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Topics - EmberMike

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General Stock Discussion / We don't owe these companies anything
« on: October 31, 2018, 16:14 »
I sometimes get emails from random companies looking for new contributors. Some new company thinking they can break into the stock business (you can't, unless you have millions of dollars to invest in acquiring an existing company), or they're an existing company looking to expand or branch into a new market. This is about the latter.

I got 2 emails from a guy at a free stock image company (which is looking to expand into paid stock), followed by this third email (his name and the company name have been changed):


This is my third and final attempt to contact you about selling your vectors on "Garbage Stock". It appears like you may be ignoring me... I hope that is not the case.

We are only selecting a few artists right now to join this program. We choose you and your portfolio because it is high-quality and you have a very high earnings potential from the data we are looking at. If we don't get you on board this week, we are going to have to go elsewhere. Please respond let me know if you wanted to be included asap.


I ignore these emails because, well, why bother. It's just another dead-end that will earn me nothing. Or, worse, will earn me almost nothing and earn the company a lot.

Now this email struck a nerve because of the attitude of "Steve", apparently being so bothered that I'm ignoring him and his enticing invitation that he sent to just a few people (yeah, right) to join his free-stock company that is now looking to sell images and cash in on their high traffic volume. So, for once, I decided to reply:

Hi Steve,

I was ignoring you, as I tend to do with the numerous offers I receive to join websites like Garbage Stock, but since you insist on pushing the matter, allow me to explain my choice to ignore your earlier emails.

Garbage Stock has been a haven for rip-offs of my work (and many other artists' work as well) for years. Cheap knock-offs of my designs are available for free on Garbage Stock as I write this. Garbage Stock also freely gives away copyrighted material, designs owned by companies, organizations, and, as mentioned, many other artists. Surely you are aware of this, it doesn't take much searching to find plenty of material on Garbage Stock that you have no right to sell or give away.

Sites like Garbage Stock have no real interest in helping artists, nor do you apparently care about the people who download stuff from your site (people think they're getting a license to use content but it doesn't apply if you had no right to offer than content in the first place).

To be fair, this is a common problem in the stock image industry. However most other companies do far more to combat it, including banning contributors from the site (something it appears Garbage Stock doesn't do, as "artists" found to be ripping off content might only get a few offending images removed from their portfolios, while being allowed to continue contributing content still today).

Lastly, I don't support sites built on a "free" model as the primary focus of distribution. All of that traffic you've built up has been on the backs of artists' free content, and the implied value (or lack thereof) of vectors to be something that should be available for free. Now that you've built up all of that site traffic from free content, you want to cash in. I won't be a part of that, nor will I provide the original work that Garbage Stock "artists" have been ripping off for years and giving away for free.

For all of these reasons, I am unable to support a site like Garbage Stock and I have no interest in being affiliated with the company at all. Garbage Stock has done plenty to damage the stock image business and I have no desire to reward your sh***y business model by contributing my work to your collection.

So yes, I was ignoring you, and trying really hard not to have to send this email to you. But since you appear to have been so hurt by my lack of enthusiasm to be a part of Garbage Stock, I figured I could at least explain why.

Thanks for the offer, but my answer is 'no'.


I'm posting this just to shed some light on a sentiment that I think has been common in the stock image business for a while and should have been killed off long ago. This idea is one that many of these agencies share, one that basically takes the position that they are offering us something wondrous and special, and we should feel privileged to even be considered as a possible contributor to these agencies.

I think it's about time we call this stuff what it is: a scam. Companies like this one will make it sound like such a wonderful deal, they'll entice you with their website traffic and promises of "earnings potential". But they've built their business on free content, so what kind of earnings potential could they possibly be concerned with when it comes to what the contributor gets?

Sure this is a rant. But I hope it's also a bit of a cautionary tale for anyone here who is maybe somewhat new to this business and gets these emails and offers. There a lot of snakes in the stock image world. You don't owe them anything, not your images, not your support, not even a reply email.

