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Managing your Assets


Autumn Sky
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I'd like to ask for opinion about best way to manage our work - our images - in terms of distribution channel.  This has been discussed or casually mentioned in other topics, but I am interested what people think in my particular case.  I've been in stock for ~3 yrs;  for me it is hobby, but despite free falling stock industry, I am still able to finance my gear from sales.   Besides Alamy I contribute to 4 other micros & for most of the time it was streamlined process.  Last 6-8 months I began questioning this strategy.   

 

If I was shooting strictly editorial answer would be easy.  But my niche is landscape / travel.   Alamy is still market for this, but Alamy sales are few and far in between and lots of images that over the time generated 100 or more "penny downloads" in micros never got a sale on Alamy and most likely never will.  But this simple beach landscape sold for $292 gross on Alamy last year:

scenic-sunset-view-and-dramatic-landscap

Since then this image has been "butchered" on micros -- dozens of penny downloads, and frankly it hurts me.   I feel I have downgraded my work and feel soiled

 

On the other hand there is this image, that has over 200 micro downloads across several agencies and netted me ~100USD:

serengeti-tanzania-national-park-landsca

It never sold on Alamy and never will.  So in this case "streamline" strategy appears to be right.  

 

Same can be said for this image;  it sells constantly on "Photoshop" micro agency and most of the time for couple of bucks (not for pennies):

lake-louise-canoe-rental-log-cabin-refle

 

------------------------

Over the winter I've been traveling in SE Asia and now have couple of memory cards to process. There are some very good images there -- from Himalaya landscapes (not Alamy material) to strictly editorial stuff (which some micros wouldn't even accept, because you need "press accreditation", lol.    So I'd like to ask for opinion -- how would you people with far more experience manage this situation, as it is an asset that needs to be managed properly.  

 

For instance there is this Annapurna panoramic landscape:

wide-panoramic-scenic-landscape-view-of-

I can all but guarantee it will never sell on Alamy while with time on micros it will generate 20-30 USD.  So spreading it wide seems the right call.

 

On the other hand there is something like this:

poor-old-nepalese-woman-with-red-clothin

This is high-end image in technical temrs (Canon 6D with 70-300L lens) and appears like "Alamy material".  I uploaded it exclusively here but again it might never sell & that doesn't seem right either.

 

Or, somewhere in the middle, there is this night unique architecture shot:

night-view-of-royal-imperial-palace-or-h

I believe this might sell both on Alamy and in micros.

 

So I want to ask you people for opinion:   There is no right or wrong answer, but I am interested what people think.  This is NOT about "pro micros" versus "con micros" -- rather about suggestions in my particular case.   Is it still "streamline" and upload everywhere,  or is it "upload low end to micros and high end to Alamy" or is it "forget micros completely and do everything 100% exclusively on Alamy".   

 

Please have a look at my port if you need more examples of my work, besides images I posted here.    Once again, I have lots of fairly unique material now with good technical quality from the trip (Canon 6D + Rx 100) and need to decide about the best way to go about it.

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Autumn Sky
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The Costa Rica image is great!

You probably know a cropped version is in this year's Fodor.

 

The images you have on the micros, are they largely the same or are they different from the ones on Alamy?

If they're different, I would put them here also. Unless the subject is exactly the same.

 

Some questions: do you check AoA for what clients are looking for?

Do you check the competition on Alamy for the keywords that are used the most on AoA for your subjects?

Do you check where your images are on the page for the different search tabs (New; Creative; Relevant).

Do you check where your images end up? Are they being used as you expected when you were editing the images?

 

Technical quality is important, but should be a given. Image quality is even more important, but content is most important. And having the right keywords is equally important.

My guess is that the keywords on the micros are different from here plus they work differently over here.

