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Sales ceilings?


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Are there such things as sales ceilings or plateaus? For the past couple of years, I've been averaging 10 sales per month. I'm not a volume photographer, but I do upload on a regular basis, and my collection grows steadily (if slowly). However, my feeling now is that until I add thousands more images, my sales numbers will likely stay pretty much the same. I'm not complaining about this. In fact, as an older part-timer looking for extra income doing something enjoyable, I'm quite happy at the way things are going. Alamy has been and continues to be very good to me. I am curious, though, about whether or not "volume shooters" (sounds a bit ominous) with large collections have found that they reached sales ceilings/plateaus along the way. Also, were there milestones (10k, 20K, 50K, etc. images on sale) that you reached when you broke through relative ceilings and sales numbers showed sudden increases?

 

P.S. I realize that stock photography isn't totally a numbers game. Variety, quality, relevance, etc. are obviously all part of the equation as well.

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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This year I've increased my portfolio from around 3000 to 9000 and my sales have increased accordingly. I would suggest that you've started out with an enviably high level of sales and now it's leveled off a little?

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2 minutes ago, Avpics said:

This year I've increased my portfolio from around 3000 to 9000 and my sales have increased accordingly. I would suggest that you've started out with an enviably high level of sales and now it's leveled off a little?

 

My sales increased steadily from 2007 (when I started submitting) until 2014. Big dip in 2015. Now they definitely seem to be levelling off. I have the feeling that I'm on a "plateau" of sorts now. Again this isn't a bad thing, as my numbers are surprisingly consistent (touch wood) from month to month.

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I guess what I'm asking is if there are "magic numbers" along the way where sales numbers -- but not necessarily income -- take a significant jump. For instance, my "gut feeling" is that I probably won't see a significant change in my monthly averages until I hit about 10K images, which could take me several years at my current rate of uploading.

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A recent trend for me has been fewer sales but rather better prices. Not entirely comfortable with this, as there is strength (and reliability) in numbers! However the usual warning about statistical significance applies.

 

I guess that this could be regarded as a plateau with regard to overall earnings, but I'll re-assess the situation at the end of the year.

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At the end of 2015 my image total stood at 6,280. During 2016 my annual sales quantity rose by 161% which is being maintained during 2017. My normal target is to upload around 1.000 images per year. Just hope sales quantity keeps at this level and will be interesting to see what happens when I reach 10K images, on the assumption that age doesn't get in the way!!

Jim :)

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My sales are going up on a month by month basis.

I'm adding lots of new images every month.

A lot of my sales are coming from recently-added images.

 

I've been very pleased with the increase in sales volume recently, even if it isn't necessarily accompanied by a similar increase in income, though this month is already my best ever on Alamy (gross, not net, the previous best being before the commission went from 40% to 50%)

 

I don't think there is a plateau to reach, especially if the quality of images submitted is improving. I think I'm still getting better at this lark, with more room for improvement

 

 

 

Edited by Phil Robinson
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21 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

Are there such things as sales ceilings or plateaus?

P.S. I realize that stock photography isn't totally a numbers game. Variety, quality, relevance, etc. are obviously all part of the equation as well.

 

John:

Sales plateau because of a combination of total image numbers, the arithmetic progression, and the quality of the photography. Your sales will also plateau, if the agency sales plateau.

First year total of 500 images $500. Second year total of 1000 images $1000. Wow !!!! doubled my sales in one year !!!

Third year you need to have a total of 2000 images to double your sales but you can only do 500 new images per year. You can only get your total images up to 1500. You have just plateaued.

Then you fall into a trap of just get the numbers up and everything will be OK. Quality slips, causing your return per image to slip and you get to a total 5000 less useful images in the fourth year without an increase in sales. Plateaued again.

On way to break out of the plateau is to repurpose the collection. Very old images of water running out of a glacier have new modern tags added like “global warming”, “climate change”. Try some RF or RM. Delete old images that no longer meet your present day upgraded standards. Collections need a certain amount of maintenance work.

Best to concentrate on the usefulness of your images and keywording, to break out of the plateau trap.

High numbers alone are a no win arithmetical progression. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_and_chessboard_problem

 

2 hours ago, GS-Images said:

I do think it's time Alamy were more strict with what images they accept, especially similars and very clearly poor amateurish rubbish (like I uploaded at first, that I wish now had been rejected for my own sake as well as everyone else's!).

