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Topics - beketoff

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Adobe Stock / Disastrous performance of FT/AS in November
« on: November 17, 2017, 11:57 »
I know how some of you hate this kind of topics, but this one appears to be out of an ordinary one (at least for me), and I'm on a verge of freaking out: my sales at Fotolia/Adobe Stock have almost stopped in November, with a projected drop in sales vs October by -20% (or considerably more if the trend remains) and could be my worst ever month in 2.5 years (port of close to 2K images). As you can see, in my case fluctuations month to month with FT/AS are common, but November is something special (remember, we're in 17 November, with less than 10 working days left in this month).

Capture" border="0

Does anybody have a similar situation?

2 / SS and Moovly integration
« on: September 28, 2017, 17:26 »

"Through this agreement Moovly users get seamless access to more than 150 million of Shutterstocks digital assets (including video, images and, music) to make even more engaging and impressive content. Importantly too, this integration provides Moovly with an additional revenue opportunity by reselling Shutterstocks assets".

Reselling? Again, no transparency at all from SS side, no asking or letting one to opt out.

3 / SSTK Q2 2017 poor results
« on: August 02, 2017, 12:34 »
Shutterstock released their second quarter 2017 results and they are miserable, which is why they're down 17% on NYSE today.

Their results in a nutshell:

Revenue increased 8% to $134.0 million
Income from operations decreased 69% to $3.3 million
Net income decreased 58% to $3.1 million
Adjusted EBITDA decreased 19% to $18.3 million
Diluted EPS decreased 55% to $0.09 per share
Key Operating Metrics             

Paid downloads decreased 2%
Revenue per download increased 9%
Image collection expanded 57% to 144.7 million images
Video collection expanded 55% to 7.6 million clips

More on:

Struck by their explanation of the plummeted income from operations: "driven by an increase in operating expenses primarily due to higher royalty costs associated with increased levels of revenue, increased spend in marketing and increased administrative expenses." My royalties at SS are the lowest during the last four or 5 months in the last 2 years, despite constant and significant increase of my portfolio.

Similarly, explanation for low net income: "due to the decline in operating performance and a higher-effective tax rate, which was partly offset by non-operating transactional gains related to foreign currency as compared to the second quarter of 2016." Time to start worrying about the "leading global technology company offering a creative platform for high-quality assets, tools and services", with their own outlook in mind:

"The Company's current expectations for the full year 2017, reduced from those previously announced, are as follows:

Revenue of $535-545 million, down from $545-560 million
Income from Operations of $30-40 million, down from $47-52 million
Adjusted EBITDA of $85-$95 million, down from $105-110 million
Non-cash equity-based compensation expense of approximately $30 million
Effective tax rate in mid-30's%
Capital Expenditures of approximately $45 million, including capitalized labor of approximately $20 million"

Adobe Stock / Adobe Stock/Fotolia keyword ranking
« on: July 14, 2017, 05:27 »
This has been probably discussed already, but I can't quickly find it, so a quick question here.

When preparing photos on Adobe Stock/Fotolia for submission, the first 5 keywords are said to be the most relevant ones. However, once the photo has been accepted and published, the keyword order on photo's page is completely random, i.e. the first 5 keywords are not the ones I chose initially. So does it still matter if I put the most relevant keywords in the first five positions, and if yes, then why they are not shown in the same order I chose initially?

123RF / 123RF discounted plans
« on: March 31, 2017, 03:25 »
Did anybody notice since when 123RF discounted their standard pricing plans? Is it already for some time or something recent?

I only went to check it today when I got a 0.14 sale which is the lowest I ever got with them (I'm in the 2nd commissions tier).

Total royalty dumping across the board... :(

6 / iStock February 2017 statement
« on: March 20, 2017, 15:28 »
So, it's out and we got so close to giving our assets for free. How about a license fee 0.00612 USD and a gross royalty of 0.00092 USD per image? Got 10 such sales... Laugh or cry?

Of course, it could be always a mistake, as usual with iStock, but something tells me it's not...

7 / SS hits new lows in terms of quality
« on: February 07, 2017, 13:35 »
I first couldn't believe my eyes when I came upon this image (there are a number of them in the set). Then I saw the title: "Defocused background with wild coastline....".

Obviously the first thing which comes to my mind is who on earth will buy this s*&t, but then logically came up with another: why would SS refuse so many images for being "soft" or "out of focus" etc. and allow this type of things?

8 / SS grace period of 6 months
« on: October 08, 2016, 13:22 »
Hi all,

Some people claim that SS gives something like a grace period of couple of months (6?) to new contributors by making their pictures sell no matter what, with good numbers. So as to create an illusion of extremely easy and profitable business with them. I kind of didn't believe this and still have some reservations as to this theory, however, my own statistics of 1.5 years' experience with SS basically supports this claim:

(greyed area - uploads, red line - downloads, blue boxes - revenue)

As you can see, my upload rate was always quite stable, without much interruptions. Basically, in these 1.5 years my port increased almost 600%, and while the very first 6 months my revenue increase rate followed uploads, as of 7th month everything just fell to the levels of the first 4th-5th months where it stays until nowadays, no matter how many material I upload.