 

wim

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a bit off-topic, but it might be relevant in some way. I've been experimenting on a very small scale with putting certain types of images that typically don't do well here -- e.g. nature, backgrounds, abstracts, "pretty flowers", etc. -- on a certain big micro agency. Amazingly, some of them are being downloaded over there, but not often enough to generate much excitement (or income). I've also put a few editorial Alamy-type images on the same micro to compare how they do. And guess what? The editorial images sell much better there than the "commercial" ones that I considered to be micro material. Consequently, I'm not going to upload any additional editorial images to micros. I'd rather leave them here where they might earn a fair price. To each his or her own, though...

 

P.S. I know the "Photoshop" micro doesn't accept editorial, so I wouldn't even have that option with them.

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Thanks for replies so far (John, "Photoshop" micro accepts editorial, but you have to have >1000 downloads).

What started this line of thinking are 2 things:

 

1)  Now departed CEO of probably best known micro around said on exit interview "streamline the process" and "cut the margins".  Translated:  have QA done by AI and slash contributor payouts which are already ridiculously low. This is pure evil IMHO & I really don't feel good working with company that has such philosophy

 

2) Last yr I got approached by Alamy -- certain customer wanted to use my image for book cover.  They were offering $990 USD (!!!).  But they wanted to know if image was available elsewhere.  I responded honestly answering how it had few downloads on other agencies, but I was more than happy to pull it out.  I never heard back.  Couldn't stop thinking since "I had an asset but I screwed it up".  It netted me so far 4-5 USD. If it was exclusive to Alamy, it could have been almost $500. There is a difference.

 

I know there is no "one size fits all".   But I am curious how people see the issue, and there have already been good answers.  Please keep it coming

 

(wiskerke,  Costarica photo is very casual Rx100 shot -- I can not say enough good things about that little camera)

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3 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

Thanks for replies so far (John, "Photoshop" micro accepts editorial, but you have to have >1000 downloads).

What started this line of thinking are 2 things:

 

1)  Now departed CEO of probably best known micro around said on exit interview "streamline the process" and "cut the margins".  Translated:  have QA done by AI and slash contributor payouts which are already ridiculously low. This is pure evil IMHO & I really don't feel good working with company that has such philosophy

 

2) Last yr I got approached by Alamy -- certain customer wanted to use my image for book cover.  They were offering $990 USD (!!!).  But they wanted to know if image was available elsewhere.  I responded honestly answering how it had few downloads on other agencies, but I was more than happy to pull it out.  I never heard back.  Couldn't stop thinking since "I had an asset but I screwed it up".  It netted me so far 4-5 USD. If it was exclusive to Alamy, it could have been almost $500. There is a difference.

 

I know there is no "one size fits all".   But I am curious how people see the issue, and there have already been good answers.  Please keep it coming

 

(wiskerke,  Costarica photo is very casual Rx100 shot -- I can not say enough good things about that little camera)

 

Yup, pure evil alright. Personally, I'd keep images like the ones you've posted and discussed here as far away from microstock as possible. But I admit to being very old fashioned in that department.

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7 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

2) Last yr I got approached by Alamy -- certain customer wanted to use my image for book cover.  They were offering $990 USD (!!!).  But they wanted to know if image was available elsewhere.  I responded honestly answering how it had few downloads on other agencies, but I was more than happy to pull it out.  I never heard back.  Couldn't stop thinking since "I had an asset but I screwed it up".  It netted me so far 4-5 USD. If it was exclusive to Alamy, it could have been almost $500. There is a difference.

<snip>

(wiskerke,  Costarica photo is very casual Rx100 shot -- I can not say enough good things about that little camera)

 

These cover requests are quite frequent, and there are sales following those as well, but much less frequent 😁.

 

Amen to the RX100!

Always on me. Outside - not inside. 🤣

 

wim

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Interesting thing to add to discussion.   Just had miserable Alamy distibution sale of this image -- 2.24 net

apache-lake-distant-scenic-desert-landsc

 

Very next day I get "Single and other" download on a well known micro -- 0.53 net.  Is that a coincidence?? 