 

Geoff:

Be careful what you wish for. I am hearing of other agencies using their edit images function to force photographers from RM to RF.

IE we will not take these images as RM, but will take them as RF.

If agencies have too many cows, they might declare a moratorium on cow photographs.

Only being edited for QC, and not being told how to shoot or how to submit or what to submit, can be a wonderful business tool for the photographer, if used properly.

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2 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

 

John:

Sales plateau because of a combination of total image numbers, the arithmetic progression, and the quality of the photography. Your sales will also plateau, if the agency sales plateau.

First year total of 500 images $500. Second year total of 1000 images $1000. Wow !!!! doubled my sales in one year !!!

Third year you need to have a total of 2000 images to double your sales but you can only do 500 new images per year. You can only get your total images up to 1500. You have just plateaued.

Then you fall into a trap of just get the numbers up and everything will be OK. Quality slips, causing your return per image to slip and you get to a total 5000 less useful images in the fourth year without an increase in sales. Plateaued again.

On way to break out of the plateau is to repurpose the collection. Very old images of water running out of a glacier have new modern tags added like “global warming”, “climate change”. Try some RF or RM. Delete old images that no longer meet your present day upgraded standards. Collections need a certain amount of maintenance work.

Best to concentrate on the usefulness of your images and keywording, to break out of the plateau trap.

High numbers alone are a no win arithmetical progression. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat_and_chessboard_problem

 

 

 

 

Yes, it does seem like an arithmetic progression of sorts, a slippery slope indeed, a bit like walking up a down escalotor. I like your re-purposing idea. Shall have to see what I can do about that. Probably time to do some judicious purging as well.  While adding more images and continuing to tread water isn't the worst possible scenario in my case, it would be encouraging to see some upward sales movement as well.

 

The Wheat and Chessboard problem blew a mental fuse. Shall have to save it for a rainy day.

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12 hours ago, geogphotos said:

Alamy being non-exclusive there are other places and markets where you can offer your images.

 

I do have images at other places -- not the one that rhymes with "spaghetti," though -- but Alamy works best for me by far. Alamy already does a pretty good job of distributing images IMO.

 

As well, always wary of competing with meself. :wacko:

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Getting back to the original question, my sales seemed to reach a plateau at about the 7000 image mark. Sales and revenue then remained remarkably consistent for at least 18 months, until a sharp drop last month. Unfortunately this month looks set to be even worse, so maybe my run of luck is over

 

Alex

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6 hours ago, Alex Ramsay said:

Getting back to the original question, my sales seemed to reach a plateau at about the 7000 image mark. Sales and revenue then remained remarkably consistent for at least 18 months, until a sharp drop last month. Unfortunately this month looks set to be even worse, so maybe my run of luck is over

 

Alex

 

I noticed a significant increase in sales when I hit about 4000 images. I definitely seem to be "plateauing" now.

 

Just hit my average of ten sales per month today. A couple more could easily show up before the end of September, but it's a bit like voodoo.

 

Definitely not complaining, though. I can live with the status quo.

 

 

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8 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

These days I think that the message is to be involved in as many different markets as possible.

 

Last year for the first time since starting this diversification my non-Alamy income was higher than from Alamy.

 

Different countries, different languages, different deals. 

 

But each to their own and am certainly not advocating any particular course of action. 

 

You don't feel that Alamy's distribution network is sufficient?

 

I always worry about overlapping distribution networks. It must happen.

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Being a bit of a cynic, could it be that an average of ten sales a month is the result of a clever algorithm that seeks to divvy-up sales and reward regular contributors with 'fair' returns to ensure that contributors continue to add to the pile, whilst not getting disheartened by too few sales?

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5 minutes ago, Jansos said:

Being a bit of a cynic, could it be that an average of ten sales a month is the result of a clever algorithm that seeks to divvy-up sales and reward regular contributors with 'fair' returns to ensure that contributors continue to add to the pile, whilst not getting disheartened by too few sales?

Nothing wrong with being a cynic, but you have to apply Occam's razor and ask why would Alamy bother?  The simplest explanation is that their turnover depends not on individual contributors sales but on the overall mass of sales.  They have a ranking system whereby good sales generate further sales and poor sales sink you down the pack.  They, and we, are dependent on what the buyers select in the eclectic offering that is the Almay image bank.  Yes, Alamy have a picture research facility for (all? selected?) clients but they can surely only recommend images not actively push product that doesn't fit the buyers needs.  Ultimately, the buyer selects.  

