eye with a unique vision and even flashes of brilliance.  However, if you're someone who says, "but there are no such ideas left," then you are a commodity and unless you're generating hundreds of images a day, you would be wise to throw in the towel now.

7
Dreamstime.com / Re: Less sales, but even less subs
« on: July 10, 2010, 20:45 »
I saw a nice jump in RPD in Jan, and it's been up and down since.  Sales have been pretty flat since Jan, but then I can say that for most of the agencies.  Overall, I'm OK with how Dreamstime has been doing for me.

8
General Stock Discussion / Re: June Stats Anyone?
« on: July 06, 2010, 06:52 »
For me, June 2010 was:

* Flat to May 2010, almost to the dollar
* Up 120% from June 2010
* 3rd BME (after Mar and May 2010)

9
Crestock.com / Re: Crestock - new owner?
« on: July 01, 2010, 12:52 »
The big question is, who cares?  I made a total of $21 in June on Crestock.  If the company disappeared overnight and I never got that money, I wouldn't lose any sleep. 

Maybe there's potential there and a new owner could make customers and contributors care again (I stopped uploading about 8 months ago), but in this crowded market, the odds are stacked against them.

10
Shutterstock.com / Re: should I give up on SS next?
« on: June 30, 2010, 19:43 »
I'm still having good sales at SS, even in the summer slump.  Yesterday, in fact, was one of my top 3 or 4 days on SS.  Subs are a fact of life now.  But at SS I'm at the .38 level now so those sub sales are higher than the sub sales at other sites.  Still having strong OD sales as well, so your lack of them isn't widespread.  

I don't understand the point of removing your SS port... if you're that disappointed, just stop uploading but leave what's there.  Your images at SS are not in competition with your images at the other sites.  They're in competition with the other shots at SS.  If your pics suddenly disappeared, do you think buyers will say, "I guess I have to go to IS to get that shot?"  No, they'll just find other images at SS.  

11
DepositPhotos / Re: giving DP a go....
« on: June 29, 2010, 09:41 »
I uploaded a dozen or so as a test back in March then quickly forgot about them.  Some posts here reminded me about DP last week so I looked up my port and was surprised to see about a dozen sales, mostly of the same two images.  So I've uploaded another 50 or so and will watch to see if it's worth moving the whole port over.

12
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 28, 2010, 14:46 »

So look at my example, I had over 5000 images on DT and I deleted more than 2500, so my RPI went through the roof. That happened because I deleted the images that had no sales. But that doesn't mean anything to my income, I did not collect any more money than before and I am not going to. Actually, this may even hurt my income in the long run. But as I said, my RPI is now very high.

OK, first, why would you delete images?  I've never understood the logic in doing so.

Lisa, gostwyck and sjlocke are right.
  Yes, and no.  Statements to the effect of "RPI tells you nothing" are true, in that it is only useful as an indicator of something happening or not happening.  For instance, if I am worried about the severity of this year's summer slump, I can look back at my RPI during last summer to see how I was faring then.  If it is roughly the same (which is true in my case) I take that as ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE that things may be OK.  OF COURSE there are other factors to consider... am I on more sites now, the level of competition, etc... but it IS useful to me. 

So it is good to know your RPI to compare past earnings to current ones. However, my monthly income is the only thing I look at. If you track your hours and monthly income, that will tell you how much you are making per hour. But again, the next month will be totally different and you can't use this to predict your future income.
  If all you look at are monthly totals, how do you compare a month like January with 31 days to a month like February with 28 days?  I'd say you need more sophisticated metrics than monthly totals.

You mentioned that RPI tells you to stop uploading to some agencies, I don't need the RPI to tell me that, if I see no income, I will quit that agency on my own. So this is very simple, without spending days, or even months, to calculate your RPI accurately.

As I mentioned, I spend NO time calculating RPI... my spreadsheet automatically does it as long as I enter my port size and income numbers.  I'd say RPI is an excellent way to determine if a site is worth uploading to.  For me, my RPI at all the sites except Crestock and Veer were holding steady or increasing.  Falling RPIs at Crestock and Veer told me that these are underperforming sites and not an effective use of my time, compared to the others.  Sure, you could just eyeball the monthly totals for individual sites and say, "those are low... I'll stop submitting to those"... but what if those sites actually were starting to perform better for you?  It may be that RPI would be the only indicator to tell you this.

