Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why Shutterstock Should Not Go Exclusive?

Many independent contributors have been dying to join Shutterstock exclusivity if it offers one. But up until today, Shutterstock does not plan to do it simply because it will do more harms than goods. Hey, isn't this is an opportunity of a life time for Shutterstock to kill all its competitors once and for all? No.

First, we have to understand from the contributors point of view. There are basically two groups of contributors. Those that make thousands of dollars every month, and those who make pennies.

The Successful earn 50% from Shutterstock and 50% across all other agencies.
The Failure earn 95% from Shutterstock and 5% across all other agencies.

The above is however, a hard fact. If Shutterstock offers exclusivity, the Failure will immediately join the offer without doubt. The Successful, on the other side, will dangle between the fence because it is such a risk for them to change what is already successful.

In the end, Shutterstock will build up a lot of EXCLUSIVE, BUT LOW QUALITY images/vectors. This will not only harm Shutterstock, but the big contributors as well. The only winner here is the Failure which fail to produce quantity and quality.

To comprehend more, exclusivity means higher pricing, ranking, and royalty percentage for contributors. So, if the majority of the exclusive contributors are the Failures, you can imagine how poor Shutterstock will become. We cannot compare Shutterstock and IStockPhoto here because IStockPhoto has the first-mover-advantage in the industry. IStockPhoto captured and forged the Successful one when they have yet to become successful.

Unless Shutterstock can offer a very delicious and lucrative exclusive offer, then it might have a chance to totally win the heart of the Successful contributors, and at the same time, eliminates all its competitors once and for all.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DepositPhotos Earnings

As promised on January 2011 on DepositPhotos Review blog post, I will report my earnings for DepositPhotos in the past 6 months. To be honest, I was only expecting to make $10 per month, but DepositPhotos performs far better than I expected. On average my earnings were about USD40/month for the past 4 months with about 250 vectors.

Most of the sales came from subscription though, which equivalent to $0.30 per download. I was hoping to get more Credit Download which normally worth $3.00 per download but this is rare.

Many regard DepositPhotos as a low-earners among other agencies, but to me, DepositPhotos has been a reliable and steady earners. I strongly suggest that you join DepositPhotos if you have a lot of vectors now because it is definitely worth a try. The uploading process is easy and smooth and the reviewers had been very lenient.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

8 reasons why I have not submitted to has been around for many years. It sells nothing, but vector. Many top vector artists have submitted to VectorStock simply because they do not have better options. They need to generate their income as much as possible.

However, I for once have not submitted anything to VectorStock because of the 8 reasons below.

1. VectorStock had denied my application as a contributor... twice. I have submitted the below two vectors in two different occasions, and their response is...
Thank you for your sample submission.
We have reviewed your sample and do not feel your work is suitable for the VectorStock library at this time.
You may re-submit a new sample for reviewing if you feel you can illustrate a different style.
Visit the FAQ for more information.
Best Regards
VectorStock Team
Below are the two vectors I submitted to VectorStock on different occasions and both have been denied for not suitable.

2. I believe my sales will be poor and unworthy. Although, this page (most download) shows us that there are indeed sales, but the performance of their new files are utterly disappointing. Take a look at their latest vectors and browse the pagination up to as many as you can. You will see that 99% of the files have 0 download. I don't mind if older files will eventually sell, but try to browse up to page 1000, and you will still be seeing 0 download for 99% of the files.

3. They sell us cheap. For a start, you earns 25% of your sales. All your files are priced at only USD1. That means that if you sell a vector, you only make USD0.25. Mind you that this is not even a subscription rate download, but a totally on-demand download. You cannot compare this rate to site like Shutterstock because Shutterstock sells at least 1000 times more than a low earners like this.

4. VectorStock uploading process is lame. They want you to reduce your artwork size to 380 x 400. Ohh, please, you are actually troubling ten thousand artists out there just because your programmer does not know how to write a script to resize a JPEG for the website preview. I reckon they rejected my application earlier was because of this reason. Yes, I didn't create my artwork in 380 x 400, and if this was really the reason you rejected me, at least you should mention properly why am I rejected instead of saying "I feel this is not suitable".

