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Topics - davidgoh

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1
Hey MSG!

Do you guys happen to know if it's alright to use stock photos for satirical news articles? Especially photos with models in it. Are there any guidelines to pay heed to, for example, ensuring that the news article is obviously satirical for one?

2
Hey guys,

Back on February 2013, I asked on the forums for opinions on whether or not I should apply for exclusivity, (thread: http://www.microstockgroup.com/istockphoto-com/i'm-going-for-the-golden-choker/) and I eventually made the choice to go for it. Since then a few people have asked me about my experiences and my opinion on going exclusive, which is why I've decided to share how I did for the year of 2013:



A little background; I started uploading bits and pieces of old, un-used illustration work as early as September 2012 (these sold horribly), but I only began creating illustrations specifically for microstock starting from December 2012 onwards. You could say that I've been a serious microstocker for only a bit over a year now.

Some points to note:

- I'm doing microstock only on a part-time basis.
- I only do illustrations.
- This data only reflects revenue from iStock. Prior to exclusivity on Week 12, I submitted to a few other sites (Vectorstock, 123rf, Shutterstock.)

A few thoughts: Will I continue being exclusive?

For the time being, yes. My earnings have been meeting expectations so far - I would, however, probably pull out if they fall below a certain level. I recognize that going indie may be more profitable, but as a part-timer I'm not keen on making the somewhat risky jump, as well as take on the arduous task of uploading and maintaining a portfolio across many different websites.

Do I regret going exclusive?

This is a tough one. I was very happy with exclusivity for the first couple of weeks, before the collection changes hit and my earnings dropped. This was a pretty nasty shock, and really showed how dangerous it was to have all your eggs in the same basket. The fall wasn't bad enough to make me regret going exclusive, but I'm definitely feeling the tightness of golden choker in the sense that there isn't a whole lot else I can do but continue producing content.

Exclusivity - is it a good idea?

There's no easy answer to this... as many have said, it depends on your portfolio, personal preferences and whether or not you're full-time/part-time. Speaking from a pragmatic point of view though, I think that now wouldn't be the best time to sign up for it, not with the flurry of changes that seems to be happening at iStock... You'd never know what you'd be signing up for. I'm still waiting on the promised features that iStock has mentioned as early as July 2013, the ones that would "show their renewed commitment to exclusivity." It's taking a really long time though...

That's about it! Thanks to everyone on the forums for your advice and opinions - you guys have provided a wealth of information to the rest of us newbies so that we may navigate through this messy industry, and for this I'm very grateful. Here's to hoping that 2014 will be a better year... To many more years of microstocking! :D

3
iStockPhoto.com / Post Collection Changes Sales Performance
« on: June 21, 2013, 00:23 »
I'm slated to have a pretty bad week so far, with 40% of $$$ of what I usually make weekly. I can't help but link it to the recent collection changes, which also seemed to have had a huge impact on how the best match works.

How's everyone else doing? Notice any changes since the collection changes?

4
Hi MSG! Just wanted to open a discussion on file pricing. I've personally never been in an agency where I could set my own prices, so I really wouldn't know how it's like. I personally like the idea of self-regulated pricing, but I can't help but feel like it's a quick way for everyone to engage in a price war where no one wins.

Thanks for participating!

5
Off Topic / Retainer Fee - How do you charge?
« on: May 30, 2013, 01:34 »
Hey MSG! I understand that many of you do freelance photography and graphic design on your own time. Apart from stock, I'm also a freelance graphic designer myself, having been one since I graduated from school a year back.

Over the one year, I've managed to built a system of how much to charge for the different kinds of services out there, but I've recently been asked for my "retainer fee" rate, which is all very new to me. (I had no idea freelancers would have retainer fees too!) Does anyone have an idea on how to begin quoting for this? What kind of pricing structure do you use? Thanks in advance!

6
Stocksy / New Homepage Layout
« on: May 18, 2013, 06:13 »
Hello MSG! Has anyone seen the new homepage layout for Stocksy (http://www.stocksy.com/)? It's crazy gorgeous! I simply love the idea of mocking up magazine and websites with existing images... they certainly look incredibly professional, and not at all with the typical "stock photo" sort of look. As someone who does design and layout work on a full-time basis, it's a very attractive setup to me.