I feel I've given a number of examples of how RPI... COMBINED WITH OTHER FACTORS... can help people make smart decisions.  If anyone reads too much into RPI and jumps to conclusions from it, that's using RPI incorrectly.  However, I feel it's helping me, and I'm extremely pleased with my current ms income.  If you choose to ignore it, that's fine.  Over and out.

13
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 28, 2010, 12:35 »
To me, saying I don't want to see RPI is like saying I want less information.  The people who succeed in ms, as well as any other part of life, are those who collect as much useful information as they can, but more importantly, know how to use it to their advantage.

This argument looks very familiar, but your wasting your breath. For me it was like they were trying to tell me that math doesn't exist. I had a sad look and thought, "but the numbers... they're numbers. Don't you see."

I guess everyone is entitled to run their business in their own way. No matter how much it hurts my robot brain.

I hear you, I give up.  I'll just stick to my voodoo math... whatever I'm doing, it's working OK for me, and it seems you're doing OK too. 
 

14
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 28, 2010, 10:48 »
So focusing on RPI to the exclusion of other factors could actually have a negative affect on overall income. 

Excellent summary, Lisa.  Agree with everything you said.  In particular the ending line about the risk of focusing on RPI to the exclusion of other factors.  RPI on its own can't tell you anything.  But it can be combined with other evidence to paint a picture, or it can raise a flag that something is going on that merits looking into.

By advocating that RPI is a good stat to watch, I'm not saying to exclude anything else.  My spreadsheet tracks my uploads and sales in every conceivable manner.  RPI is just one of many equations available for me to look at. 

My RPI is currently steady, but if it dropped suddenly, it would alert me that I should look at what I'm doing and find where the problem is.  Maybe I shifted into different subject matter that isn't attractive to buyers.  Or maybe it's a seasonal slowdown (looking at my RPI for the same period last year might shed light on that question).  Or maybe I'm "hitting the wall" that microstock veterans tell me that I WILL hit someday.  A fading RPI would clearly be an indicator that I may have hit it, but again, it's just one indicator of such and I would want to look into it more deeply to find more evidence to confirm it.

Basically RPI is just one of many pieces of information I feel I should be looking at to make smart marketing decisions in terms of what to create and where to upload it (yes, my sheet even automatically tracks RPI per agency... it helped me decide to stop uploading to Crestock and Veer).

To me, saying I don't want to see RPI is like saying I want less information.  The people who succeed in ms, as well as any other part of life, are those who collect as much useful information as they can, but more importantly, know how to use it to their advantage.

15
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 28, 2010, 09:22 »
Monthly earnings is all that really matters and you will soon find that the most significant factor in earnings is the season. When you have a mature portfolio, say 4 years +, you'll almost certainly find your RPI will shoot up and down according to the season. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage one month what do you think your bank manager is going to be interested in? A nice spreadsheet showing the seasonal variation of earnings over each year ... or your RPI?

Of course I take seasons into account when looking at my RPI.  But it IS instructive to know how my summer slowdown RPI last year compares to my summer slowdown RPI this year.

Another analogy... you own a business and hire employees.  Don't you want to know how productive each employee is, or do you just care about the bottom line and not how you got to it.  "Well, I got to my revenue goal last month, but I don't care if 10 employees were super productive and the other 90 were dead weight."  Or "I hired another 20 employees and still hit the same monthly revenue as last year, but I'm happy with that number, so I don't care."  You should want to know that as you hire more employees your bottom line increases by a significant number, or you wouldn't devote the resources to bringing on more workers.

Back to the microstock world... if you put in 20 hour days for a solid month, and the end result was that you made $100 more than the same month last year, are you thrilled simply because you made more?  I suspect you'd only be happy if the revenue increase was proportional to the amount of extra effort you put into it.  That's when RPI is helpful.

