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Author Topic: Drop in sales - is it only me?...  (Read 10149 times)

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« Reply #75 on: January 27, 2022, 10:16 »
0
As for shutterstock, I'm just too slow for the algorithm. Even if I uploaded at my previous pace, I would still have significant losses there. Maybe not quite as high as at the moment.


SVH

« Reply #76 on: January 27, 2022, 11:52 »
+1
Yes, that's right, my portfolio is static. There are 1300 images at shutterstock, 1470 at Adobe. There I uploaded a few more images in the last years, like at other agencies.

But my numbers have not remained consistent by far. And I know that with other contributors with static portfolios it has also become significantly worse. But there are differences between agencies.

Here's how it looks for me:

  • Adobe Stock is stable with me. I had less downloads in 2021 than in 2013 (minus 570) and in 2015 (minus 150), but more than in all other years (up to plus 600).

    Also stable is canstock - but at a very very low level.

    istock has also stabilized in recent years. But there was a break from 2017 to 2018 (minus 1000).

    It has become somewhat less at deposit (minus 100 compared to 2020, minus 200 compared to 2019 and 2018).

    At 123, it is getting worse from year to year in steps of a hundred up to minus 800 compared to 2012 and 2013.

    dreamstime was stable until 2016, since then it has also been going downhill continuously. It's so bad now that I wonder if it's even worth uploading. If it would not go so fast, I would have already given up.

    The disaster is shutterstock. There it was stable in the period from 2018 to 2020. In 2021 I lack 1000 downloads there compared to the previous year and 5200 compared to 2015.


The fact is that the agencies have different algorithms. And that a portfolio that does not grow is most penalized at shutterstock. This is also confirmed by those who are very active. For them, the development is positive - Firn and Ralf I name as examples.

The fact that it has remained stable at AS shows that the images that successively disappear in nirvana at shutterstock must be mostly timeless, otherwise they would no longer be bought at AS. But the concept of shutterstock aims more at fresh content. I don't know which concept is better and more profitable for the agencies. I know that the algorithms have been changed again and again on a trial basis. And some of them were brought back to the old status.

Thijs, I run stock only as a hobby on the side, but as a studied industrial designer I have a professional background, which may be a little helpful.


Hi Wilm, if you could elaborate a bit more on how the algorithm works per agency, from your experience and point of view, it would very welcome to me and probably others. So if you have any other thoughts about this, please share :)

« Reply #77 on: January 27, 2022, 16:05 »
0
As for shutterstock, I'm just too slow for the algorithm. Even if I uploaded at my previous pace, I would still have significant losses there. Maybe not quite as high as at the moment.

I have uploaded far more content (mainly videos with an increase of over 25% or more depending on the agency which translates to over 100+ videos per port) in such a short period (two months) since my beginnings in February 2019. Despite this work, my results on Shutterstock for 2022 are the worst January in the three years since I've been contributing. The worst earnings of any  month since February 2021. Earnings for January 2022 on Shutterstock compared to January 2021 is just 38% and for January 2020 just 36% (when I had way smaller ports and a tiny number of videos). It's almost like uploading has damaged sales, not helped them at all. Pretty much could be said for the others too (P5 and AS). Istock looks to be improving but that's only because I started late and had a very small port so it has grown a lot with the recent uploads. Overall feeling very disappointed seeing much worse results with more work.     
« Last Edit: January 27, 2022, 16:10 by Pacesetter »

« Reply #78 on: January 27, 2022, 16:46 »
+2
Oh and I made Level 1 instantly. What can I say... I'm just that good!

Me too!