Congrats to all photographers who are currently on Stocksy. I wish you guys success. :)

7
General Stock Discussion / SL/EL Sale Ratio
« on: April 18, 2013, 00:20 »
Hey guys,

I'm trying to get insight on what kind of portfolio grabs the highest number of EL sales (compared to SL sales), be the the type of work, (photography, illustration, video) or your subject (still life, people images, cartoon images, or design elements). I'm sure there are patterns to be identified, which means it'll be very useful information for those new to microstock. (Like me!)

I'll start off by sharing my info:

Portfolio type: 100% Vector Illustrations
Subject: Design Elements, Labels, Backgrounds.
Ratio: 1 EL for every 700 SL sales. (I've had 700 sales so far this year, and only one of them was EL. While I'm happy with my sales, I wish I had more ELs... But doesn't everyone?)

I'd love to see what you guys have. Thanks in advance for taking part in this! :)

8
Hey MSG Illustrators,

Recently, I found myself wondering: does preparing your file in EPS8 or EPS10 have an impact on sales? Are buyers naturally inclined to EPS8 files?

The reason why I'm asking this is because I'm seeing a trend where EPS8 files have more downloads - both in my portfolio and on the top lists of iS (I'm an exclusive there.) Of course, subject matter could also play a part here, so I might be seeing something that's not there.

I've been personally moving in the direction of doing more EPS10 than EPS8 files, even when the main elements of the illustration don't require EPS10 effects. Rather, I use EPS10 effects to spruce up the backgrounds in hopes that they'll look more attractive on the preview image. I'm beginning to wonder, though, if it's backfiring, and that there are actually a large chunk of buyers who avoid EPS10 files like the plague.

What are your experiences?

9
Hey illustrators,

Not sure if this has been posted before, but I've found a website that I'm pretty sure deals with stolen vectors. Here's an example of them stealing from a very prominent illustrator (Anja Kaiser):

STOLEN?: http://www.allvectors.com/vintage-transport-vector/

ORIGINAL: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-81148093/stock-vector-vector-set-vintage-means-of-transportation-variety-of-old-fashioned-illustrations.html?src=8A0E2BBE-91DF-11E2-8493-E6F69DA4A24C-1-26

I've not been able to identify the source of the other vectors, but I'm pretty sure that they've also stolen from other vector artists that may also be here in MSG. Worth checking out I suppose?  :-\ Also, I wonder what exactly can we do with websites like these?

10
Shutterstock.com / 30% of Royalties Withheld!
« on: March 20, 2013, 05:19 »
Being a non-US citizen, I just received an e-mail from Shutterstock on the mandatory submission of a tax form, and that failure to do so will result in a 30% witholding tax.

I'm still pretty green to microstock (and heck, to overseas transactions in general) so I decided to do a little research. To my horror, I discovered that the country I'm from (Singapore) does not have any tax treaties with U.S.  :o Unless I'm reading it wrong, does this mean that I can't do anything but forfeit 30% of my royalties? Do I even need to file the tax form when I'll be penalized the full amount anyway?

UPDATE: I just found a thread on the Shutterstock forums that serves as a comprehensive FAQ (http://submit.shutterstock.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=947605#947605). Seems like it's a pretty old issue. Thanks to all who replied to this thread - I now have all the answers I need!

11
Hey MSG illustrators, just wanted to share something I came across today:



As a vector artist, I was blown away by this gorgeous piece of work. It's the album art for John Mayer's "Born & Raised" album. The amazing artist goes by the name of David A. Smith, and there's a short film detailing his process - one that is an absolute delight to watch:



Through a little searching, I also found out that he does stock vectors! http://www.istockphoto.com/ANGELGILD/ Superb work. :D

12
iStockPhoto.com / I'm going for the golden choker.
« on: February 26, 2013, 00:39 »
I foresee this post being shot down in flames, and then more. But I'm gonna go for it anyways, if only to see the response I get.

