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Topics - PowerDroid

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There have been a number of recent posts wondering why sales could be slumping while a contributor's skills are sharpening.  If I'm getting better, the quality of my pictures is improving, so why don't I see an increase because of this?  I've wondered similar thoughts lately, noticing that my old pictures still sell about as well as my newer ones.  It doesn't seem to make sense.  I see my earliest shots as crude and not very appealing to look at, while my latest stuff is better framed, more attractive, etc.  What gives?

I think the answer is that technical quality doesn't matter.  OK, that's not really true.  You need a certain level of quality to even get accepted into the microstock sites.  But quality has become the high school diploma of microstock.  Everyone has it... you can't even get in the door without it... but it won't get you the job or the sale.

Aside from calendar printers who want the most gorgeous, perfectly framed shots of mountains, rainbows, puppies, etc... buyers don't want images, they need an extension of the message they want to convey.  They're buying concepts.  And the image that best communicates a concept is the one that gets the sale.  Further, the image that screams its concept loudest even when reduced to a thumbnail on a page of 100 competing images, is the one the buyer will first click on and most likely buy.

I believe this is why some of my earliest shots, as simple and as crude as they may be, can still outsell some of my more recent shots on similar subject matter.  It was almost a happy accident that I was doing well at this early on, and pretty dumb of me that it has taken me this long to figure out why my best sellers still sell.  But now I keep this idea at the front of my mind for every new pic I submit... it doesn't matter how much time I put into it to make it perfect... it has to be the best image out there to convey its message.

Of course, I put this out there at the risk of educating my competition, and will be called a fool for doing so.  But I've learned a good deal about microstock in this forum and I believe in giving back.  I hope it helps.

2
General Stock Discussion / Interesting Trends
« on: March 12, 2010, 13:59 »
Thought it would be interesting to have a thread in which we share trends we have noticed as we track our ports.

It's hard to see trends if you have a small port.  But as my port has grown, I've seen consistent trends emerge and thought I'd share them to see if you spot the same trends in your port.  Some if it is common sense stuff... others, chalk them up to "interesting observations."

(Of course, there are anomalies like EL sales that can throw everything off, but the bigger your port and overall sales, the less wildly an EL or two will throw off your numbers.)

- Sunday is worst day of week for sales   -   I know, DUH!   I used to think it was a toss-up between Sat and Sun, but as my port has grown and overall sales reached a certain level, I now see it as a rule... Sun is typically about 20% lower than Sat... at least, for me.)

- Friday is worst weekday  -  For a while I thought Mondays were also slow, but with the previous two Mondays each reaching BDE levels, I now see Mon - Thurs as about equal in sales, and Fri about 25% lower than the weekday average.

- The weekend begins around noon ET on Friday  -  I've seen this each Friday for the last few months... Friday mornings are a bit weaker than other weekdays, then there's a pronounced falloff in activity after about noon (ET time in the eastern US).

- "Siesta time" each weekday from about 1 to 3 pm ET  -  I guess I'm really showing how worn down my F5 key is!  I think there's a definite fall-off in buying activity during the early afternoon hours.  North American workers don't really take siestas, so maybe it's just extended lunches?  But I routinely see things pick up in late afternoon and slowly taper off.

- Buying slows/stops around 8 pm ET.  I'll still see some sales at night, but I definitely see the faucet shutting off right around 8 pm.  This could be the west coast of the US calling it a day at 5 pm their time.

Do you see the same trends?  What else do you see?

3
Bigstock.com / BigStock redesign?
« on: March 03, 2010, 11:16 »
Just went to check my BigStock earnings and was faced with a totally new looking site.

But it's so bare-bones my immediate thought was it's been hijacked by a hacker looking to capture our passwords.

I'm not going to log in until I'm convinced it's the real deal.

UPDATE/EDIT:  After scoping it out and feeling confident it was real, I logged in.  Not sure what I think yet.  I still think it's so spare that it almost doesn't look legit.  I  do prefer a "less is more" style, but even the fonts are plain and uninspired.  If I didn't know the site, my first thought would be that it can't be one of the big players.

4
General Stock Discussion / Dreamstime Update
« on: March 02, 2010, 16:10 »
It's been a while since we've discussed the recent pricing and commission changes at Dreamstime.  There was a lot of concern that contributors would end up losing out.  I think enough time has passed to be able to see how it affected us.  

I don't normally click on my Statistics button in the Dreamstime management area, but something possessed me to do so today, and I was surprised by what I saw.  My monthly sales line was on a pretty steady upward climb until the end of 09, when it took a dip then regained upward momentum but not as steep as before.  But at the same time, my revenue line shot up.  Now the two lines have a huge gap between them, with revenue sharply over sales, whereas they used to be right on top of each other.  This suggests to me that the pricing changes may have squeezed my sales but at the same time put more money in my pocket.

