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Topics - marthamarks

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I don't use Snapchat and never will, so I don't care what their policies are. But people who do use it are up in arms about this radical policy change.

Looks like we microstockers aren't the only ones getting shafted by companies we once trusted.


Adobe Stock / Open letter to Fotolia: What's going on here?
« on: February 20, 2014, 11:39 »
Dear Fotolia,

On Feb 16, I contacted you via your website to say that I had received TWO copies of the 1099-MISC tax form (US) for 2013, each one showing (incorrectly!) that I was paid $12.50 last year. Two days later, I received a THIRD copy of the same 1099 form.

Nothing is different on any of those forms, except the third one has the CORRECTED box checked and hand written on it is this: "issued on 2-7-14". Once again, on Feb 18, I contacted you via your website. So far, I've had no response from you.

Receiving three separate/identical 1099 forms for one tax year would be odd enough but...

I received no payment whatsoever from Fotolia in 2013. Certainly not $12.50, as shown on those three 1099 forms, because that wouldn't have been enough to make payout. I didn't receive a single penny from Fotolia in 2013. So why is the IRS being notified that I received payment of $12.50 last year???

Several weeks ago, in 2014, I cancelled my Fotolia account, leaving about $12.50 unpaid to me. Frankly, I didn't expect ever to receive that. I was willing to let you keep that money. But for sure, I didn't expect to have a non-existent payment reported to the IRS for a year when I never received any money from you.

What kind of crazy, mixed-up company are you? Please explain what's going on.

Martha Marks

It's called "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!", and it's right on target for what we Symbiostockers are doing:


Tonight I did a few test searches on the SYS global search page. It seems to work very well. Fast and accurate by keywords.

However, I'm finding it pulls up many images that should not pull up for a given search.

For example, I searched for "elk" and got this page of 19 images:


Of the 19 images shown, only 7 are actually of "elk."  The other 12 are an assortment of "moose", "caribou" and "deer".  None of those creatures, lovely as they are, are the same as an elk.

If I were a buyer searching on SYS globally for an image of an "elk" and found all that, I think I'd be quite turned off.

So I'd like to offer a modest suggestion (and this includes me, too) that we all make a collective effort to keyword more accurately.


EDITED TO ADD: Curious, I just searched on "moose" and found 21 images of -- TA DA! -- moose. No elk, deer, or caribou. Not sure exactly why that is.

Well, this is interesting!

I'm trying to upload new images to test my new watermark, but **on the very same laptop** as I've done all my other uploading, I don't see the "upload box" that I've always seen before on the "Upload Images" page. Instead, I see the following message, which has always been there with the box. Now the message is all I see. No box.

Symbiostock Image Uploader

You browser doesn't have Flash, Silverlight, Gears, BrowserPlus or HTML5 support.

Want to use FTP? Here is the uploads folder:
Uploading Directions ( .jpg .eps .png .zip )
For best results, upload in batches of less than 40 or 50. Shift+drag to select groups of files, or CTRL+click to select individual files one by one.

EPS(vector) files must be accompanied by high-res JPEG or PNG files with the same name. Example:


When uploading is completed...

...proceed to Process Images to process them.

How could the same computer have gone from having everything needed for image uploads to now (apparently) having none of them? I haven't deleted anything. All I've done is add the "SS Pro" premium plugin.

A few minutes ago, I installed Flash thinking that might fix the problem (since the message says that's something I don't have). But no. Do I need to install all those programs again? If so... why?

Anybody have an idea why I can't see the same "upload box" I always used before?

OK, folks. I've got "Similar Images" showing up on my image pages now. Giant leap forward!

BUT... in most cases the "similars" really aren't. I see the connection in most cases, but it not always obvious.

For an example, look at this image:


The similar elements in most (but not all) of the "similars" on that page are: "snow" or "juniper tree" or "high desert". But I'd rather have those "similars" be my other coyote images. Is there a way to make that happen? Or are the choices for "similars" purely random based on an odd keyword or other?

Advice please, O Wise Ones!  :-*

Symbiostock - SEO & Marketing / Questions about SEO/Yoast
« on: August 11, 2013, 10:07 »
APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE FOR THE LONG POST! However, I think questions about SEO/Yoast may be important to others as well as to me, so I'll beg your indulgence.