I just struck 250 downloads on iStock, and I'll probably be signing myself up for that golden crown soon (or, as it has been referred to many times in the past, the golden choker.) Yes, this is amidst all the current chaos and controversy surrounding iStock, and despite them. Here are my reasons why:

  • I currently submit to four sites, and my royalties on iStock is twice the amount collected on the three other sites. Theoretically, my income from iStock would go up by at least 60% when I go exclusive (current royalty rate 16%, exclusive rate 25%) which would nicely cover up the deficit.
  • As much as I'd like to stay non-exclusive, I find it a major pain to upload my work on multiple sites - and I'm only doing four currently! I have two jobs on the side, so I'd like to keep the time spent uploading down to the minimum. Granted iStock's uploading isn't the best, but I've grown accustomed to it so it's not so bad.
  • My experience with iStock's support so far has actually been pretty positive. None of my enquiries have yet been buried in their ticket system, my scout tickets were responded to promptly and comprehensively (and always in direct reply to the points I bring up in my ticket), and I've had no issues in terms of late payment whatsoever. On the other hand, while I'm in love with Shutterstock's FTP uploads, tools and that awesome world map that shows my latest downloads, my experience with their support has been downright appalling in terms of responsiveness and clarity. While I'm sure my experience is vastly different from what many of here have gone through, all that's happen makes it a deal breaker for me.

Well then, that's pretty much it. Apart from the aforementioned reasons, I find myself asking these questions too, given recent events.

Aren't I afraid that they'll take my work and pull another cash grab, as seen in the Getty/Google deal?

I honestly can't imagine how it feels like until it actually happens, but yes, I think I'd feel pretty betrayed if I find my vectors available for the entire internet to grab for free. The fact that I do stock as just a side gig will cushion that blow, but it'll still be pretty messed up nonetheless. But for me, the most important thing is whether or not exclusivity changes this. By uploading to iStock as an ex or non-ex, aren't I already subject to this happening? What do any of you think?

iStock treats contributors with disrespect. It's not something I've felt yet, but it'll happen soon - there's tonnes of evidence to support that eventuality. What happens then?

It depends on the infraction, I guess. I'm not a participant in their forums, which is why I've yet to suffer the brunt of their notorious moderators that often get special mention here in MSG. My biggest concern would be another drop of royalties -- if this happens, then I'd definitely consider dropping the crown. But apart from all these, their contributor support has been pretty polite with me so far as a non-ex. I don't think that'll change for the worse if I go exclusive, cause that doesn't make sense. Does it?

Why am I giving support to a company that seems to be ground-zero to so much controversy and misery?

I've been lurking in these forums for months and I've seen the horror stories. It does make me uncomfortable that I'm about to make a move that supports and endorses a company that evidence here has shown to be a lot less than perfect. And then I realize that it changes nothing - exclusive or not, I'm still someone who has been in support of keeping iStock afloat since I uploaded my first file. Going exclusive doesn't change that, right? And like many of you here who still upload there, I think the bottomline that iStock offers us is just too good to pass up, despite whatever unhappiness they're responsible for.

So there you have it, my thought processes and justifications laid out for all to see. Who knows, maybe in a couple months time I'd be coming in here with a new thread on how I'm no longer exclusive and it's a breathe of fresh air. Till then, I can't see a compelling reason why I shouldn't give this a shot. Thoughts?

13
iStockPhoto.com / Exclusivity - how big was your jump in income?
« on: February 16, 2013, 13:31 »
Hey guys,

Seeing the new "exclusive" rating on the right has really gotten me curious about something, so here I am with the following question:

For all you exclusive people - from the moment you got your crowns, how big of a bump did you observe in your income? Apart from the obvious increase in royalties, did you notice substantially more hits on your works? It'll also be helpful to know when you got your crowns -- I suspect older exclusives observed a much larger increase. Thanks in advance!


14
Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock Upload Limit
« on: February 06, 2013, 00:21 »
Is there an upload limit for Shutterstock? I exclusively do vector illustrations, and when I try to mass upload 70+ works via FTP, only 40 ever show up. Sometimes there's naming errors, but even as I fix them and reupload, the list of works under the Content Editor caps at a maximum of 40 (all the previous works uploaded disappears.)