But if you do send them a reply, post it up here, I'd love to read it.  ;)

I know there are plenty of folks around here with more years in the business than me. But with 10 years in the books, its been interesting to do a little reflecting on how things were when I started, what happened along the way, and what the state of the business seems to be (in my opinion). So heres a little of what Ive been thinking about:

I started selling stock images (mostly vector icons and illustrations) with StockXpert in May 2007. I got into selling after being a buyer for years and finally realizing that I could probably make things of a similar quality level as the stuff I was buying. A few icon sets later, I was pulling in some coffee money every month.

Some of my early stock stuff from May 2007

Back then the big discussion was Should I go exclusive with iStock? Probably the worst thing I could have done would have been to go exclusive, and fortunately I resisted the temptation. But believe me, the temptation was there. Back then, iStock was still a mostly reputable company, and financially speaking, exclusivity still made sense for a lot of people. Crunching the numbers and trying to guess what might happen if I went exclusive, I was sort of on the fence about it. It was possible that I could make more money working only with iStock. I didnt go for it, though. I liked spreading my work out to as many places as possible, and I bet on the long-term profitability of that strategy.

By 2008, after shutting down a failed business I was running and getting back into full-time graphic design work, stock was the perfect side-gig for me. I worked at a local ad agency during the day, and could make stock images at night. I got married that year, but didnt have any kids yet so there was plenty of time to create new stuff to sell and things kind of took off from there.

By 2010 I was out of the agency job and on my own, freelancing as a graphic designer but largely supported by my income from stock image sales.

Between 2010 and 2013 I saw the best financial times in my stock image career. In my best year, I pulled in around $70,000. Nearly half of that came from Shutterstock.

2010-2013 - This was the kind of stuff that really kicked my earnings up.

During these years, I also saw the most change in the stock image business. The feeling that we are a commodity to agencies became less a theory and more a reality. Getty definitely showed that, and said as much with their comments about money not being what should make us happy. These years marked a pivotal moment for me in this business, when I really felt that stock image licensing as I knew it up to that point had a definite expiration date on it, and I would not be able to do this in the same way for long. As good as things had been going, there was also this looming doubt in my mind that this wouldnt last long.

Of course we all know how that went. Since 2014 its been much harder to make a living at this. Impossible, in fact, for me and many others. I dont make anywhere near what I used to, and this is fully a side-gig income again for me. To be fair, I had a hand in that shift to some extent. I was skeptical about the future prospects of stock and I pulled away a bit. I didnt upload as much as I used to, and I started looking for other things to do. But it was always a part of my life and I still had hopes that either things would turn around or Id figure out some way to get things moving again.

Through the years, some unexpected and really cool things landed at my doorstep because of stock, and some of these things helped fill the gap of the declining income.

For example, I got an email from Shutterstock years back saying that someone was interested in buying exclusive rights to one of my images. Actually they wanted one badge design from a single image (a set of 9 badges). It was a set of college logos/emblems, and apparently some design company that was hired to design a new logo for a university took one of my stock images and passed it off as their own custom work. The school used the logo on banners, signs, books, all over the campus before finding out that their logo was a stock image. It was too late to re-do it, and too costly to tear down everything that already had the new logo on it, so they reached out to Shutterstock to find out about buying the rights to the image. I got a few thousand dollars in the deal, and the school got to keep their logo. From what I heard afterward, it was kind of a local controversy when the whole stock logo thing became known. Not just because of the drama with the design agency, but with the fact that the logo they were now fully committed to came from outside the community (outside the country for that matter).

A few similar stories came up over the years. I had a buyout request from a guy who, like the university, thought he got a custom logo design but it was one of my stock images instead. He actually loved his new custom logo so much that he got it tattooed on his arm. I felt bad for the guy, I couldnt even sell him the rights. It was my top-selling image at the time, sold over 10,000 times. After years of sales there was just no real value in having exclusive rights to the design, no way to really own it when so many people already had valid licenses to it. Last I heard, he was getting a new logo done and planned a cover-up for his tattoo. Thats one of 2 people I know about that have had my stock work tattooed on them. 

Band t-shirts and tattoos.

Ive had quite a few buy-out requests because of designers passing off my work as their own custom design. One was the Kabbage logo (the leaf graphic part of the logo). I was able to work out a deal with them to give them ownership of the leaf graphic.

