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Thomas J. Sebourn

The Cold Hard Truth About Low Sales

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Actually i was doubting if to submit it as commercial but for Shutterstock level i believe the woman is not blurry enough.

Should be fine without MR, but clone out the sign on language. 

You can crop it so she's bigger in the frame or as a last resort, get creative and supersize the woman using photoshop transform tool to bring her closer.

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4 hours ago, DeymosHR said:

out of 150 million images in SS collection, I'm pretty sure that at least 60 million never sold.

You're being very generous compared to my rate of efficiency.  Only 38% of my images ever sold. I wonder how I'm doing relative to others; been here for 17 months.

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21 hours ago, Phil Lowe said:

I don't mind helping, but looking at some of the ports posted here recently, it's hard not to notice an almost complete lack of any photographic skill at all. Most such work would've been stopped at the gate not all that long ago. It's almost as if SS is accepting some of these contributors and expecting old timers to teach them the basics of lighting, focus, exposure, and composition! All it would take is for someone at SS in upper management to read some of these new "why are my sales bad" threads to realize that a "one and done" acceptance standard isn't working, either for some of these new contributors or the SS brand. 

Sorry Phil but it doesn't matter if it's one to get in, 7 of 10 or 30. The problem is on the review side. I mean just because someone passed a terribly flawed test, 7 of 10, shouldn't mean they have the right to upload junk photos, any more than if someone had one to pass.

Remember the whole getting accepted game that the advise was, don't upload the same photos, even if they passed? How does that make any sense at all? The entrance reviews were flawed and inconsistent.

I can't see blaming new people as the problem, because if they don't upload work that sells, that's not my competition. What will take away sales, is better work, not low quality submissions. Having some of these photo factories or sub-agencies that pay people for rights and they are also reviewing before upload.

Vector Artist, 541900 portfolio, 2300 new this week. Photographer, port 1178700, new this week 6200! 24 million images in the category "nature". That's more than some of the other places have total. :o

Nope i don't blame new people, the fact that they are allowed to upload, or their quality, let them have at it, they aren't going to make money with substandard images. Only way for me to make more, is take care of my own business, come up with new ideas or better conceptual shots. That's what the competition is doing, with new uploads and high volume production.

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1 hour ago, HodagMedia said:

Sorry Phil but it doesn't matter if it's one to get in, 7 of 10 or 30. The problem is on the review side. I mean just because someone passed a terribly flawed test, 7 of 10, shouldn't mean they have the right to upload junk photos, any more than if someone had one to pass.

I agree. The problem is on the review side. I believe - based on the imagery I've seen lately - that the standards for approval have been lowered. And I'm certainly not asking to upload junk just because I got through on a tougher standard. I don't think that's what anyone wants.

1 hour ago, HodagMedia said:

I can't see blaming new people as the problem, because if they don't upload work that sells, that's not my competition. What will take away sales, is better work, not low quality submissions.

High-volume, low-quality submissions do affect sales in two ways. First, small-volume, high quality producers get their new work brushed off the "new" page before it's even had a chance to be seen. In other words, good work gets buried under mountains of similars and substandard photos that virtually no one would ever  consider buying. Second, it harms the SS brand. How long do you think buyers are going to keep coming to a site where they have to wade through a lot of low-quality images to find a good representation of what they need? Buyers looking elsewhere for their media hurts all of us, not just the people getting poorly exposed, poorly composed, and poorly lit images through the review process.  If we have a responsibility to submit high quality images, SS has a responsibility to refuse low-quality images, not accept anything thrown their way. 

IMHO.

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On 10/7/2017 at 6:57 PM, Leonard Whistler said:
  • I wonder which individual contributor  has the most sales?
  • I don't think Shutterstock lists the top selling contributors.

Yuri Accurs?

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On 10/8/2017 at 6:05 PM, bscmediallc said:

Thomas, do a lot of your nature images sell? Should I be posting more landscape or vertical photos of nature? I recently submitted pics here in the Pacific Northwest and wanted to experiment with them to see how they do. So far no luck. 

My best seller is a pier image. I think that you need to be able to identify a specific location to have success with "nature" images. I have an image of Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park that has now paid for that entire camping trip. It probably would not sell if I didn't ID the specific landmark in the specific park. If I called it "Rock in Desert" buyers probably wouldn't find it. 

If you take a picture of a waterfall, its probably best to tag it with the name of the waterfall, the region, a nearby city, the general location (Pacific Northwest.) There are too many great nature images to compete with. 

I hope that helps. 

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On 10/8/2017 at 7:13 PM, Phil Lowe said:

I'm not Thomas but I am in the PNW, too. My best-selling nature images come from Michigan, where I lived for many, many years before moving here (wish I were back there!):

stock-photo-male-northern-cardinal-in-fl        stock-photo-fawn-in-tall-grass-155173532

Beyond the fawn here, I don't think I've sold many verticals. My eagles sell well, but landscapes...er...not so much. 

These sell because they definitely DO NOT suck!

