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Messages - Smudgechris

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I think there have been a number of startups that just aren't getting the traction when it comes to sales.  It's become a chicken and egg situation at the moment.  People won't put their work somewhere that hasn't got sales as they've been burnt too many times in the past going to a load of effort keywording etc only to not see any sales.  Time is money in this business.  But the sales won't come unless the images are there.

I like what Stockbo for instance are trying to do, but they're playing on something that I can't imagine many buyers care about, which is fairly rewarding the photographers.  It's not got to the point where it's like ethically sourced coffee, or clothes, which do actually matter to the buyer.  Photographers aren't slaves (although I imagine there's varied views on that here!)  There needs to be a reason that's relevant to buyers for them to invest in buying images from your site.  Be it images you can't get anywhere else (Stocksy) or something else, a better search, a reward scheme, something like that.

Whilst I'm a photographer I'm only a bit part player in stock and dabble here and there but follow these forums quite a lot.  If I had the time or coding ability there does feel like there's a way to invigorate stock selling, from payouts to uploads, to searches, but it would cost a lot of money and time to get it useable, and even then you'd have zero budget to market with.  It'd take a lot of sunken investment to turn a corner to profitability, even if you have photographers willing to put their images on there.  All the while photographers would be wanting 50% of the sales right from the get go, which would probably make the site unsustainable to start with without deep deep pockets.

Add to the fact that for every photographer willing to put their livelihood on the line to stand up for a better return for artists there's another one to scoot in at the bottom happy to receive 16c a download.  If you could indeed amass all the photographers to bulk disable images from agencies that aren't delivering a sustainable return it would quickly get filled by upstarts new to the game happy to see their images selling.

However if everyone (even new photographers) all pulled their images and stuck by it, the agencies would quickly change their tune.  There's no way that is possible though and the agencies know that.

I imagine the infrastructure behind a stock site isn't easy to just create out of nothing even though the photographers are crying out for it.  At the end of the day it's a buyers market and if they can get their images cheaply, they're going to.  Whilst there are noble buyers out there that want to stand up for artists rights, the majority are going to go to the biggest/cheapest site.  Once buyers can get images for 1 dollar, it's difficult to then convince people to go back higher.

Also what micro site these days doesn't have pretty much every generic image that you could possibly ever need?  I think that's why Stocksy is starting to gain traction because people are bored with the same old images, it's all exclusive material on there not available anywhere else.  Personally I think (although I have no idea how this would work) a great way forward would be for each photographer to have to pick an exclusive agency to only submit their work to (or at least only being able to submit each image to one agency.)  That would mean that agencies would then have to compete for photographers attention with better % share etc etc.

In the current climate of every image everybody shoots being available on every single site, buyers will look for the cheapest.  I've noticed a couple of compare the market style stock searches starting to spring up now, which again markets the work on the last thing photographers want to be marketed on and that's price.

It's a frustrating time as it feels as though photographers should hold all the cards in this transaction and have the agencies dancing to our tune, but it's completely the other way round. 

It would only take one big agency (Shutterstock for instance where I have daily sales) to offer an exclusivity program that rewarded photographers much better for exclusivity (50% of the current buyer prices, so the buyer notices no difference, although I imagine the Shutterstock shareholders might which is why it's a non-runner) to see a lot of the more established players jump over there completely (although that runs the risk of all your eggs in the one basket!)  If they combined their sales numbers with a better rate for photographers I imagine it would quickly offset photographers earnings on other sites and in turn stamp out some of the smallers sites, or force them to start offering better rates to photographers to stick around.

But it's clear that helping photographers isn't top of an agencies list at the moment, which like farbled has pointed out, makes it strange that none have them have made it top of their list as the established photographers are clearly crying out for it.  It would almost market itself with the photography market (cameras etc) being so huge at the moment, blogs would report it, word would get round that someone was actually listening, photographers would direct buyers there etc etc etc.

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Quote
most people want to be honest and they dont want to break any copyright rules

Most naive thing I've ever read.

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Yeah, I'd agree actually Paulie.

I had a Wordpress Graph Paper press site that was indeed indexed really well (mainly because it was wordpress! :))

However, the actual Photoshelter site was the part that was poorly indexed in my experience, and I read up on the sitemaps etc, but they seemed unwilling to look into or fix the issues.  I found it especially frustrating that they seemed to value new custom over current custom, with the launch of their new template sites etc, and wouldn't address outstanding issues dating back at least two years.  I'll admit I didn't look too carefully into the Sitemaps.  But naming images very very specifically still didn't result in image buying pages coming up at the top of google.

I took the time to go up to a monument near where I live (not widely photographed) and take some nice images of it at sunrise.  I keyworded, titles, meta descripted . out of them, but when they went up on my photoshelter site they were nowhere to be seen on google (even months afterwards).  If someone was searching for images of "said monument" I should've been fairly near the top of google due to lack of coverage.  Even in google images there was nothing.

I blogged about it and that shot to the top almost instantly.  So I certainly think you couldn't just put all your images onto Photoshelter and hope they're found instantly like Paulie says.  But definitely using blogging to direct google to your site will help.  In the end, it wasn't worth the hassle for me.

When I was paying the best part of 240 a year it didn't really make financial sense to me personally.  Even though I actively blogged about the images for sale, I didn't do much outside of that if I'm honest.  I had one stock sale (personal license) for 5 over 3 years, which photoshelter took a fee, and paypal took a fee.  Print sales were slow too (my own fault) for weddings and portraits, and it didn't make financial sense.  I can see that it might to some though.

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I'll chime in here as I had a photoshelter account for about three years for both my wedding and portrait business and stock business.  Worked ok for selling prints, and it was a great easily indexed backup tool.

But (and a big but) you really really have to push your own site on to buyers.  For some reason their google indexing is an absolute shambles and your images didn't show up in google images, and your galleries wouldn't show up in google searches.  Surely that's one of the benefits of having your own site?

There were numerous posts about it on their forums with zero resolution.  They recently released newer versions of their templates, and I really did take the time to look into their and try and create a new site.  They certainly look the part, but the functionality just wasn't there for me.  Poorly thought out navigation, that wasn't customisable enough to bend it to your will, yet "template" enough that your site would look like every other photoshelter site (bar the images).

It may work for a dedicated stock sales site, but you'll get no traction whatsoever in google, without marketing yourself heavily, all the while paying for the privilege.  I didn't get anywhere near making back my membership fee investment over the last three years in print (from wedding and portrait) or stock sales.

If you're going to be paying a fee for a site, be sure that you've got the audience waiting to buy your images.  It's not an easy "flick a switch" and all your images will be front and centre.

I will give them credit for the FTP system though (slightly off topic)  I could use that to upload stock images to Photoshelter in the first instance, keyword, meta tag etc there, then farm out all my images to the micros.  That did work well, but wasn't really worth the entrance fee.  Especially when picworkflow does pretty much the same job, and only charges you a cent per upload, you're not tied into that at all.

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Thanks!  I guess I'll give it a shot then.

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I'm looking to apply to istock, I've had two images approved and just need one more.

I've got a great shot of my niece blowing out a candle that I think would make a great stock photo, and could be the tipping point of getting me into iStock (I have no other people shots in the application)

However, I don't want this photo going onto general sale (as it's of my niece), I just want to use it in the application.  So my question is, if it was accepted (it might not be and this question is a complete waste of time!) would it go straight into the iStock collection?  Or would I have to resubmit?

Thanks.

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Newbie Discussion / Re: why can't I start a new thread?
« on: August 18, 2010, 07:40 »
Ah!  I wondered why I couldn't start a thread!

Hello everyone!

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