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It's coming up to a year since the introduction of the 'new' payment structure.

If you get as many 10 cents in a row as I am at the moment its 350 downloads until each payout.

Sadly, ODs are fewer and farther between and I don't think, from what I have read, that this is just for me. Economically driven I assume (besides Sstock concentrating now on the subscription model).

However ... I have read on the forums of contributors who are doing at least as well as they were before.

These people tend to be ones who have been contributors for quite a few years, with large, well established, professional ports.

Contributors have left, contributors have stayed but not uploading, and some still upload.

New contributors seem to arrive every day.

Any thoughts now after a year of experience of the impact but also, perhaps, more understanding of why Sstock took the steps they did?

 

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I predicted i'd be down 30% or so but am actually down roughly 40% earnings but "selling" more than ever in terms of volume.

What I didn't factor in was SS pushing people towards cheaper video subscriptions on top of the new payment structure.

Given in Pavlovsky's latest corporate vomit statement he seems to want everyone on subscription i suspect its a situation that's going to get worse as time goes on and packages need to be renewed.

 

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I believe that there is still money to be made from the sale of photos, Deb, but videos have taken a real nose dive, and that was due to the introduction of video subscriptions - just before the new rate schedule last year. Maybe we were just used to getting really great prices for them in the past???

But the value of videos seems to have been eroded substantially over the past few years. Especially sales from internet buyers, which agencies (P5 included - as per their survey that they sent out to contributors a couple of years ago stated) decided that internet buyers have a lower price point than previously and clips should be priced accordingly. There are ways to get around this of course - such as shooting high quality establishing shots that are often purchased by movies, TV, documentaries, etc - and are outside the subscription license. Doug J is a perfect example of this.

With regard to photos sales, on the bright side, I have also received a lot more very high SODs this year - ranging from $80 to $140 commissions - than previous years. In fact this month, SODs have made up 1/3 of my photo income. 

I think in order to still make money from photos, one needs to get back to the basics of stock photography prior to what has been happening in the past 3 or 4 years, before it was easy for new contributors to just shoot and upload.  There is still room, I believe, to develop your portfolios, refine the quality of your work, plan and research what gaps there are on the database that you can fill. Because they are still lots. 

But the first thing is to know your buyers. For example, if you shoot a lot of editorials, then who are are buyers? The majority will be newspapers and magazines, who tend to buy photos in bulk, the large 350 & 750 packs, and therefore you get  mostly 10c/DL. (I'm not saying you in particular, Deb - i havent looked at your port - but I did notice on the May thread a lot of people who had mainly 10s subs, had a very large percentage of editorials in their ports. 

I am not on Wirestock but I read an interesting blog on their site, which might help - the 9 different types of photography to pursue. All one has to do is match the buyers to what type of subs packs they will buy. 

Wirestock

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In May last year I estimate about 900 photos. Now about 1700. Sales number of photos is now somewhat higher. Earnings do not increase due to the many subs.
If I had not uploaded more, I would have earned a lot less.
It is a cheap hobby, which I even earn a little money from. No more than that.
Specialists with commercial photos who sell a lot will still earn well.
But I can't imagine that a good illustrator who puts a lot of time into his / her work would still offer them on Shutterstock.

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8 hours ago, Former_Poster said:

What I didn't factor in was SS pushing people towards cheaper video subscriptions on top of the new payment structure.

Not only that, but they are now selling subscription models that combine access to both images and video clips. Good news for buyers, but probably not so good news for contributors.

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9 hours ago, Studio 2 said:

Any thoughts now after a year of experience of the impact but also, perhaps, more understanding of why Sstock took the steps they did?

I think the biggest impact the whole thing had for me personally was to considerably dampen my enthusiasm for shooting stock. Which is a shame, because I had nothing but time on my hands here for many, many months, and could have really added to my port.

Looking back, my earnings have not cratered after the introduction of the new payment structure. Earnings in general are actually slightly better this year than last, but of course my port also grew, so it's tough to measure. I get a good number of ODDs, and many of them are larger than they used to be, which seems to absorb the loss in the sub category. I'm too lazy to run the actual numbers. I know that I continue to lose on the video sales, partially because of the subscription plans, and partially because I can't get back into the 30% compensation tier.

