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Messages - PowerDroid

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Bigstock.com / Re: Increase in BigStock downloads lately?
« on: March 11, 2010, 10:12 »
Since the site redesign, my sales have been up about 20% vs. the weeks leading up to the change.

But suddenly today I'm seeing an explosion of sales.  Not sure if it's just one buyer who likes my style and is buying a bunch (13 sales in the past hour or so), or if BigStock launched a big promotional push this morning.

Whatever it is, keep it up BigStock!

...I'd say there's probably fewer than 250 making $50K+. You'd need to be averaging about 1400 standard photo sales per month on IS to do so...
But what about all the other sites?  I can tell you I fall well under 1400 image sales a month at IS (should be around 1000 for March), but sales are strong at SS, DT and FT, which puts me within striking distance of the magic number.

When I buy, I typically use iStock.  The reasons: 1) It was the first account I set up, so for a quick new purchase I don't have to do much... 2) The buying experience is user-friendly... 3) As a contributor I've found them to have the toughest standards, so I have the perception (real or not) that the images I have to sift through to find what I need is the cream of the crop. 

So I'll happily buy from IS during the day at my real job, then at night go home and curse them for rejecting my images.  Call it a love-hate relationship.

(I recently did open up a Shutterstock account as well, but only because a certain image I wanted was on Shutterstock and not IS.  Since that purchase, however, I've been pretty loyal to IS.)

What a big surprise that someone said (again) that you can only succeed by working hard for it.

"Working hard for it" will get you nowhere if you're doing the wrong things.  That's called banging your head against the wall.

You could do much LESS work, but work smarter, and get much further than those toiling away in the wrong direction.

Forgot to mention this thought...

Leaf's ranking system for members of this forum is an invaluable tool to tell you if you're on the right track to financial success in microstock.

It clearly tells you if you are meeting the market's needs for images in relation to other microstockers.  If you have a low number of images in relation to the group, but a high number of sales in relation to the group, this is evidence that your approach is working.  If the reverse is true, some research may be required to help you better target the needs of buyers.

Great article. So far best I have seen on this subject. Not trying to just lure more people and earn money out of newbies :-) I guess realistic for most of the parts.

100,500 or 1000 it's still very low number in comparison to number of contributors worldwide.
My feeling as well. Even 5,000 full time >$50k would make it a real crapshoot of a career choice.

Doesn't really matter what the number is.  Yes, it's a small minority.

What matters to the rest of us: is it possible to join the ranks of top-earners?

I think yes, if someone does ALL the following things:
- Carefully study the market to learn what sells
- Develop a unique style that isn't easily copied
- Target not just one underserved niche, but multiple (otherwise you will end up cannibalizing yourself and growth will stop)
- Upload regularly (not "feed the beast" approach, but focus on quality over quantity)

Those are the steps I follow every day, and if my data trend lines hold, I should be in that top earners club in a few months.  I've been in microstock for about a year and a half, so success IS still within reach for rookies, but they should still start by reading the article referenced in this thread to keep realistic expectations and understand the work it will take.

Nice article. I like the sentence about some people getting it and others not. For me, it was like a light bulb went on after I uploaded my first 10 images. It seemed so obvious, but I've had a few friends that I went to college with that seemed to have no interest in it.

I think the turn-off for may "artistic" types is that the images that you're most proud of from a creative standpoint don't often sell. 

Many times, I've been proud of a new pic, spending many hours getting it just right, only to see it fail miserably in downloads.  Meanwhile, pics that I think are very uninspired, and require just minutes of my time, sell like gangbusters.  This encourages me to submit more of those, and less of the artistically fulfilling ones.  For people who think of themselves as artists, this could be soul-crushing.  The trick is finding a balance... what type of pics give you a jolt of creative passion while also serve the needs of buyers.

123RF / Re: No Response, No Money
« on: March 10, 2010, 09:30 »
I get PayPal payments, and my payment history shows amounts like $64, $72, $58, etc. on the 15th of each month.  I did not get one in February, though.  It might be the case that my balance was not $50 by the payment cutoff date, but it's hard to tell.  I will definitely be due a payment March 15, so if I don't see one, it will be clear there's serious cashflow troubles at 123.  I won't shed too many tears if they go under -- they were never a big earner for me -- but I would want a final cashout just for the principle of it.

DepositPhotos / Re: All good things come to an end ! :(
« on: March 10, 2010, 07:39 »

Imo, it is not worth sending the whole port and doing all the work of uploading for just $100 if it is not going to continue generating money.

