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Author Topic: StockFresh - Is the opportunity passing?  (Read 15102 times)

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helix7

« on: December 16, 2011, 13:04 »
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I was singing the praises of StockFresh from early on. We first heard about the new company from the former StockXpert folks in June 2010, and it was made clear that the launch was a "soft" launch and no marketing would be done just yet. The goal was to build the collection and hit the market with a sizable enough portfolio to really pose a challenge to the well-established agencies. They offered an impressive site design, simple yet fair pricing, 50% royalties, $0.35 subs on medium and smaller images, and a no-BS credit system where a credit does really equal $1 or less.

A year and a half later, SF has surpassed 1 million images, a collection size that I suspect would be worthy enough to hit the market with, and yet there is little activity on the site and virtually no buyer activity for most people. In all this time I've personally collected just $30 in my account, more than half of which is from referrals.

I still have high hopes for Peter and the team, and SF in general. All of the building blocks of a badass agency are there. I'm just starting to wonder if the opportunity to take a chunk of the market is passing everyone by.

A few months ago SF could have distinguished themselves as a real alternative to istock. And to some extent they still can. But the distinguishing factors are diminishing. I think the opportunity for all agencies to blast istock on their lack of EPS10 compatibility for vector files could have been a huge selling point. istock has since finally caught up with the rest of the industry and adopted the EPS10 standard. I view it as a missed opportunity for SF and others.

This year, some new and exciting companies have emerged as serious players in microstock. PhotoDune/GraphicRiver (Envato) being at the top of my list. Veer seems to be picking up steam. And from the old guard, SS is still killing it as always and for many people (myself included) are growing steadily. It's a popular theory around here that SS is picking up many former istock customers.

I think those customers could have become SF customers if SF were more known several months back. istock took on many former StockXpert customers in the Jupiter acquisition, some of whom I'm sure would have rather remained StockXpert customers, and who might be very receptive to knowing that a new site was around that feels very much like the old StockXpert. As more customers potentially look for alternatives to istock, SF remains largely unknown to the buying population.

As I already mentioned, I'm optimistic for SF. Almost hopelessly optimistic, because the more realistic side of my brain tells me that this company is letting opportunities slip by and they may never come to market with the aggressiveness that will be necessary to not only take a shot at the big guys, but to also stand a chance against some promising up-and-comers.

Peter, I hope that you can tell me I'm wrong. I really hope that you can give us an update soon on the aggressive marketing plan being formulated, the sales push your team will be doing, something like that. But right now I'm finding it hard to stay optimistic, and I'm not sure it's worth my time to even continue uploading.


« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2011, 13:16 »
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sight

« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2011, 13:50 »
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Agencies rise up from being low selling sites all the time. 123RF did it recently and Fotolia did it in the past. Maybe, it will happen with SF. Maybe, it won't. All you can do is support them if you like their site, and hope the rest happens.

« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2011, 15:28 »
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Yep, I agree.  I remember them saying they wanted a million images before they started marketing properly, but that was achieved a while ago now and I haven't seen any sign that a big ad campaign is coming.  With 123RF sticking it to us and cutting commissions lately I would love to see the likes of StockFresh and Veer doing well, but my sales and views don't give me much hope.  I am sitting on $5 at StockFresh and it is starting to feel like one of those sites I won't ever be able to claim a payment from.

« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2011, 15:50 »
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I'm going to leave what I have there as I can't see it doing much harm, but I've been very discouraged with StockFresh performance. I've had a decent chunk of my portfolio (nearly 1,500 images) up there since June and the total thus far is $11.50. PhotoDune has surpassed that with 300 images in one month (less than a month and for most of that time less than 300 images). WarmPicture (the artist collective/agency/?) has surpassed that and they have done no advertising at all and don't have close to a million images. Veer only has 300 of my images online (glacial reviewing and upload limits) and I've recently passed my first payout.

Unless I see some sort of uptick in activity, if I were asked if it's worth uploading there, I think I'd say don't bother for now. It's a shame as I think they've got a lot going for them.

« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2011, 15:56 »
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Like many of us on MSG, I've now spent WAY too much time getting my portfolio uploaded and approved on cool-looking new sites that never sold anything.  And - also like many others - I've stopped submitting to IS, but kept my account active.

Personally I like repairing the things I have, rather than buying new, whenever possible. So here is my wildest fantasy for the coming year:  IS is sold or spun off, and the new management apologizes for past mistakes, dynamites the entire current pricing, commission, and search structures, and replaces them with simplicity and sense.

Then I'd have a "Big 3" again and could stop playing with these shiny, sparkly new sites, hoping for a miracle.

« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2011, 16:09 »
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PhotoDune has surpassed that with 300 images in one month (less than a month and for most of that time less than 300 images). WarmPicture (the artist collective/agency/?) has surpassed that and they have done no advertising at all and don't have close to a million images.

I am surprised and pleased to hear our Warmpicture project has performed as well as Stockfresh, which I have a lot of hope for too. One thing I will add is that until someone sits on the other side of the table and tries to build a website capable of amassing hundreds or thousands of sales per day, they really have no idea how difficult it is.