 

On that micro image netted me 7.83 so far, few more bucks elsewhere, so lifetime I expect 25-30 across various micros.  On Alamy I doubt very much it is going to go beyond this 2.24.  But it is good image & these kind of amounts (incl. Alamy) is what I consider "butchering" & what has me thinking what to do.

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12 minutes ago, Autumn Sky said:

Interesting thing to add to discussion.   Just had miserable Alamy distibution sale of this image -- 2.24 net

apache-lake-distant-scenic-desert-landsc

 

Very next day I get "Single and other" download on a well known micro -- 0.53 net.  Is that a coincidence?? 

 

On that micro image netted me 7.83 so far, few more bucks elsewhere, so lifetime I expect 25-30 across various micros.  On Alamy I doubt very much it is going to go beyond this 2.24.  But it is good image & these kind of amounts (incl. Alamy) is what I consider "butchering" & what has me thinking what to do.

On the other hand tomorrow it could license at $175 for a book....

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58 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

On the other hand tomorrow it could license at $175 for a book....

And that is the heart of the problem (although I'm not sure this particular one is book cover material)

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4 minutes ago, Autumn Sky said:

And that is the heart of the problem (although I'm not sure this particular one is book cover material)

A coffee table book maybe, but mine wasn't a cover at that price. Just up to full page inside.

Edited by spacecadet
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3 hours ago, David Pimborough said:

All I could suggest having portfolios on Alamy and on the micros is that I divide images in to what I consider the micros deserve and the better or niche images I keep for the likes of Alamy.

 

 

 

Thank you for comment David.   This approach is one I am considering & what I think many are doing.   Problem is, it is hard to tell what is better or niche image, as we are subjective to our work & technical aspect is not the only one.   The Costarica beach shot, from top of post which paid big on Alamy, was something I never thought it would get more than few micro downloads. 

 

Or, in wider terms, what is image (asset) that has strong potential.  Even if you have to wait.  For instance your pano, that is quite nice.  I have this one:

wide-panoramic-landscape-scenic-view-of-

 

At first I didn't even consider it worth uploading.  Then I did, as part of "serial routine"   Over 100 micro downloads by now, geographically all over the world, and steady.  Why would someone want something like this is still beyond me.

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9 hours ago, David Pimborough said:

 

It now sells frequently on the Photoshop agency

 

 

OTOH, you may need a couple of hundred downloads before you see any half-decent returns from the image -- therein lies the rub with microstock.

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11 hours ago, David Pimborough said:

 

True John but zero sales and zero revenue over the years is a lot worse than the half decent returns over the last month since it went to the micros.

 

Don't get me wrong I'd dearly love to leave everything on Alamy but unfortunately $1000 to $1100 per year over the last three years is not going to pay the rent, as I don't do this to buy camera equipment or pay for the next holiday being a full time carer :(

 

 

 

Fully understood. Nonetheless, two bits ($0.25) a pop is a tough pill to swallow. 🤢

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23 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

Thank you for comment David.   This approach is one I am considering & what I think many are doing.   Problem is, it is hard to tell what is better or niche image, as we are subjective to our work & technical aspect is not the only one.   The Costarica beach shot, from top of post which paid big on Alamy, was something I never thought it would get more than few micro downloads. 

 

Or, in wider terms, what is image (asset) that has strong potential.  Even if you have to wait.  For instance your pano, that is quite nice.  I have this one:

wide-panoramic-landscape-scenic-view-of-

 

At first I didn't even consider it worth uploading.  Then I did, as part of "serial routine"   Over 100 micro downloads by now, geographically all over the world, and steady.  Why would someone want something like this is still beyond me.

