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Author Topic: SS grace period of 6 months  (Read 11287 times)

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« on: October 08, 2016, 13:22 »
+6
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.


« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2016, 13:47 »
+3
My experience with SS is also 1,5 years old. I'm uploading as slow as possible (had about 100 photos online after the first 3 months and now just over 400), but overall my income still grows (slowly and September not to count) ;) So I wouldn't really stick with the grace period theory. Not sure why your numbers are stuck at the same level :(

« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2016, 14:17 »
+1
Thanks, Lana. Neither am I sure as to why. Although I'm not yet ready to share my port here for any evaluation, I'm confident it's a good quality port, sufficiently diversified as to the subjects provided, and as large now (1000+) as to return at least as much as I did in my 6th month which is still my best so far (November 2015). I'm just puzzled and not sure whether and how to continue enlarging my port at SS.

« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2016, 15:10 »
0
Are you contributing to other agencies? Do your Fotolia sales grow?

Why don't you look for critique directly at SS forum if you don't want to share your work here? The truth is out there ;D

Shelma1

« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2016, 15:14 »
+2
Grace period, definitely. When I was new there a few years ago I was very excited by my instant sales. My port took a few years longer than yours to even out, but this year my income there is dropping rather than growing, despite adding new images regularly. And I see newbie stuff selling over mine all the time. If you look at most popular you'll usually see a bunch of newbie images clumped together on page 1 along with the cream that's risen to the top. ;)

« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2016, 15:21 »
+4
Well, they lowered the payout threshold for a reason.
Looking long term more and more contributers will experience a downward decline in earnings as the library balloons and the number of contributers continues to increase. Look at long tome contributers that were , not making a living, but were pulling in severeal hundred $a month easy peasy. Their earnings have been drastically reduced and will stagnat at best or continue slowly downwards.
This is the reality of this business, and confributers are the losers/su kers here.

« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2016, 16:34 »
0
Are you contributing to other agencies? Do your Fotolia sales grow?

Fotolia. Yes, I do. As noted in my original post, FT does indeed pick up slowly in recent weeks (see the projection for October in last bar on the graph below), but overall it has a similar trend with SS, peaking in Feb-Apr 2016 and then stagnating suspiciously ever since (I had almost identical number of downloads in four consecutive months this year, isn't it abnormal with increasing port?). It's still roughly 50% of what SS generates for me. In other words, with stagnant SS and very slowly increasing FT, I don't feel the right feedback from what and how I upload. But that's not the point of my original post. It's about the anomaly in sales/revenue of SS.



Why don't you look for critique directly at SS forum if you don't want to share your work here? The truth is out there ;D

As far as critique of my port is concerned, that's not my objective now, as I'm more or less confident in quality and content of my port by comparing it with others'. Same goes for keywording as it's done very precisely and targeted (no spam, no irrelevant words, etc.)

My only guess is that SS is stagnant in my case despite constantly increasing port is due to a combination of (potentially) sweeter conditions for newbies + insanely increasing library of the agency.

« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2016, 17:11 »
+2
Are you contributing to other agencies? Do your Fotolia sales grow?

Fotolia. Yes, I do. As noted in my original post, FT does indeed pick up slowly in recent weeks (see the projection for October in last bar on the graph below), but overall it has a similar trend with SS, peaking in Feb-Apr 2016 and then stagnating suspiciously ever since (I had almost identical number of downloads in four consecutive months this year, isn't it abnormal with increasing port?). It's still roughly 50% of what SS generates for me. In other words, with stagnant SS and very slowly increasing FT, I don't feel the right feedback from what and how I upload. But that's not the point of my original post. It's about the anomaly in sales/revenue of SS.



Why don't you look for critique directly at SS forum if you don't want to share your work here? The truth is out there ;D

As far as critique of my port is concerned, that's not my objective now, as I'm more or less confident in quality and content of my port by comparing it with others'. Same goes for keywording as it's done very precisely and targeted (no spam, no irrelevant words, etc.)

My only guess is that SS is stagnant in my case despite constantly increasing port is due to a combination of (potentially) sweeter conditions for newbies + insanely increasing library of the agency.

So, given that you have sales with multiple agencies showing the same pattern I'd suggest that it actually supports the idea that there isn't a grace period with Shutterstock.

What is more likely IMHO is a combination of a massive increase in available images combined with an industry wide stagnation or decrease in demand for those images.

Simple supply and demand. No need for agency manipulation of your sales required.

« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2016, 17:17 »
+2
From my experience, I don't see any grace period. I've anticipated it after 6 months, but nothing changed. I've been at SS for close to 2 years now and sales hasn't decreased. Not every image is going to sell and images that do sell need to gain momentum quickly or they will start falling down the search results.

Every portfolio is different obviously. I know you're not ready to share your portfolio, but it was easily found on Google, so you might as well share it. You have a lot of travel photography, which is one of the most difficult segments to compete in.

« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2016, 03:01 »
0
Maybe its interesting to speculate though in the end there's not much you can do about it except decide whether its worth your time to upload. My belief is that search algoritms are changing more than in the past so I cling onto the hope they will swing in my favour. All I can do is strive to continually improve my work and upload to the places I think I will maximise returns

gyllens

« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2016, 03:41 »
+3
Grace period? selling no matter what?  funny I've never heard about that. The only way they could try to make that happen is of course to give preference in search to new members content and thereby demoting pushing back old members established files.
Well if this is true its a pretty nasty way of treating older members since its bound to have a direct slope on their earnings.

I hardly ever go to the SS forum but I remember its been lots of posts from long time members regarding falling sales and apparently for no reason at all and this could explain quite a bit of it.

« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2016, 10:44 »
+1
unfortunately, it looks like only images with spamming titles are popular now.

not quality, diversity or anything like that.

this is number 1 problem on shutterstock and they need to solve it as quickly as possible.


« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2016, 10:46 »
+1
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.

Thanks for posting this because I was thinking about slowing down uploading to SS as well.

 Grace period of course.
I have a Referred Contributor for a couple of months now. Of course he has a much smaller port than I have. As the number of images he sold are mirrored on my earnings page I can see what's happening.

Interestingly there is an repeated up and down. I will say that days when I sell fewer images than average he sells quite well and days when i sell quite well he sells a bit less.

Nevertheless over the entire period I can see the number of  images sold are not proportial to the port size. I will say that the number of images the referred contributor sells in relation to his port size is much larger than what I sell now.


gyllens

« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2016, 12:23 »
+1
Well Nica its just pointless uploading anything if it goes down the pockets of new recruits and spammers. I have also noticed extremely bad keywording but this "grace period" actually explain lots of weird happenings such as very good takings one day and the next down to bread lines? and that way they would of course nurse the 0.25 members instead of 0.38 saving enormous royalty. Very nice!

« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2016, 13:32 »
+6
I don't think there's a conspiracy. New images will have a better position in the search and as time goes by they will tend to sink, displaced by newer material.
Also, look at the maths: If you upload 50 images a week, then in the second week you double what you had in the first week, and your income doubles, in the third week you add another 50 and your portfolio grows by a third, along with your earnings. by the 25th week, adding 50 more images only increases your portfolio by 4% - and at the same time your early images are starting to fade down the search. So you hit a plateau, where adding more images at a steady rate doesn't have much impact on your overall portfolio size and the time-benefit of new images is countered by the fall in search ranking of the earliest images.
The plateau effect is noticeable on SS because they have quite a rapid rate of sales, but we used to see the same thing happening on iStock and DT in the days when they were doing better for individual contributors.
So it's all a perfectly natural mathematical effect, no "grace period" involved.

« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2016, 13:38 »
0
That^ what he said

« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2016, 14:17 »
+1
baldrick is spot on. but by all means people stop uploading. better for me


« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2016, 14:35 »
0
Also, look at the maths: If you upload 50 images a week, then in the second week you double what you had in the first week, and your income doubles, in the third week you add another 50 and your portfolio grows by a third, along with your earnings. by the 25th week, adding 50 more images only increases your portfolio by 4% - and at the same time your early images are starting to fade down the search. So you hit a plateau, where adding more images at a steady rate doesn't have much impact on your overall portfolio size and the time-benefit of new images is countered by the fall in search ranking of the earliest images.

Very interesting, thanks for this explanation.

However, I'm still a bit suspicious about the fact that this math hits plateau exactly at 25th weeks point (6 months), and in such a drastic way (in my example at least). Besides, your math theory fits only the revenue part of my sales, but not the download number. In fact, if you look on the graph below (same as original, but without uploads, to better feel the revenue/downloads scale), except for an unusual spike in Oct 2015, my downloads (red line) gradually rose for another 6 months (or 12 months of growth in total) as I kept regularly uploading, while the revenue hit "plateau" just in the middle of this period (except for marginally increasing post-March after being upgraded to the next tier):



Normally, following your explanation, I would expect a drop in downloads number as well if the older stuff gets faded and lost in search.

All in all, if true, then I should normally just stop uploading now and just get whatever SS has for me until the point when sales completely stop due to the whole port sinking in the search. And, the only way to maintain your sales and/or increase them (apart from producing highly exclusive and original material - which is not everybody can do) is to keep uploading many many more assets to keep up with the fading rate of older stuff (and ever increasing overall library of SS)?

« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 14:38 by beketoff »

Shelma1

« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2016, 14:45 »
+1
I agree that a port will eventually plateau, but I also believe SS promotes new contributors' work over older contributors'. Just a glance at a most popular search in a category will show a bunch of images from one series of one contributor on page 1 of the search, and the contributor in question will be new. I think they do it to encourage people to stick around and keep uploading. We all benefit from it at the beginning. I see it in my own port...old work uploaded when I was new sold immediately, became popular and still sells today, while recent work (though better than the old work, in my opinion) goes nowhere. So in addition to the relative slowdown of portfolio growth over time, you also suffer from the newer people's work being promoted, as yours was when you first joined. (I see it on Fotolia, too. I'm "new" there, and my new work is selling there but going nowhere on SS, where I'm "old.")

gyllens

« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2016, 14:47 »
0
I don't think there's a conspiracy. New images will have a better position in the search and as time goes by they will tend to sink, displaced by newer material.
Also, look at the maths: If you upload 50 images a week, then in the second week you double what you had in the first week, and your income doubles, in the third week you add another 50 and your portfolio grows by a third, along with your earnings. by the 25th week, adding 50 more images only increases your portfolio by 4% - and at the same time your early images are starting to fade down the search. So you hit a plateau, where adding more images at a steady rate doesn't have much impact on your overall portfolio size and the time-benefit of new images is countered by the fall in search ranking of the earliest images.
The plateau effect is noticeable on SS because they have quite a rapid rate of sales, but we used to see the same thing happening on iStock and DT in the days when they were doing better for individual contributors.
So it's all a perfectly natural mathematical effect, no "grace period" involved.

No there is no conspiracy but your maths only work if your fresh uploads gain immediate exposure. As it is now and I agree with many contributors that new files are not getting any exposure at all never mind sales.
Oh well we have to wait and see. I keep seeing sales of eleven year old pictures. Gosh! theyre not even good.

Shelma1

« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2016, 15:22 »
+3
...and as I'm working in one particular area, I check to see most popular for this search term, and page one has completely changed since an hour ago...it now features FIFTY images from one new contributor...fully half the popular images on page one were forced off the page by this flood of one new contributor's images. Incredible.

Edited to add: I checked through page 12 of most popular, and every page is dominated by this one contributor's images, all uploaded and approved today, even though most have nothing to do with the search term in question. After page 12 I gave up looking because it was too depressing. Some "real" page one results have now been pushed back to page 12 and worse.

Edited again to add: Not knowing these search terms would be flooded with hundreds of images today, I'd submitted three this afternoon. Just to see if my stuff would also show up on page 1 of most popular (which would mean things aren't weighted towards new contributors, but everyone gets on page 1 at first) I checked again. Sure enough, the new contributor's images still almost filled the first pages. I gave up looking for my new images when I got to page 30...after thousands of images that had no relevance to the search terms. I tried adding one more term that would narrow the results significantly, and there it was...so it's searchable. Just completely buried.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 18:46 by Shelma1 »

« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2016, 16:01 »
+3
Looking for patterns or making assumptions based on a sample size of 1 is beyond useless and borderline insane...

Get 50-100 portfolios that show this exact same phenomenon (and not stretched to 8 months, 7, 9) and then we're talking...

SpaceStockFootage

  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2016, 22:55 »
+1
Is it just me that's seeing something completely different when looking at that chart? I'm not seeing a suspicious drop from one month to the next, I'm seeing a gradual month on month increase that just happens to have two months where you got lucky.

I mean if the grace period is intended to provide sales that make people want to stay and upload more stuff... why did they wait until months 5 and 6 to start giving you some decent sales?

« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2016, 01:30 »
0
Is it just me that's seeing something completely different when looking at that chart? I'm not seeing a suspicious drop from one month to the next, I'm seeing a gradual month on month increase that just happens to have two months where you got lucky.

I mean if the grace period is intended to provide sales that make people want to stay and upload more stuff... why did they wait until months 5 and 6 to start giving you some decent sales?

The gradual increase you're talking about indeed take place with regard to the downloads number over the period of the first 12 months, along with increase of my port, which I pointed out to appear contradictory to the "plateau" effect mentioned here. And even then this downloads increase peaked out in May and until this day is in a free fall.

The decent sales in terms of revenue you mention took place exactly within the first 6 months, so perfectly fine with the assumption. The subsequent revenue growth is flat at best if you average it over the period less the two spikes at the very beginning; besides, two or three high revenue bars which are on par with the 4th and 5th months are, in my opinion, greatly due to the significantly larger port by that time and perhaps very busy months for the industry overall.

Anyway, I think it's hard to ignore the fact, at least based on my example, that there's something artificial in the SS's system, and the usual business rule whereby the harder you work (=the more frequently you upload quality material) the more you earn, doesn't seem to be working anymore.


SpaceStockFootage

  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2016, 01:39 »
+5
Ignore the fact that one person has a reasonably steady growth in sales (with a couple of spikes) while consistently uploading more content? How on Earth does that indicate artificial sales? As for the more you upload the more you earn... that's what's happening in your chart. You've been uploading plenty of stuff and your sales have been steadily growing. The only exceptions are recently where you've been uploading less than you normally do... or at least your downloads are levelling out.

I'm with increasingdifficulty... people see far too many patterns that don't really mean anything. Correlation not causation is one thing, but seeing a correlation in one person's figures and determining that there's something crazy going on on a site-wide basis... is entirely different. 


 

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