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Messages - stockmarketer

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How about a update 5 years later....

Sure, only fair that I start, since I began this thread five years ago.

I just read my words from all those many moons back.  Boy, was I teed off.  I've since come to accept the fall.  The rise was too good to last, and too many copycats jumped in thinking they could steal our ideas and strike it rich.  They may not be swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck (if there's a goddess in heaven they're not!) But they sure did screw up the search results and push down the work of the old timers (first time I've ever called myself that... yikes!)  Anyhoo, I've taken some deep breaths and decided to keep feeding the beast on my own terms.  I cut way back on my uploads and the work is far more enjoyable than it was at the peak.  All in all, that's a trade off I can live with.  The free fall in my earnings has leveled off, and I'm calmer now.  Life is too short to worry about dollars over all else. 

As long as I keep enjoying it, I'll stay on the ship, and if it sinks... well, I'll just doggy paddle over to the nearest island and reflect on what a nice cruise I had while it lasted.

General Stock Discussion / Re: old contributor back again
« on: Yesterday at 22:45 »
What you need these days is what you needed in the old days: ability to spot topics that are not adequately covered (more demand than supply) and supply it!  Yes, it's getting harder as competition increases, but as far as I can tell, 95% of contributors are copycats (probably more now than ever).  The copycats will eventually catch on to your new subjects and duplicate your work shamelessly, but by the time they're fighting over the scraps you've left behind, you'll be on to your next new subjects.  Always be staking new ground and staying a step or two ahead of the unoriginal thieves, and you're one of the smart ones and will continue to thrive.

Been at it for around 12 years.  Earning grew exponentially for 5 or 6 years, held steady for a few, and have been sliding ever since.  I have cut my uploads by around 75%.  It looks like I may have leveled out and my earnings may now be holding steady.  Down around 30% from my peak, but well worth spending around 30-60 minutes a day for a near 6-figure passive income.  Still helping put my kids through college and I'm hoping it will help me retire about 5 years earlier than I might without it.

General Stock Discussion / Re: Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock
« on: February 12, 2020, 00:00 »
For me:
- Nearly equal income on SS and AS
- Both earning about the same as 2019 so far
- Port is about 99% the same on both (due to a very infrequent 'similar' rejection on SS.)

123RF / Re: Is it the end of 123rf
« on: February 09, 2020, 07:38 »
I still like them because I earn over $50 a month. Things are getting so bad at SS and AS that it helps my income to have a bit extra. DT is really going downhill for me though.

Agreed.  Dreamstime is the real tragic story in microstock.  I remember regularly getting 50-60 downloads a day at my peak there.  Now it's more like 5-6.  But at least the RPD is good.  My few daily downloads are often in the $2-$10 range.

123RF / Re: Is it the end of 123rf
« on: February 08, 2020, 13:37 »
Haven't been checking in on 123 lately, figuring it's on the ropes and not worth worrying about.  But I just looked in on my feb earnings and I'm doing $20-$30 a day which is about the same as 2019, so maybe it's leveling out?

Yeah, I tried to limit my payment requests and withdrawals in the last few months of the year.  Hoping I stayed under the threshold this time.

A few months ago I got sent a bill for $30,000 from the IRS for underreporting income in 2017. It's the whole paypal 1099 K problem where paypal and the agencies double report our income.  What I learned is that in they eyes of the IRS, if paypal is going to report the income, then the agencies should NOT.  But with no coordination between the agencies and paypal, the job is ours to explain what happened.  The IRS initially told me to get a letter from every agency explaining they didnt pay me directly, which of course is impossible.  Instead I had to write my own detailed letter of explanation with a TON of backing info.  In the end, they cancelled the bill, and I'm left trying to figure out how to explain the situation in my 2019 return.  Will probably report all the agency AND paypal 1099s with an entry subtracting out the agency 1099 total, along with a note explaining it is double reporting of the same income.  Still not positive it is the right approach.  Anyone else deal with this in a different way?

9 / Re: Is this January especially low for you?
« on: January 26, 2020, 10:41 »
Down around 10% across the board despite consistent uploads year-round. Very discouraging. At this point I've cut my uploads to a minimum just to maintain and not slip further in the results. Decided I'm just going to put the minimum effort in and ride this thing out until the market hits rock bottom.

Adobe Stock is crashing and burning.

I've been doing this for years.  I'm in their top 100 contributors.  And my earnings are down around 60-70% from LAST YEAR.  Note that my position in the top 100 is virtually unchanged from the past year, meaning that most other top contributors there must be experiencing the same.