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51 minutes ago, Phil Lowe said:

Second, it harms the SS brand. How long do you think buyers are going to keep coming to a site where they have to wade through a lot of low-quality images to find a good representation of what they need?

Exactly. I actually recall a contributor here who said he knows some buyers personally. According to this guy, these buyers used to shop on SS but have since moved on to other stock sites because they were tired of searching through low quality content for what they need. 

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6 minutes ago, Patrick Cooper said:

Exactly. I actually recall a contributor here who said he knows some buyers personally. According to this guy, these buyers used to shop on SS but have since moved on to other stock sites because they were tired of searching through low quality content for what they need. 

And with every buyer that moves on, SS needs to find two new buyers to replace him/her to keep growing the business. That's very hard to do with the level of competition out there these days. It would certainly help if SS could reasonably market its library as both the biggest and best in the world. In order to do that, though, you actually have to be accepting only the best images you can get. To get the best images, you have to have high standards and make sure your reviewers are adhering to them. if that means only accepting a third of the images currently being pumped into the system, so be it.

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40 minutes ago, Thomas J. Sebourn said:

These sell because they definitely DO NOT suck!

Thanks, Thomas! I may be having some new chart-toppers soon, but they are not nature images. Seems it does really pay to shoot newsworthy subjects! ;) Anyone viewing my port will probably see what I'm talking about right away, but I'm not going to post those here, as I don't want to invite competition! :D

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On October 10, 2017 at 8:48 AM, Sheila Fitzgerald said:

It doesn't matter when you join IMO, the new kid on the block is ALWAYS going to be looked down on by a lot of the people who have been here since the dawn of time. It's not a new phenomenon. I joined when the requirements were 7 out of 10 as well. I'm an abberetion though. I submitted my first ten to prove to my husband I wasn't good enough to sell photos, but I passed, so what do I know anyway. My skills have definitely improved 10 fold (if not more) since starting here too (my first images really were not all that good IMO, but some of them just started selling this week). But anyway, it's not unusual for people to not want to help new people. Why should they get all the answers without any of the work. Not saying it's right or wrong. Just human nature.

Yes its understandable and despite having to hear all the complaints about people like me I actually got lots of help from this forum. People don't like the newbies but want to help them. Paradoxical but true. A.

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9 hours ago, Roman Tiraspolsky said:

You're being very generous compared to my rate of efficiency.

I know... I wanted to write 75 million, based on my statistics... I was cautious. :) But I wouldn't be surprised if the number is even higher. New stuff hardly sells and they accept 1.5 million a week. I'm pretty sure more than a million of those doesn't sell in the first few weeks...

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43 minutes ago, AlessandraRC said:

People don't like the newbies...

I don't think that's true at all. We were all newbies once. What I don't like is how SS has lowered the acceptance and approval standards. I have lots of images in my port that have never sold, like the one attached below, but that isn't because it's a bad photo: it's just a photo that has never been discovered or needed by any buyer. It was one of my original eight that got me in the door here, and it's still one of my best and favorites. Will it ever sell? I don't know, but if it doesn't it surely won't be because it's a poorly lit, poorly exposed, or poorly composed image. IMHO.

stock-photo-beautiful-male-red-bellied-w

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31 minutes ago, Phil Lowe said:

I have lots of images in my port that have never sold, like the one attached below, but that isn't because it's a bad photo: it's just a photo that has never been discovered or needed by any buyer. It was one of my original eight that got me in the door here, and it's still one of my best and favorites.

Another great wildlife image, Phil. And by the way, I can relate. I have a photo which won Second Prize in an exhibition (and sold during the same exhibition) and also won a competition organised by a photography magazine. Ive also managed to sell a fair number of copies of the image as home-made greeting cards at a market stall. But it has never sold on any of the micro stock sites that I submitted it to, including SS. Not even once. Perhaps there just isn't enough demand for it here or a bunch of other reasons.

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One of the cold hard facts is the insane amount of duplicates they are allowing now. I mostly shoot landscapes and used to do fairly well with my landscapes, but not anymore. This month has been particularly slow. So, out of curiosity just now I searched "yellowstone grand prismatic" and check "most popular." Check it out and click through about ten pages. Something of an eye opener. Then there's the keywords. Many photos have nothing to do with "grand prismatic." I don't spam the site with duplicates and in ten pages I didn't see one of my photos. Page 23, how did Staten Island get in there??? Page 24 I finally found one of mine then again on page 30 another one finally shows up. I have no hopes.

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11 minutes ago, Sharon Day said:

 Then there's the keywords. Many photos have nothing to do with "grand prismatic." I don't spam the site with duplicates and in ten pages I didn't see one of my photos. Page 23, how did Staten Island get in there??? Page 24 I finally found one of mine then again on page 30 another one finally shows up. I have no hopes.

Have to agree with that.  I recently did a search of "bali culture" to test if my keywords were working as I thought they should - half of the first page I brought up was of Myanmar!  I went into the photos and sure enough, the keyword Bali was listed. 

