My latest images for sale at Shutterstock:

Friday, 23 November 2012

A long-overdue post

Hi, and apologies once again for the gap in posts.

So, what has happened since my last post in January?  Most of the answers can be found on the stats page - I have been steadily increasing my portfolio and my earnings have also been growing slowly. In June of this year I had the opportunity to take part in a lifestyle shoot organised by some of my old iStock friends.  It was the first time I had worked with models and I enjoyed it a lot.  The images have been selling well, but not spectacularly so far, but it is good to finally have some people images for sale.  Having some new stuff to upload has helped me get excited about stock again and get round to uploading some more of my old back-catalogue images, some of which have surprised me by selling reasonably well.

I have improved my acceptance rate at Shutterstock, which has been a great help.  Shutterstock are an agency that I know will sell my images if I can get them accepted there. They have just announced a new feature which allows contributors to make their previously private 'sets' (lightboxes in iStock speak) visible to the buyer.  I know this is something that a lot of contributors had been asking for and one of the few things I missed from iStock.  I would now say that Shutterstock's sets are better than iStock's lightboxes because they also allow you to track earnings for a particular group of images, which is a great way to help you focus your efforts on the most lucrative work.  I also like Shutterstock's keyword data tables, which allow you to see the search terms used by the buyers of your images.  Anything that helps us target our images more effectively is welcome - the unique world map feature at Shutterstock is also a fantastic insight into buyer trends.  From this I can see when a buyer has bought more than one of my images and also my main markets - in my case this is northern Europe - if I want to make more money I suspect I have to shoot more images that will appeal to the northern American market.

My iStock earnings have also increased, which is entirely down to their partner program.  Last month I made twice as much on the partner program as I did via the regular collection.  While it is great to be making some extra cash, I have always felt unhappy about the partner program (as I know many other contributors at iStock do) and see it as a threat to both earnings from the regular iStock collection and also a direct competitor to Shutterstock.  From what my old iS exclusive friends are telling me about falling income levels there, it seems possible that the dire predictions of many at the time the PP was announced may well be coming true - buyers may be moving to Thinkstock and other PP agencies rather than spending at iStock.  The other day I surpassed my previous low-point of a 9c royalty at iS by getting just 8c for a sale.  Can anyone beat that?

Depositphotos is a nice little agency that seems to be going places.  They have accepted all but eight of the images I have ever sent them and sales there have been growing steadily.  This has seemed to happen even when I haven't increased my portfolio for a while, suggesting that it is the agency itself that is attracting more buyers.  The site is easy to use and upload to and my sales are fairly regular and dependable.  They send me an email every time I sell something which saves me having to keep obsessively checking the site for sales.

On the whole, most sites in indie-land seem pretty well managed, with the exception of Veer, who could give iStock a run for their money in site bugginess terms.  Contributors there often find that they can't access their dashboard to view their stats, uploading is as good-as broken for me and payments are frequently delayed.  Some of these issues have been on-going for several months. Their review time is still running at over a month, often closer to two.  It is a shame, because I really liked Veer when I first started, but things don't seem to be going well there.  That said, their contributor relations people do still reply to emails, which is apparently more than can be said for iStock.

Ok, that's it - best of luck to any iS exclusives who decide to drop exclusivity in the New Year x

5 comments:

  1. Have you considered GL Stock? Flat 52% royalty, set your prices to one of three levels, and aversion to sub-license deals. I applied yesterday and was accepted within a couple of hours and they even offered (I didn't even have to ask) to hold my portfolio until I was indie (29 days and counting) but allow me to upload until then. They're based in St Louis and the owner is a friend of Sean Locke. Anyway, here is my referral link:
    http://graphicleftovers.com/?ref=dcdp
    is you're interested (just chop off the referral bit at the end if you don't want to use it, but want to check out the site.

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  2. It is interesting looking at how some of the smaller agencies have picked up over the past 6 months as you have added images (Depositphotos, Canstock) whereas ones like Veer appear to have gone backwards.

    I have now signed up to 4 agencies and am awaiting approval and the 30 days. After that I will sign up to some of the others like Dreamstime.

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  3. Yes, Veer are not doing terribly well, but then my income there was always bouyed by massive EL's that came along every now and then and I haven't had one for a while there now. DepositPhotos I whole-heartedly endorse - a great little agency with very sensible inspection policies and regular sales. CanStock are not so great - sales are sporadic and lately they are being really stupid with keyword rejections. I had an image from the Bridlington shoot rejected there for keywords and I have absolutely no idea what I can remove to make it acceptable - they all seem perfectly relevant and visible in the image. Inevitably the end result is that I can't be bothered dealing with them if they are going to be daft about it, so I just give up and they miss out on the image. When it happens to enough contributors it compounds their marginal status and drives them downwards. So I have great faith in Deposit's future but less so CanStock.

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  4. I have always been very put off Graphic Leftovers by the name - like it relates to the bits of crap left behind on the plate that no one wants. Changing their name to GLStock hasn't really rid themselves of it properly. Microstock group shows them to be a long way down the rankings, somewhere between Envato and Yay. They tend to be fairly accurate about these things, so on that basis I would have made about $10 there in the past two years, which is just not worth the trouble to me. Sorry.

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