On the other hand, at Shutterstock, my earnings are roughly the same from last year.

Adobe Stock / Re: something's wrong (sales)
« on: October 25, 2019, 11:57 »
I was just about to come here and start a thread about how AdobeStock has been falling off a cliff for me since summer ended.  I'm a 12 year stock veteran and can tell normal fluctuations from something really being wrong, and AS is firmly in the latter camp. 

My Shutterstock revenue is roughly the same as it was in 2018, but my Oct Adobe revenue is less than half what it was in Oct 2018. 

Seems to be dire for both images and videos.  On AS, I used to consistently see a few video sales a day -- even throughout summer -- but for Oct I'm selling zero. This while consistently uploading images and videos every day.

(And before anyone suggests it, my work has no seasonal focus -- I've never been affected by seasonal demands outside of fewer sales during holidays and summer slumps.)

Mat, if you're reading and can shed some light on recent actions that are resulting in slashed sales for many of us, please weigh in.

Really just wondering how other US based microstockers handle this.  Do you report your 1099 MISCs from the agencies?  Your 1099K from PayPal?  Both (and somehow subtract one from the other so you are not taxed twice on the same income)? 

Anyone been audited, or find out how the IRS prefers us to show this income?

For years, I have reported all my agency 1099 MISC forms on my taxes, and have ignored the 1099K I get from PayPal, since reporting it would be double reporting my microstock income.

This has worked fine for years, until now. The IRS just contacted me stating that I underreported income which is now due, with a hefty penalty.

I called and talked to two different people at the IRS, who gave me two different answers on how to proceed:
1. First guy told me he sees this frequently and I should file an amended return, ignoring the 1099 MISC forms from the agencies and just report the 1099K from PayPal
2. Second guy told me I need to get letters from all the agencies stating that they actually sent the funds to PayPal and not me. I think my chances of getting these are slim to none.

I'm inclined to take the easiest route first, faxing in a letter explaining the situation, showing the 1099 MISCs alongside the 1099K, and a spreadsheet of all my PayPal transactions from the agencies which add up to the amounts on the 1099 MISC forms and the grand total on the 1099K.

How does everyone else report microstock income on taxes?  Anyone get called out by the IRS and have to correct their info?

VideoBlocks / Re: How to leave as a contributor
« on: April 10, 2019, 19:53 »
Nobody bite on the Partner Program / revenue share thing?

30,000 high quality shots with no redundancies at all top agencies might do it... this year.  Then add or replace at least 20% per year to maintain sales.

Even then, you better be in a lot of HCV niches.  And your style and subject matter better be very hard for others to match, because the copycats will be all over you.

I believe there are only 50-100 microstockers doing six figures a year.   That's out of, what, 50,000 or so actively microstocking?   Many of those at the top are image factories.  How will you compete? 

First you have to invent a time machine.  Set it to go back to 2005.  Check your computer's hard drive to see if your photos/videos survived the trip.  Assuming they did, upload them all.  Enjoy a few years of six-figure income until 2012-ish when the tidal wave of competition hits and your income falls by around 20% each year.

Now get back in the time machine, go back to 1980 and buy a bunch of Apple stock.

We discussed this a while back in this thread:

Many of us saw a HUGE drop when they made marketplace content nearly invisible to buyers with their search change.  I went from having an average of one video download every day to just a few a month.  I no longer upload there.

I go to Adobe Stock to see my latest sales, and I bet everyone else does too.

Not everyone!

Mat, in case you're keeping a tally.,,

My vote for default view would be Earnings

From time to time, I dig in to look at trends, but when I'm compulsively checking in throughout the day, I want to see how much money I've made.

Microstock News / Re: This is hilarious.
« on: December 19, 2018, 21:06 »
This one did it first, and much better IMO...

Canva / Re: Canva "Good News"
« on: November 06, 2018, 05:21 »
Haven't paid much attention to Canva in a while.  I just know that I could count on them for a pretty consistent $300/month, but so far November is on track to do about $100.  Not sure if this already reflects the "Good News" changes.  Exciting!  :(

98% of the comments on this entire forum are from a photography perspective.  Stock photography and stock footage are two totally separate beasts. 

I do photography AND footage, so my comments are valid for both.

After my first year or two in footage, I calculated my RPC (return per clip) and figured if I doubled my portfolio size I would double my income.  WRONG.  The same thing trips people up for both photography and footage.  The amount of competition is skyrocketing on both sides.  It's happening at a faster pace on photography, but video is still becoming oversaturated. 