In general, I've given up on the idea of creating some meaningful income stream with this. It seemed possible at some point, but no longer - and that already became clear before the new payment model. If I lived in India, my monthly earnings might pay for housing. Around here, it merely covers the wireless phone bill for my family. I would not be surprised to see contributors from First World countries slowly get replaced by new ones from places where stock earnings still make a true difference in household finances.

For me, it's mostly a bit of fun to check my dashboard and see what has sold, and whether a recent hunch to shoot something paid off.

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The "why" from SS is quite simply.

 

The level change and reset is a way to hugely increase profit, especially in the beginning of the year without having to increase sales or do anything at all.

The movement to a percentage based payment is likely the most dangerous long term - it gives them the flexibility to discount, change and offer and of the product for whatever price it wants without having to pay out any more than a simple percentage of that. 

The video is an example in question, 30$ of a $10 video sale means id get $3.  If they want to give that away for $1 i get $0.3.  

Means they can change pricing on a whim and not have to pay out any more than that ratio.

 

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My earnings are approximately down with more than one third a month. And the motivation is almost non existing. Adobe is going up and there are also earnings from Dreamstime (DT is very very slow these days ..!.) and iStock, so all in all it’s still worth uploading now and then but certainly not with entusiasm as before. But it give a nice income every month (also from SS). But not at all as before.

I think that contributors who are still making ‘serious’ money here are top professionals and especially people who are so skilful and sharp so they even have developed their own style and a good workflow. But it’s time consuming, so the earnings per hour must also here, for some, look more a hobby than a living (in the western world). I also think that good drone photos still sell well, but again - is it worth it in terms of time and cost? 

It seems like all the ‘happy-go-lucky’ contributors - like myself - are hit hard, not to speak about newcomers with average or even ‘bad’ images - they must really have a tough time here.

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It's been bad. There's no sugarcoating it.

By this time last May, I had made 3 times more money with half the no. of downloads and half the port I have now. So sales have increased dramatically and money has dwindled. That's probably owing to the fact that most of my sales come from India where I get a bulk of my 10 cent sales from and where my images seem to be more in demand than elsewhere. All my ODDs and SODs are from Europe, US and Australia and understandably, those are few and far between. There's nothing I can do about that.

I, of course, don't have the experience or perspective of people who have been selling images for many more years than I have and who have given very valuable suggestions here. But it's also advice I find very difficult to follow up on because at this point, with such a dramatic decrease in revenue, there's zero motivation to put any more money, time and effort into generating great stock imagery.

I still continue to upload of course, but only images that I have already taken, of which I have thousands and I would rather they make 10 cents than nothing. It takes me 15 minutes to upload a few images every day and devoting any more time to it seems like a serious waste of time currently.

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Some of my thoughts and findings a year on:

  • I've run some numbers (for Shutterstock) and found my average monthly earnings from both images and video are down 18% in 2021 (Year-to-date) compared to 2020:
    • Images are down 42% (confirming my intuitions) noting many more 10 cent subs and declining sales of ODDs and SODs contributing to this.
    • Videos are down 10%.
  • Fridays and Mondays have become like weekend days as far as sales are concerned:
    • This wasn't the case 12 months ago - even with a much smaller port there were much more frequent sales on Mondays and Fridays.
  • To me, the high(er) standards on approving content (as the rate of recent rejections indicate) is at odds with the base rate royalties paid to contributors for their content:
    •   Personally I think any professional producing high-quality content is worth much more than the commissions paid - with exception of the occasional high-paying SOD or EL or similar.
  • I agree with the assessment of Milo J in that the idea of creating some meaningful income stream did feel like a possibility for me in 2020 but since 2021 I feel this is no longer the case:
    • While I'm still uploading occasionally, my motivation and rationale has waned accordingly (at least for the time being) and I no longer consider spending money on equipment or anything else for the purpose of microstock. 
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Hi Debbie,

I found your question interesting. I have checked my numbers once.
In doing so, I compared how my numbers performed in the period from April 2020 to April 2021 versus the period from April 2019 to April 2020.

shutterstock
downloads: minus 228
revenues: plus $314
RPD actually improved, which I didn't expect at all. The size of my portfolio has remained unchanged btw.

