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Solutions to sell stock photos directly?


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Don't think I need to tell anyone that SS has given us the shaft ONCE AGAIN.  I've had enough.  Unfortunately the other agencies leave a lot to be desired as well as they all started out trying to undercut SS and SS has been giving photographers a raw deal since day one.  I've tried some solutions for selling stock directly in the past but none seemed up to the job.  The ones I've tried are Symbiostock, Sell Media by Graph Paper Press and Photoshelter.  I liked Symbiostock best, but it put too heavy of a load on my web server and was putting me over allowed usage every month.  Sell Media never seemed to configure right no matter how hard I tried.  I might give that one another shot.  Photoshelter made changes which I didn't like in their back end.  I was at the point I was going to go with Photoshelter again and the COVID stuff hit and crashed my income to a point where I didn't dare take on another monthly expense.  

I'm opening this up to the group to see what ideas people have, what you have tried and what works/what doesn't.  Bottom line is I have decided I have to get out from under SS regardless of what it takes.  And sadly, I feel I have to get out from under ALL of the stock photo agencies.

Actually we all do, and I feel self licensing is the only option at this point until the agencies come around, if they ever do.  

If you are new to the game, please please please don't base the pricing of your images based on what you have been seeing in microstock.  Before SS came into the picture, stock photos licensed for between $250 on the low end and up to $10,000 on the high end.  They were licensed by usage.  A small blog would pay considerably less than a large ad agency wanting an image for an international ad campaign and they could use if for the specific thing they licensed it for and NOTHING else.  It was called rights managed stock.  We aren't going to see that kind of money now (though I DO from time to time license images on my own for up to $1000).  I think around $30 as a starting point for generic images is a good place.  Here is an example of a photographer that bailed from SS many years back named Yuri Acrus and started his own site called People Images when he thought the SS business model was destructive.  I believe he is doing well still and his images currently start at $33.00.  Here's the link https://peopleimages.com/

Anyway, anyone that knows of good solutions for selling stock directly please let me know.  I am a web developer and can implement most anything.

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I had a Symbiostock site for a while and sold a few images. It was Ok, but uploading seemed a bit slow and cumbersome. I took it down when the European business regulation came in that we had to charge tax on digital sales. I can't be bothered with that and also it means additional cost to EU customers that they don't pay elsewhere, or a loss to me if I absorb the extra charge. That's something that puts me off selling direct.

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On 6/2/2020 at 8:10 PM, MSPhotographic said:

If you are new to the game, please please please don't base the pricing of your images based on what you have been seeing in microstock.  Before SS came into the picture, stock photos licensed for between $250 on the low end and up to $10,000 on the high end. 

 

"Before SS came into the picture, stock photos licensed for between $250 on the low end and up to $10,000 on the high end.  "

Has nothing to do with SS or any other agency. It has more to do with now everyone has a phone/camera/computer/internet which wasn't the case way back when.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, MSPhotographic said:

Here is an example of a photographer that bailed from SS many years back named Yuri Acrus and started his own site called People Images when he thought the SS business model was destructive.  I believe he is doing well still and his images currently start at $33.00.  Here's the link https://peopleimages.com/

Anyway, anyone that knows of good solutions for selling stock directly please let me know.  I am a web developer and can implement most anything.

There is your solution.

Go do it.

 

You get 100% of the sale and get to cut out the middle-man. How hard can it be?

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@MSPhotographic you sound like you have a much better base for starting this than most of us. I have created some simple websites with Wordpress but would have no idea how to host images and especially videos for purchase and download, though I suppose there are plugins that can do all this. Then there's the marketing and SEO and getting your website in front of potential customers. Be interesting if anyone who's successful at this chimes in. 

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30 minutes ago, Steven Tritton said:

@MSPhotographic you sound like you have a much better base for starting this than most of us. I have created some simple websites with Wordpress but would have no idea how to host images and especially videos for purchase and download, though I suppose there are plugins that can do all this. Then there's the marketing and SEO and getting your website in front of potential customers. Be interesting if anyone who's successful at this chimes in. 

I doubt anyone with marginal success at that would be here in these forums. 

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I think the idea of selling your own stock images independently (cutting out the middle man) is really attractive to many. Though of course there are challenges like attracting clients, the running costs of the website etc. And of course will it be profitable? Will you make enough sales on a regular basis to pay for the monthly or yearly fees for the website?