Probably the weirdest one was from a designer who told me she "accidentally" designed a logo that looked exactly like one of my stock designs, the client saw the stock image, and now the designer wants me to stop selling it so her client doesn't sue her. Oh, and she didn't want to pay more than $20 in the buyout. The best part? This was somehow partially my fault, and I should "do the right thing" and sign over rights to the image to get her out of this messy situation.

Stock also brought some awesome clients to me for custom design work. I got an email from a guy who saw my work on Shutterstock and wanted to hire me to do some designs for his skateboard company. Within a few hours I was on the phone to an office in France, talking to the founder of Element skateboards, one of the largest skate companies globally. Ive done over 20 custom designs for them since, and my work is on t-shirts, hats, and decks in skate shops around the world.

Custom work for a skateboard company.

Ive done a ton of logo and t-shirt design work as a direct result of my stock portfolio. I have a steady gig with a clothing company doing around 10 t-shirt designs each month. Ive worked on graphics for apps, product logos, murals, even branding for a big marijuana and music festival, all the direct result of people finding me through stock site portfolios.

Ive seen my stock images used in some interesting places. On products and packaging in stores like Target, in ads, tv commercials for Verizon and Kayak, on news websites, on band merchandise, as the background artwork on a Shell gasoline card, on products and store graphics for Olan Rogers Supply, in graphics for shows on the TWiT network, in poster art on the walls of the high school in the Fox tv show Glee, and in print materials for the Boy Scouts of America.

Stock image sightings.

Along with the good, there is also the bad side of putting your work out there. Ive had countless cases of people stealing my work, reselling it, taking credit for it, putting it on products for sale without a proper license, I even had one guy who tried to sell the rights to one of my images to another company. He signed a contract and everything, and I had to inform the company that their contract with him was invalid.

I had to deal with the IRS thinking I drastically underreported my earnings one year, and get my accountant to fix the issue and make that $18,000 IRS invoice go away. It was that PayPal 1099-K form making it look like I earned twice as much as I actually did.

Still, the good has far outweighed the bad, and the 10 years Ive been doing this have been worth the hassles, the ups and downs, and the sometimes chaotic environment that the stock image business can be. This business gave me the freedom to be my own boss for 6 years, and it was a great side-gig during the other 4 years. It helped me hone my skills creating vector graphics, logos, badges, illustrations, and other designs, and build a portfolio that landed me projects I couldnt have gotten otherwise.

Looking forward, I dont see it being possible for anyone to make the kind of living at this in the same way and at the same level that was previously possible. Thats been true for years now, and will only become more real for us all in the years ahead. Its why guys like Yuri cut deals with agencies, they know as well (or better) than all of us that they cant maintain earnings rates.

The only constant in this business is change, and we need to change with it. For me, that change is what led me to Creative Market and why CM outperforms all of the stock sites I work with except Shutterstock. Although I can see the day coming soon when it does surpass Shutterstock. Creative Market never tried to match what microstock companies were doing. Its why they never really gained much popularity with the microstock contributor community, but its also why they have outperformed many microstock companies for many contributors. Its a different market, with a different buyer mindset and different paths to success. Trying to apply the same ideas and strategies to that platform doesn't work.

2017 new work. Definitely on a roll with camping-themed stuff lately.

I believe that marketplaces like Creative Market are the future of this business, at least for people like me who do vector design and sell customizable design elements. The best version of the product I sell isnt the flattened font-less EPS file buyers get at Shutterstock, its the fully editable, easily customizable, feature-rich product that gives buyers the tools to make something awesome. Sure its more work for me to make that kind of product, but its worth it. And the sales results prove it, for me and especially for the top earners who see six-figure or even seven-figure earnings.

In another 10 years Ill still be doing this, but it likely wont be with all the same companies. Probably half of the companies I currently work with wont even be around in 5 years. The market for pre-made visuals will still be as necessary in another decade as it is now, maybe even more so. But well have to better meet the customer where they are and not expect them to just take whatever we throw out into the market. We need to respond better to what they want, give them products that fit their needs and not just give them the products we want to make and expect them to be satisfied with that. Adobe will be an interesting company to follow in this. They are already are offering more than photos and vector icons.