Competitor 1
downloads: plus 639
revenues: plus $958

Competitor 2
downloads: minus 155
revenues: minus $112

Total all agencies
downloads: plus 490
revenues: plus $458

Overall, it can be seen that there is actually little change for me. The downloads have remained relatively constant. The revenues as well. A small pleasing plus. But the variances are statistical noise. At least I did not decrease compared with the same period last year, which is encouraging – also in view of the pandemic.
But if I compare to 2015 or 2016, I'm down about $7,500 per year.

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I have to sell more on Alamy because of the New contributor commission structure, otherwise I see it going there just like my sales at Shutterstock.  😵☹️

Hopefully it will stay the same at Adobe. The race to the bottom continues.

( I am not a fan of the Alamy forum. I see that again here. A question about the new payout was voiced and the topic closed immediately. While we can grumble here to our heart's content, although it doesn't help,. )

 

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2 hours ago, Thijs de Graaf said:

 

( I am not a fan of the Alamy forum. I see that again here. A question about the new payout was voiced and the topic closed immediately. While we can grumble here to our heart's content, although it doesn't help,. )

 

Far better off using the Alamy forum on microstockgroup.

(But yes, for many users midstock just turned to macrostock.  A lot of people are going to go from 40% to 20% on a rolling basis)

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On 5/16/2021 at 7:46 AM, Studio 2 said:

It's coming up to a year since the introduction of the 'new' payment structure.

If you get as many 10 cents in a row as I am at the moment its 350 downloads until each payout.

Sadly, ODs are fewer and farther between and I don't think, from what I have read, that this is just for me. Economically driven I assume (besides Sstock concentrating now on the subscription model).

However ... I have read on the forums of contributors who are doing at least as well as they were before.

These people tend to be ones who have been contributors for quite a few years, with large, well established, professional ports.

Contributors have left, contributors have stayed but not uploading, and some still upload.

New contributors seem to arrive every day.

Any thoughts now after a year of experience of the impact but also, perhaps, more understanding of why Sstock took the steps they did?

 

I think I’ve been selling a bit more (though I’ve uploaded a few more photos, but less than I would have, had the payments not dropped). I think I’d have had more payouts now if the lowest level was $ 0.25 rather than $0.10. I haven’t done the numbers to see if my feeling about downloads is correct.

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On 5/17/2021 at 7:04 PM, Wilm Ihlenfeld said:

shutterstock
downloads: minus 228
revenues: plus $314
RPD actually improved, which I didn't expect at all. The size of my portfolio has remained unchanged btw.

 

That's great to see the rise in income Wilm. Well done!

I discovered something yesterday - a bit too long to write out at the moment - that might explain the rise in large SODs for people. That in itself, has given me more hope as my income $$ have increased too, not necessarily DLs. 

That in itself, having more large SODs, may be encouraging to a lot of people, so hopefully I will have more time later to explain how its available to those who are willing to explore more with their shoots. 

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Inspired by so many others doing their homework, I have cobbled together my earnings chart since beginning this journey at SS. Yes, the x-axis is all over the place. This was made from screenshots from the dashboard stats, and somewhere along the lines they changed the look.

Anyway. The triangle at the beginning is obviously an estimate, but that's pretty much what it looked like at first - a steady increase as I built my port. (The spike in October 2018 I believe was a glitch. Supposedly someone bought the same clip 6 times on the very same day.) After Feb 19 things pretty much leveled out, despite a huge push in 2019 to add more assets.

Things were going well in 2020 until Covid hit. The large bar of May 2020 is me shooting a bunch of Covid-related editorials in April. The June reset put quite a bit of a damper on that one. (that combined with everyone else now shooting Covid related stuff.) Sept 2020 was just dumb luck. In general, flat earnings continue, with maybe a slight upwards tendency. I'm not sure how much the new payment structure is costing me. In June 2020 it was around -40%, but the next month was only -25%. After that I didn't run the numbers.