Maybe these issues have to do with the unique nature of a commercial photo-selling site, which is not a "normal" blog like Yoast is meant to deal with. But still, the questions are there.

Last night I installed the Yoast plugin and read through the info. :) This morning I started the process of trying to turn 600+ red-button image-pages to green. Yikes!!! :o  So far, I have gotten one image to "greenish", so I guess I've accomplished something. Learned a few things too. Maybe "greenish" is good enough???  ;D ;D ;D  I'm beginning to suspect it is.

I get what's going on but do have some questions. I'll phrase them as they relate to this one particular image I just happened to pick to start with:


1. It seems Yoast doesn't recognize that the page is related to an image, since I keep getting this message: "No images appear in this page, consider adding some as appropriate." But there IS an image on this and every page. Does Yoast not "see" that? Do I just accept that Yoast doesn't "know everything" and ignore this constant warning, which will never allow me to get any of my image pages to "full green" on the Yoast scale?

2. Yoast is also telling me "The keyword doesn't appear in the first paragraph of the copy, make sure the topic is clear immediately."  But the keyword in question actually IS in the first paragraph. It's the 2nd word of the paragraph, and it's bold face. What the hey?

3. I feel I've written myself silly on this one description. How much more does one need to write for each and every image on a photo-selling site? For this image, Yoast is telling me: "There are 116 words contained in the body copy, this is below the 300 word recommended minimum. Add more useful content on this topic for readers."  Really??? Must each page be the equivalent of a full blog post???

4. I hadn't included any links in my descriptions before, but Yoast told me this: "No outbound links appear in this page, consider adding some as appropriate." So I added links to the 2 "similars" within my own site. I'm still getting that message, so I assume those links aren't "outbound". So... is it okay to link to my own images this way inside the description for this image? Does it help, hurt, or make no difference at all? Worth the bother to do this with "similars" or not???

5. Yoast says: "No subheading tags (like an H2) appear in the copy." So, should I break down my copy into subsections and give one or more a subheading? This isn't hard to do, but I'm trying to understand if this is needed & desirable in a photo description.

6.  Yoast is congratulating me for this: "You've never used this focus keyword before, very good."  The focus keyword in this case is coyote. Obviously. But since I have a whole assortment of images (8 at present, more to come) that will need that same keyword, how can I possibly make Yoast happy by using that keyword only one time on my entire site? And... how many alternatives are there to coyote, or to American black bear or raccoon, etc? I don't see a "fix" for this problem. Is there one?

7. Before I knew what I was doing, I gave my new site a very long name: Martha Marks' Best Nature Stock Photography. That's fine BUT... I now discover that it's eating up way too much space in my allowable title. Leaves me very little room to describe the photo in question. Is there any way to shorten my official title at this point?

I'm sure others are or will be grappling with these same issues, so perhaps discussion of these issues will help others along the way.

BTW, I'm extreeeeeeemely sorry that I didn't install Yoast at the very beginning of setting up my site, even though it would have made that tough stage even harder. Now it seems I need to go back and retrofit the 600 images already on my site. Not going to get the remaining 900 in my port up very fast at this rate.

Thanks in advance to the more experienced folks here for your input!

I'm ready to start networking. Have a portfolio of some 1500 images at present (only 1/3 showing on my site right now), with more to come by the end of this year. Almost everything is North American birds, critters, & landscapes.

Looking to network with other portfolios having significant representation in those same subjects, but perhaps not only in North America.

Anybody with a SYS site and similar subjects want to network with me?  (This feels like a "lonely hearts" ad, doesn't it?)

Here's my in-the-works SYS site: http://bestnaturestock.com/

Please let me know if you're interested, and I'll check out your site too!

Symbiostock - General / Many thanks to Amanda!
« on: August 05, 2013, 12:12 »
In the last few days, Amanda has given me some valuable advice and guidance. Most important, she gently and diplomatically encouraged me to switch from my "custom-built pages" approach to developing my website to the one that everybody else apparently has been using all along.

I'm very happy with how my site is progressing at this point. The new approach is certainly easier and quicker (now and going forward) than building a unique post/page for each species, and it works much better across devices. My BIRDS and BEASTS sections are still the old style, but will be redone today and tomorrow. My BUGS, PLANTS, and PLACES are all the new style. I may be creating too many sub-menu items, but those can always be whittled back if they start to overwhelm the page. (Now... if I can just get rid of that dratted description line under the BUGS button!)