It is definitely not worth $0 !

I agree... I just can't justify spending the time and mind-numbing effort of all those uploads just for $100.  The odds are certainly against this site generating decent income for any of us.  For me, my time is better spent processing and uploading images that will sell day in, day out at the other sites, which will make that time investment a much better payout than $100.

And my name to the chorus... fantastic article.  I especially like how he summarizes the challenges a new microstocker faces, while still acknowledges that it's possible for someone to earn a living if they do everything right.  This is the article I want every rookie to read, rather than the ones that say, "No way! Forget it! You're too late!"  There are certainly MANY obstacles to success for someone just starting today, but for someone with unique creative vision and business/marketing sense in substantial and equal doses, there's still money to be made here.

123RF / Re: No Response, No Money
« on: March 09, 2010, 14:17 »
I just reviewed my recent payments from 123RF... looks like I've been getting regular payments on the 15th of each month, though I didn't get one in February.  I'm guessing I didn't hit the threshold... is it $50?   Could it be that you didn't hit the threshold and that's why you didn't see a payment yet?

Adobe Stock / Re: Sales this month at Fotolia
« on: March 09, 2010, 11:11 »
Good thing that FT picks up, too - with StockXpert gone, BS and CS in constant hibernation and DT in a drastic decline  :P

I'm seeing different results on the others you mention.  BS, yes, is flat... CS is doing very well for me, with "Fotosearch Regular" sales bringing in $20 or $30 commissions on a regular basis (once or twice a week lately)... and DT has been very strong.

Just looked up my stats to provide some real numbers...

I have 35,580 views on Flickr since summer of 2009.

I can track about $1,300 in revenue to my Flickr exposure, broken down this way:

About $200 in direct image sales
About $650 in custom work
About $450 in referrals using my links via my website

I'd say I'm doing about $30 / month from direct image sales and another $100 or so from custom work (people wanting images edited, combined, wording added, other strange requests).  Maybe nothing to write home about, but for the very small amount of work involved, I'll take it.  Port size is about 800 pics now. 

Good info from Sharply, though my experience with Flickr has differed in regards to a few of his points...

Getting attention on Flickr requires work: don't expect to upload a bunch of pics and have people contacting you out of the blue.

I haven't done anything special to call attention to myself on Flickr... I just upload my stuff (around the first of the month I process and upload the prior month's worth of pics already sent to microstock).  I started getting inquiries right away, and have made some direct sales as a result.  Also I point people to my website, which has links to my galleries at the microstock sites, and I get referral commissions if/when they buy.

If you know how to set up Actions in PhotoShop, it's really quite easy to do.  This automates the process of resizing an image, pasting a watermark onto it (if you choose to, which I do), and saving it to a folder of your Flickr pics.  Takes about 15 minutes to process up to 100 pics this way.  Uploading to Flickr is a breeze, and they actually pick up your keywords from your JPEG and don't require anything extra for tagging.

I'm charging far less than what Sharply charges, sticking closer to what someone would pay if the purchase was made via a microstock site.  Even then, I think the average Flickr user is pretty price-averse, and around half of the time I think my prices are too much higher than FREE for their tastes.  I make a sale about 50% of the time after quoting.

Veer / Re: Any word on Veer?
« on: March 08, 2010, 14:46 »
Just as I'm ready to give up on Veer, they come through today with an EL sale for $35.  I haven't uploaded there in many months, but may have to start up again.  To anyone who has been uploading since the beginning... are the reviewers still as wildly inconsistent as they were at the start?  And are they just as likely to throw out an entire batch because one or two shots have a problem in their eyes?  That -- plus the low sales ($10-20 per month on a port of a few hundred pics) -- made me give up on them in late 09.

Adobe Stock / Re: Sales this month at Fotolia
« on: March 08, 2010, 12:44 »
Yes, you have to be Emerald level although you can increase the prices of exclusive images at any ranking.

The Emerald goal post is so ridiculously high, most people starting out today (and staying non-exclusive) may never reach it.

It has taken me well over a year to get to about 3,500 "paid" downloads.  To get to Emerald status, I need about 22,000 more paid downloads. 

If I had 3,500 paid downloads a year, it would take me another 6 years or so to reach Emerald.  But since my portfolio has grown each month, I should estimate based on the current level.  If I have about 550 paid downloads per month now, and assuming some conservative but steady growth over the next few years, I might still not see the Emerald level for about 4 years. 

