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Jane Rix

Looking at my stats, this is fast approaching breaking point.

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A year ago today saw my best income day to date on Shutterstock, which was certainly helped by an unusually high number of higher value sales. This August, I am close to despair.

 

I collate and monitor my stats from site to site and I've been looking at my Shutterstock figures very closely of late, because the bottom has fallen out of my sales and, reading around the forums, I can see I'm not alone. July 2016 saw my lowest return since January 2012.

 

I see lots of search changes happening, and lots of features altering, such as losing the option to follow contributors, and even to search by contributor name. I now feel totally anonymous and, having striven hard to build up a good body of work, getting a sale feels to be as much a matter of luck than talent.

 

I see very few sales from new uploads, and guess that anything approved gets a nano second of exposure before being buried under several hundred simple icons, or two hundred photos of the same subject taken from a slightly different angle. 

 

This post is not about venting, or about a desire to share with fellow contributors who may or may not share my experiences. I don't need anyone to tell me to work harder, up my game, get over myself, or any other of the usual platitudes that get bandied about on these forums. Frankly, all I am interested in is addressing Shutterstock, in the hope that someone, somewhere may be taking note of what is happening. 

 

I know that I am not alone when I say that this is fast reaching a stage where it is no longer viable to make any significant effort, as the time spent over return received simply no longer balances the books. Obviously, I'm hoping that this is a temporary blip, and that things will change for the better very soon. 

 

I appreciate that you don't like contributors to share their income information, so I am simply attaching a graph showing my Shutterstock sales trend over the past 8 years without divulging any specific information. The blue bars represents income and the red line shows the number of downloads -  the recent slump is self evident.

 

 

Note: edited to amend typo - January 2011 corrected to January 2012. 

post-1358647-0-12349800-1470267418_thumb.jpg

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+100
You're indeed not alone, Jane. July was my worst month since 2009. I used to consider Shutterstock my "home base" within the entire industry (in a professional but also a quite personal way, although this may sound "unprofessional" to some extent), but now feel forced to focus on other venues instead. 

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I haven't been active as you guys, but I'm at a point of decelerating downloads, and like akaiser, I'm looking at other venues in addition to other stock sites.  Hoping for a first print sale on a large auction site soon!

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Jane this is what we have been saying since SS went public about 3 years ago and everything changed. We have mentioned it time and time again but all we get is that they are continually changing the algorithms for what they say is in our best interests. All I have seen is that things have gone downhill very fast and I don't see really any great hope of things turning around. It seems like they continually make changes they say will help us but I have not seen that as of yet. First they up the number of units needed for an EL to 500,000 which helps the buyers get images for less money considering the huge runs needed to qualify for an EL. Then they put in a new price structure that is supposed to help us again which lowers our take for an EL. They said the lower price would encourage EL sales so we would get more in the long run but I have not seen it. I am seeing fewer ELs and less money.

 

I have said it before and to me all that is thought about is the bottom line and we don't really count anymore. The really sad part is that SS used to be my biggest earner by a long margin. Now it has slipped out of that position.

 

I think people are getting fed up with the lack of sales and all of the bugs and glitches that are a constant now and seemingly do not get fixed for a long, long time.

 

It is truly sad and I have to wonder if it is worth it anymore. I used to really like coming to the forums and helping but to me honest it is no longer really enjoyable and I wonder why I even stick around. Sad indeed because I used to think SS was a shining star in this business, but no longer. I really hope that someone wakes up and returns it to what it once was and even better.

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Hello Jane,

I threw in the towel about 2 years ago and deleted my portfolio. For the 2 years before that I had made less and less money every month until I was making nothing. But I have met some really nice people here, by the way as you know you and Mr. Smith above are 2 of them, and that is worth more than all the money I earned from the site. Good luck and I hope your sales increase!

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Anya, we met a couple of times in Berlin, and I greatly respect and admire both your work and your work ethic, and I'm saddened to know that you are also experiencing the same issues. I notice that, like me, you are also losing sleep over this, as I posted around 1am UK time, and you responded after 2am Munich time.

 

Dave and Mike, I consider both of you to be personal friends, and have immensely enjoyed our photographic travels in the past, and look forward to more adventures in the future. As you can see from my graph above, however, my sales experiences don't entirely reflect yours, so perhaps it has taken a little longer to hit me because, like Anya, I've been submitting vectors along the way?