 

It's a very peaceful scene. I can see why it has appeal. I uploaded this cobweb-collector to "that other place" and it was downloaded almost immediately, much to my surprise. Same thing happened with another panorama (both produced in-camera with a Sony NEX-6). Still not sure what I'll do with the $0.50. 😉

 

panorama-of-english-bay-west-end-skyline

Edited by John Mitchell
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6 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

It's a very peaceful scene. I can see why it has appeal. I uploaded this cobweb-collector to "that other place" and it was downloaded almost immediately, much to my surprise. Same thing happened with another panorama (both produced in-camera with a Sony NEX-6). Still not sure what I'll do with the $0.50. 😉

 

panorama-of-english-bay-west-end-skyline

 

 

Thank you for this;  I used to live very close, and would walk daily --- under Burrard bridge, then that lovely walk towards Maritime Museum, where you took this photo.  That's Stanley Park center,  Cypress above behind and on right skyline Grouse / Crown Mtn.   Absolutely loved it

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4 hours ago, meanderingemu said:

 

better than the less than a penny from the firm located in US Corona central 

LOL

I did stop uploading to that "firm", and am seriously thinking about pulling out my entire port from there.

 

But this is part of dilemma;   one line of thinking is, to what David was referring,  -- "Better something than nothing"  so put it to "25 cents a pop" or "15% a pop" or ...   Other line of thinking is:  That approach is directly what devaluates work of serious photographers.  Because as long as there is something  (similar / not as good but close / ...), customers will go to micros, as opposed to Alamy.

 

I am not sure what is the right answer, but I know nothing will change -- it can only get worse (just look many images get added weekly to "25 cents a pop" micro).  This is main purpose behind this thread, because we all have certain assets and need to smartly chose best way to license it to get "most bang for our buck".

 

 

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Back around 2001/2002 when I was thinking of starting to contribute to online stock photo libraries I searched Google to explore the choices. I had already been told about Alamy from a publisher who I had provided with images as part of a writing project I had done for them but wanted to know what else was going on. I soon came across iStock which was then just about starting to charge an admin fee of $1 for free photos, it also had a 'professional' category with higher priced images which never appeared to sell. I also read quite widely on various forums about all the controversies around RF and this newly arrived phenomena of micro stock. Many seasoned professionals were concerned, worried, fed up, being blasé, under rating the threat from micros etc.

 

iStock branded itself as the 'designer's dirty little secret' - share images and get them for free and still charge the customer the expected price for images.

 

My feeling was that as I was planning to move from teaching/then education writing to stock photography I was not going to do anything that undermined the 'industry' (even though it is also true that some of those old pros were also worried about Alamy's effect on existing agencies) and that Alamy offered me a chance to participate on the same level as everybody else with proper established publishers paying normal industry prices. What a breath of fresh air Alamy was!

 

I had dabbled with stock since the late 1980s but never ever had a sale and it was very hard to get accepted by agencies. Alamy opened the door to everybody, it was revolutionary, it was fair, it treated everybody the same whoever you were. Regardless of the various up and downs with Alamy  ( commission cuts in particular Grrr!! 😪) I still feel much the same.

 

In my view microstock has done untold damage to this 'industry' and continues to do so. I feel the same now as I did then that in wanting to convert my photography hobby to a paying business I should not do anything to undermine the industry and other people's incomes. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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9 minutes ago, David Pimborough said:

The problem is Geogphotos is that the micro was well and truly out of the bag in the early 2,000's there is no real going back unless they all go bust tomorrow.

 

The old agencies which used to pay top dollar are pretty much long gone. 

 

I admire the fact you get lots of high value sales.  Unfortunately not everyone can get those high value sales so each person must balance

the need to make money as opposed to making nothing or little from a single agency.

 

I would worry about the P*xab*y outfits which are giving away images for nothing now and there are plenty of people willing to go down that route.

 

 

Maybe so but micro-stock is not compulsory. 

 

But if you really need the money then I can see that you have no choice.

Edited by geogphotos
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9 hours ago, Sally R said:

I can relate to your dilemma. I started with an MS agency two months prior to joining Alamy. I quickly got sales there but mostly at the 25c subscription price. As I began to upload to Alamy I tried to upload what I thought were better images which I was making exclusive to them, while ones I thought were not as good I was now uploading at the MS site. While images continued to sell at the MS site, it was a momentary happiness of getting a sale, and then a kind of heart sinking feeling at the tiny price. I was also starting to upload images to the MS site that I didn't feel that good about, because I was valuing them less.