Of course, there's always the fact of insane increase of their library (almost 1 million per week!) which dillutes everything, but back in mid-2015 their library was also increasing significantly each month (300K-500K per week?).

From the very beginning SS was my Top-1 earner, hence all the motivation. But it's clearly loosing steam very quickly, and the problem is that none of other agencies can make up this loss (even Fotolia's recent increases are still a matter of statistics, not a real substitute to SS).

Oh, and my only 4 or 5 ELs so far sold with SS were made in those first 6 months...Not a single EL since then (i'm still opted in).

Some food for thought.

9 / SS September sales down 50%
« on: September 20, 2016, 07:05 »
Does anybody experience a significant drop in their sales at SS in September? I had relatively good sales during the summer season which was quite unusual considering the seasonal holidays people usually take, but I definitely didn't expect almost a 50% drop in sales in September, one of the busiest month. Despite the fact that there's still 1.5 weeks in September left, taking into account the current meager daily sales, I'm still on course for a 50% drop month-on-month and the worst month in 2016.

Would be nice to know others' experience to see if it's individual or mass.

10 / Shutterstock On Demand $1.77 commission?
« on: June 06, 2016, 09:09 »
Hi all,

I had two sales earlier today at SS under "On Demand" category, each for $1.77. I'm in $0.33 tier and according to SS's earnings schedule, commission for on demand downloads is $1.07 for small/medium and $2.48 for large format. Until today, I regularly got $2.48 on demand downloads.

I have a bad feeling about possible further commission cuts, unless you could clarify this otherwise (e.g. a special rate for certain SS customers which purchase large packs?).

Thanks for your responses!

123RF / 586,599 files added this week at 123RF
« on: May 30, 2016, 17:13 »
Hi all,

It appears that 123RF speeds up with new submissions/approvals at a rate which Shutterstock had used to have up until quite recently (until they reached almost 1 million of photos per day). Despite the fact that 123RF is not famous for a prompt review times.

I'm very pleased with this since there's a chance that a middle-tier will stay strong within its tier and perhaps even move up anytime soon. In fact, I had my first payout from 123RF recently, and the lion's share of the amount was added up by few enhanced sales in a short span of time. Fingers crossed!


Hi all,

Was wondering if it's fine that Shutterstock requires a property release for a picture where the only subject is a close-up of an animal (cow), with no visible signs attributing it to a specific place, property, etc. Obviously, the picture was rejected as no property release was attached (and could never be attached, for that matter). I'm a bit confused, to say least...

Hello all,

Does any of you have experience of stopping new uploads to microstocks for good or for a very long time (like years) and then what happens to your sales? In other words, if I build a solid portfolio, and then stop uploading (because I'm tired, have no time, other changes in life etc), will I keep receiving sales? Will they decrease and subsequently stop over time? (assuming other things equal, e.g. performance of the given agency, overall market situation, etc.)

Stock photography was never meant to be a full-time or even part-time job for me; mostly out of curiousity, to make use of hundreds and thousands of my pictures buried on HDDs. However, with less than 1000 photos on each of the top and middle tier agencies, I manage to earn ~$200 each month which is not nothing, and a good extra to upgrade the gear "for free". So I wonder if these sales can continue like this, even if I stop uploading at certain point.

Thanks for your responses!

14 / Responsibility for setting incorrect licence
« on: March 30, 2016, 03:10 »
Hi all,

Alamy has certain restrictions as to what type of images can be licenced for sale on its website (e.g. RM image on Alamy cannot be sold simultaneously on microstocks as RF, etc.).

In your experience, have you ever come across (unintentionally, of course) to a situation where your photo was put on Alamy as RM and at the same time it was on microstock as RF/editorial? Does Alamy track this down? In other words, how does it enforce this rule/limitation and what could be the consequences if you get caught?

I asked because I just realized that a couple of my RM photos on Alamy are accidentally put as RF on micros (or vice versa, just overlooked this somehow with thousands of photos) and while I'm about to delete them from portfolio on Alamy, I'm concerned that some sanctions could be imposed on me anyway.

Thanks for your feedback.

General - Top Sites / Alamy passed Fotolia??
« on: March 01, 2016, 16:00 »
Hi all,

I'm just looking at MicrostockGroup's poll results and what do I see?

Alamy   25.1
Fotolia   22.5

Not only Fotolia didn't surpass the 25 rating in recent months since Adobe acquisition, it just gave it up to Alamy which was in the middle tier just months ago. Curious to see how this unfolds, since personally my sales at Fotolia shot up as of last December-January, almost catching up with SS, whereas at Alamy I have...0 all-time total sales (ok, with a smallest port among other agencies, but still with a few hundred nice landscape pictures).

16 / Question about SS tier levels
« on: February 26, 2016, 06:23 »
Hello all,

Just a very general question about SS tier levels. I'm about to hit my first upgrade very soon (>$500) and I was wondering how quickly the new tier level (and, respectively, the new commission levels) enter into force? Immediately? Starting from the following month? Otherwise?