OM

« Reply #79 on: January 27, 2022, 20:29 »
+2
... A bigger issue is that 2 years ago my most common royalty was $ .38.  Since SS "restructured their payments" that has changed to $ .10.
Do the math, and it's no surprise that I used to make twice my minimum payout every month and it now takes me 3 months to barely make it. ....

but what's your RPD? surely not $.10 - while the low-end may be most common, higher single sales bring my RPD to about 50c each month.. in absolute terms, my SS income is down about 30-40% over last 2 yrs - with only Canva showing a significant increase (due to their revenue sharing of subscriptions)

My monthly RPD (jan2022) at SS is $0.25 (lifetime is $0.69). This month's RPD at AS is $0.70. At SS earnings total for Jan 22 = $30 and at AS = $34. I first noticed that my uploads to SS were getting almost no traction in 2018 due to the massive volume of competition coming in every day/hour. Approved images that stayed on page 1 of new in 2014-2015 for a day or more were now disappearing from the first hundred new images (P1) within hours of approval and that's when I decided it was no longer really worth the effort of uploading...it had become a lottery instead of a business (with actual opportunities)! When your new images are gone from from P1 of new within hours of approval, you have little chance of ever selling them (just IMHO).

I leave what I have already had approved up at SS because it involves no effort for the $1,000+ the small port brings in every year and whilst  I have my reservations about Stan and Jon making all that stash off me but hey...it's $1K+ of free money/year for me and it contributes to my pension (again for no effort). If I thought I could get back to my old level of earnings of $3.5K (in 2014-15)by increasing my port size drastically, I would but I really don't thing that's realistic besides....that would be feeding the beast for Jon and Stan's benefit.

I'm lucky because for me January at SS (and the level reset) is the real pox but I don't care because January is my month of commissioned photography and SS earnings are less than pocket change in comparison. It is truly ridiculous how little stock at SS earns us compared to its value to the buyers/users and corporate SS of our images.

« Reply #80 on: January 27, 2022, 21:16 »
0
... A bigger issue is that 2 years ago my most common royalty was $ .38.  Since SS "restructured their payments" that has changed to $ .10.
Do the math, and it's no surprise that I used to make twice my minimum payout every month and it now takes me 3 months to barely make it. ....

but what's your RPD? surely not $.10 - while the low-end may be most common, higher single sales bring my RPD to about 50c each month.. in absolute terms, my SS income is down about 30-40% over last 2 yrs - with only Canva showing a significant increase (due to their revenue sharing of subscriptions)

My monthly RPD (jan2022) at SS is $0.25 (lifetime is $0.69). This month's RPD at AS is $0.70. At SS earnings total for Jan 22 = $30 and at AS = $34. I first noticed that my uploads to SS were getting almost no traction in 2018 due to the massive volume of competition coming in every day/hour. Approved images that stayed on page 1 of new in 2014-2015 for a day or more were now disappearing from the first hundred new images (P1) within hours of approval and that's when I decided it was no longer really worth the effort of uploading...it had become a lottery instead of a business (with actual opportunities)! When your new images are gone from from P1 of new within hours of approval, you have little chance of ever selling them (just IMHO).
..

thanks for your details - so basically, you're getting $.25 for each DL, still not great

but how do you define 1st page?  if it's too generic, then you have millions in competition, the more specific your keywording, the higher you'll show up on less competitive combinations. if you're just looking at new images, there's no hope since you'll be swamped by the flood of newer images.  but how many serious buyers look at new images for their needs?

i don't spend time trying to game position on some mythical 1st page, since we really dont know what buyers are looking for, but my older images (some 10+ yrs old now) continue to find buyers

so i spend my time editing metadata, rather than trying to figure out a black box to which i have nonaccess.

« Reply #81 on: January 28, 2022, 06:57 »
+2
Yes, that's right, my portfolio is static. There are 1300 images at shutterstock, 1470 at Adobe. There I uploaded a few more images in the last years, like at other agencies.

But my numbers have not remained consistent by far. And I know that with other contributors with static portfolios it has also become significantly worse. But there are differences between agencies.

Here's how it looks for me:

  • Adobe Stock is stable with me. I had less downloads in 2021 than in 2013 (minus 570) and in 2015 (minus 150), but more than in all other years (up to plus 600).

    Also stable is canstock - but at a very very low level.

    istock has also stabilized in recent years. But there was a break from 2017 to 2018 (minus 1000).

    It has become somewhat less at deposit (minus 100 compared to 2020, minus 200 compared to 2019 and 2018).

