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Author Topic: People Still Using SymbioStock?  (Read 14801 times)

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« on: January 27, 2015, 10:14 »
0
I have been playing with symbiostock for a self hosted site but it looks like many of the forums associated with it are slow or dead. Are people still using this theme/script to sell images? I am also wondering if the "Pro" version or plugin is still available anywhere?


« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 11:28 »
+5
I'm still hosting my site, but the number of sites and images in the network is steadily shrinking. And it's been a while since I had a sale - but I think a couple of the illustrators have been doing OK.

http://symbiostock.info/

It was 175+ and about 290K images before the guy who started the project walked away. Leo Blanchette is the author of the pro plugin (it was $75; not sure what the current deal is); you'd need to get it from him, I think. But I'm honestly not sure that it's a great idea to start a new site given where things are at the moment.

Semmick Photo

« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 11:29 »
0

« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 12:10 »
0

It was 175+ and about 290K images before the guy who started the project walked away.


True, he did walk away.. but a few weeks ago, he announced that he is back..

Community forum is up again: http://www.symbiostock.org/community/

Last I heard, Leo was working on an improved "paid" version..

« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 12:16 »
+1
I'll chime in on this too, since I'm still running my Symbiostock site: http://bestnaturestock.com/

The site works very well, and I'm proud of it. No complaints about the system itself. But while my images sell well enough on SS and DT, I have not yet had a sale through my Symbiostock site. However, it's a nice showcase for my work, and that's why I keep adding images.

The collapsing network is the biggest worry. The whole Symbiostock concept was based on the idea of a strong, growing network of independent sites that would gain visibility and market share as each of us attracted viewers/buyers to our sites and through the network helped them discover our "partner" sites. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Like lots of others, I'm looking forward to seeing what Leo comes up with in his new iteration. I hope it will re-energize the network and get it growing again.

« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 12:46 »
+4
The Symbiostock theme actually works very well and offers a great number of benefits that would cost thousands of dollars if you were to have someone build it from scratch for you. Once it is completely set up it works almost flawlessly. But it does require a bit of time and effort to get running. However, it will NOT sell for you. You have to do that yourself. If you are just going to upload the same images with the same metadata as Shutterstock and Istock the big guys are going to win every time. The only way to compete is to have unique images or at the very least unique metadata (keywords don't matter but titles and descriptions do). Also I can't prove it but I think uploading to your own site first has a lot of value. If you are willing to make the extra effort for your own site you will be much more likely to be successful. Also you should know your market. If your customers are likely to go to Google images and buy Single images for a project then you will probably do pretty well. If your customers are more corporate and drawn to the sub model your Symbio site probably won't help you (no matter how you price your images) and you will do better with the micros.

You can't compete with the microstock sites so you have to circumvent them. Being creative in your uploading and descriptions and getting to the customers first or finding ones that aren't buying from the big sites is the secret. Also competing on price is pointless. You will make less sales so they better be relatively big ones. The customers who are aware of the subscription model won't be buying from your personal site anyway.

Leo is working on a new version which should be much prettier from the customer side but I think he is done with the "free" concept. Also he is around on Symbiostock.org to help if something goes wrong with your site.

If you know what you are looking to accomplish and it fits with what Symbiostock offers then the theme is a great solution. If you are just building a personal site because you don't know what to do next you are very likely to be disappointed.


« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 13:11 »
0
If you are just going to upload the same images with the same metadata as Shutterstock and Istock the big guys are going to win every time. The only way to compete is to have unique images or at the very least unique metadata (keywords don't matter but titles and descriptions do). Also I can't prove it but I think uploading to your own site first has a lot of value.

Actually, I agree with that statement, Chromaco. And I did take that approach from the 2nd half of 2013 and through the first half of 2014. Almost a whole year.

In June 2013, to build my site, I started with existing images (the ones already on SS, DT, etc), After that, I uploaded new material exclusively to my Symbiostock site. And I left those images there, clearly marked "exclusive" until 2014 was half over. Late last summer, with considerable regret, I began putting those images up on SS and DT and removing the "exclusive" tags on my own site. And sure enough, they began selling right away on the agencies. No question, holding them back a year had cost me money.

However, the titles and descriptions of images on my own site are still unique from one another and from what the agencies get. What shows up on SS and DT is more boilerplate.

We need to be realistic: it's hard for an indie operator to beat the Big Boys at their own game. That was part of the appeal of Symbiostock network at the start, and for a while it seemed to be growing well enough to make a difference. Let's hope the network revives soon with more durability.

« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 13:31 »
+1
Martha, I think your problem might be the types of customers you have and not your effort or images. Based on what I've seen the type of people who buy your images probably go to SS or IS first and never get to Google images. If this is the case it won't matter what you do. This is one of the major problems with self-hosting and why it doesn't work for a lot of contributors. The micros have a monopoly on a certain type of customers and also a certain type of images and we will have a very hard time breaking it. There are certain types of images that I just won't make anymore because it is too easy to find comparable images via the subs model. Those are the types of images that no matter how good they are just won't sell on my site. Ex. Design Elements sell great via the subs model but I have never sold one set on my own sites. Eventually my images of that type will end up at SS because that is where the market is.

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 13:40 »
0
I've kept mine going and have around 3500 images there. It does work without any issues although sales have slowed in the past few months  - I did get one sale for this image last week though:


I now tend to put those specialized and rarer images that are only going onto RM sites onto my own site these days. So perhaps the demand is lower, but the reward may be higher when someone does come along.

Steve

« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 13:52 »
0
Martha, I think your problem might be the types of customers you have and not your effort or images. Based on what I've seen the type of people who buy your images probably go to SS or IS first and never get to Google images. If this is the case it won't matter what you do.

Yes, I know that's true. As I've said before, I'm retired from my actual career. (One of the few perks of getting older.) I'm a classic "hobbyist" shooting "niche" material in a market that's already well supplied with it. Maybe it's amazing that my stuff sells as well as it does!  :o

I shoot what I shoot because I love shooting it, and I'll continue shooting it whether I make money from those shots or not. My personal site does what I ask it to do, so I'm not really upset about the lack of sales there.

For others who have to earn a living at this, it's a very different game. I feel for them as the market gets tighter and tighter.

« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 13:57 »
0
Thanks for all the great information everyone. Clearly there are mixed feelings about where things stand with Symbiostock... I am working on trying to find a solution to market some of my personal work that doesn't fit the SS or IS style and thought maybe this would be an option. I am not sure if it is or not yet but it seems to be the best system for the indie operator right now...

Again, lots of food for thought. Thanks all!!

« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 14:06 »
0
I am working on trying to find a solution to market some of my personal work that doesn't fit the SS or IS style and thought maybe this would be an option. I am not sure if it is or not yet but it seems to be the best system for the indie operator right now...


For you, it might be exactly the right thing.

If you haven't done so already, why not check out this list of current Symbiostock sites and see what they're offering: http://symbiostock.info/index.php There's a wide variety, so dip in and out and see what's there.

Good luck!

« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 14:07 »
0
my 2 symbiostock sites are working fine, though like ,most others, sales are minimal

the global search is still active and I add new sites as they are announced
http://cascoly.com/symbio/symbiostock-network.asp

I'm mostly using sym now as a feeder to my non-photo website, providing galleries and contact sheets for those pages.  the galleries are large, watermarked pages of images 2 across:

http://cascoly.com/symbio/list.asp?list=129&w=4&word=horse&site=http://cascoly-images.com

any sym site is welcome to use these features

====================
Leo has licensed me to distribute both the PRO and the sitemap plugins which I offer at reduced price for members of the co-op I host, or for sym sites that use my installation service.

I'm leaving for 5 wks in southeast asia later this week, so won't be as quickly available, but will continue to maintain the global search and add further functions as needed

« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 14:14 »
0
symbiostock has excellent SEO and I'm using it in several ways to improve my other sites

using google analytics, I'm identifying the most frequent landing pages, then editing those sym images to include more information, including links to other sites, image collections, and cross links to my outside  cascoly.com pages.

http://cascoly-images.com/pix/image/elephant-sculptures-5/

http://cascoly-images.com/pix/image/armor-of-medieval-knights-4/

thus viewers may remain within my sites even if they don't find what they want in  the first image.  and if they do exit, it will often be thru the google ads displayed with each image
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 16:07 by cascoly »

« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 14:25 »
0
my 2 symbiostock sites are working fine, though like ,most others, sales are minimal

the global search is still active and I add new sites as they are announced
http://cascoly.com/symbio/symbiostock-network.asp

I'm mostly using sym now as a feeder to my non-photo website, providing galleries and contact sheets for those pages.  the galleries are large, watermarked pages of images 2 across:

http://cascoly.com/symbio/list.asp?list=129&w=4&word=horse&site=http://cascoly-images.com

any sym site is welcome to use these features

====================
Leo has licensed me to distribute both the PRO and the sitemap plugins which I offer at reduced price for members of the co-op I host, or for sym sites that use my installation service.

