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Author Topic: Clipcavas bye bye  (Read 2975 times)

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« on: March 27, 2014, 09:25 »
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From CLIPCANVAS:

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Depending on your outlook and feelings toward us at this time, this email may come as good or bad news. I would appreciate if you read through and consider the information I am giving you. In any case, I will work for you, we all will, and together we will put things right. In the following, I am sharing with you my thoughts on where we are, what we have been doing in the past couple of years and what we need to do in order to be around for the next few years also. When you have had the chance to ready through, please take the time to think about it, and read it again. I am sorry it is such a long email, but I felt it was important to be somewhat thorough in this matter.

It is no secret that we have been in hard weather for a long time now, and in the past four months it grew worse. We have been unresponsive to you, both on email and in social media, our payments to you have been consistently delayed and overdue, and our failure to take action has caused speculation, anger and mistrust towards us. Of course, this is all our fault and doing, and something that has only served to add to an already high level of strain. Also, it is something we are very unhappy about ourselves, and adds some flavour of shame to the mix. Being in a position to risk loosing all your hard work and efforts from six long years of development is probably every entrepreneurs worst nightmare. Personally, I can testify to that.

So, how did we come to this point, and what have we tried to do about it?

First of all, our main challenge started taking effect a little over two years ago now. Suddenly, and over a period of only 24 hours, we lost about 80% of the organic traffic to our product pages. Because this organic traffic normally accounts for 80% of our revenues, it takes little effort to figure out what this did to our sales levels. Such a BIG drop in organic traffic relates to algorithm changes made by Google vis-a-vis how they perceive the quality of our service and content. Google continuously makes such changes to improve their search results and we got stuck in one of their filters. We have since cleaned the site for everything we could think of, mapped our incoming links to try and weed out bad ones, started blogging and working to offer higher quality content, but to little avail. Unfortunately, we have not recovered yet. At the moment, we are just waiting, and thinking. We do have a fair idea of what to do next, but this also requires resources to spare, and that is something we have been short of for a while.

Secondly, and because of the drop in organic traffic to our main product pages, we have worked hard to increase our conversion rates to get as much effect as possible from the traffic that we do get. I would say this work has been a small success. Even though we have not managed to regain the same level of relevant traffic, we have managed to regain our sales levels over the past two years. I think that is promising. In the mix, it is important to convey that this recovery would not have been possible without your continued support, nor without also spending a lot more money on advertising. So, while we have re-gained our previous sales levels, we have also greatly increased our spending on ads. I suspect we are not alone in this either. Other agencies are, or have probably found themselves, in the same position. Although our paid marketing is highly efficient at the moment, I find it problematic that we are having to compensate for the loss of organic traffic by way of paid marketing like this, especially since the main benefactor of this spending is the same party whom we previously relied on for the said organic (free) traffic. Still, we are continuing our effort to figure this out and regain our trust with Big G and only the future will show how this goes.

Thirdly, and this is an area I really have mixed feelings about, we have been required to cut back on a lot of costs. The part I find to be the least welcome is to have to fire part of our staff. Or, we did not really fire them, we helped them find new jobs so it would be easier on all of us, but still. Being forced to let people with great skill and knowledge go is just stupid, especially when you are trying to build a sustainable and smart business, and if we could have done anything to prevent this we would have. That said, it allowed us to spend more money on marketing, cover other costs that were rising, buy additional time to continue development and also regain some trust in the eyes of our shareholders. On the downside, it put an additional strain on the people that were left, with more to do and less time in which to do it.