I know Fotolia's motive is to make us see exclusivity as a good deal... and if I can raise my prices and my revenue that's a pretty good argument... but I have never believed in exclusivity as a principle or a good revenue decision.  Even iStock exclusivity doesn't seem to be a smart decision when I do the math, and Fotolia would be less so.

Adobe Stock / Re: Sales this month at Fotolia
« on: March 08, 2010, 07:07 »
Just comparing the first 7 days of March to the first 7 of Feb, I saw about a 30% increase.  My overall ranking has been steadily rising, which suggests there's no rising tide lifting all boats.  I have not been able to increase prices yet, though haven't tried recently.  When are you able to do that?  Do you have to hit a certain level?

but my impression is it's not just about the price, but about something
else, about pictures that would be rejected by QC but that are great

Flickr can really prove the lack of market knowledge on the part of agency reviewers... I've had photos become very popular on Flickr after being rejected at the agencies... those "inferior" shots have found paying customers.

Quote: And, as a buyer, and seeing the growing amount of people posting with their names images that they don't own, I wouldn't use a Flickr image in my life.

But there's an ever-growing number of people who will ONLY use Flickr because they're unaware of the alternatives and/or unwilling to explore them.  The smart photographers will find ways to turn these people into customers.

Or maybe it's worth it if you're doing something on the cheap-cheap.

I'd say most microstock buyers are people looking to do something on the "cheap-cheap" and it isn't a derogatory term.  If there's growth to come in microstock, it will be in the small business arena... companies starting out as the global economy improves... companies without creative staff or even knowledge of how to put ads together... they'll search for images online and many of them will stumble into microstock and decide the prices are right.  I'm trying to build as large a microstock portfolio in preparation of this, as well as increase my visibility in Flickr as quickly as possible, to take advantage of the rise in small business entrepreneurship that a global resurgence will surely bring.  I'm fine with dealing in small transactions because I believe the volume will be there (my recent experience is proving this).

Flickr is a great tool if used wisely.  I get many requests from Flickr users to get my watermark-free images, and in reply I attempt to sell them the pics at reasonable prices, based on intended use.  Somewhere between half and two-thirds of the time, this results in sales.  Additionally, I get asked if I will do freelance work, which in several cases has generated repeat business, creating customers who come back to me multiple times.

RPI of 3$ per month is quite good for me...!  :P

I typically see an RPI of about $3 - $4 per month, and it's actually been slowly rising not falling.  My only real cost is my time, so I'm happy.  But if I were someone with significant overhead like Yuri or anyone with a studio, I'd be looking for a Plan B.

Bigstock.com / Re: BigStock redesign?
« on: March 04, 2010, 18:45 »
A few observations after the first two days under the redesign...

1.  Uploads... at first I hated it, but ended up after a batch of six images thinking it wasn't so bad.  The auto advance feature is a nice touch to keep things moving.  But if you don't have a speedy connection, I can see how the new process could be a SLLLOOOOOOW one for you.

2.  Sales... sales for the past two days (Wed and Thurs) have been more than double those of the previous two, pre-overhaul days (Mon and Tues).  Maybe the new design makes for a better experience for the buyer and is already boosting sales?  Knocking wood....

General Stock Discussion / Re: The Blame Game
« on: March 03, 2010, 23:55 »
there's a place for newbies, and it's called Flickr .. and photo.net, and many other
less known sites.   ...it just makes no business sense to teach newbies our trade.

This trade doesn't belong to anyone.  I believe everyone should be free to try their skills at a trade, and if they're good, they should be allowed to prosper.   You can't build a wall around your little industry and kick down people as they try to enter.  That's protectionist (bad) and elitist (not much better).

Everyone, ask yourself: when you started in your livelihood, whatever it is, did the veterans in your industry kick you down and say you shouldn't be allowed to prove yourself and grow your skills?  Sure, you had competitors who felt threatened by your arrival, but was there a concerted effort by your peers to keep you out?  That's what it feels like here.

I'm a sensible person.  I'm not going to help anyone submit images in my style and in the niches I've found are successful for me.  But I am going to share some common sense insights that I've figured out along the way, offer encouragement, and speak out in defense of a newbie's freedom to put his or her skills to the test.  And if that scares the veterans out there, you better step up your game.  God didn't grant you the position you hold today.  You worked hard to get where you are, but you can't deny others the right to do the same.

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