How have the changes impacted you?

5
I just saw a $.15 commission in Dreamstime.  Previously I thought the $.18 commissions I see once in a while in iStock were the lowest out there, but this one took the prize.  The Dreamstime $.15 was listed as "1 Credit (old)."  (I've actually been happy with my Dreamstime sales lately... I have a lot of "green" and "blue" level images now that land some pretty nice commissions... making this $.15 figure all the more shocking when I saw it.)

So is $.15 the lowest commission currently out there?  Anyone seen worse?

6
Lately I've been thinking about not just how much I can grow my microstock revenues in the short term, but also about whether I can count on it in the long term.

When I started nearly a year and a half ago, I set short term and long term goals for myself.  I recently hit my short term goal, and if my rate of growth holds steady, I could hit the long term goal (which involves making microstock my main source of income) in a few years.

But with all the recent changes in the industry, I'm wondering how realistic it is to think that a microstock income could last me well into my golden years (another 20 or 30 years).  Of course evolution will be constant, and this market may look completely different in just a year or two.  But I also strongly believe that communication will only become more and more visual, and images will be relied upon more than ever to convey ideas.  Therefore good imagery will always be needed, and thus, valuable. 

So here's my prediction:  Globalization and the race to the bottom will make our returns become smaller and smaller, but if the rewards of doing this work become so insignificant that talented artists (or even the copycats) can't justify the effort, then the supply and demand equation will level out making it worthwhile at least for those who can do unique, quality work in volume.  Today, of course, we all aim to do "good, quality work in volume," but I think the future will redefine the meaning of that (think 5x or 10x what it takes today to make a decent microstock income).

What do you think?  Does microstock have a decent lifespan in front of it, and if not, what might replace it?

7
General Stock Discussion / StockXpert - What is going on today?
« on: February 02, 2010, 09:44 »
Are you seeing any downloads on StockXpert today?

I'm wondering if a switch was thrown somewhere at StockXpert and buyers aren't seeing the site today?  This is the first day in many months that I woke up to ZERO downloads.  (My average lately has been 10 or 20 by 7 am EST.)   Now it's nearly 10 am and it's still showing 0.  I checked to make sure my pics are still in the site, and they are.

And the past few weeks, I thought StockXpert was on the rebound, approaching the BDEs and BWEs I was experiencing up until last November.  Strange that everything seemed to vanish overnight.

8
General Stock Discussion / CanStockPhoto - Sales Going Up?
« on: January 26, 2010, 16:10 »
Anyone else having an unusually good month at CanStock?  Typically they're a real sleeper for me, with a few .25 or .50 commissions here and there and every so often a big 19.80 or 29.55 sale.  But this month, my sales there are on a consistent, steady rise.  Factoring out the big "Fotosearch Regular" sales which really skew the picture, my daily average for January is about four times my daily average for December.  I'm wondering if they've been very aggressive in marketing, or if this is just organic growth that could continue long term?

9
Anyone else not seeing their sales registered on Dreamstime today?

I've been watching my grand total number in the upper right of the screen grow throughout the day, but none of those sales are showing up in the Earnings page.

I'm used to there being a lag time... I often catch the revenue number in the upper right getting bigger before the most recent sales post on the Earnings page... but that lag is typically just a matter of minutes.  Today, however, I have not seen a sale register in the detailed Earnings page, but I know there have been sales all throughout the day from watching the number.

Anyone else having this problem today?

10
This is a follow-up to another thread that ended up discussing the proper way for a contributor's family or other survivors to retrieve royalties after a contributor's death.  Since it's pretty important information, I felt it deserved its own thread.

Here's the question I posed to SS, IS, FT and DT:

"What options do the family of a deceased contributor have for continuing to benefit from sales of the deceased's work? For instance, I have given my wife instructions for logging in to each microstock agency where I maintain a portfolio so she may continue to monitor and request payments, but for tax purposes, it would seem that an official change would have to be made (payee name, social security number, etc.)  What is your preferred course of action for the survivor of a contributor? Will you need to see some kind of documentation that the contributor intended his spouse/child/other executor to modify the account after the contributor's death?"

I will post the answers in this thread as I receive them.

11
General Stock Discussion / Crestock - Dead Agency Walking?
« on: January 02, 2010, 12:35 »
The original post in the "2009 Year in Review" thread lists Crestock as one of the agencies that (may have) bit the dust in 09.  Anyone hear anything about their status?  I stopped uploading there about a month ago when my queue reached 98 images, and there's been no reviews of my submissions in about two months.  I wouldn't care, but I've still been earning about $1/day there for the past few months, so it bugs me to think I'm earning them money and they're doing nothing to earn it, and who knows if I'll ever get a payout when I'm due if there's no one minding the store.