When I look around my office, Ive got skateboards and prints hanging on the wall that show work I did because of connections I made through microstock. Ive got sketchbooks and folders on the bookshelf full of ideas for new stock graphics and illustrations. I'm wearing a t-shirt that someone sent me with a sea turtle mascot on the front, one of my stock designs. And Ive got a whiteboard with a list of projects I need to do, many of them for people who clicked around on Shutterstock or Creative Market and found me through those sites. What started out as me selling vector icons to pay for breakfast turned into something that has defined my career. No matter what happens from here, my path is forever changed because of this business. I think thats pretty awesome.

Thanks for 10 years, microstock, and thanks to everyone Ive met on this crazy journey.


Creative Market is pulling an Envato-like move and reporting 100% of every sale as earnings paid to contributors to the IRS.

I just got my 1099 (yes, just today, April 4th, I finally got a 1099 from CM), and in looking at it I immediately knew the amount seemed too high. Sure enough, after checking my books they over-reported my earnings by a few thousand dollars. I checked out the forum over their and not surprisingly there is a thread about the issue, and it seems that CM is reporting the full sale price of each item sold as the amount paid to contributors, and then asking contributors to write off the company's share as an expense. So if you earned $700 with CM in 2015, your 1099 will say $1,000, and you have to put down $300 as an expense.

Here's the issue I have with this: I never actually got the full $1,000 (for example), and likewise I have no documentation to prove that I ever actually paid out that $300 as an expense. They are essentially asking us to lie to the IRS and say we both received and paid out money, when in reality we received far less and paid out nothing.

The icing on the cake? The amount they're claiming to have paid us also includes refunds. That's right, money that was taken back from us is still in the 1099s. Mine includes over $100 of unexplained (refunded) earnings that I don't actually have.

I quit Envato over the same kinds of shady accounting practices, and I hate to say it when CM is my #2 earner but now I have to rethink my relationship with them as well. I am beyond tired and frustrated with these companies dishing out ever creative ways to screw us while we're expected to just accept it and be grateful for the opportunity to get screwed again next month.

Worse than the money issue to me, though, honestly is that I was championing Creative Market as the answer to all of the shady companies. They paid a fair rate, they gave the artists great control over their prices, products, promotional tools, etc., they were the company that was going to prove that artists still stood a chance to have success and strike a good partnership with an agency.

Then they made that license change (resale rights under standard license) and eroded some of that good image they had, and now they've gone full-dark-side with this tax move, a play right out of the books of one of the shadiest companies in the business.

4 / Does Bigstock still exist (for tax purposes)?
« on: March 26, 2016, 16:47 »
I'm just getting around to doing my taxes this week, and I noticed on my 1099s that both the SS and Bigstock 1099s say that they are from "Shutterstock, Inc." Bigstock forms used to come from SS SPV LLC.

Has Bigstock been fully rolled into Shutterstock, at least in terms of tax purposes and income reporting? Based on these 1099s I'm just going to report all of the combined income as coming from Shutterstock. Seems like I have to, there is no 1099 from Bigstock or SS SPV LLC.


It's true. The actor who plays one of the staring characters Finn in the latest film did some stock photo modeling back in the day. He confirmed it's actually him via Twitter.

Adobe Stock / DollarPhotoClub - Closed to new members
« on: August 14, 2015, 12:34 »
When I go to the DPC homepage now, I see this message:

DollarPhotoClub is now closed for new members.

Join Adobe Stock, the new creative marketplace from Adobe!

Surely this has to be step #1 in shutting DPC down completely. And I'm not really surprised. I never understood how DPC fit in with the new Adobe Stock offering.

Just got a rejection notification for a recently submitted vector badge design. In looking at my other recent rejections, I have 4 that are kind of surprising:

The rejection reason given was:

We are currently accepting icons, buttons, signs, symbols, logos, labels, stamps, maps and flags, alphabet and numbers, zodiac, tattoo only submitted in sets/collections (combined/grouped into one single image), not as individual images. Thank you.

I'm assuming this is a new policy, since as of just last month I was still getting single icons, badges, and emblems accepted.

Two things I find pretty disturbing about this: One is that we don't seem to have a choice anymore in how we put vector badges/emblems up for sale on DT. It's either you bundle stuff together or it gets rejected. I'm not a big fan of companies telling me how to sell my stuff. Having a choice in how things are put together has always been something that we had the freedom do to, but it seems that DT is trying to force us into a bundle format.