17 / Question about SS review system
« on: January 24, 2016, 16:29 »
Ok, this has been discussed hundreds of times (i.e. SS review system), but I just want to be sure that I'm not missing something.

It's been suggested by some here, including on the basis of SS's official statements and reports that they use some sophisticated reviewing system. Others have suggested that most of the approvals/rejections are made by AI (scripts, algorithms, filters etc.) and not by humans. Recently I noticed how crazy fast is the reviewing process on SS. The batches are reviewed very often within hours or less. Today, having submitted another batch of around 20-30 photos, I noticed for the first time that when you go to the Contributor's Approval Status page, some photos in the batch are immediately marked as "Released:   Y, Status:   Pending" while others as "Released:   N, Status:   Pending". This is immediately after the submission, literally less than a minute or so after submission.

Could it be a proof that some of the photos are indeed screened and filtered by the AI and immediately trashed (those marked as "Released: N, Status: Pending"), and only the ones marked as "Released: Y, Status: Pending" are waiting for human's final approval?

Perhaps this has been noticed and discussed before, so sorry for possible spam.

P.S. Just amazing. While I was typing this post, most of those 20-30 photos have been reviewed by SS. Guess what? Rejected.

Photo Critique / Photo rejected multiple times at SS
« on: January 02, 2016, 16:28 »
Hi all,

This photo and few others from the batch has been rejected 6 (!) times at SS, due to various reasons every time (all except for legal ones, since the pictures were submitted as editorial with all the rules adhered to). I've given up with SS for this batch, but will appreciate your feedback, to improve in future, as perhaps I'm missing something...

Thanks a lot.

P.S. Needless to say, this photo has been accepted at all other major agencies from the top and middle tier. SS is such an SS...

"The New York-based but originally Ukrainian stock photo agency Depositphotos has gained a combined $5 million in funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and U.S. venture fund TMT Investments, the company announced on Dec. 17. EBRD, via its venture capital investment program, gave the company $4 million. This marks the London-based financial institutions first investment in Ukraines dynamic IT industry. TMT Investment, which invested $3 million in the company in 2011, had contributed $1 million in the round." More here.

Not that I'd earn a lot with DP, this latest marginal investment means that the company is not really dying (for now) and might even further improve (thinking from a perspective of an investor). Good luck to the company (and our sales there)!

20 / $18.80 'single and other' sale
« on: October 22, 2015, 10:58 »
Hello everybody,

Earlier today I've got a sale of a single photo for $18.80 - wow, first royalty like this in four months since I started all this. However, what I'm curious about is what type of sale is this, namely, how is the final price established in this category?

From SS's dedicated page I know the royalties paid out under this category ("Single & Other Downloads: For single images, test products, and new products involving per-image sales, images will pay out starting at 20% of the sale price and increase to 25%, 28%, and 30% based on the same lifetime earnings milestones as the other Standard License downloads."). Which means that if $18.80 is 20% royalty paid to me (I'm pretty sure I'm in the lower tier now, and not in the 25%, 28% and 30% range), then the SS price for end-customer was around $100? Sounds too good to be true.

Many thanks for your input.

Hi all,

Got a rejection from Shutterstock reviewer of two photos with classical yellow cabs in NYC where I have desaturated everything else but the cabs (classics as well, I know). I submitted these photos as editorial as they contained some people and stores/brands in the street. While the same but unedited (full-color) photos have been accepted, these two were rejected with the following reasoning: "Altered Editorial -- Major alterations to editorial content such as adding or removing objects from a scene are prohibited. Alterations that go beyond traditional photographic techniques (dodging/burning, cropping, color adjustments, etc.) are unacceptable."

My question is: can desaturating part of a photo be described as "traditional photographic techniques (.... color adjustments)" which are, apparently, allowed? If yes, why were the photos rejected then? And should I be able to succeed in getting these photos accepted, with another reviewer then?

Thanks for your advice.

Newbie Discussion / iStock sales count
« on: August 12, 2015, 05:00 »
Hi all,

Being a newbie in microstock industry, I have a general question regarding iStock's sales count. In particular, I noticed that despite the fact that my total sales (downloads) count doesn't change for a long time (being 12 for weeks already), my balance (=total earnings) increases relatively regular (almost every day). I doubt the earnings appear just like this, without any sales :) So I wonder where I can see my actual sales (including which photos) and why the sales (downloads) counter doesn't increase.

Many thanks!


Hi all,

Approximately two months ago I decided to give a try to microstocks, mainly out of curiosity, but also to see if my (mainly) landscape and architecture photos are worth anything. However, in about two months since I registered on top-6 microstocks, I have few to no sales on most of them:

Dreamstime: 0 sales
Fotolia: 3 sales
Depositphoto: 1 sale
iStockphoto: 5 sales
Shutterstock: 107 sales (yes, this is quite a contrast to above-mentioned sites)

All of the above portfolios contain +/- 250-300 assets at the moment.

My question is whether this is a normal state of things, taking into account the time lapsed and the number of photos online? Or does this look suspicious to you and there's something to be double-checked for ways to improve.

You can check the type and quality of photos I put online here:

Many thanks for your feedback!

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