1123511046_SSearningsgraph.thumb.png.2821429b6cab1e5f7de3ba1fc82742dc.png

(about 10 assets)                                                                                                                 (2430 pics, 574 videos)                                                                 (3000 pics, 700 videos)

 

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9 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

That's great to see the rise in income Wilm. Well done!

I discovered something yesterday - a bit too long to write out at the moment - that might explain the rise in large SODs for people. That in itself, has given me more hope as my income $$ have increased too, not necessarily DLs. 

That in itself, having more large SODs, may be encouraging to a lot of people, so hopefully I will have more time later to explain how its available to those who are willing to explore more with their shoots. 

Yes, Annie, I would be very interested in your observation! Please let us know if you find the time to comment.

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9 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

That's great to see the rise in income Wilm. Well done!

I discovered something yesterday - a bit too long to write out at the moment - that might explain the rise in large SODs for people. That in itself, has given me more hope as my income $$ have increased too, not necessarily DLs. 

That in itself, having more large SODs, may be encouraging to a lot of people, so hopefully I will have more time later to explain how its available to those who are willing to explore more with their shoots. 

 

34 minutes ago, Wilm Ihlenfeld said:

Yes, Annie, I would be very interested in your observation! Please let us know if you find the time to comment.

Yes I would be very interested too. :)

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Thanks Steven & Wilm. Well I hope this is not a let-down. I did kind of build it up a bit, I guess. And you may already know this.

 

But I'm pretty sure that they are from SS Premier. 

Shutterstock Premier | Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock

 

Now, you may or may not know the story behind Premier. i.e. that SS had split their business into two divisions. Premier is the money-maker where profit margins are high, SS's Standard database is where they discount everything to death. Previously, it was difficult to get sales via Premier, and one way I was told a while back was to turn on 'allowed for sensitive use' in your account settings. But I noticed yesterday that that option is no longer there. Sensitive use, being for tobacco, certain health issues, etc. Now is just says, "Customers are never permitted to use your content in a way that is defamatory, deceptive, pornographic, libelous, obscene, or illegal."

Now that is gone, I thought: is everyone now eligible for Premier purchases? My guess is perhaps yes. And why there seems to be more large SODs around for many people. For example, when I received $140 recently - on my L5 35% - that means the buyer paid $400 for it. That has to be from Premier. A few days ago, I received an $80 one. And I've been getting them since Jan this year. The photos purchased have all been around 7,000 pixels on the longest side. 

I could be wrong. But if not, then that is hopeful that everyone can get a chance to sell on Premier. Just don't downsize your photos unless you have to. And try to get some really good quality work up. 

I also take back what I said about editorials. If you look at the areas that they are offering these high paying customers, they do include editorial, they describe as: "world-class live and archival editorial photography".

Stock Photos for Business Use - Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock Enterprise

 

On the downside, however, they could be introducing these new asset and image ratings that they have been experimenting with lately, although they appear to still have some teething problems, as a means to provide some sort of AI aided tech to their searches that they promise to Premier buyers: "Industry-leading search technology".  

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8 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

Thanks Steven & Wilm. Well I hope this is not a let-down. I did kind of build it up a bit, I guess. And you may already know this.

 

But I'm pretty sure that they are from SS Premier. 

Shutterstock Premier | Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock

 

Now, you may or may not know the story behind Premier. i.e. that SS had split their business into two divisions. Premier is the money-maker where profit margins are high, SS's Standard database is where they discount everything to death. Previously, it was difficult to get sales via Premier, and one way I was told a while back was to turn on 'allowed for sensitive use' in your account settings. But I noticed yesterday that that option is no longer there. Sensitive use, being for tobacco, certain health issues, etc. Now is just says, "Customers are never permitted to use your content in a way that is defamatory, deceptive, pornographic, libelous, obscene, or illegal."

Now that is gone, I thought: is everyone now eligible for Premier purchases? My guess is perhaps yes. And why there seems to be more large SODs around for many people. For example, when I received $140 recently - on my L5 35% - that means the buyer paid $400 for it. That has to be from Premier. A few days ago, I received an $80 one. And I've been getting them since Jan this year. The photos purchased have all been around 7,000 pixels on the longest side. 