16
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 28, 2010, 07:10 »
And if they don't, they don't, and if they do, they do, and one number divided by another isn't going to change that.  You just do the best you can do and gauge the result on how successful you are per month (or whatever time length you enjoy).

Abso-blimmin-lutely! 

Life's too short for all the stress involved in meeting or not meeting suppositions.  I much prefer to deal with what is.

When I submit more images to the ms sites, it's because I have an expectation that they will earn me money.  I know they will earn money because I know my RPI.  What if my only photos that sold were my very old stuff and my recent images did not sell at all?  A falling RPI would clue me in to this.  Of course, there could be other causes, but it would be an indicator that there's a problem, and I would be better off for knowing this.  Those who say RPI is meaningless are really saying that the last time they looked at it, they didn't like it, so they stopped looking. 

On the flip side, wouldn't it be extremely interesting to know that after a significant amount of time, your RPI held steady at a constant number?  That's a valuable piece of information!  It gives you some confidence that unless significant factors change, you can increase your output and your revenue will increase at a constant rate.  This has been true for me after nearly two years in microstock, so it is encouraging and helpful for me to track it.

Put it this way... you get hired for a job and your boss gives you no idea how much money you will make.  All you know  that your paychecks come in on schedule and the numbers on the checks are acceptable.  Wouldn't you really like to know that X hours times Y rate of pay = Z revenue?  In microstock, "Y" is your RPI.   Hardly a meaningless number.

P.S...  And really, guys, if you track your ms revenue in any meaningful way, you probably have it in a spreadsheet.  It is NO extra work if you already have columns containing the current size of your portfolio and your revenue.  RPI can be an automatically calculated column that divides one number by the other.  You all know this and probably did this at one point, but when the RPI started to depress you, you probably deleted or hid the column.

17
Shutterstock.com / Re: Reviewers allergy or global trend?
« on: June 24, 2010, 23:26 »
Things are normal for me.  SS accepts everything, while IS accepts little more than half.  For what it's worth, the others seem to be the same as well... FT and DT taking about 90-95%, and the others taking everything (though that's hardly worth getting excited about considering the top 4 account for 90-95% of my sales).

18
I think the point isn't "anyone can take a picture"... it's more like "many people can learn to become a good photographer" or for that matter, a good practitioner of Illustrator, 3d programs, videography, etc.  Having the technical skills is now like having a high school diploma. It only gets you in the door.  To be successful, one has to put on a business person's hat and figure out what will make him/her different from the thousands of others going after the same buyers.  Most will fail at this and wonder why.  "Hey, I'm an acclaimed photographer, my work has won awards, yadda, yadda, yadda."  The problem is, shots of puppy dogs and rainbows will only take you so far.  What about your work will help a business person sell his products or services?  Motivate his team? 

A technically perfect shot will sell less than one that is flawed yet effectively communicates a concept.

19
There's truth in all of the answers posted here, from healthy skepticism to good natured encouragement to sjlocke's half-joking answer "No - nothing to be seen here" (I think deep down we all wish were were the last one to enter microstock and new competition will suddenly stop).

But I'll add my experience to the pool of answers.  I'm halfway through Year 2, and up until hitting a rough patch in April that is continuing (whether it's an early start to the normal Summer Slowdown or larger, more troubling signs for the market) I've had consistent growth and am earning more than your stated goal.  I'm hardly the most talented microstocker in terms of my skills, but I think my greatest asset is my awareness of the importance of marketing.  If you have a similar drive to figure out what is selling and why, and can find some underserved niches the rest of us haven't spotted (yet), you can have some great success here.  But heed everyone's advice that it will NOT be easy, and WILL be a lot of work.

20
iStockPhoto.com / Re: Is it Just Me?
« on: June 22, 2010, 09:19 »
Sorry to report the same here.  At Istock, my June 1-21 is down 20% vs May 1-21.  That's a steeper decline than my numbers across all sites: down 10% vs May.

21
General Stock Discussion / Re: No freebees!
« on: June 16, 2010, 14:36 »
The knee-jerk reaction to this is to say "free is stupid."  But I agree with the minority here... it's possible to envision a scenario in which something is given free and leads to payment by some means afterward.