Second, I'm bothered by what seems to qualify as something that should be bundled with other similar things. For example those camping emblems above are fairly complex. I couldn't justify the time spent doing a whole series of them and selling them all together as one file. At least not at DT where I have no say in price.

This new policy will severely limit my uploading at DT. Having no choice in how I put single images or bundled sets of images together means I either have to dumb down what I do in an effort to limit time spent on a set, or just not upload certain things to DT. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I don't know what the point of this is other than to vent some frustration over this never-ending problem and maybe inspire someone to not be so inspired by other people's work. Enjoy... :)


Dear Unoriginal Vector Artist,

Thanks for viewing my portfolio and picking out a few things you really like. I can tell right away which of my designs you were most inspired by because you copied them and are now selling them.

Fortunately for me you are as unskilled in creating vector graphics as you are in coming up with ideas of your own, so your stuff isn't really competing with mine. But you have still created some problems for me and I have to do something about this. But before I do, I thought you should know why. Because inevitably, whenever I report someone for copying my work, I get that angry email afterwards asking why I'm such an a*****e and why I bothered reporting you.

First, save the excuses. I've heard them all. Maybe you think I'll believe that you were just practicing, trying to learn how to do something by copying something else. And that's fine. I've done that myself. But I have never copied something to learn and then inadvertently keyworded it, saved it to various sizes and formats, and then accidentally uploaded it to multiple stock sites and put it up for sale.

You may also think I'll believe that you didn't know you couldn't sell other people's work. Or that you didn't think your design looked that much like mine. You were just "inspired" by my work and tried to do your own version.

Or if you're especially brazen you may even think anyone will believe that you actually are the original designer of that vector and that I, in fact, copied you. Even though it's pretty easy to prove otherwise.

But let's assume for a second that you don't throw any of these excuses at me and you really did just make this one mistake. You had this single lapse in judgement and 99% of your work is truly original. Then sure, I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you'll be more careful in the future not to copy anything of mine. But we still need to deal with this. Here's why...

I reuse a lot of elements from my designs in new work. I'll grab an icon I did last year or a graphic from a couple of years ago and work it into a new design. And since often the way that agencies assess cases of possible copying is to simply look at who uploaded the image first, now I could potentially look like the copier if I upload an image with that same graphic at a later date. Now because you copied my work, I'm potentially in danger of having my account with an agency terminated or suspended while they investigate. And although ultimately I'll be able to prove that I was the original artist, I can't take the chance that my accounts could be suspended even for a day. I'm not losing a day's earnings because of you.

So go ahead. Call me names, get angry that I reported you. Have at it. But understand that the innocent copying you did, thinking there was no harm in it, puts my livelihood at risk and hurts my ability to reuse stuff that I created and you decided to copy and sell. Maybe you think I really am an a*****e for being so overly protective of some silly clipart or vector icons. But please know that those silly graphics are the result of years of learning, practicing, studying the market and figuring out what sells and what doesn't. It's how my mortgage gets paid and how I pay for the clothes on my kids' backs. It took you just a few minutes to do your sloppy version of my design but it took me 8 years of working at this to get to this point, and I'm not about to let you or anyone else take it away because you felt entitled to copy my work.

I like to think I'm not a total a*****e so if this is a situation where it looks like you just copied 1 or 2 things of mine, I'll give you a chance to delete the infringing work, rather than going straight to the agencies and getting your accounts shut down. But that's a one-time, short-term offer to do the right thing. Refuse to remove the copied designs, try to explain why it's not an exact copy, or even refuse to respond to my request in a timely manner, and you're on your own in dealing with the wrath of compliance departments who won't give you the same courtesy I am.

If you do manage to come out of this with your microstock accounts still online, consider yourself lucky. Not many people who get caught copying others are able to get their accounts reinstated. Enjoy your good fortune and learn from it. If you are one of those few people who really did have a small lapse in judgement and made this one mistake, and you really do want the chance to build a legit portfolio, don't squander the opportunity.

From an email I just received:

We would like to notify you that starting November 24 our subscription plans will include all image sizes and vectors.

