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Author Topic: The shutterstock trap!  (Read 8523 times)

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« on: May 25, 2010, 06:38 »
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Ive been doing this for 15 months now and only last month did it dawn on me... I was in the shutterstock trap!

By that I mean I was feeling pressurised to keep producing a large amount of images weekly (large for me is about 30 i know its all relative!). I then knew i could expect to earn what was for me a significant amount. The problem is though that quality would sometimes suffer, I would find myself shooting anything on white or creating simple vectors just to keep feeding the beast as at the time shutterstock was way above the other libraries in terms of income. And I wasn't enjoying it.

Now I'm a bit further down the microstock road I have come to believe like some others here that quality does matter, so I've reduced my uploading to about 10/15 files a week, this has meant an immediate hit on shutterstock of down 30% this month (whether that is a time of year thing too i dont know) However my acceptance on istock has shot up and my sales there have doubled this month.... sales across all other sites are on course for a normal month, anyone else find this?


microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2010, 07:22 »
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yes, I understand what you mean

both quality and quantity count, but SS is mainly based on subscriptions, so a strong accent on quantity - at times over quality - is unavoidable

my response is to give them what they want:

acceptable quality AND quantity to SS;
great quality to IS;
variety to DT;
subjects they like to FT;
everything to all minor sites which accept everything just to increase content;

and of course LCV shots for ourself, just to stay interested in photography.

PS: seeing that people are buying pictures I myself think are crap - but I know HAVE commercial value - makes me feel some sort of 'punk' intellectual pleasure
« Last Edit: May 25, 2010, 07:29 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2010, 08:00 »
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I was the same way for the first 6-12 months. Now I make 4-5x as much on IS with 1/5th the images.

« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2010, 08:27 »
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Ive been doing this for 15 months now and only last month did it dawn on me... I was in the shutterstock trap!

By that I mean I was feeling pressurised to keep producing a large amount of images weekly (large for me is about 30 i know its all relative!). I then knew i could expect to earn what was for me a significant amount. The problem is though that quality would sometimes suffer, I would find myself shooting anything on white or creating simple vectors just to keep feeding the beast as at the time shutterstock was way above the other libraries in terms of income. And I wasn't enjoying it.

Now I'm a bit further down the microstock road I have come to believe like some others here that quality does matter, so I've reduced my uploading to about 10/15 files a week, this has meant an immediate hit on shutterstock of down 30% this month (whether that is a time of year thing too i dont know) However my acceptance on istock has shot up and my sales there have doubled this month.... sales across all other sites are on course for a normal month, anyone else find this?

I felt the same, but as you I'm now trying to focus on quality, which for me means trying to improve my skills and work more and more on each photo after tighter editing. The way I use to keep feeding the beast is to extract and submit more crops (square for example) to SS out of single images that I see are doing well. I don't find this "different edition" strategy morally questionable at all since I resize everything at 4mpx before submitting to a sub size.

« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2010, 08:54 »
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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dddAi8FF3F4[/youtube]

« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2010, 10:24 »
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Exactly how I feel.  I'm not interested in grinding out boring, repetitious images just to keep sales going.  As a result my sales on SS have tanked.  Like you say, IS doesn't punish you for inactivity, at least not in the same way.  I don't have an answer to this problem - I guess it's just a limit on what I can actually get out of microstock.

I don't quite see how this "feed the beast" policy benefits SS.   Don't they have enough millions of [email protected] images already?  Do buyers even pay attention anymore to the big neon sign saying "16 GAZILLION IMAGES"?

« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2010, 10:38 »
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I've actually noticed less impact of feeding the beast at SS in the lat year. I don't know if they have changed their formula or just so many contributors are producing so many images that it doesn't matter.

« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2010, 11:26 »
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*Groan* Oh no, not this old chestnut (and complete myth) being trotted out once again.

It is simply not true that you have to 'keep feeding the beast' to maintain sales at SS __ unless your work is total crap anyway. It is certainly true that if your images are not as good or better than what is already available then they probably they will garner a couple of early sales but never climb to the higher sort positions and will eventually disappear into the ether. Don't blame SS for your own shortcomings; the sort order system is a meritocracy that rewards good images and contributors.

If you are consistently producing good images, relative to the existing collection, then generally speaking they get noticed, bought and will maintain sales thereafter __ irrespective as to how many more images you are producing per week or month. I joined both IS and SS on the same day over 5 years ago, have uploaded the same images to each and my total SS earnings are 70% of those at IS. This month SS will contribute about 26% of earnings, more or less what it always has since I started there with a few natural fluctuations.

