Scuff wrote in post #8691298
I agree with that - 2 Alamy Sales and over a thousand through microstock for me this year (many of those were extended licences which pay considerably more)
Um, sorry, but this is actually a pretty useless comparison...
First, we'd need a whole lot more information... Such as:
- How many images do you have up on each site? (If you have 30,000 images up on micro, but only 75 on Alamy... Well, hey, what do you expect?)
- What is the uniquenss and quality of the images in each? (It needs to be equal for comparisons to have any validity.)
- How long have the images been up? (If you've been working the microstock site for five years, but only on Alamy for one, well sure there's going to be some difference.)
- What was your net profit from each? (Two sales on Alamy can easily be more profitable than 1000 sales on some micro sites... And if you consider the value of your time spent sorting, editing, optimizing, keywording and uploading thousands of images.... the profitability of sales on microstock might be even narrower.)
But, second and much more importantly, even if all the above were "balanced", this would still only be one isolated example and pretty meaningless unless we can add it to a pool of experiences from a few thousand other people doing exactly the same thing, tracked over time, and all in just as equally well balanced ways... Then we'd have some useful data.
But we don't.
However, I gotta say that micro stock is simply a fact of life now. It's part of the stock sales "landscape" that we have to deal with. It's opened up new customer bases at the same time it's eroded the profitabiility of others.
And it's not just microstock... It's a "perfect storm" of factors that have combined to change the landscape so much. For example, globalization through the Internet is a major factor. The digitalization of photography is another one. Easier to use, more consumer oriented cameras that produce high image quality are yet another factor. A tough and competitve business environment forcing more customers to cut costs also plays a role. Online search tools and high speed access contribute too. There's more, but you get the point.
People's willingness to sell their skills cheap and microstock site owners taking advantage of them are my biggest gripes. I do think anyone selling stock is foolish not to try to maximize their profitability and not to at least make a good effort to make sales in a higher market, before relegating their work to the "bargain basement". This denegrates themselves as well as the entire business of photography, lowering the perceived value of quality images in the eyes of both photographers and photo buyers.
Over the long run, I think the most successful stock photographers will sell their work through multiple distribution channels.
Microstock will likely be one of those channels. The churn there is great, images burn out quickly and the individual rewards are tiny, but a lot of them can add up to make it a worthwhile sales channel. A photographer might find certain themes or subjects that they can work and make good micro sales with, which wouldn't sell at all through more traditional stock photo channels.
But you'd better have other things in the mix too... Some "mid-stock", like Alamy. And be working on some really unique and specialized work that is your premium "macro" stock, too. Sell that through a more specialized site. Or perhaps directly through your own website. The profit margins on these will be a whole lot better per sale. But there will be a much smaller volume of sales overall. As a result, though, many images will have a longer "shelf life".
You do have to be sensitive about selling an image through the macro-stock channels, where some degree of exclusivity is what buyers are paying extra for. If an image has ever been sold royalty free through microstock, or even just seen a lot of distribution there, it's no longer a candidate to sell through the macro- or mid-stock channels.
But older images that were previously sold through macro/mid-stock channels and are no longer productive there might find some additional life through microstock sales.
In the end, stock sales of all types are for most us a sideline to our "real work". Each of us has to figure out our own mix of sales channels... The way we do that is by trying different things.