I've posted my watermarked images at flickr for people to use.  My watermark is very prominent, so when the user puts it on his blog he is advertising my work.   This user was not going to buy images from anyone to begin with.  He might as well have my watermarked image, often with a credit that Google picks up so I also get good SEO out of the deal.   But how do I actually profit from this?  Many people have found me after doing image searches on Flickr and asked me to do custom work for them.  "Free" has worked very well for me so far.

You may not like it, but it's a movement that you're going to have to deal with sooner or later.  Figure out how to make free work for you or compete with those who have.

Here's an excerpt from a recent Wired article:

"Once a marketing gimmick, free has emerged as a full-fledged economy. Offering free music proved successful for Radiohead, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and a swarm of other bands on MySpace that grasped the audience-building merits of zero. The fastest-growing parts of the gaming industry are ad-supported casual games online and free-to-try massively multiplayer online games. Virtually everything Google does is free to consumers, from Gmail to Picasa to GOOG-411.

The rise of "freeconomics" is being driven by the underlying technologies that power the Web. Just as Moore's law dictates that a unit of processing power halves in price every 18 months, the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. Which is to say, the trend lines that determine the cost of doing business online all point the same way: to zero."

FULL ARTICLE: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free

22
I'm only a year and a half into ms so far, so at some point I'll probably join the ranks of the other vets here who say that you hit a wall at some point.  I just haven't hit it yet, and I hope I don't for some time.

It takes 4-5 years to 'hit the wall'. It's virtually inevitable if you upload with some regularity.

Year 1: Something is always more than nothing.

Year 2: You should double your port and be on a steep learning curve so your income should be rising fast.

Year 3: You'll still add 50% to your port and be benefiting from your increased knowledge.

Year 4: Only 33% increase in port over the year and by now some of your older best-selling images will have been bettered by others. There's less new stuff to learn and help you.

Year 5: Only 25% increase in port. The agency collections are now growing at about the same rate as your port and, with older images dying at about the rate you can produce new ones, your sales will probably stagnate. You've hit the wall.

Thanks, this is a helpful glimpse into the future.  I actually would be OK with this outcome, projecting steady but declining rates of growth through year 5, I should still come close to my long-term revenue goal.  If I'm just working to maintain that level in the years 5 and beyond, I can live with that.

23
If you're doing things right, broadening your range of topics, learning from your mistakes, gradually sharpening your skills, then every additional image should increase your return. 

Don't forget other peoples' additional images decrease your return at the same time.

Good point.  All I can share is my own experience.  I just checked my spreadsheet, and it shows that when my port was half the size it is now, I was making less than half the money I'm making now (looking at the 14-day rolling average and not a particular day).  I'm only a year and a half into ms so far, so at some point I'll probably join the ranks of the other vets here who say that you hit a wall at some point.  I just haven't hit it yet, and I hope I don't for some time.

24


Double your portfolio = triple your income

... or even more is possible depending on the quality of images. If the new ones are much better, then the income will be much higher than double.


Count me in the YES camp.

If you're doing things right, broadening your range of topics, learning from your mistakes, gradually sharpening your skills, then every additional image should increase your return.  Further, as your port grows, you're more likely to hook people into buying multiple images from you.

I've mentioned before that my RPI has been consistent since day one.  I have some confidence that every pic I add to my portfolio will increase my sales by a predictable amount.

25
iStockPhoto.com / Re: New Images DOA on Istock?
« on: June 15, 2010, 08:51 »
Pretty interesting stats. I wonder what happened in 2009? I doubt the flood of new applications slowed down. Did Istock get that much more picky?

I went through the review process several times in 2009 and when I finally got accepted late in the year, my images started to sell very well.   It suggests that they're being EXTREMELY picky... they're keeping out contributors who would otherwise be making them very good money.  But I'm also a buyer, so the message I get from this is that IS is serious about quality... much more so than the other sites.

As for new images not selling... I have noticed from my start at IS that new images take a while to get noticed, for whatever reason.  Even my best sellers saw little action in their first few weeks.  I see no difference today.

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