I could be wrong. But if not, then that is hopeful that everyone can get a chance to sell on Premier. Just don't downsize your photos unless you have to. And try to get some really good quality work up. 

I also take back what I said about editorials. If you look at the areas that they are offering these high paying customers, they do include editorial, they describe as: "world-class live and archival editorial photography".

Stock Photos for Business Use - Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock Enterprise

 

On the downside, however, they could be introducing these new asset and image ratings that they have been experimenting with lately, although they appear to still have some teething problems, as a means to provide some sort of AI aided tech to their searches that they promise to Premier buyers: "Industry-leading search technology".  

So how do images get to be available for premiere?

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19 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

Thanks Steven & Wilm. Well I hope this is not a let-down. I did kind of build it up a bit, I guess. And you may already know this.

 

But I'm pretty sure that they are from SS Premier. 

Shutterstock Premier | Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock

 

Now, you may or may not know the story behind Premier. i.e. that SS had split their business into two divisions. Premier is the money-maker where profit margins are high, SS's Standard database is where they discount everything to death. Previously, it was difficult to get sales via Premier, and one way I was told a while back was to turn on 'allowed for sensitive use' in your account settings. But I noticed yesterday that that option is no longer there. Sensitive use, being for tobacco, certain health issues, etc. Now is just says, "Customers are never permitted to use your content in a way that is defamatory, deceptive, pornographic, libelous, obscene, or illegal."

Now that is gone, I thought: is everyone now eligible for Premier purchases? My guess is perhaps yes. And why there seems to be more large SODs around for many people. For example, when I received $140 recently - on my L5 35% - that means the buyer paid $400 for it. That has to be from Premier. A few days ago, I received an $80 one. And I've been getting them since Jan this year. The photos purchased have all been around 7,000 pixels on the longest side. 

I could be wrong. But if not, then that is hopeful that everyone can get a chance to sell on Premier. Just don't downsize your photos unless you have to. And try to get some really good quality work up. 

I also take back what I said about editorials. If you look at the areas that they are offering these high paying customers, they do include editorial, they describe as: "world-class live and archival editorial photography".

Stock Photos for Business Use - Enterprise Content Platform | Shutterstock Enterprise

 

On the downside, however, they could be introducing these new asset and image ratings that they have been experimenting with lately, although they appear to still have some teething problems, as a means to provide some sort of AI aided tech to their searches that they promise to Premier buyers: "Industry-leading search technology".  

That's an interesting thesis, Annie.

Do you know if there is a minimum size requirement for Premier?

My recent large SODs have all been smaller - in some cases significantly smaller than the size you mentioned. And two were vectors, where of course size doesn't matter.

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22 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

A few days ago, I received an $80 one. And I've been getting them since Jan this year. The photos purchased have all been around 7,000 pixels on the longest side. 

 

I could be wrong. But if not, then that is hopeful that everyone can get a chance to sell on Premier. Just don't downsize your photos unless you have to. And try to get some really good quality work up.

I had some SODs ranging from $42 - $96 this year. They were all 3000 pixel on the longest side. The $96 was a photo of an industrial dumpster and not what I would consider quality work.

I am sure you have bigger sale numbers to make a better observation than me, but from my sales all I can tell is that image size does not seem to matter and in many cases not even quality. It seems to be a game of luck. I have so many pictures where I took so much effort with, where I invested lots of thought, time and even money and where I thought they had great commercial value, but they don't sell well or even at all. Instead the greatest part of my big SODs or Enhanced license sales are random crap I almost didn't upload because I did not consider it good enough. 😔
It's quite frustrating actually, because I often wonder whether it's even worth putting effort into pictures.  It has become a running gag between me and my husband that I have to take pictures of them whenever I see industrial dumpsters. 😒

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1 hour ago, Milleflore Images said:

No Wilm, these are just my observations, which I thought may be worthwhile for discussion.

Banana Productions, I dont know anymore than what I've written above. 

Apologies for the meander, Deb.

 

 

Absolutely worth the discussion. It's observations like you offered that have the potential to reveal insights that can really help us all as contributors.   

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