5. Because they are selling our vector so cheaply, I feel that they are luring "thieves" into buying our vectors and then putting it up for free at file hosting site. The reason why these "thieves" put our vector for free in file sharing site is because of money. However, I will not discuss this matter today as it will take one whole blog entry to explain. "Thieves" will most likely target on cheapest stock agency and buy from them so that their earning margin is higher.

6. They don't have PR (personal relationship). When is the last time you heard about them saying anything at all on the Internet? They don't even have a news column and forum in their site for us to discuss their site related matter and doesn't even bother what everyone is saying about them outside. These are some forum threads about VectorStock and I don't see VectorStock sending a representative to comment.

When you don't send someone to comment and to clear things up, you are basically losing your creditability. Take a look at Graphicleftovers, they are good at PR. I have recently wrote a review about Graphicleftovers, and they really care enough to send someone to comment and to clarify things up. I love them.

7. No marketing effort. I can't see their advertisement anywhere in the Internet.

8. No site upgrade. You never ever see the site improve or degrade before. Do they even have a team of programmers? Have they given up?

As a conclusion, I have decided that I will not upload to them. If you have anything to say about Vectorstock, please comment on the comment box below.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CanStockPhoto Review (The New Big 4)

Stock Photography

Despite the ugly and only 125 pixel square banner it has, CanStockPhoto should be one of the Big 4, not Dreamstime. The ever popular microstock industry's jargon, the Big 4 consists of Shutterstock, IStockPhoto, Fotolia, and Dreamstime have always been the talk of all vector contributors in the world because of their success.

Nearly over a year in microstock industry, I realize that Dreamstime sales is actually very bad compares to the other 3. Just for a record, I have made a total of $482.69  in about 11 months at Dreamstime having 233 vectors with Dreamstime. On the other hand, I have 118 vectors with IStockPhoto and I make over $400.00 every month at IStockPhoto. Apart from the bad sales, Dreamstime vector uploading process is the craziest and longest among all.

Enough about Dreamstime, let's get back to the main topic. Yes, CanStockPhoto should be one of the Big 4 because the sales are much better than expected. I made about $100.00 per month with 250 vectors at CanStockPhoto. Apart from the easy uploading process, CanStockPhoto loves all my works. I have 100% acceptance rate at CanStockPhoto. They values my work and they sell them with a good price. Every sale averaged between $1.50 to $5.00 at CanStockPhoto. For a comparison, majority of my sales at Dreamstime ranges from from a pity $0.24 to $0.35.

Like many other stock agencies, CanStockPhoto should revamp their web design. It is mediocre. Period. I have involve in the Microstock industry for nearly a year now, and I have only joined CanStockPhoto in last 2 months because I have doubt with CanStockPhoto. The design of the website looks unprofessional and it feels incomplete. On the other hand, I must give praise to their programmers and marketing department because the functionality and the sales of the site are much better than anyone can expect.

CanStockPhoto - Mediocre web design

In my opinion, no bottom stock agencies should sell cheap. You simply cannot win the pricing war anymore with Shutterstock. Many CEOs thought that by lowering the price to $1 per vector would gain them competitive advantage, but this is wrong and it is proven wrong. Vector pricing should be about $5.00 to $15.00. Money earned from this should be spent on marketing. Come to the end of the day, it is all about exposure of your company. IStockPhoto sells our vector in an expensive way (about $15.00) and with the money earned, they can have even more aggressive marketing. Buyers who can only spent a pity $1.00 per vector are most probably not someone who will actually buy again because they are poor. If they cannot spend $10.00 per vector, they probably will not spend $1.00 per vector. They would rather download the vectors from illegal site than spending $1.00 for it. Do you want to sell shoes at South Africa or do you want to sell shoes to Roger Federer? Think!!!

CanStockPhoto does sell our vectors cheap in subscription package, but in a way, CanStockPhoto is able to attract its buyer to buy a lot in credits. I have got a couple of Extended License in just 2 months at CanStockPhoto and that is something.