15
iStockPhoto.com / iStock's sudden dip in traffic on 2011 Q1
« on: February 05, 2013, 00:52 »
I've attached a screenshot of iStock's latest Alexa traffic graph. Every time I check iStock's ranks on Alexa, this little detail fascinates me - What exactly happened during the Q1 of 2011 that would have caused such a harsh drop in traffic? Do anyone of you old timers know? :P

16
Shutterstock.com / Repeated SS Rejection for ID
« on: January 29, 2013, 22:40 »
It feels a little little strange how I notice most people on MSG singing praises of Shutterstock, when my experience with them has been nothing less than infuriating so far. Nonetheless, I suppose it's not their intention either... might have been sort of a site bug, I think.

I've had my ID rejected four times. The first time was valid, in that I stupidly submitted an Identity Card instead of a Passport. The next three times, however, returned this rejection message:

=>Unfortunately, the account information provided appears incomplete or incorrect. Please respond to this mail with your name, phone number and complete address. Once we have updated your account, you may upload your passport again.

On all counts where I've received this e-mail, I would promptly respond to that e-mail, only to not have any response on whether or not it's safe to upload yet. And this goes on 3 more times. I've sent emails requesting for support via other channels to no response as well

Anyone encountered the same problems as I did? I'm really not sure what to do at this point, save for giving them a call when it's working hours at New York.

17
iStockPhoto.com / Balance Dropping Without Warning
« on: January 26, 2013, 05:34 »
Just had my account balance drop from $98.20 to $95.29 right in front of my eyes as I'm surfing iStockPhoto. With my portfolio being only a few months old, I've yet to receive any of the infamous refunds until now, though I've read much about them. Definitely doesn't feel great, but I understand it's a common thing.

What's a little strange though is how I've yet to received the traditional notification of refund -- I would have expected it to be immediate or at least prior to the balance being deducted. Does anyone know how long do they usually take to issue these notices?

Darn, so close to payout too... :P

18
Does selling across different sites with different royalties cause an overall decrease in royalties?

I'm sure this is a question that many non-ex contributors have already battled with, but I'm currently struggling with it myself and I'd like to know what you guys think. If you have a photo that's on sale for $20 at one agency and $3 on another, would your sales at the former site suffer? When I put myself in the shoes of a web-savvy customer, I believe that the first thing I'd do upon finding a photo I want to buy is to run the preview image through Google Images in hopes of finding the same file on a cheaper site.

That's what I'd do, at any rate. I understand that there are different sorts of customers (many that probably buy exclusively from one site due to various reasons), but I'd like to know what you guys think!

19
Hello people! I've been lurking about in MSG for a short while now, figured it's high time I got an account and started talking. MSG is now my go-to location for what's latest in the industry -- without it, I'd have never known stuff like iStock's recent Google deal and so on.

If it's not already apparent, I'm pretty new to this industry, only a few months old. It's been a ridiculously fun and addictive endeavour, and I'm planning on roping a good friend in so that we may contribute under the same account. Me wanting to do this was also because months ago - when I first got into stock - the first site I came across was iStockPhoto, and achieving Exclusive status immediately became my first goal. So collaborating just sort of made sense; generate more product under the same name, achieve higher royalties faster, get more exposure.

With recent events however, I've decided that going exclusive with iStock maybe isn't the best idea. I'm now attempting to submit to multiple sites to see how it's like, but that now also leaves me wondering if sharing an account with another contributor is a good idea anymore.

For example, I'm not sure if there's any legal issues. And if it is, what happens if we collectively choose to upload to a few agreed agencies, but individually we upload to other agencies of our own? Is there any violation of the usual ASAs? And also, is there any other hidden "pitfalls" in sharing a contributor account that Im not seeing? I've not really seen this done anywhere, so I truly have no clue. I'd like to know what you guys think, and if any of you have done or considered this before.

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to hearing what you all have to say. :)

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