Monday, January 26, 2015

6 Reasons Why Microstock Earning Will be Down in 2015

Microstock sales has been on a declining trend since the middle of 2014. It looks like this dreadful trend will continue to 2015 and more. Below are 5 reasons why this downtrend will continue.

1. The strengthening of US dollar against Euro and other currencies may seems to be positive thing at first. But in reality, buyers are taking a major hit. European, being the biggest buyers of microstock is having a tough time as Euro has hit 11 year low vs the USD. This means, buyers will be buying less stock images because it is much more expensive now. So far, my number of sales has gone down by about 30%.

2. More and more well establish stock factories are producing amazing number of qualities images everyday. To be honest, I am not sure if they could actually cover up the expenses to produce these images given the golden era is over, but this intense competition is not a good thing for lone ranger like us.

3. Another bad news would be iStock HQ is being moved from Canada to USA now. This means, we will have to pay 30% tax to US government if the purchase is being made from USA. Moving forward, I predict my earning will be at least 10% less from iStock now.

4. Stock agencies are getting more and more sneaky by manipulating numbers and playing with their system to benefit themselves more than us, the contributors. Cutting royalties, and introducing confusing sales packages and partners site are some examples of such manipulations.

5. Microstock is now being treated as commodities. The prices are getting hammered due to stock agencies pricing war. Nobody win in this situation, except the buyers. 

6. Smaller agencies such as CanStockPhoto, Crestock, GraphicLeftovers, and GraphicRiver are starting to feel the pressure with lack of regular sales. Inactivity is the scariest thing for Internet business. Check out all the 0 sales for new vectors at GraphicRiver It is very demoralizing to see such sight. With the weakening of smaller agencies, bigger agencies will soon take even more control. This is not a good thing.

As a conclusion, I predict 2015 will be a pretty bad year for us. There will be a lot of contributors giving up this year. It may no longer be worthy to be a stock vector artist now. In 2009, you can make $100/month. In 2015, you can only make $10/month with the same images.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Resolutions

1. Believe in God a little more.
2. Be generous.
3. Be nice.
4. Be calm.
5. Be moderate.
6. Be creative.
7. ... and have more sex.

Yes, as simple as that :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Am I Too Late to Sell Vector Graphics now?

That's one hell of a question. But, every old birds in the microstock industry will tell you that it is never too late. However, 10 times tougher you must expect (with Yoda voice).

Contributors used to sell hundreds of downloads for a simple set of 16 vector icons during 2008 era. One such simple set of icons can generate you thousands of dollars over a short period of time. Today, a big set of 100 - 500 vector of icons can only generate you $10 dollar a month. Though, this is just my hypothesis, but I believe many can agree and more would agree soon.

Too many people contributing too many high quality works causes the meltdown. The supply is overshadowing the demands. Do you want to know who you are competing with? Take a look at this.

Searching for the keyword "icon set" at Shutterstock.
Searching for the keyword "silhouette" at Shutterstock.
Searching for the keyword "animal cartoon" at Shutterstock.
Searching for the keyword "labels" at Shutterstock.

Are you up to the challenge? Can you produce such quality and quantity? If you think you do, then it is not too late for you. And all is not lost. There are contributors who are still be able generate a comfortable side income from this with less quality works. You must be able to hit the right niche and continue to be committed to it.

If you really want to give it a try, then I recommend you to try the below 3 agencies first due higher volume of downloads and acceptance rate.

Shutterstock (must try first)

The golden era of microstock is definitely over, but that doesn't mean you cannot create your own golden era if you start now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shutterstock Vector Sales Not Doing Well

Vector graphics earning in Shutterstock had been on increasing trend for a very long time. Contributors were working very hard to produce more and more high quality vectors. The competition was stiff as ever, but we survived. Not this time, though.

Reading posts from everywhere around the Internet, I can see that we've probably hit the peak somewhere in 2013. 2014 is a decline for Shutterstock and it is still declining. Yes, probably only Shutterstock is declining because other agencies have been neutral. Sad, but true.

I am seeing a sharp drop in my sales at Shutterstock just like everyone else. Many have come up with theories such as:
- search algorithm changes by Shutterstock
- server uptime issue
- summer holiday
- tight competition among contributors
- Getty giving away free images
- ... and many more...

Everything above could be true, but I personally don't think of that. I think Shutterstock is losing clients.

Fotolia introduced DPC (I have opt out because I don't like the idea).
IStock introduced subscription model.
DepositPhotos and 123rf are advertising heavily.

All these are hurting Shutterstock sales and we don't see our overall earnings spread evenly because the income of our vector images are getting less and less everyday in other agencies when they "silently" played around with their royalties, ranking system, and buyer packages.

The trend of "race to the bottom" is also worrying one. Agencies are fighting a price war. Contributors and agencies are suffering because of this. Jon Oringer knows this (who would have know better, if not Jon?). If I am Jon, I will probably start diversifying my investment into other new revolutionary ideas.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Uploading Timing Strategy

One thing often comes to every contributor mind is that whether you should upload now, or later?

There are many factors that affects your sales. Below is a list that you may want to consider with some explanations of what you can do about it.

  • Approved on weekend - If your works happened to be approved on weekend, then you will definitely misses a good chance for good downloads. Without good downloads, your new vectors will be "buried" by other new vectors that approved on weekdays. Although it is good to be approved on Monday, but I realize that you have no control over this, especially agency like Shutterstock could approved your vector between few hours or 2 weeks later. However, some agencies like DepositPhotos does have some consistency in approving your stuff. So, plan it right ;)
  • Summer holiday - Summer holiday are often referred to months from June to August. Contributors consider these as slow months. While, it is good to take a break in these 3 months because there are less downloads - it also means that your competitors are taking a break too. So, visibility of your vectors got higher too.
  • Good downloads months - March, April, May, October and November are good months. You should not miss these five months. Work hard before and during them.
  • Trends - Should I follow trends? Now, everybody is talking about flat icons. And Christmas is coming too. The answer is yes, you should follow trends and never go against it. 
  • Should I draw more vectors first, and upload all at once? No, you should upload as often as possible. It is tiring and daunting to think of good keywords. Uploading 30 vectors at once could take you 2-3 days. Also, uploading a lot of vectors at one time could potentially increase your rejection rate.
As a conclusion, I do believe timing is something not to be ignored if you want to maximize your profit. Good luck.