 

Agaliza and D. Pimborough, we have never met, but I can see from the quality of your portfolios that you should be making a decent amount of sales, and it is greatly concerning that you are not. 

 

Between us, we have vector artists, food and landscape photographers, and a general mix of subjects in between. I guess pretty much every subject is now oversaturated on Shutterstock? 

 

I am not a quitter, and never have been, but there comes a time when admitting defeat is the only option. September is historically a good month, so I will weather the storm for a few more months and see if the tide turns but, like Anya, Shutterstock no longer feels like my home base and, indeed, other sites are now being prioritised for submissions, as I am still seeing growth elsewhere. 

 

I guess there will be a point when the pendulum starts to swing back again, and I hope that we can all survive long enough to benefit.

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I guess pretty much every subject is now oversaturated on Shutterstock? 

Nope nowhere near just gotta look and it is there waiting for someone.

 

******** Stock Photos, Illustrations, and Vector Art

(4)

 

A common food that is not covered much at all and the same with many other foods just gotta look for it as has been said over and over and over again and again on the forums.

 

And here is one eaten all over the world by millions on a daily basis.

 

Sorry we couldn't find any matches for ****** ****

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Barry, although I really appreciate your input, I don't think solving your riddles is going to be the catalyst that will miraculously reverse the sudden downward trend in my sales. 

No riddle.

 

All you need to do is look for what is not covered.

 

I am not posting the name of what I searched because I  have always been told from many here to SEARCH so that is what I have done which is what anyone here can do as did I but for some reason those telling me to search refuse to do themselves what they themselves tell everyone here to do yet they all would rather sit around and complain about what they themselves have control of that can change things.

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No riddle.

 

All you need to do is look for what is not covered.

 

I am not posting the name of what I searched because I  have always been told from many here to SEARCH so that is what I have done which is what anyone here can do as did I but for some reason those telling me to search refuse to do themselves what they themselves tell everyone here to do yet they all would rather sit around and complain about what they themselves have control of that can change things.

 

Well, as I said at the outset, 'this post is not about venting, or about a desire to share with fellow contributors who may or may not share my experiences. I don't need anyone to tell me to work harder, up my game, get over myself, or any other of the usual platitudes that get bandied about on these forums'.

 

I am sure there are some areas that are not as well covered as others and, as this is a business rather than a hobby, I treat it as such and make sure to do my research. 

 

​My sole desire in posting here, is that I may find someone at Shutterstock who may be quietly monitoring the growing dissent, and will read what I've written.

 

Shutterstock - as a Company you are reliant on your workforce, and an unhappy workforce is an unproductive workforce. 

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While I do not claim to be the wizard of sales, I can say that- on this site- I sell more than Mike Norton.

That said, the cycles of sales are a mystery, a mystery which is the ever revolving, subject to factors we speculate on, but don't know for sure, and lastly an issue which no volume of yabbering here has ever done one thing to solve the mystery. We know that sales go up, and sales are dormant.

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Mavick, I am not writing here to try and solve any kind of mystery.

 

I am simply using this forum as a platform to get my voice heard, hopefully, by the right people. 

 

I guess 40% sales drops are easier for some to swallow than others, and the level of concern is largely dependant on whether you are earning $100 a month or $1000.

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All I can say is that SS earns three times more than FT and IS put together. SS reviews lately have been very good. I don't make stock photos of what I like I make stock photos of what is in demand. It is not rocket science and because camera phones are getting so good who needs expensive gear to earn 33cts. This is the way it is now a lot more people can submit now and SS would rather pay as little as possible. Years ago a lot more was earned but then it was a small club of guys at the beginning of microstock. The same as 4k video footage now. It won't be long before everyone upgrades there computer hardware and starts submitting 4k footage only to see those royalties go down as submissions grow. I would guess that 10 photos earn all my royalties. So I just keep plugging away.

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As soon as you query stuff here you get responses telling you to quit whining :(

 

As for me I think it's very valid to complain as it tells the powers that be that all is not hunky dory.

 

In July I saw a drop of 50% on previous months and I'm not the only one.

 

I've seen sales go up and down previously and I know it's seasonal business

 

However a revenue drop by half is not seasonal especially when the sales quantities are pretty much the same as previous months.