Fourth, and as a consequence of reducing our staff and the workload my colleagues and I are now required to handle, we have also become less responsive. I guess this is both a mix of being under a lot of strain for a long time and being in a position of insecurity about the future. Responding to requests you are unsure if you are able to fulfil, while also being in "a state of emergency" for a long time, does something to a team and each person's level of motivation, commitment and personal sentiment. All our staff have had to give up on large parts of their salary in the past year to make this work too, and we are just now starting to see some signs that we might work under more normal conditions once again. Personally, my salary was short of 30k last year, which for a 150% workload is both tough and surely short of being able to support my family of three up here in Norway (where cost of living is rather high). Granted, I could have relocated elsewhere, but that is not really the issue. So far this year, I have yet to receive any salary at all, but I firmly believe in us and know our fortune will change for the better soon. So why do I share this with you? Well, I realise that many of you are probably in a similar position, partly relying on your sales with us to make a living. You put in a lot of effort to produce your works, and if you do this to support your life and families you also depend on agencies such as ours to put food on the table. This aspect of our business, and the fact that we are so delayed on payments, makes me feel really bad about the current state of affairs, and to me this is the worst thing about the predicament we are in right now. If it is any comfort, I do swear and promise this will be set straight for all of you - you will get what we owe you and business will return to a normal state so we may start earning your trust again.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we got some HIGHLY WELCOME news last night. This news awoke the fighting spirit in us and opened my eyes to the future once more. It seems the current and ongoing cloud wars between Google, Amazon and Azure (Microsoft), is pushing the prices of cloud computing even further down. Our rising storage requirement in the past years has come to a level where it has caused us major cashflow problems. I think we have shared information about this with you before, and even though we have taken steps to cut costs on many areas, while also having to increase spending on others (like marketing), we have not been able to do anything about the storage costs. It has been growing steadily, and still is. But now, like a miracle, AWS have decided to reduce their pricing by an amount that reduces our monthly storage bill by a whopping 50%. This is nothing short of amazing, and to us it is truly a lifesaver. If Big G put us down, Big A is now lifting us back up again - thank you! If the announcement had not been so close to April Fools Day next week, I would be jumping in my seat just now, so I will keep my calm for now and wait until I see our next bill. Then we will know for sure.

The future? Were are we at, right now? What have we actually managed to do in the past few months? Given the strain on our staff, we have had to sacrifice some tasks and prioritise others. To be plain, we have taken the most care to make buyers top priority. This has been to the detriment of your very own questions, queries and concerns about payments, portfolios and wanted features in the past months, and for this we all apologise to the greatest extent possible. I do feel it has been right to thing to do under the circumstances, even if this is something we were not happy about. Not surprisingly, the amount of clips sent for approval has dropped significantly at the same time. That is to be expected of course - who would want to upload more work if they did not feel confident they got paid for their efforts and ensuing sales? In any case, this has made it possible to reduce the approval queue to practically nil. So, at the moment, there is no approval queue and clips are released for sale within a couple of days after they are sent for approval.

Furthermore, over the past eight weeks, we have silently moved all our servers into the cloud. We did this to increase speed and also to reduce cost. Our previous hosting agreement was expensive in comparison. Already, we see a positive effect on both speed and sales from this, and that is good news I think. Finally, I have been spending most of my time trying to secure additional funding or new strategic industry partners for us, both to cover rolling monthly deficits, to strengthen our team and sales, as well as be in a position to invest for the future. I am sorry to say I have been unsuccessful in this so far, but it could be that we no longer need to focus so much on this anymore. To me, this is a very welcome thing and it will make it possible for me to spend most of my time on the core of what we do, by developing new features and making us perform better. In the end, I think this is the best approach for all.

We are now at the stage where we can take some steps to be able to cover our costs, establish a sustainable business and repay our debts to you in the following months. This does not come without some changes though, including unwelcome sacrifices on your part. These changes involve the following, and I will list the ones that I believe will affect you the most first:

1. Producers shares of sales will be set, once again, to 40%, effective from tomorrow. This will remain in effect for 12 months, after which we will raise it back to 50%. In addition to reduced storage cost, this is the most important step we can take to rebuild our position from where we are today.

2. We will start repaying royalties owed to you at a faster rate, starting in 14 days from today, so that we can catch up with the backlog and get to a point where we can continue our working relationship under more normal conditions. As soon as we have been able to cover this debt to you, and our running costs are covered by our share of sales, we will revisit and introduce direct payments so we do not end up in this position again. I suspect this whole process will take up to six months to complete, starting from today.

3. We will introduce one additional price level at 2x the current price level (i.e. you will be able to price parts of your portfolio at double the price of what they are today.) This could be relevant for those of you that have clips in Limbo, or need to modify your prices for other reasons. We will start development for this in two weeks time from today, and it will take three weeks to complete because we have a lot to do, so it should be ready in 5-6 weeks from today at the most.

4. We are going to clean up our database and producer profile somewhat, again, and this involves the following changes:
a) All Producers with less than 10 clips in their portfolio (on either status) will be downgraded to regular users and any remaining clips will be deleted. We do this to reduce the load on support and because we suspect these producers are not very active in any case.
b) An clips with a CLIPID<580000 (i.e. lower than ID 580000) that have NOT BEEN SENT for approval will be deleted from the database. This covers any unpublished clips uploaded more than 12 months ago. If this affects you, the only way for you to avoid this is to add the metadata and send them in for approval within 7 days from today (unless you already have made some agreement with us up front, like some of you have). From now on, any clip that is older than 12 months AND which has not been modified after upload OR sent for approval, will be removed from the database automatically.