PLUS when you factor the ridiculous $1.50 commissions at SS, and the 50% commission reduction at Storyblocks, and the "collection" vs "marketplace" battles at P5 and SB, you have to double or triple your footage portfolio every year just to maintain the same income. 

While photography and footage are different in some ways, they're the same in the only way that truly counts: from an income perspective, NEITHER IS SUSTAINABLE.  In the long-term, BOTH ARE A LOSING NUMBERS GAME.

Good job on the video.  You obviously put a lot of work into it.  A few of your graphics could be clarified... at one point you say you earn an average of $25 per video sold, but your graphic says it's $25 per image.  The same when you say you earn $5 per video per year, your graphic says image.  I would correct that.

In general, though, your clip is ten years too late.  The industry is dying, its death accelerated by the huge waves of new contributors thinking they're going to get rich.  And discussions like the one you posted are, I hate to say, a part of the problem.

For instance, your discussion on return per image (RPI) per year is not helpful.  I've been doing microstock for ten years.  I used to track this number religiously, thinking I could forecast how much money I would earn if I increased my portfolio by a certain amount.  (You can search my name in this forum and see how I argued about how meaningful this number is... I now know it's NOT.) It worked the first few years, and then my RPI sank like a stone.  It's no longer useful, since it only works if the number of contributors and the agency portfolio size REMAINS FROZEN IN TIME.  Otherwise, you would have to predict how much more competition your own portfolio will have over time.   I don't have the exact number on that, but at the rate we're currently going, you'd probably have to assume the overall portfolio size at agencies like SS is now doubling every year.  Unless you account for this depressing statistic, your return per image calculation is basically meaningless.

I hate to be so negative, but if you hope to get as much money as you can before microstock is no longer a profitable opportunity for every single contributor, your best bet is not to encourage others to jump on board and accelerate its death.  Discouraging other potential contributors is NOT just being selfish.  You need to tell them the reality.  This isn't 2005.  That was the right time to jump in.  Today microstock is a monumental struggle to earn pennies for hours of work, and tomorrow even those pennies will be gone.  People need to go into this with open eyes, not false hope of getting rich.

I'll play.  And I'll offer my opinion sincerely and without irony:

I think people like to moan and read people moaning because...

1) When our sales are bad, we want to know that sales are bad for others too.  Otherwise, there's something wrong with what we're doing.  But if everyone is feeling the pain, and maybe even worse pain than what we're feeling, we take comfort that we're not alone.  Misery loves company.

2) We recognize that the flood of new contributors is killing us, and we want to discourage additional competitors from jumping on board.  Sure, this is partly selfish, but it's also helping people from getting started in what is now a losing game.  When I decided to jump into this, I was encouraged by people bragging in this very forum about how much money they made.  No one brags now, aside from newbies who OF COURSE make more today with their 500 pictures than their 10 pictures they had six months ago. 

But to any potential new contributors, understand this as the New Reality of Microstock: experienced contributors with 10,000 pictures today are making half of what they made five years ago with 5,000 pictures.   Yes, some will have variations on these numbers, but there's no disputing that this is the TREND and the FUTURE WILL GET EVEN WORSE.

Moaning, yes.  But the truth.  And to the OP's question... why do I moan and keep doing this?  For the first time in ten years, I am considering stopping.  It's been causing me to become quite depressed, and I may soon decide that it's just not worth the heartache.

Off Topic / Re: Trump in Putin's pocket
« on: July 19, 2018, 07:31 »
I was in my gym this morning in California with about 15 other middle aged Anericans. I was the only person reading the subtitles on the tv screens showing the Trump / Putin summit.  I just don't  think Anetican people care about the news. Im the only Brit there so I guess its a cultural thing.

Yes, America is paying attention.  In case you didn't know, more of us actually voted for Clinton over Trump.  (Our electoral system let us down yet again.)  Trump's approval ratings are in the toilet, because even some of those who voted for him now realize they were misled. 

Since you brought it up... a majority of the UK voted for Brexit, which seems just as foolish as a Trump vote.  Do most Brits not care about the news, as you're suggesting about the "Aneticans"?

Without diving into the details, as far as I know, VB offers the Enterprise program in which case those Enterprise customers can download the "member library collection" videos and images at no additional cost (these are the assets that VB secured through special agreements with certain contributors).  You wouldn't see commissions on these -- if you're in this program you would know, and as I understand it, you'd be paid up front.  If Enterprise customers or anyone else buys your video or image in the "marketplace" you'd get 100% of the sale.  After Aug 1 that drops to 50%.  Yay.

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