    At 123, it is getting worse from year to year in steps of a hundred up to minus 800 compared to 2012 and 2013.

    dreamstime was stable until 2016, since then it has also been going downhill continuously. It's so bad now that I wonder if it's even worth uploading. If it would not go so fast, I would have already given up.

    The disaster is shutterstock. There it was stable in the period from 2018 to 2020. In 2021 I lack 1000 downloads there compared to the previous year and 5200 compared to 2015.


The fact is that the agencies have different algorithms. And that a portfolio that does not grow is most penalized at shutterstock. This is also confirmed by those who are very active. For them, the development is positive - Firn and Ralf I name as examples.

The fact that it has remained stable at AS shows that the images that successively disappear in nirvana at shutterstock must be mostly timeless, otherwise they would no longer be bought at AS. But the concept of shutterstock aims more at fresh content. I don't know which concept is better and more profitable for the agencies. I know that the algorithms have been changed again and again on a trial basis. And some of them were brought back to the old status.

Thijs, I run stock only as a hobby on the side, but as a studied industrial designer I have a professional background, which may be a little helpful.


Hi Wilm, if you could elaborate a bit more on how the algorithm works per agency, from your experience and point of view, it would very welcome to me and probably others. So if you have any other thoughts about this, please share :)

No, SVH, I can't say much useful about that. Of course, I don't know the algorithms either.

Ultimately, I can only write what I can observe myself - nothing more.

In the history, it was so that, for example, fotolia (Adobe Stock) occasionally changed the algorithm from one day to the next. I think that this was a test run in each case. Simply to try out what could bring the agency more money.
This caused a huge outcry among many contributors, because they suddenly lost their income. Other contributors, on the other hand, profited from it.

There is a huge risk to let images disappear in the search, which already had several thousand downloads, in order to check whether an algo, which puts current fresh material in front, leads to more sales.

A few times, the old algo was restored after several weeks. And calm returned to the contributors.

With any agency, after all, you can filter by "new images." The buyers with the big subscriptions, who need a lot of images, know that. The buyers who only buy a picture now and then probably always have the "sort by relevance" active - this is set automatically. These buyers are probably often not even aware that they have filtering options at all. Therefore, I can understand that the relevance sorting is preset - it makes the most sense from the agency's point of view. Because with this sorting, the "thousands of buyers can't be wrong" principle applies. From the agency's point of view, the images with the most downloads probably have the greatest chance of selling even more often. That's how supermarkets do it, after all. The products that sell the most are on an equal footing. A vicious circle for suppliers of new products, who thus have little chance of establishing themselves on the market.

The core issue is probably not the algorithm itself, but two other factors:
- the speed at which the database grows, and this is clearly highest at shutterstock,
- the vast number of very similar images, including copied images.

After all, for years there was the possibility to check which images sell best. These were then re-uploaded by other contributors in a very similar look. And already the original best-selling material has competition without end.

But with shutterstock, the biggest issue remains the immense growth of images.

If you want to get ahead, you have to feed the beast and never let up. I have one contributor under observation. There are close to 9,700,000 images on the topic he is dealing with. He started around 2019 and since then has uploaded more than 300,000 3D renderings on the topic (+ nearly 3000 videos). That's over 270 new images every day. In 5 days he has uploaded more images than I have in 11 years. Now every 32rd image on the theme is from this contributor. It is absolutely understandable that this displaces an extremely large number of images.
But you can't manage this amount on your own. So several people have to be fed by it. As a hobby contributor, you simply don't stand a chance against that.

When I search for images on the topic, I find his first image on page 2 - "popularity medium" (in my  own portfolio this corresponds to about 3 downloads). It has overtaken my picture, which with almost 7000 downloads - "popularity high" - can also be found on page 2, but clearly behind his.
By the way, the name under which he offers is identical with the search term. Whether that plays a role, I do not know.