We have only been at it since April/May, and I can tell you it has been one of the most frustratingly difficult endeavors I have ever undertaken. There are so many agencies out there, and so many people selling on their own. Trying to get the attention of the search engines has proven massively difficult. I've put nearly $10K into the project, and seen very little tangible return. But I'm still at it, and I still hope I can make our project something we are all proud of.

Regarding the success of Photodune, which is truly unusual and remarkable. They are part of the Envato network of graphic design sites. Utterly brilliant. They have essentially started from Day 1 with an established base of potential buyers. I am amazed that nobody has thought of this yet. The next big stock agency is not likely to come from someone like Google or Amazon, or another Getty spinoff. It is more likely to be born from an established graphic design or blogging network. Can you imagine if Problogger started selling blog size stock photos to compete in the subscription field? That would be huge.

Photodune is a success so far, and a big one for such a young startup. The question is, can they expand their customer base beyond their Envato network to something much larger?

« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 16:23 »
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I can definitely appreciate the difficulties.   Speaking just for myself, all I really need to see from a new site is a little growth in sales over time.  Not much growth, and not many sales, but at least a sense that it's going somewhere.  That's all I'd need in order to feel motivated. 






 

helix7

« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 17:48 »
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I am surprised and pleased to hear our Warmpicture project has performed as well as Stockfresh...

Much as I'm glad to see that Warmpicture is doing well, it's troubling that a project like that can out-perform StockFresh on an individual basis. My personal website is doing similarly better than SF for me.

It's concerning that not even passive web traffic has brought in enough buyers to make SF more profitable for contributors yet. With 1 million images, surely Google image searches or just general web searches should land some buyers on the site. And to their credit, they are advertising a bit, through banner ads on the BuySellAds network. Not sure how many placements they've purchased but they currently have one on Vecteezy that's supposed to get around 5 million impressions per month. And yet even with some marketing going on, the place feels like a ghost town. I'm not expecting to pay my bills from SF earnings, but at this point with a good size collection and some online advertising going on, things should be starting to pick up even a little bit.

...Photodune is a success so far, and a big one for such a young startup. The question is, can they expand their customer base beyond their Envato network to something much larger?

I've been with GraphicRiver (the vector and graphics part of Envato) since February 2009, and I've seen good growth throughout that time. The last 2 months have been phenomenal. I'm confident that they can continue to grow the entire network, and PhotoDune will be included in that growth.

« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 18:59 »
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From an SEO perspective, PhotoDune came online immediately being backed by (and linked from) high Google Page Rank pages within the Envato network. That is an advantage which Stockfresh or any new endeavor could not hope to have. Sure they could pay for it (advertising), but it is pretty well known within the SEO community that ad links aren't weighed nearly as heavily as regular links. It just can't be replicated without a tremendous amount of link building.

BTW we could use a couple more high level photographers at Warmpicture (hint, hint)    :)

« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2011, 21:54 »
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I was on the old StockXpert and knocked down $125 a month there on a regular basis. Yet when it came to the new SF site, they let me hang for several months awaiting their lofty stamp of approval. I just said screw it when the acceptance finally came and didn't even bother to submit. I had applied as soon as the opening was announced.

No worries. I do less and less micro stuff these days and have found much greener pastures.

« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2011, 23:56 »
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FWIW I never pursued it either. I put in my application the first month they asked for submissions, and never heard anything back. Several months ago I considered writing to SF support, but then I figured why bother? I could upload there, or I could put that time into uploading at Alamy. Alamy is now my #4 seller behind the Big 3, so it was clearly the right decision. Actually they are number #3 this month ahead of iStock, but there is a long way to go.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 23:58 by djpadavona »

RT


« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2011, 03:38 »
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I uploaded to them because of their previous connection to Stockxpert, and I was taken in by the waffle about waiting to get files online before they started their marketing campaign, truth is I get more sales on my own site for which I do no marketing whatsoever and apparently I'm in Stockfresh's top ten contributors!!

Has the opportunity passed? - Absolutely, I'll leave my port there purely because I don't want to waste the time deleting the files but I don't upload anymore, unless they launch a significant marketing campaign, and I mean actually do some real marketing not give us their usual BS about waiting for this or that to happen then the site is going to be another Luckyoliver.

Microbius

« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 03:50 »
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I will continue uploading there, but increasingly only as a matter of principle because of their stance on contributor commissions.

« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2011, 03:53 »
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It's not surprising that they haven't attracted a lot of buyers.  Why would buyers use a site that has a much smaller collection of images than their rivals?  I recently passed the $50 payout level.  Sales are slow but I get some each month and the upload is so easy, I will keep using them.  FeaturePics have stuck to a similar slow build up strategy.  Sales are slow there too but the site has remained open when lots of others that spent too much have failed.  I get a cash out every now and then for very little work.  Lucky Oliver was fun while it lasted but FeaturePics are still making me some money.