12
I'd say the Christmas slump in downloads officially started Friday night, and boy are my numbers in freefall.

OK, I was expecting it, but it was still quite a drastic fall-off from the past Mon - Fri (Dec 14 - 18) which was my BWE.  My downloads for this weekend (Dec 19 - 20) are about one third of what my weekends have been lately.  I'm guessing that buyers were in a mad rush to complete projects this past week, buying a lot of images for things that had to be done by year's end.  And from now till sometime in January sales will be in freefall.

Is this what you're experiencing / theorizing right now?

(I started at microstock in Nov 08, so I've been through a Christmas slump before, but I guess since my port was so small and all my uploads were pretty fresh, I didn't notice such a pronounced fall in downloads.)

13
General Stock Discussion / Fotolia down?
« on: December 16, 2009, 12:10 »
Anyone else having trouble seeing Fotolia today?  Seems like for the past two hours I've been able to see the site about 1 in 10 tries.  No error message or anything, just a blank screen.  If buyers are seeing the same, there goes today's dl's!

14
Bigstock.com / Increase in BigStock downloads lately?
« on: November 12, 2009, 11:07 »
Has anyone else noticed an upsurge in BigStock downloads over the last week or two?

I thought I was noticing a significant increase, and went and compared the first 12 days of November to the first 12 of October, and found that I've seen a 100% increase.  And we're not talking $2 vs. $1 which would be too small to make any judgment, but rather $80 vs. $36.  I'm wondering if this is a sign that SS is actively pushing buyers to BigStock now, either online when someone wants to buy on demand, or via phone support, as other posters here have discovered may be the case.

Anyone else seeing a marked increase in BigStock downloads and/or revenues?

15
Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock dropping ODs?
« on: October 29, 2009, 10:40 »
I'm hoping there's nothing to this, but right now in the Shutterstock forum, everyone is up in arms about the possibility that SS has dropped On-Demand downloads.  I'm not even sure how to verify this, but I do know that I haven't seen any ODs yet today, which is odd at this point in the day for me.  These typically account for about 20 - 30% of my SS revenue, so that would be awful!

16
General Photography Discussion / Crestock - Is Anyone Home?
« on: October 15, 2009, 21:51 »
Anyone know what's going on at Crestock?

OK, so they've had this posted for the past several weeks: "Please note that we are currently experiencing significant delays to our image inspections.  While we hope to return to normal as soon as possible, the waiting time the moment can unfortunately be up to four weeks. We apologise in advance for the inconvenience and disappointment this will inevitably cause. Thanks for your patience in the meantime."

I've been uploading two or three images daily.  Maybe I should have given up on them, but lately Crestock has actually been performing well for me, so I've kept them in my upload routine.  But now I'm up to 74 images waiting for review, and it appears nothing has been reviewed in at least a month. 

I downloaded two more today and got this message: "1 processing errors: There is not enough space on the disk."  what?

17
General Stock Discussion / Goofy Things at 123RF
« on: September 27, 2009, 17:18 »
Anyone else notice strange things happening at 123RF?

Up until now, I've always noticed that the main earnings page was more up-to-date than the monthly earnings page where commissions are broken down day by day.

Months ago I wrote to 123RF asking why my main earnings page might show several sales for a given day but the monthly earnings page showed nothing for the day.  I've been told, as have others on this forum asking the same question, that there's a lag and the info may take a day or two to show up in the monthly page.

This Friday, however, the opposite happened.  My main earnings page showed 0 sales all day, but checking the monthly breakdown page, I watched it go from 1 sale to 10 by the end of the day.  I've seen no sales this weekend (typical for a weekend for me on 123), so I can't tell if this scenario is continuing or it was just a fluke.

Anyone else have the same thing happen?

18
General Stock Discussion / Monthly sales patterns
« on: September 21, 2009, 13:51 »
Anyone else notice this?

I've had several months recently in which sales start out strong, then about half-way through, I see a significant drop in sales.  A later week in the month runs about 30% lower than an earlier week, then when the next month starts, the first few weeks shoot back up and usually beat the first weeks of the prior month.  It's happened enough that I think there's a definite pattern here, but I haven't seen it discussed in the forums, unless I've missed a thread.

Wondering if this is a subscription-based pattern.  If a subscriber is allowed a certain number of downloads a month, and half-way through runs out of credits, he/she may wait until the start of the next month to download more images. 

Thoughts?

19
I was reading the "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" thread, and by pure coincidence I then read the article The Good Enough Revolution" in Wired magazine.

It didn't mention microstock as an example, but it certainly seems to fit the Good Enough model in which a low-priced product beats a technically superior competitor.