 

You only have to look back to see that many of us have wild swings in sales from month to month.  This year, for example, I've had as few as 4 (January) to as many as 20 (June).  My graph looks like the Alps in profile.  There is an upward trend this year and year on year but that's hardly surprising when I'm adding an average of 100 images a month and I enjoy a hard worked for reasonable ranking. 

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4 minutes ago, John Richmond said:

Nothing wrong with being a cynic, but you have to apply Occam's razor and ask why would Alamy bother?  The simplest explanation is that their turnover depends not on individual contributors sales but on the overall mass of sales.  They have a ranking system whereby good sales generate further sales and poor sales sink you down the pack.  They, and we, are dependent on what the buyers select in the eclectic offering that is the Almay image bank.  Yes, Alamy have a picture research facility for (all? selected?) clients but they can surely only recommend images not actively push product that doesn't fit the buyers needs.  Ultimately, the buyer selects.  

 

You only have to look back to see that many of us have wild swings in sales from month to month.  This year, for example, I've had as few as 4 (January) to as many as 20 (June).  My graph looks like the Alps in profile.  There is an upward trend this year and year on year but that's hardly surprising when I'm adding an average of 100 images a month and I enjoy a hard worked for reasonable ranking. 

John, Thanks for your reply. I think you are right in that the buyer does ultimately select but perhaps images pushed, from amongst the many millions, to match the buyer's requirements are themselves sorted by an Alamy algorithm to ensure that everyone with a portfolio size > than X and sales < Y appears higher up in the search results. Therefore they are more likely to hit an average sales per month of 10, or thereabouts. The formula ensures that contributors don't leave but at the same time continue to beaver away. Win, win situation.

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16 minutes ago, John Richmond said:

Nothing wrong with being a cynic, but you have to apply Occam's razor and ask why would Alamy bother?  The simplest explanation is that their turnover depends not on individual contributors sales but on the overall mass of sales.  They have a ranking system whereby good sales generate further sales and poor sales sink you down the pack.  They, and we, are dependent on what the buyers select in the eclectic offering that is the Almay image bank.  Yes, Alamy have a picture research facility for (all? selected?) clients but they can surely only recommend images not actively push product that doesn't fit the buyers needs.  Ultimately, the buyer selects.  

 

You only have to look back to see that many of us have wild swings in sales from month to month.  This year, for example, I've had as few as 4 (January) to as many as 20 (June).  My graph looks like the Alps in profile.  There is an upward trend this year and year on year but that's hardly surprising when I'm adding an average of 100 images a month and I enjoy a hard worked for reasonable ranking. 

Just researched Occam's razor - very illuminating. Thanks :)

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1 hour ago, Brian Yarvin said:

John, in my experience, there just isn't a strong correlation between collection size and sales. A tiny group of strongly in-demand images would easily outsell a huge bunch of similars or low-demand subjects.

 

Collection size alone, won't guarantee sales, no. But surely a large group of strongly in-demand images would easily outsell a small group of strongly in-demand images?

 

Given all the same parameters, a larger collection will outsell the small collection, no? 

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2 hours ago, Brian Yarvin said:

John, in my experience, there just isn't a strong correlation between collection size and sales. A tiny group of strongly in-demand images would easily outsell a huge bunch of similars or low-demand subjects.

 

I'll assume it's this John.  What you say is probably true. However, I think that even contributors with tightly edited, in-demand collections will reach a sales ceiling. No?

They are going to eventually have start expanding their collections if they want to avoid plateauing.

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20 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I'll assume it's this John.  What you say is probably true. However, I think that even contributors with tightly edited, in-demand collections will reach a sales ceiling. No?

They are going to eventually have start expanding their collections if they want to avoid plateauing.

 

Photographers of some subjects won't have to expand because changes in style and design will take care of that for them. But for the rest of us, there's always that challenge of doing something new and fresh.

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54 minutes ago, Brian Yarvin said:

 

Photographers of some subjects won't have to expand because changes in style and design will take care of that for them.

 

You kinda lost me there. If styles and designs change, then doesn't that mean that these photographers will have to expand their small collections (i.e. add new images) in order to stay current? What did I miss?

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