Let's move on to Adobe Stock. There are 13,500,000 images there for the same search term. His portfolio size there is 340,000, but he has a different contributor name there. In 2020, his images were always at the top of the list. In the meantime, none of his images can be found on the first 35 pages of the search. I have no idea from which page the first of his images can be found. But I can see from this that something has changed in the algorithm that has caused his images to slip so far - I assume that it is the poor download numbers.

I have to add that the images are really bad compared to what countless other contributors have in their portfolio. By bad, I don't mean the technical quality, but the aesthetic quality. And I know that his images have sold miserably at Adobe. How it looks with him at shutterstock, I don't know. He has 233 times the portfolio size at AS, but less than 2/3 of my downloads. How that adds up, I don't know either. Then there is another example to mention. There is a contributor who also specializes in this topic. He has less than 700 images in his portfolio and has nevertheless achieved more than twice as many downloads at AS as the contributor with 340,000 images. But on shutterstock he has very little success.

This shows to me that the pure upload volume is of little importance at AS. With shutterstock it does. In my opinion, this is the main difference between the two algorithms at the moment.

« Last Edit: January 28, 2022, 08:17 by Wilm »

SVH

« Reply #82 on: January 28, 2022, 07:10 »
+1
Hi Wilm, many thanks for the lenghty and very interesting read. Great insights to begin to understand the puzzle of algorithms. Especially your observations between SS and AS.

S2D2

« Reply #83 on: January 28, 2022, 09:27 »
+1
As for shutterstock, I'm just too slow for the algorithm. Even if I uploaded at my previous pace, I would still have significant losses there. Maybe not quite as high as at the moment.

I have uploaded far more content (mainly videos with an increase of over 25% or more depending on the agency which translates to over 100+ videos per port) in such a short period (two months) since my beginnings in February 2019. Despite this work, my results on Shutterstock for 2022 are the worst January in the three years since I've been contributing. The worst earnings of any  month since February 2021. Earnings for January 2022 on Shutterstock compared to January 2021 is just 38% and for January 2020 just 36% (when I had way smaller ports and a tiny number of videos). It's almost like uploading has damaged sales, not helped them at all. Pretty much could be said for the others too (P5 and AS). Istock looks to be improving but that's only because I started late and had a very small port so it has grown a lot with the recent uploads. Overall feeling very disappointed seeing much worse results with more work.     

Sorry to hear that.

I remember when you joined the Sstock forum and you were enjoying what you were doing and your success.

I hope sales pick up for you to help with the demoralization.


« Reply #84 on: January 28, 2022, 09:39 »
0

This shows to me that the pure upload volume is of little importance at AS. With shutterstock it does. In my opinion, this is the main difference between the two algorithms at the moment.

I disagree, it's not my experience.

I have a friend who has about 16,000 images (more quantity than quality), while I have about 5,000 images (more quality). 10+ years both ...

I earn twice as much as he does on SS and he earns twice as much as I do on AS ...

« Reply #85 on: January 28, 2022, 10:26 »
0
Okay, with 3.5 days to go in January, this is where my sales are in comparison to January 2021.

First, January 2021 was my worst month of last year by a long way. So we are starting from a low bar.

Anyway:

Size of portfolio ......  + 18%
Total downloads .....  +57%
Total revenue .....  +136%
RPD ..... +47%

This January (2022), despite the reset to level 1, has been better for revenue than five of the months in 2021.

AS is tracking normally. Slightly behind target but nothing to be alarmed about. RPD at AS is three times that of SS but downloads are almost eight times less. So total SS revenue is about 2.5 times greater than AS revenue. Of course, my portfolio at AS is quite a lot smaller than at SS.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #86 on: January 28, 2022, 12:01 »
0
My monthly sales of images was about 150 images in average. in the last 2 months it dropped by half to about 75 images. is it only me+ What happens to Shutterstock? i do not have this kind of drop in other stock sites...

Distracted again by side issues, I didn't answer. No it's not just you. Sales are down and even if the RPD is holding (which it's not for me) less sales aren't going to make what the volume of sales used to produce in earnings.

There are some people who have earned more on the new plan, but most of us have not.