5. All producers with 50 or more approved clips will be allowed to publish their clips directly without delay. We will also add a new reporting function to the individual clip pages to allow for additional and public control. If we find that the option to publish directly is abused we will either revoke this option individually or delete your account without further notice and any payments owed will be discarded, so make sure you still provide high quality metadata and release information. Published clips will still be moderated, but this way of doing it will save some time on our side for those of you that consistently provide good quality works and metadata.

6. After the above changes have been completed, we will offer you a new tool to import your .csv files and match them to your uploads, so that adding metadata and building your portfolio will be faster. This will be available within 4 months from today.

7. New producers will be vetted and cleared manually, like they are now, before they are allowed to submit works for approval, and we will start approving new producers in about 1 months time.

8. As soon as time permits, we will get up to date on our blog and social media, in order to make the most of the clips we already have to offer. I suspect this will be possible in 3 weeks from today.

9. As an extra effort to rebuild our confidence with you, we will start running a monthly campaign which will be exclusively for Clipcanvas Producers, with decent and useful prizes that may help you in your work. This will start 4 weeks from today, and you will receive an invitation with details on how it works at that time. We see this as an opportunity to interact with you in a more direct way, so that we may try to re-establish some sense of community in our relationship.

To conclude: We have been, and still are, in a tight position. Given the new pricing structure from AWS, and the changes proposed above, including reducing the royalty split to 40%, we will be able to cover our debts to you and become profitable over the next 3 months. Please stay onboard so we can work through this.

As a final remark, again and on behalf of all of us, I want to apologise for our unresponsiveness in the past months. No matter what you think of this letter from me, or what your reaction may be, I want to assure you that your work is always still safe with us and we will set everything straight regarding your payments. You will get it all, no matter what you decide to do. We mean you no disrespect in any way, we only want to make this work for all of us.

Clipcanvas

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Boring !
Nothing new !



« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2014, 09:29 »
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Forget them.  They haven't responded to two emails from me when I was inquiring to join. Don't need em.

« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2014, 09:40 »
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Clipcanvas? Never heard of them...  ???

« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2014, 11:18 »
+4
Well, I for one hope they pull through - they've sold a few of my clips in the past and I would be sorry to see them fail, they pay decent rates.

I think I'll go upload a few more to them now...

w7lwi

  • Those that don't stand up to evil enable evil.
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 12:24 »
+5
Can you imagine iStock or Getty sending out a message such as this?  It would rank right up there with Alice in Wonderland or Hansel and Gretel as high fantasy.   ;D

« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 13:04 »
+4
I feel for them. Google is a cruel mistress.

« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 14:15 »
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ClipCanvas has been a good agency for me. Granted sales and payments have slowed a bit in the last half year, however they have always paid up in the end and I trust them, which is more than I can say for some others that I deal with. I like the fact that they pay a decent royalty percentage and are based in the European market. I sure hope they can overcome their recent difficulties!

« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 17:44 »
+1
Well let's hope they recover fast. I'll keep uploading to them and see where it goes.

« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 19:32 »
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I'd have more sympathy if they had been more transparent over the last six months...

KB

« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2014, 10:32 »
+1
It's really premature to place this thread in "Sites that no longer exist", isn't it?  >:(

« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2014, 11:06 »
+2
So , to the complainers on this post, if an agency doesn't say anything you're up in arms, and if they do -- you're up in arms?

« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2014, 11:26 »
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It's really premature to place this thread in "Sites that no longer exist", isn't it?  >:(



Finally someone who has noticed...

And no, it is not.
This is well known scenario, after small or zero sales, no payments, no communication...

« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2014, 13:00 »
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It's really premature to place this thread in "Sites that no longer exist", isn't it?  >:(



Finally someone who has noticed...

And no, it is not.
This is well known scenario, after small or zero sales, no payments, no communication...
Really then there should be a Not doing well, but are trying hard and with some luck who knows category.

KB

« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2014, 13:30 »
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It's really premature to place this thread in "Sites that no longer exist", isn't it?  >:(



Finally someone who has noticed...

And no, it is not.
This is well known scenario, after small or zero sales, no payments, no communication...
Really then there should be a Not doing well, but are trying hard and with some luck who knows category.
That sounds better.  :D 

And we can put ClipDealer and Revostock in there (among those I contribute to).  Well, except for the communication part.

« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2014, 20:13 »
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4 Emails to get payment from and still no reply ... another site to delete


 

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