We all need to understand that there are different types of customers out there, some of which feel a free snapshot of Big Ben is good enough for their needs, a better value for free than the technically superior microstock image for a few dollars (while the high-priced, professional shot at an RM agency isn't even a consideration for this customer).   It's clear we're in a transitional phase right now... many people who would normally pay top dollar for macro or mid-stock are now deciding microstock is good enough, and it's likely the case that a big group of people buying microstock are discovering they can get free snapshots by hobbyists which are good enough for their needs. 

Some in the "Free: Radical Price" thread predicted that free will overtake micro, but that won't happen.  Hobbyists will flood the free sites with their Big Ben photos and some current buyers will be fine with those... but photographers, illustrators, 3d artists, and videographers who have found a specialized niche and perfected it will always find their work is in demand, and they will certainly not give their work away.  Many of these folks are making a good profit right now in microstock, and they will continue to do so, even while the market shakes up around them.

Everyone should read the Wired article RIGHT NOW at: http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/magazine/17-09/ff_goodenough







20
General Stock Discussion / Summer is Over... So are Sales Back Up?
« on: September 08, 2009, 14:33 »
This was my first summer in microstock, and I think I experienced the summer slump that many have posted about.  I had month-over-month growth right up until June, then July and August were fairly flat.  But starting the several days in August, I've seen a huge jump across nearly every site.  (Have to find some wood to knock.)  Is everyone else experiencing a big post-summer rise?

21
Anyone else notice their larger downloads at FT go away?

My quantity of downloads seems to be consistent, but I haven't had a sale larger than $0.68 since Aug 29.  Since then, I've had about 60 downloads ranging from $0.32 to $0.68, nothing larger.  Prior to Aug 29, I'd say about half my FT downloads were well over $1.00. 

Did something happen right around Aug 29?  Did your larger FT sales dry up over the last several days?

22
General Stock Discussion / Crestock - is something going on?
« on: September 02, 2009, 12:03 »
I've been bad-mouthing Crestock lately, saying in a number of posts that Veer has leapfrogged over them and I was thinking of cutting Crestock from my upload schedule.

But over the past week, my sales have exploded at Crestock (relatively speaking).  I had a $13.50 day late last week, yesterday did $4.75 and today $3 so far.  I've been there for about 6 or 8 months, with a port of under 400 images that has been slowly growing, and nothing like this has happened up to now. 

Anyone else noticing a burst of activity?  I wonder if they just launched a big marketing campaign?

23
Veer / Veer - How are you doing so far?
« on: August 18, 2009, 12:55 »
Seems like no one has been talking about Veer lately, maybe for good reason, but... I think it's time for another look, since it's been up a while.

I wanted to compare my performance there vs. the other sites this month, so I went through the ridiculous exercise of going through each page in my port and jotting down my numbers (the sales stat page better come quick!).  Didn't track views, just sales.  Anyway, here's how I've done so far...

Images online: 418
Rejections: 82
Purchases: 21
Revenue: $26.95

That makes Veer #8 of 9 sites for me (Crestock, as always, dead last).  How about everyone else?

Has anyone had better luck getting batches approved lately?  My last two batches got whacked with the "images too similar" stick, all at once.  Many were pretty unique with nothing else similar in the batch or my overall port.  Pretty clear that it's very hit and miss there right now.  I either get a lenient reviewer who will let 30 images in with no problem, or a grump who will reject 30 at once without, it seems, really looking at them.  I want to upload more, since I think the results are at least promising, but refuse to until they figure out what they're doing in terms of approvals.

24
General Stock Discussion / Summer Slump vs. Beginner's Growth
« on: August 17, 2009, 13:24 »
Hello all!

This is my first post here.  I've been reading for a few months, finding lots of insightful information, and figured it was time to "enter the fray."

I've been uploading to several microstock sites since late in 08, and it's been a fun, rewarding experience.  Every month until July 09 has been a "BME."  I've been steadily uploading about 50-60 images a month, with the goal of 2 a day, so I imagine that helps keep the portfolio fresh and my pics  near the top if the buyer is searching by newest first.  (It's worth noting that I've been striving to create a diverse portfolio, mixing up my subject matter so I'm not cannibalizing my own sales.)

So things were going great until July hit, and my growth stopped.  No complaints... July was flat to June, which I guess I expected.  But then August rolls in and my downloads are taking an even bigger hit.

Since I have yet to go through an entire 12-month cycle, I'm wondering if this is common, or if this is an indication that my "beginner's growth" is running out. 

Please share your:

1. Best months
2. Worst months
3. Did you have a "beginner's growth" period that noticeably tailed off after a number of months, and if so, after how many months did it happen?

Thanks!

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