To summarize this, I think CanStockPhoto is in the right direction. I hope they keep it up and hopefully one day later it can be truly recognized as one of the new Big 4. Until then, good luck to CanStockPhoto and I wish this company all the best.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Graphicleftovers Review

Royalty-Free Vectors and Images

I have become a contributor for Graphicleftovers for 3 months now. Uploaded 155 vectors there, and I have made 6 sales with a total $18.72. You can set your own pricing for your items. Graphicleftovers pays you 52% of the sales made. This is a very good deal. Furthermore, the uploading process is one the easiest.

There are many great comments about Graphicleftovers if you search over the Internet. But to be honest, I think this site needs some improvements. I wonder why the team in Graphicleftovers has never thought of doing something simple to improve the overall sales performance of the site.

I got a huge number of views (over 1000) in the first 10 days when I uploaded my vectors to Graphicleftovers. Then, in the next 3 months, I only have about a thousand views. There is no longer sales in my vectors and there are reasons why this happened.

Graphicleftovers does not have a good search engine. Period. I do not know for sure how the default search works, but basically, you can only filter your search by

GL Collection/GL Personalities
Vector Price ($1 - $20)

Where is the search for:

Most Popular
Most View
Most Download

These are some very basic features a search engine must have, and Graphicleftovers only program some useless database query. This is the very reason why your images hardly get exposures even if they are good. Of course, they do have this GL Collection where your vector is handpicked by the inspectors, but who are them to judge whether a vector is good or bad? Beauty is in the eyes of the buyers. A good vector means more downloads/view/popular and those are the necessary key elements of how to sort your search results.

More annoyingly, the search result page only returns you with 20 results per page. This is undoubtedly difficult to navigate the search results. Graphicleftovers should show at least 100 results per page. Apart from that, they should show the search results in full screen, and not in a stingy 960 pixel width division. We are in the modern era where most of the people already have a big screen. Take a look at all those successful sites like Shutterstock, IStockPhoto, Dreamstime, and Fotolia. They all have full screen in their search result page. This is not rocket scientist, and every web designers can design a liquid layout.

Stingy 960px width and only 20 search results per page.

All and all, I am pretty upset with Graphicleftovers as they do not even have the two most fundamentals feature in their site. I must say that although Crestock sales is as bad, but at least they have push the site features to a very high standard one.

I hope Graphicleftovers read my blog, and they can pay attention to the two features I mentioned above - Search Filters + A Liquid Web Design.

Monday, February 28, 2011

GraphicRiver Rejection is Too High (for me)

I have been demoralized by GraphicRiver rejections due to their new standard of quality. I am doing not bad there, ranking 67 for total sales among all other artists, and I have only been there for a little over 6 months. Of course, the quality of my works are not top notch, but my portfolios are basically useful in the eyes of buyers - at least I think so. Buyers will buy stuffs that are more simple, useful and easy to work with. I have seen beautiful complex artworks that generate much lesser sales than expected.

Enough of the rant, and let me show you why I have finally given up on submitting new vectors to GraphicRiver. Below are some of the rejections I have gotten from GraphicRiver due to low quality.

I have to admit that it has been annoying to keep getting rejections after rejections, and sometimes I felt that they dislike me for personal reasons - yes, this is of course not the truth since a lot other designers has been getting rejection too, but it still hurt bad that you know you can earn so much more if they would have accepted those.

What GraphicRiver has been accepting recently are mostly cartoon characters, which we all know that are tough to produce and hardly any sales. Let me show you some example below from GraphicRiver.
Amazing artwork. Super, I must say.
2 sales in first 18 days.
Simple artwork.
5 sales in first 24 days.
Cute stuff and complex beautiful characters.
0 sales in first 16 days.
Simple silhouette.
4 sales in first 9 days.

As you can see from the above examples, simple silhouettes and common artworks tend to generate more sales than complex one. Not only this, but the time used into producing such a high quality artwork is so much more than simple silhouettes and yet the sales is much lower. We are in a business here so we need to factor in the time and revenue.

The truth is, GraphicRiver thinks that 18000 vectors/psd is a lot in their collection. I hope that they are more greedy and lower their standards to accept more vectors. I may be wrong in this case, and who am I to judge their direction since they have successfully build the Envato marketplace into a very unique site.