I admit I do like the notion of having Rights Managed images on your own website for clients to choose from. Though the vast majority of my photos are on microstock sites available as royalty free. So I couldn't use the same photos as RM on my site. And the idea of removing my portfolios from the micro sites and uploading all of those photos to my site would be crazy. By doing that, I would be removing a massive audience from my images as there are millions of buyers who visit the well established stock agencies with some pretty big clients among them. By contrast, I think there would be very few prospective buyers visiting my own site, no matter how much marketing I do. I do have a few RM images on Alamy that I guess I could also upload to my own site (and deactivate one from one site if it's sold on the other site.) But Ive only got about three of those RM images on Alamy.

I guess having photo on your own site available as royalty free would solve all those potential issues. Though it would be really nice to have a large collection / library of RM images on your own site......maybe one day if your absolutely sick of microstock and decide to quit all the agencies. Then again, once an image sells as RF, I doubt it could be used as RM.

Another option would be print on demand sites. Ive never used one myself. I believe the websites themselves organise the printing of your images you upload on various products like postcards, t-shirts, coffee mugs etc. when clients place an order. I guess the website would take their cut and Ive no idea what kind of commission the artist would receive and how it compares to micro stock. And Ive no idea how regular or irregular sales would be. I guess the more images you upload, the more chances you would get of having some sales there. 

 

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Recently I have noticed that almost all my downloads on SS are from subscribers, far less ODs than when I started 18 months ago. That tells me that most image searches are on SS or similar sites rather than say google where I guess people expect free downloads, so the marketing is going to be the hard part. If you have a specialized portfolio like say food then it would be possible to target clients but far more difficult with a general mix portfolio. However with the food option say you could offer a bespoke service alongside your standard images.

it is an attractive idea but the admin side puts me off, taking the photos would be the easy part! However for anyone prepared to have a go I would say what have you to lose? Selling photos that take time to expose, process and upload for 10 cents is a loss-maker from the start - if your time is worth 50 dollars an hour then you would need to sell at least 250 just to break even.

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28 minutes ago, Patrick Cooper said:

Another option would be print on demand sites. Ive never used one myself. I believe the websites themselves organise the printing of your images you upload on various products like postcards, t-shirts, coffee mugs etc. when clients place an order. I guess the website would take their cut and Ive no idea what kind of commission the artist would receive and how it compares to micro stock. And Ive no idea how regular or irregular sales would be. I guess the more images you upload, the more chances you would get of having some sales there. 

 

I sell my work on POD and from my own experience and from what I read/heard from others is that photography is doing close to nothing. I started out adding my stockphotos to stickers, postcards, posters, tshirts etc many years ago and sold nothing for about a year. I then removed everything and started over with designs I created from things I purchased with EL licenses. NOT photographs but for instant watercolor clipart. This does sell and just to see what shows up I meanwhile did some searches. Except from puzzles (which weren't big sellers before, but with many people stuck at home they became good sellers for many, we received an email about this and the other things being in demand like face masks), the first pages of results don't show anything with photographs. Not to say you cannot sell photographs there, but as I'm a platinum seller (for both of my stores) I receive "inside info" (like a heads up on what to create) from the company on what sells, what is in demand, etc. so this is just what I know and have seen over the years.
 

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Speaking honestly, it's not easy to reach customers individually. I have tried to do that, both by offering digital photos downloads and print-on-demand & dropshipping products (through Etsy platform and Printful service). The later option I didn't indulge much of a work because there didn't seem even a smallest perspective. I know there are some people who succeed with these business models, and one can always hope to be between them... but the harsh reality is that, at best, maybe 1 out of 100 is succesful in this way. 

So I think the best option is to do something collectively, organizing many of us together - either by building a new, honest stock photo site or even easier - trying to join, supply with content and popularize the existing honest ones. 

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9 minutes ago, Sari ONeal said:

This was already brought up by your fellow Canadian, named Kelly :D

 

 

Ha, seriously?! 😳😆

Well it is a thought.  A bit complicated, but getting to level 6 would be a breeze.  Split the royalties by participant sales, monthly.  Honesty would be crucial.

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11 minutes ago, KellyNelson said:

Ha, seriously?! 😳😆

Well it is a thought.  A bit complicated, but getting to level 6 would be a breeze.  Split the royalties by participant sales, monthly.  Honesty would be crucial.

Yeah :D

And while I'm not named Kelly and I'm not from Canada, either, I had thought the same before I saw Kelly's post about it the other day.

But yeah, implementing it would be the hard part.

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3 hours ago, Sari ONeal said:

Yeah :D

And while I'm not named Kelly and I'm not from Canada, either, I had thought the same before I saw Kelly's post about it the other day.

But yeah, implementing it would be the hard part.

Lol!

Think about it Sari, you’re a very clever gal!  🤓
 

These 11 and 13 cent dl’s are SO painful to see.  I don’t know what to do...hate like hell to pack it in after 11 years, but I think I might have to. 

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