So... huge thanks to you, Amanda. I really do appreciate your help!

Only 1,000 more images to go...  :o  and that's before I take off on a major "shooting" trip this fall.

For some reason, I've got a single description ("category for insect images") showing in my Menu bar. None of the other categories show that, and I don't want it.

Can somebody tell me how to get that *^$&%# description out of there? What could possibly be different in the the "Bugs" category setup?

Here's the link:  http://bestnaturestock.com/


Symbiostock - Technical Support / A stupid question?!
« on: August 02, 2013, 14:10 »
OK, so I'm admitting up front that this is probably a stupid question. But since I don't know the answer, I'll ask it anyway.

When somebody purchases an image license from a SYS website, does the system automatically deliver that image to the buyer, or does the site owner have to send it to the buyer?

I feel pretty sure it's the former but want to make sure... before I get an actual sale only to discover I don't know what to do next. :-)

Symbiostock / Questions about page layout
« on: August 01, 2013, 12:35 »
On my new SYS site, I've been building pages (which drop down from the main Menu catgories) with photos grouped according to place or species. Photos are clustered on the page, not formed into a single large grid of images. Here are a couple of "finished" examples:


Exactly how each page looks depends on the size of the monitor being used.

I'm getting this look by manually separating the clusters of photos with lines (either a single line or multiple lines as needed) like this:

<span style="color: #ffffff;">*************************************************</span>

This produces an invisible (because it's white #ffffff on white) divider line that makes the pages look the way I want on "normal-size" computer screens.

However, I'm starting to worry about two things. Phrased as questions, they are:

1. How will pages manually spaced like this look on mobile phones, iPads, etc.? (I don't own either so can't test it.)

2. How will search engines react to pages done like this?

And I'm wondering: Is there some kind of block layout or grid pattern that I could use instead of my clunky manual system? It would have to be able to have empty "blocks" or "spaces" to work for me.

If anybody has thoughts on this or answers to my questions, I'll be grateful for the help.

Thanks in advance!


It's been exactly one week since I began setting up my site. Last weekend, I wrestled with creating a watermark. This weekend, I'm unveiling a "starter" website and asking for your suggestions, feedback, and input before I go any further.

First off to those who are still thinking about taking this step, I say: Do it! There's labor involved for sure, but it's actually quite easy to set up your own site once you get past a small learning curve. Leo and Amanda and others involved in developing & testing SYS have done their work well.

A week ago today (Friday), I downloaded SYS and went looking for a URL. Didn't have a clue what it would be but was hoping for something like "naturestock.com" or "naturephotostock.com". Not surprising, most everything I checked was already taken by somebody else (a genuine photog or a scalper and I didn't want to pay a premium).

Remarkably, I did find available one perfect-for-me URL, and I snapped it up. I'm now officially bestnaturestock.com. And to make it clear that I'm not saying my photography is better than anybody else's, I call the site: "Martha Marks' Best Nature Stock Photography."  It's my best work, and I do think it's pretty good overall, but I'm not claiming it's the very best nature photography on earth. I was just lucky enough to grab that URL, and I'm capitalizing on it. :-)

So, today I'd like to invite Leo, Amanda, other SYS site owners and prospects to take a look at what I've done in the last week. Not all pages are done yet. No EULA or final bio or Network Directory stuff like that will come this weekend. But there are 7 bird pages ready for inspection. Many more species pages will come over the next few weeks.

Based on what's already done, there are four specific areas where I'd appreciate input from this group.

1. ORGANIZATION/STRUCTURE My work falls into 5 basic categories: birds, beasts, bugs, plants, & places, so I used those words as my main menu items. Each one will have many sub-categories, like those currently under the 2 "Birds". Not every page will be filled with images in perfect grids, since I'm grouping them by species and I have more quality pics of some species than of others. QUESTIONS: Is the set-up as it is now intuitive enough for a visitor to the site? Is it attractive? Will it work for SEO?

2. SEO I've followed Leo's advice to change the titles and URLs of all my images, so they're different from what SS, DT, FT, etc, show for these same images. I've also expanded the description section for many images and will try to do it for all eventually. This is the most time-consuming aspect of setting up this site, but I think it's worthwhile, assuming I'm doing it right. QUESTIONS: Based on a sample of the images you can see, am I doing it right? Any other suggestions for enhancing CEO?