« Reply #87 on: January 28, 2022, 12:30 »
+4
Sales volume isn't my issue at the moment... just on 800, which is quite normal for Jan. It's the $ that have tanked this month. It will potentially be the worst January since 2014/15 for $. About half of a normal month. Personally... I hope the choke on the extra money they've stolen from us.

S2D2

« Reply #88 on: January 28, 2022, 12:40 »
+1
Sales volume isn't my issue at the moment... just on 800, which is quite normal for Jan. It's the $ that have tanked this month. It will potentially be the worst January since 2014/15 for $. About half of a normal month. Personally... I hope they choke on the extra money they've stolen from us.
[/b]

That might happen if their champagne goes down the wrong way or their caviar is a bit gritty.

« Reply #89 on: January 28, 2022, 19:58 »
0

Sorry to hear that.

I remember when you joined the Sstock forum and you were enjoying what you were doing and your success.

I hope sales pick up for you to help with the demoralization.

Many thanks DO. Yes I could not of envisaged that some work and energy would be met with such unproductive return. I'm hopeful it will pick up again. I'm also seeing that Shutterstock haven't reviewed a couple of my footage uploads in over two to three days. I know they state five days but this too is very unusual from my experience with uploading. 

OM

« Reply #90 on: January 28, 2022, 21:17 »
+3
... A bigger issue is that 2 years ago my most common royalty was $ .38.  Since SS "restructured their payments" that has changed to $ .10.
Do the math, and it's no surprise that I used to make twice my minimum payout every month and it now takes me 3 months to barely make it. ....

but what's your RPD? surely not $.10 - while the low-end may be most common, higher single sales bring my RPD to about 50c each month.. in absolute terms, my SS income is down about 30-40% over last 2 yrs - with only Canva showing a significant increase (due to their revenue sharing of subscriptions)

My monthly RPD (jan2022) at SS is $0.25 (lifetime is $0.69). This month's RPD at AS is $0.70. At SS earnings total for Jan 22 = $30 and at AS = $34. I first noticed that my uploads to SS were getting almost no traction in 2018 due to the massive volume of competition coming in every day/hour. Approved images that stayed on page 1 of new in 2014-2015 for a day or more were now disappearing from the first hundred new images (P1) within hours of approval and that's when I decided it was no longer really worth the effort of uploading...it had become a lottery instead of a business (with actual opportunities)! When your new images are gone from from P1 of new within hours of approval, you have little chance of ever selling them (just IMHO).
..

thanks for your details - so basically, you're getting $.25 for each DL, still not great

but how do you define 1st page?  if it's too generic, then you have millions in competition, the more specific your keywording, the higher you'll show up on less competitive combinations. if you're just looking at new images, there's no hope since you'll be swamped by the flood of newer images.  but how many serious buyers look at new images for their needs?

i don't spend time trying to game position on some mythical 1st page, since we really dont know what buyers are looking for, but my older images (some 10+ yrs old now) continue to find buyers

so i spend my time editing metadata, rather than trying to figure out a black box to which i have nonaccess.

I have to admit that since 2018, I've basically give up on microstock. You're right to focus on metadata because that is possibly the one thing that can give you the edge over the 'mob'. The trouble for me is that I'm spoiled with the couple of commissions I have each year. For effectively 6 weeks work per year, I can earn 10X what I get from SS per year. But it is hard (physically demanding) work when age counts against you. And it was one of my reasons to get into stock in the first place....when the time shall come that I cannot physically perform the commissioned work, I would at least have some (pension-like) payments from stock.

Had microstock at SS not gone the way it has, I would have continued expanding my port there in the expectation that with, say, 5K images (and around $10k/year income I could have dropped the commissioned work). Around 2015 (my retirement age) these were pretty reasonable assumptions of future income growth from microstock. At the time, I had 500-600 images at SS and AS and the income produced at SS was 3-3.5K/year. Whodathunkit that income could have dropped so much and so fast!!...still thankful for the commissions and to have the satisfaction of knowing that some businesses do still value the particular skills of a experienced photographer and are prepared to pay for them (unlike microstock where images are simply a commodity to be licensed for the lowest possible payment to the author)!