 

I've avoided the forums for a very long time for a number of reasons, the negativity and whining being one of them. However, It is a platform to give contributors a voice, so I will calmly state my case and back it up with facts. Other posters here don't know my revenue, but Shutterstock can look at my financials and be fully aware of why I am concerned.

 

It may not be rocket science to figure out that you need to supply what's in demand, and apparently I was doing this up to the end of June, (and for the previous 100k+ downloads). I have a 40% income drop for July, and the number of downloads are also noticeably down. I've been here long enough to be able to judge whether this is seasonal or not, and it's certainly not just seasonal. ELs, SODs and even ODs are significantly lower, and my average of 1 OD per 9 downloads is suddenly 1 OD per 25 downloads. 

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I do think all this has something to do with an email we had a while back saying that the coming 6 months there will be a lot of changes to the site. I do get random days where nothing happens and then days when a lot happens and it all seems to be subs at the moment. The biggest problem in my opinion is the lack of moderators on this forum helping out with contributors concerns. For a company that boasts it paid out more than 350 million dollars to contributors it seems rather strange that there is nobody from SS contributing or moderating this forum although I am sure they are reading everything. My concern is with all these site problems how do we know we are getting paid for every sale of our work?

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That is my hope and sole purpose here. 

Good luck Jane, I hope that things get better for you soon.

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The little mystery screen captures that you frequently post really mean nothing.  Without the search terms you could be typing in a misspelled word or jibberish. Assuming they are legitimate though, that doesn't mean that searching for these occasional subjects will give anybody the "control" to change things.  Maybe they might make an extra few dollars on the odd uncovered subject, but your solution is like putting a band aid on a severed artery.  On the grand scheme of things the database is saturated.  The amount of contributors has exploded in recent years, and it is really hard to compete with spam and image factories.

I get 100% what Jane is saying.  For those contributors who have a loyal following of buyers earned by consistent quality content over the years,  to loose that following as well as the buyers ability to find them would be devastating and completely unjust to those who provided the foundation blocks of Shutterstock.   You need to stop minimizing legitimate concerns.

No not misspelled and not gibberish a real food eaten around the world by millions of people on a daily basis.

 

If a buyer is looking for it they have to search through.

***** Stock Photos, Illustrations, and Vector Art

(115,129)

 

To find it and even going one further.

 

**** ***** Stock Photos, Illustrations, and Vector Art

(16,325)

 

Be so much easier for a buyer to find if they had someone who could get some images of it and put it into the area where when they search for it they can find what they are looking for and not have to search through tens or hundreds of thousands to find what they need.

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Jane, you have a beautiful and diverse portfolio. I do not blame you for being discouraged. July was my worst month since January 2007. I won't give you platitudes. I don't really appreciate them either. I basically consider contributing a waste of time now, but it's all I have. None of the other sites have ever performed as well for me as SS. I still upload with skepticism but mainly because I know they won't get downloads just sitting on the hard drive. I've pretty much given up contributing to any of the other sites. Those all died a long time ago. If SS had an exclusive package I could easily go exclusive.

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First they up the number of units needed for an EL to 500,000 which helps the buyers get images for less money considering the huge runs needed to qualify for an EL. Then they put in a new price structure that is supposed to help us again which lowers our take for an EL. They said the lower price would encourage EL sales so we would get more in the long run but I have not seen it. I am seeing fewer ELs and less money.

 

I wondered what happened to the ELs. I rarely get them anymore. 

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Well, this is disheartening. I am new to Shutterstock -- coming here after watching my sales on Getty plummet to nothing. Sounds like this place may be in the same situation. Is supplementing your income with stock image sales simply not a viable option anymore?

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"This August, I am close to despair."

 

This August just starts, doesn't it?

 

"July 2016 saw my lowest return since January 2011."

 

Not sure how to look your chart. From your chart, July 2016 return is greater than January 2011(more than 2 rows)   :rolleyes: 

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I am not a quitter, and never have been, but there comes a time when admitting defeat is the only option.

 

I am a quitter but the same can see the difference. Last July against July this year. Absolutely identical the total earnings. During this time, my port was doubled. I think this is an interesting game of "catch up last year's income" but probably not for me....

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