I'm leaving for 5 wks in southeast asia later this week, so won't be as quickly available, but will continue to maintain the global search and add further functions as needed


I would like to get some info about the pro plugin and that cost... Could you shoot me some details or email me at chris@southernlightstudios.com with the info?

Shelma1

« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 14:26 »
+9
I'm pretty torn about my Symbiostock site. I do like having my own website, and I usually make a few sales each month (though the last couple of months have slowed down), but I have to admit I lost money on it. Besides the costs of building and keeping the site...hosting, advertising, etc...there's the cost in time. I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours building, designing and advertising the site, and hundreds of hours uploading and keywording. If I'd spent that time creating more illustrations and uploading them to the micos, I would have made money instead of losing it.

However, I believe the future does not bode well for micros, so what is the alternative? That's the $64,000 question.

« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 14:33 »
+1
I have been playing with symbiostock for a self hosted site but it looks like many of the forums associated with it are slow or dead. Are people still using this theme/script to sell images? I am also wondering if the "Pro" version or plugin is still available anywhere?

In my case: the site exists and... yes, it works as a tool helping me managing images, no it doesn't work at all if we talk about income. No sales and one big problem still - google sulks on my site. It doesn't index files so clients can't see my work. That means no sales. In short words, for me site didn't pay me back my time, effort and costs. Huge hopes, dubious sense.

« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 16:20 »
0
..... No sales and one big problem still - google sulks on my site. It doesn't index files so clients can't see my work. That means no sales. In short words, for me site didn't pay me back my time, effort and costs. Huge hopes, dubious sense.


have you submitted sitemaps and used google webmaster tools?  that's gotten successful indexing in the sites I've run and provided good alexa ratings

http://cascoly.com/symbio/list.asp?list=66

another very useful tool is the yoast SEO free plugin that helps you optimize each image/page

« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 17:03 »
0
Yes, I did all what friends here, on Sys forum and on FB offered. My files are yellow and green. Nothing works, nothing changes, nothing more I can do, even Leo couldn't help after login to my site.

« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2015, 18:47 »
+2

However, I believe the future does not bode well for micros, so what is the alternative? That's the $64,000 question.

It used to be the $64,000 question.  Now with subs it is the .38 question.

« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2015, 07:31 »
0
Still running my site and happy with it.  I get a few sales a month, which is more than some of the lower tier agencies. 

« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2015, 02:46 »
0
We too still running our site , uploading images very often , one sale till now but very much happy with what Leo provided. Layout , User interface everything is just awesome ,  in fact we worked on Payment gateway part and enable one more payment gateway (Payumoney ) which will work side by side with Paypal , that was quite coding at cart area and interesting too  :)

« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2015, 05:11 »
+1
I'm very happy with my site too (17 sales from the beginning + 2 works on demand ) even though sales slow down last two months :)
I promote my symbiostock website on Tsu and Twitter and it helped to drive some traffic...

I agree with Cascoly, due to network option + Cascoly's global search, Symbiostock has an excellent SEO, much better than on any other theme !

Millionstock.com

  • Architecture; Arts; Historic buildings, Landscapes

« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2015, 06:53 »
0
I'm also very happy with my site www.millionstock.com

Sales come especially from contacts collected in the last years, people that knows my way of shooting. Some sales from SEO.
I would say definitively that you have to have a self hosted site to drive sales through an ecommerce platform

« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2015, 09:59 »
+3
First: The Symbiostock still works, but setting up all properly and tweaking template is a LOT of pain in the a**. Especially new plugins and Wordpress version might make some problems and you have to know exactly how it will go on your hosting - there are some tricky settings which are not always available.

Second: To succeed, I hardly recommend creating also blog with stories, tutorials, extra showcase etc. NO eshop or commerce site is able to compete against content rich blog and NO SEO features will overcome this. I do websites for over 15 years and simply put - you have to get backlinks, you have to create and periodically improve text content (not just few sentences or keywords) and you have to build serious social presence. Otherwise there is no reason in building your own website. This takes a LOT of time and effort - especially if you are not well known person or do not have any background in internet marketing. It is easy to overcome agencies SEO because agencies rely 90 % on pure brute force advertising and PR.


 

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