Yes, I know that this is a typical tirade of the old bogger that can't keep up with the times...and everything was better in the old days! But prior to 2015-2016 micro's were truly a business in which one could make reasonable business decisions for the future based on past successes/planning. When SS opened the floodgates to anyone with ONE acceptable image, the business went out of the window for serious contributors and it became a lottery. Alas, it's the way the corporate world works....everything to placate the stockholders and make the senior management rich. All that at the expense of everyone else down the food chain (and we really are at the bottom of that with regard to power and influence).

« Reply #91 on: January 29, 2022, 02:46 »
0
First illustration sold in China for 27 Cents. Almost 4 times more than I got at Alamy! SS in China?? Since when?


« Reply #92 on: January 29, 2022, 04:45 »
0
SS in China?? Since when?

Since 2014.

thijsdegraaf

« Reply #93 on: January 29, 2022, 04:48 »
0
First illustration sold in China for 27 Cents. Almost 4 times more than I got at Alamy! SS in China?? Since when?

Why shouldn't Shutterstock be in China? 0.27 cents is unfortunately quite normal for SS these days. That was not the case for the much lower prices for ALamy until recently. And they were mainly paid in China.

« Reply #94 on: January 29, 2022, 07:15 »
+1
So, 4 weeks are now over.
As expected, January was certainly not the best month. The downloads were average, but the last 2 weeks the revenues were back on a normal level with a nice sale of 37 $ yesterday, which I luckily got in level 4  and not in lower level  ;)

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #95 on: January 29, 2022, 11:23 »
+1

Ultimately, I can only write what I can observe myself - nothing more.

The core issue is probably not the algorithm itself, but two other factors:
- the speed at which the database grows, and this is clearly highest at shutterstock,
- the vast number of very similar images, including copied images.

But with shutterstock, the biggest issue remains the immense growth of images.

As a hobby contributor, you simply don't stand a chance against that.


And there's where we agree 100%

By the way, seeing you are an engineer or studied, I can fully understand wanting to know how things work.  8) It's just a natural question for anyone who thinks about why and how. I mean, why do I spend all kinds of time, looking at how the search works and what's on top and where mine end up? Just because I want to know. Not because I can control or change anything, but just wondering why?

Lets call it Shutterstock's Cat?  ;) As long as we don't look...


S2D2

« Reply #96 on: January 29, 2022, 11:35 »
0

Ultimately, I can only write what I can observe myself - nothing more.

The core issue is probably not the algorithm itself, but two other factors:
- the speed at which the database grows, and this is clearly highest at shutterstock,
- the vast number of very similar images, including copied images.

But with shutterstock, the biggest issue remains the immense growth of images.

As a hobby contributor, you simply don't stand a chance against that.


And there's where we agree 100%

By the way, seeing you are an engineer or studied, I can fully understand wanting to know how things work.  8) It's just a natural question for anyone who thinks about why and how. I mean, why do I spend all kinds of time, looking at how the search works and what's on top and where mine end up? Just because I want to know. Not because I can control or change anything, but just wondering why?

Lets call it Shutterstock's Cat? ;) As long as we don't look...

In case anyone didn't get Pete's allusion, and wants a headache, here's some light reading:

https://www.newscientist.com/definition/schrodingers-cat/

« Reply #97 on: February 17, 2022, 05:30 »
+3
Regardless of the fact that my download volumes have decreased significantly, I have just now a small "anniversary" to celebrate.

Thus, shutterstock accounts for 45% of my total downloads.


S2D2

« Reply #98 on: February 17, 2022, 05:44 »
0
Congratulations Wilm. You are a star 🍻

Good to read something here that is a success story and brings a smile 🙂

« Reply #99 on: February 17, 2022, 05:58 »
+1
Congratulations Wilm. You are a star 🍻

Good to read something here that is a success story and brings a smile 🙂

Thanks a lot, Deb!  :)


 

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