 

Of course another of the cold hard facts is that sometimes those photos that suck DO sell - I'm sure we've all seen it. 

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15 minutes ago, Sharon Day said:

One of the cold hard facts is the insane amount of duplicates they are allowing now. I mostly shoot landscapes and used to do fairly well with my landscapes, but not anymore. This month has been particularly slow. So, out of curiosity just now I searched "yellowstone grand prismatic" and check "most popular." Check it out and click through about ten pages. Something of an eye opener. Then there's the keywords. Many photos have nothing to do with "grand prismatic." I don't spam the site with duplicates and in ten pages I didn't see one of my photos. Page 23, how did Staten Island get in there??? Page 24 I finally found one of mine then again on page 30 another one finally shows up. I have no hopes.

I agree, this is what I was referring to in my previous post.  Page 1 is not bad, but when you get to page 2 and 3, there are many images that are almost duplicate that take up most of the page/pages.  There are plenty of images on SS that "suck", but what really sucks is that unless your are already on the first few pages, you get buried under all of this crap (excuse my French).  If you haven't noticed, new submissions are inserted somewhere between the the more popular images and the less popular images.  This makes sense, in that it gives new images a fighting chance  (you can tell which ones are new by the image number).  But the spammers are taking advantage of this by inserting pages and pages of similar images.  They believe in quantity over quality.  They push your images so far down the list that it effectively pushes you out of the running.  

Hopefully, the management at SS will recognize this and remedy the problem.  So far, they have been turning a blind eye.  My only suggestion, if you have images that your know are superior but have been buried, is to tweak them, ever so slightly, and re-submit them.  They will then take a position on the search list higher than the spammers.  If it gets spotted by a buyer, before the nest pile of spam, then you can again rise in the search order and sell again.  You have to decide whether or not it is worth the effort.  

Just my thoughts, good luck.  

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6 hours ago, Phil Lowe said:

I have lots of images in my port that have never sold, like the one attached below, but that isn't because it's a bad photo: it's just a photo that has never been discovered or needed by any buyer. It was one of my original eight that got me in the door here, and it's still one of my best and favorites. Will it ever sell? I don't know, but if it doesn't it surely won't be because it's a poorly lit, poorly exposed, or poorly composed image. IMHO.

stock-photo-beautiful-male-red-bellied-w

Excellent point.

So here's a thought:  For good images, I mean REALLY good (like the one above) -- would it be a good strategy to simply delete it from your portfolio, then re-submit?  (re-keyword, etc).  This way it's like brand new player in the game and maybe it won't age and get buried as the previous incarnation.

What do you think?

 

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4 minutes ago, Autumn Sky Photography said:

Excellent point.

So here's a thought:  For good images, I mean REALLY good (like the one above) -- would it be a good strategy to simply delete it from your portfolio, then re-submit?  (re-keyword, etc).  This way it's like brand new player in the game and maybe it won't age and get buried as the previous incarnation.

What do you think?

 

Yes, this is exactly what I was saying.  You could delete it, or change it slightly.  Either way, it is like a new image again. 

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2 minutes ago, Autumn Sky Photography said:

So here's a thought:  For good images would it be a good strategy to simply delete it from your portfolio, then re-submit?  (re-keyword, etc).  This way it's like brand new player in the game and maybe it won't age and get buried as the previous incarnation.

What do you think?

 

I recently re-edited some of my earlier images, updating the titles with better descriptions and add some new keywords, but I don't think deleting and resubmitting would help. It would just be one of the million plus uploaded any given week, and would probably be off the first page of "new" faster than it would be to go through all that extra work. I think revisiting keywords and descriptions on really old images is probably a better way to spend time on my port at this point. 

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My experience is limited (~10 months) but I am noticing the pattern:  Image needs these initial couple of sales when its fresh. Then it swims out, keeps getting downloads and stays on top 1-2 pages.  If it doesn't get it, it could be best image in the world but it ends up buried and nobody ever sees it.

I also have a few like that bird I think are very good but got buried (while some others, with similar 'topic' have sales although not as good).  Thus the idea of re-upload; I never tried it though -- although, as Phil suggested, I am on occasion editing meta-data & I did notice some success, but this is mostly due to ever improving keywording skill

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Authentic Creations said:

I am with Phil here. Would be crazy if everyone starts to delete and re-upload the same image. I can not imagine that it could be even allowed. Also strange for customers that want to search for new photos and get old ones that are re-uploaded. 

good point

My main interest is -- hypothetical -- discussion, whether this would help "market" the image that undeservedly got buried just because it got uploaded in the "wrong" time and didn't get these couple of initial downloads.  In the search results you get:

 

1) Most popular  (this filter is I suspect what most customers look into?)

2) New

3) Best Match

 

So if you miss that initial train (first couple of downloads),  image loses filter 2) ("New"), image never got filter 1) "Most Popular" so all that is left is 3) "Best Match", which is metadata (keywords).  But this is in some cases very hard to improve upon as search terms are often very generic.

 

 

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