It doesn't look like StockFresh is going to get many of the former Stockxpert buyers, that's a shame because it should be a good site for them.  I hope as the collection grows, they become more attractive to buyers and I will keep uploading new images.  How big does a collection have to be to make it worthwhile spending lots on marketing?  I think they're wise to spend as little as they can but they're relying on the patience of contributors and that's also very risky.

« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2011, 05:36 »
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All this talk about SF, I just logged in to have a look and I have a sale, $2.50. I only have 34 images there, I was kind of put off by the low acceptance rate that I was getting. Might send them some more to see if it's still the same.

« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2011, 10:02 »
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I am sure a huge part of PhotoDune success can be attributed to extremely low competition among phogographers - all the thousands of contributors existing at iStock or shutterstock aren't on photodune yet. It can easily change as soon as more people will learn about them...

And, pre-existing market of their Envato marketplace is indeed another contributing factor. That part SF is missing.

I do hope SF will grow but I simply don't see how Peter can achieve that. Unless they invent something really interesting to distinguish from the competitors.

helix7

« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2011, 11:01 »
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...I do hope SF will grow but I simply don't see how Peter can achieve that. Unless they invent something really interesting to distinguish from the competitors.

They do have a distinguishing factor. They're just not using it to their advantage.

I think SF is the only remaining microstock site that keeps things as simple as they used to be at a lot of other sites. And I think buyers would respond well to that. It's a return to simpler times, no credit shenanigans, no wildly different prices from one image to the next. Credits are $1. Images cost $1-$20 depending on size. You buy what you need, no obligations. Simple.

The closest site to SF in terms of pricing simplicity I think is BigStock, but even they got it wrong. Why they felt the need to do the $X.99 pricing I'll never understand. Simple pricing would be $3, $5, $9, $13. Not $2.99, $4.99...

The other thing BigStock is doing well that SF should do similarly is going straight after istock in their advertising. If you're tired of the crazy pricing at istock and other sites, SF is the answer with the simple pricing, simple credit packages, and competitive prices.

« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2011, 11:14 »
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I am sure a huge part of PhotoDune success can be attributed to extremely low competition among phogographers - all the thousands of contributors existing at iStock or shutterstock aren't on photodune yet. It can easily change as soon as more people will learn about them...


That's what happened to me at GL.  A nice bunch of sales in the first couple of months, then... flatline.   They're not doing anything wrong, of course, and I hope they succeed.  But small fish like myself are probably wasting our time chasing new sites that don't have enough of a buyer base to feed all the contributors they manage to recruit.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 23:38 by stockastic »

velocicarpo

« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 20:08 »
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...would be great to have some statement from Peter. I am still very hopefull for SF ;-)

« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2011, 01:14 »
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The closest site to SF in terms of pricing simplicity I think is BigStock, but even they got it wrong. Why they felt the need to do the $X.99 pricing I'll never understand. Simple pricing would be $3, $5, $9, $13. Not $2.99, $4.99...

Wow, you are way off on that. You might want to do some research into pricing and then decide for yourself. There are multiple studies, including several from Ivy League business programs, which prove x.99 pricing increases sales by 25 to 35 percent.

« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2011, 02:45 »
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The StockFresh site is well designed and contributor friendly. The images they use as examples are selected by someone with good taste. I've been getting regular monthly sales but nothing to write home about. More buyers is all they're missing. 

« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2011, 03:07 »
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I've continued to slowly upload my portfolio there. Its easy to upload and I'm willing to support photodune as the royalities are reasonable.

They've sold more there for me lately than on Veer, the great microstock hope back from snapvillage days.

The silliest thing I could think of would to delete images you've already got up there unless you were going exclusive or something like that.

helix7

« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2011, 09:15 »
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Wow, you are way off on that. You might want to do some research into pricing and then decide for yourself. There are multiple studies, including several from Ivy League business programs, which prove x.99 pricing increases sales by 25 to 35 percent.

I never said it doesn't help sales. It's just not simple. If they really wanted to position themselves as the agency with the simplest pricing, I think it appears much more simple to the customer to say that images start at $3 than to say $2.99. It even makes the price graphics on the homepage unnecessarily larger.

I don't doubt that the psychology of that price format works. I just don't think it's truly as simple as it could be. At least not in appearance.

« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2011, 10:19 »
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Wow, you are way off on that. You might want to do some research into pricing and then decide for yourself. There are multiple studies, including several from Ivy League business programs, which prove x.99 pricing increases sales by 25 to 35 percent.

I never said it doesn't help sales. It's just not simple. If they really wanted to position themselves as the agency with the simplest pricing, I think it appears much more simple to the customer to say that images start at $3 than to say $2.99. It even makes the price graphics on the homepage unnecessarily larger.

I don't doubt that the psychology of that price format works. I just don't think it's truly as simple as it could be. At least not in appearance.

.99 pricing only annoys me whenever I encounter it and I have to be skeptical about studies showing that it increases sales.    Microstocks seem unable to resist the temptation to make their pricing ever more complicated, with more tiers, levels, plans, discounts, etc. and I suspect a lot of buyers just end up at whatever agency makes it simplest. 


 

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