We believe that in the current market environment where subscriptions without size limits have become the norm, being the only agency with such restrictions has no benefits for contributors any more, in fact based on a lot of feedback we're receiving it just drives customers away.

I think it's the only move they can make here. I did like not having my stuff in subs at all over there, but it's not helping them compete to limit subscriptions to only certain sizes of photos and no vectors at all.

Just a sign of the times.

General Stock Discussion / Image buyout shenanigans
« on: October 08, 2014, 08:37 »

Just wanted to share some of this funny email exchange I've been having with a designer. I was contacted about a single graphic that is part of a set. This designer claims to have created a similar graphic for a client logo which has since been registered as a trademark, the client then found my similar stock graphic and is upset about it. My suspicion is that this designer either created a similar design based on my stock graphic or just outright used the stock graphic as the logo. The latter scenario happens a lot.

So this designer now needs to buy the rights to the graphic so I'll stop selling it as stock. I quoted my price for the buyout, a price that I've asked for in most buyout situations and which I've never had any issues or complaints with.

The response I got was basically that my price is "unfair", that we should "work together on this" and figure out a fair price. I've been told before that my price is beyond someone's budget, but I can't recall ever being called "unfair". I feel like a kid on a playground. "Hey, that's not fair!" ;)

To me, this is another perfect example of the weird situation that anyone in a creative professions frequently finds themselves in, in which other people think they have a right to decide what I should be paid. And fortunately it's a situation that happens often enough that I can just laugh about it now. :)

In thinking about some of the buyout requests I've had, there have been some other interesting ones. Particularly the guy who contacted me wanting to buy the rights to an icon that he had tattooed on his arm thinking it was a custom design that his graphic designer created for his company logo.

Anyone else have any interesting/weird/funny buyout request stories?

Image Sleuth / Watermarked images - at Walgreens? Yep...
« on: September 30, 2014, 13:06 »
Hard to believe, but:

It's not a great picture, but in person it was obvious. I could see the entire 123RF watermark.

Not cool, Walgreens.

Tweeted it out here:

General Stock Discussion / PayPal 1099s coming back to haunt us
« on: September 14, 2014, 12:07 »
I heard from a microstock photographer friend the other day that he was contacted by the IRS that they believe he underpaid his taxes and owes over $20k. The basis for this claim is the 1099 form that PayPal started issuing a couple of years back. Sort of like I feared might happen, even if you claim your income properly and completely from each individual stock agency, this PayPal 1099 gives the IRS the impression that you earned twice as much as you actually did from the companies that pay out via PayPal.

So for example, Shutterstock pays you $1,000 in a year, they issue a 1099 stating they paid you $1,000, you claim that in your income taxes, and you legally are doing everything right. But then the IRS gets the PayPal 1099 and as far as they believe, you never declared that $1,000 in income. Because they see it as coming from PayPal.

Anyone know how to avoid this problem? I've ignored the PayPal 1099s because I believed them to be basically erroneous and borderline fraudulent (PayPal doesn't pay me, agencies do, so I have no idea how they can issue a 1099). But obviously ignoring these PayPal 1099s leads to problems later. And I sure as heck don't want to pay double taxes on all of my income that goes through PayPal.

I'm seriously considering not taking payments through PayPal anymore and requesting checks whenever possible.

GraphicRiver / GraphicRiver raises all vector prices $1
« on: August 04, 2014, 08:32 »
A couple of weeks ago I started a thread here and also over at the GR forum requesting that Envato consider raising prices and/or royalties to better compete with alternative marketplaces that offer far better deals.

Today they raised the price of every vector image by $1. And although I'd like to think they did it because of me bringing up the issue, realistically this was probably a planned increase. Regardless of how it happened, it's still a good thing.

The raise isn't huge, not the sort of change I am really looking for over there, but it's a start. I'd really like to see them also bump up royalties, but kicking up prices a bit is a nice first step. And probably the more important one at this point, as their pricing has been ridiculously low on some images. This change positions them more in line with the pricing at other places. Still on the low end, but improving.

I recently discovered that a fairly well-known company is using one of my stock icons as their logo. I actually saw it in an ad, and spotted it immediately. The logo is everywhere, in their offices (obviously), on t-shirts, event displays, online ads, videos, etc.