3. WATERMARK The WM I created last weekend shows on all the photos that click off thumbnails on the current 5 pages. I'm still trying to create a white/light version for dark images, including many not up on the site yet. (Thanks, Christine, for your effort to help with this. I'll be working on that this weekend.) QUESTIONS: Does this WM give my images enough coverage to offer reasonably decent protection? Does it look okay?

4. ADDITIONAL IMAGE PROTECTION The 2nd paragraph on my home page explains that "royalty free" does not mean "free for the taking" and that it's not okay to steal or "borrow" images. But many viewers will go directly to the photo pages and never see that paragraph or never click to the EULA page.( I also believe some people assume "royalty free" means "FREE!!", which of course it doesn't.) 

I'm thinking of appending a similar statement to the description of each image on the site. So far, I've only done that with this one image:


QUESTIONS: What's your reaction to the presence of that statement under the image? Is it helpful or a turn-off? Will it hurt SEO?

I'd also appreciate your reactions to anything else on the site as it currently stands. Advice, please!

Thanks, as always, for the great, supportive community you've built on this Forum. I'm pleased to be part of it. I will network with as many of your websites as possible and hope many of you will want to do the same with mine.


Symbiostock / Thank you, Leo and Amanda!
« on: July 16, 2013, 03:06 »
It's now 1:45 AM in my time zone, and I've just finished uploading 840 bird images that I intend to put on my new site. Earlier today, I managed to get my transparent watermark finished to my satisfaction. (And thanks to "Redneck" for offering to help with that. He and I exchanged a few PMs and I knew he would do it for me if necessary, but in the end I was able to figure it out all by myself... and that felt great!) Tomorrow I'll refine keywords for the images uploaded today. Once my Bird section is finished (within a few days) I'll unveil the site, even tho other sections will probably still be empty.

What I really want to say is this: Leo's Symbiostock and Amanda's Clean Theme are wonderful! They function very well, individually and together, and they look great.

There is nothing complex about building a website with them. My difficulties since I started 4 days ago have been with PROBLEMS OF MY OWN MAKING: trying to integrate NextGen Gallery before I knew what I was doing with SYS, and trying to do something in Photoshop that I had no clue know how to do. Now that those problems are gone, the website is coming together beautifully.

So... mega-thanks to Leo and Amanda, and the rest of the development crew, and to everybody else on these Forums who have given me encouragement and the help I needed. I expect to add about 1500 images to the network total within a few weeks. Since my portfolio is a true "niche," I don't believe it will compete with other ports currently in the group.

I encourage everybody who's holding back to give this a try.

And Leo... put me at the top of the list for that Premium upgrade when it's ready!

Symbiostock / Need help with FTP upload to NextGen Gallery
« on: July 13, 2013, 17:52 »
So, OK, I've got a new SYS site developing w/Clean Theme and NextGen Gallery. I know how to upload a few images at a time to NGG via the website and get them into galleries/pages/slideshows on the site, but I really need to be able to FTP larger batches. Otherwise, I'll never get this done.

My FTP connection to the site is good, and the images appear to be uploading to my new site just as they do to SS, FT, DT, etc. Problem is, I can't find the images once I've uploaded them.

Or maybe I should say... I don't know where to put the images I upload. Do I set up a file specifically for them? If so, what and where?? I've tried but each time WP tells me such-and-such a file does not exist. This is not very intuitive.

Is anybody who's dealt with this willing to share a tip or two?

Thanks, and my apologies if this has already been answered somewhere. I sometimes feel rather lost in the Forum.

Microstock Services / Digimarc?
« on: July 09, 2013, 10:54 »
I'm still new here and learning a lot. Have looked for threads dealing with Digimarc, but if they're here I haven't found them yet.

So I'll ask: Have any of you used the Digimarc watermarking/tracking service? If so, do you like it or not? Why or why not?

I understand Digimarc is durable but not visible. Which would be better: durable or visible?? Obviously, if a watermark isn't visible, you've got to tell people it's there and not going away.

Can Digimarc be used with Symbiostock, instead of creating my own watermark or using the one provided? I'm starting a new site with Symbiostock (probably also with the Clean Theme), so trying to understand the options.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

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