If I've noticed anything recently it is that newer images are somewhat less likely to 'take off' nowadays, primarily I think due to all the clutter from idiots who upload hundreds of similars with deliberately spammed keywords. This means that a decent image of a given subject can rapidly disappear so quickly down the 'Newest First' sort order that they hardly get the chance to be seen at all. The worst offenders are usually producing absurdly high volumes of images but with very few sales __ I have absolutely no idea why SS and FT in particular put up with such contributors.

Try this search for 'Roast Beef Dinner' sorted by 'Newest Images' for example;

http://tinyurl.com/roastbeefdinner-myarse

If you try a search for 'Roast Beef' on IS instead, sorted by Age, then at least the results correspond fairly closely to the request.

« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2010, 14:18 »
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Well I will let you all know in 6 months time if producing less but better quality images affects my sales at ss... For now I personally feel they are after quantity. And I don't see how this helps them. Surely a higher quality collection would draw in more subscribers. But I really really hope I am proved wrong!

« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2010, 16:24 »
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I upload a lot less to SS than I used to but they still make more for me most months than istock.  I can take 2 weeks off uploading without noticing much of a drop in downloads, I think istock is just as sensitive.  Having a big portfolio helps, the drop in downloads was more noticeable in my first year.

« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2010, 03:22 »
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you can check out anytime you want but you can never leave. welcome to shutterstock

« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2010, 04:14 »
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Just had my 7th EL of the month with SS, at least they reward you if you keep uploading.  Some sites don't seem to bother with EL's, they make a big difference to my earnings.

« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2010, 04:49 »
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newbie here...

I'm curious if that means it's better to send lower quality stuff to SS while saving your higher quality stuff for IS?

Or just send everything to everyone.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2010, 05:23 »
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newbie here...

I'm curious if that means it's better to send lower quality stuff to SS while saving your higher quality stuff for IS?

Or just send everything to everyone.

welcome...

it's better to send everything to all sites, with some exceptions: it's useless and possibly counterproductive to send all to sites where higher standards and submission limits are in place (such as IS, and partly DT, FT)

but I wouldn't save pictures for IS only, as you risk losing sales elsewhere: that only makes sense if you decide to go exclusive there - but I don't like exclusivity for a series of reasons (higher risk and lower earnings imo); for non-exclusives it's best to have all content on every major site to maximise sales

some even say they are downsampling pictures for SS in order to sell the same pictures at higher price elsewhere for those in need of higher resolution; I hear that but think it may only work for top "brand" photographers - otherwise buyers are not shopping around
« Last Edit: May 26, 2010, 05:35 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2010, 11:03 »
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yes, I understand what you mean

both quality and quantity count, but SS is mainly based on subscriptions, so a strong accent on quantity - at times over quality - is unavoidable

my response is to give them what they want:

acceptable quality AND quantity to SS;
great quality to IS;
variety to DT;
subjects they like to FT;
everything to all minor sites which accept everything just to increase content;

and of course LCV shots for ourself, just to stay interested in photography.

PS: seeing that people are buying pictures I myself think are crap - but I know HAVE commercial value - makes me feel some sort of 'punk' intellectual pleasure

This is a very accurate summary from , my experience with all of these guys for the past 15 months.  BTW  What the heck is LCV shots???

« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2010, 14:31 »
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Low Commercial Value.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2010, 07:36 »
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This is a very accurate summary from , my experience with all of these guys for the past 15 months.  BTW  What the heck is LCV shots???
Low Commercial Value.

Eh eh, I've learned the meaning of a lot of weird acronyms doing this: it's one of the fun things of microstock


« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2010, 07:52 »
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newbie here...

I'm curious if that means it's better to send lower quality stuff to SS while saving your higher quality stuff for IS?

Or just send everything to everyone.

If you notice that you are only selling subs at SS, then it might be worthwhile to only submit smaller sizes. I still get some On-Demand sales, and ELs, so I just submit the same file to everyone. I wouldn't want to lose out on EL sale because I only uploaded an XS or S file.

lagereek

« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2010, 08:29 »
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Blimey!!  you caught on to this now?  Ive known and seen it for a few years, if you dont upload often, never mind quality,  zip dls. It stands to reason though, as the worlds largest in its field you have to massproduce.
Its not a trap though, you either put up with it or get out. Simple as that. They used to be a great earner but now they are way behind a few others.
They are only interested in new images, old ones even if great sellers can go in the dustbin.
Ofcourse that sort of game will one day come to an end and then what?
« Last Edit: May 28, 2010, 08:32 by lagereek »


 

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