I'm pretty sure this goes way beyond any reasonable stock license, and the fact that the icon is used as the logo and primary symbol of the company surely is beyond the scope of any license from any stock agency I sell with.

I just have no idea how to handle this. I know I could talk to a lawyer, and probably should. Just wondering if anyone else here has ever dealt with this kind of thing and if you have any advice.

GraphicRiver / Time to step it up, Envato
« on: July 19, 2014, 11:54 »
I posted this over at the Envato forums but I think it's worth repeating and discussing here. And I'm posting this in the GR sub-forum here but I think this applies to other Envato marketplaces as well.

I think Im officially done uploading my work to GraphicRiver. I just cant do it anymore. Im getting good results from a similar marketplace where I set my own price and get 70% of each sale without having to be exclusive there. So whats the incentive when my work gets priced too low at GraphicRiver (often half of what it sells for elsewhere) and I get just 33%?

Lets go, Envato. The competition is putting you guys to shame. At the very least you need to get the prices up so that were getting better royalties on sales. Right now we get hit hard twice with low prices AND low royalty percentages. Right now, when my vectors gets priced at $5, that's the lowest price I get anywhere I currently upload to.

Im done uploading there until I see some changes.


It came up in this thread that Depositphotos has a "subscription" option for 5 images per month for $49.

This is a disturbing offering because it is comparable to products from other companies like Shutterstock's 5-image On-Demand pack for the same price but with a far lower royalty paid. Shutterstock pays out a percentage of the sale price received, while Depositphotos pays out a subscription royalty.

So each image in that 5-image "subscription" costs $9.80. Paying out a subscription royalty to the contributor ($0.30 up to $0.35), that works out to a 3.0-3.5% royalty paid. Whereas Shutterstock pays $1.88-$2.85 per image on a 5-image pack.

It looks like DP is trying to get away with paying out subscription royalties on small-quantity image packs by just calling them "subscriptions" instead.

Anyone know when this purchasing option became available? I hate to admit it but I have no idea how long this option has been there.

I'm suspending uploads to DP unless this is changed. Could be worth considering dropping them altogether between this and the other nonsense they've been up to lately (partner/API deals).

I've gotten into the habit of keeping a working "editable" version of all of my vector images that include text. By "editable" I mean that the text isn't converted to outlines, you can edit the text if you have the necessary fonts (or substitute others). Some agencies require the inclusion of this type of file (GraphicRiver, Creative Market). Others allow it as an additional file (iStock, Stockfresh).

This seems like an opportunity being missed all around in stock. On the one hand, the agencies that don't allow this file type are limiting buyers' ability to edit vector files. On the other, the agencies that do allow these types of files don't seem to be making much of a big deal about it. Which is surprising to me since it seems like a huge advantage for them.

Shutterstock doesn't allow editable text vectors, and I would have thought that the competition might want to use this distinguishing factor to their advantage. And yet we never hear much about this, nor do any companies (as far as I can tell) inform buyers of this distinction.

On the contributor side of things, this seems like a golden opportunity to sort of vote with your images. In cases where I don't have to upload an editable file for text-heavy vectors, I usually don't. I've uploaded a couple to iStock, and GraphicRiver requires it but I don't upload there as much lately. I can upload them to Stockfresh but even when I do it doesn't seem to trigger any sort of change in how the image is presented to the buyer. It just indicates the EPS buying option but doesn't say what else is included, or that an editable text vector could be included.

Why don't they mention it? This seems like a huge opportunity for companies to set themselves apart from competitors on something other than just price. Take Stockfresh for example. Wouldn't they want to say to buyers that they offer a file type that makes it far easier and faster to just open the image and change the text to whatever you want? It's a huge time-saver. No deleting outlined text and setting your own text in the image, trying to match styles and effects. No guessing at what font was used or needing to contact the artist to find out.

If I'm a buyer, I'll gladly pay more for an editable file that I can open and quickly find out what fonts were used, change the text while retaining any styles, effects, arcs, etc., and probably be able to do what I want to do in a fraction of the time it takes if I get the same image elsewhere.

Any thoughts on this? Do you include editable text vectors in uploads to agencies that don't require it?

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