 

I then thought about the future, and how in a few months I would like to maybe do more with my photography, perhaps start approaching clients directly, build my own website etc. If I were to do this, I felt like maybe it is not good to be selling images for such tiny prices at MS agencies, and that it is better to value the images more by keeping them with a midstock agency. I felt compelled to remove the images from the MS site and then upload them here.

 

This was possibly a silly decision in that I was at least making regular sales there, whereas I've only had one here. On the other hand, I'm feeling better about my work, and some of the more average images on the MS site I decided not to put here. I'm also aware that a number of the images I've put here may not be likely sellers, but then again, the unexpected can happen, so it is so difficult to know what to do. So I don't think there is an easy answer, and I have been doing stock for such a short time that I don't have much experience to go on.

 

You have some high quality images, so perhaps you could think about longer term goals and maybe ways of directly marketing them in the future. Another way of looking at it may be considering how much effort you have put into a particular image, and if it has really taken a lot to get that image (travel or trek to the place, scout locations, set up your tripod, post-process etc), then maybe these are the ones you don't want to sell for tiny amounts, or at least ones that are quite unique and not as likely to be replicated by others on MS sites.

 

Thank you so much for this comment Sally, and it mirrors almost 100% how I feel.   I stopped uploading to "15% micro" because of sentiment;  disgusted with rate, total lack of quality standards,  prehistoric cumbersome interface etc etc.  Just don't want to work with them.

 

Solution is not easy, and yes maybe the answer is trying alternate channels.  But while still in stock, I am more and more of opinion decision should be made on image basis & hard numbers.  Example:  This is one of few images I have exclusively on Alamy:

princess-cruises-big-white-luxury-cruise

 

It sold last month for 49.99,  net 25 to me.  If it was non-exclusive, it would be 20.  I doubt very much it would make $5 of difference as editorial with 0.33 cents / download, as market for something like this is probably quite limited.  (And it might sell on Alamy again, although unlikely)

 

But Alamy rates are also going down.  This month I got 2 sales already;  after commission,  it is single digit in my pocket combined from both of them

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8 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

In my view microstock has done untold damage to this 'industry' and continues to do so. I feel the same now as I did then that in wanting to convert my photography hobby to a paying business I should not do anything to undermine the industry and other people's incomes. 

 

 

I've always felt that way as well. My small experiments with microstock (which I guess make me a bit of of a hypocrite) haven't changed my mind either. However, the sheer volume of images being produced nowadays means that the ms business model isn't going to go away. I'd call ms a "sad reality" now.

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I'm just curious if those who contribute to microstock discuss Alamy on the microstock forums. Do similar discussions as this one - should I just contribute here or should I send my pics over there to a competitor - are permitted? All the agonising over it and the ins and outs, comparison between where you are and the 'other' place. Is it allowed at, for example, Shutterstock?

 

Sorry about this red arrow pilots but I've always felt that there is a kind of childishness about many of these microstock discussions. It's a kind of fantasy business game where people's livelihoods aren't really at stake but they like to pretend that it is absolutely imperative that they make the 'right' decisions, and hard though it is 'business is business', and there is no time for sentiment, and its 'dog eat dog out there', either 'adapt or die' and those that go under will just have to evolve or die like the dinosaurs. But really its just about a bit of pin money and self-image. A bit of fun.

 

To me it is absolutely simple. Microstock is a business model.  It is a destructive business model. If it is supported through 'need' or whatever other reason then please do not be surprised that you then find fees getting lower and lower at Alamy. There are connections. Actions have consequences.

 

I really do understand that the 'genie is out of the bottle' etc etc but I do get tired of the endless microstock discussion on the Alamy forum. Alamy is not a microstock agency, It is an easy-going, liberal company and allows all sorts of discussion but really and truly is it an appropriate places to be discussing the merits of direct competitors?

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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