To me, GraphicRiver is not a microstock site. It is not a microstock site because they don't have enough vectors (stocks) for a designer to choose. Simply search for the keyword "kitchen" and it will only return you with 25 results.

I am rather disappointed in this situation because I know GraphicRiver is a gold mine, and yet I am unable to capitalize it due to my current skills. Having said that, I still have to give up on GraphicRiver and concentrate on other more lenient site like Shutterstock which LOVES ALL MY VECTORS and generate at least 10 times more sales than GraphicRiver does.

I hope that there would be a day that GraphicRiver suddenly wake up and realize that graphic designers need something more simple to work with, and not complex cute cartoon that can only fit into a story book. What so unique about stock site like Shutterstock is that they simply have EVERYTHING you need even though more than half of it are rubbish, but yet, there are still thousands of good one to choose from, right?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tutorial: How to Draw a Clock Face with Adobe Illustrator?

Drawing a clock with Adobe Illustrator can be very difficult if you do not know the trick and technique. Here, in this tutorial, I will explain to you how to do it the simple way. 

First, draw 2 rectangles like the below. They must have the exact X coordinate. These rectangles will represent the hour of a clock.

Group them and Rotate it by 30 degree. Remember to use Copy function instead of just rotating it.

To repeat the rotation and Copy, go to Object > Transform > Transform Again. Repeat this until you get all the 12 rectangles.

Now, repeat the above steps for the minutes. Instead of rotating it by 30 degree, you should rotate this by 5 degree because these rectangles will represent the minutes. You may want to use a small rectangle for a better visual.

After you have successfully adding the minutes, you should now put the numbers. See the below for example. Remember, the number (text) should be Aligned Center. To do this, go to Window > Type > Paragraph.

 Using the same method, rotate the group by 30 degree to get the below.

Change all the numbers accordingly.

Now, you will have to rotate back the numbers to straight view. In order to do that, you will have to rotate them manually one by one using Object > Transform > Rotate. The below list may help you.

Hour 1 = 30 degree
Hour 2 = 60 degree
Hour 3 = 90 degree
Hour 4 = 120 degree
Hour 5 = 150 degree
Hour 6 = 180 degree
Hour 7 = 210 degree
Hour 8 = 240 degree
Hour 9 = 270 degree
Hour 10 = 300 degree
Hour 11 = 330 degree

After you have rotate them, you may notice that the alignment of the numbers and the clock are not accurate.

So, what you can do is to Expand the numbers into object. In order to do that, select all the numbers and go to Object > Expand. Once all your number is Expanded and Grouped, align them accordingly with the feature Window > Align. I believe you have no problem doing this, right?

To add the hands of the clock, draw the below. Yes, together with the blue circle outside the clock.

The usage of the blue circle is for you to rotate the hands. How you are going to do this is to Select both the circle and the hands - and Rotate them together.

My tutorial on how to draw a clock face ends here. If you have any question, please write in the comment :)

Below is an example of a vector watch I draw for IStockPhoto. For the details of pricing and number of downloads, please go to

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fotolia Cuts Contributor's Commission

Like IStockPhotoFotolia will be cutting contributor's commission by about 20% next week. To be frank, I feel that contributor's are being bullied and no longer a precious to stock agencies. There are too many contributors. And when supply is more than demand, stock agency will take the opportunity to exploit the contributor's effort for their own benefits. This is wrong, but it is a reality.

According to Fotolia, the increment for their own royalty is a must to expand their marketing coverage to country like China. If what they speak is the truth, then I must say this is for everyone's good. I do not mind if Fotolia will take my 20% royalty to market more. Afterall, without marketing, a business will not work. It is OK to get a little less on the royalty if they are able to increase the volume of downloads.

But how true is the above statement? My 20% commissions may not be fully gone into development and marketing. 15% of my cut may go into the upper management's salary so that they can go for a vacation on a cruise to see Alaskan's melting ice. We are the minority. We work hard, but we don't get our share back, and we are not able to see the truth. There is no transparency in this.

The only solution for all these problem is to have a revolution. Is like how Google suddenly takeover the search industry, and how Apple iPhone change the communication devices. We love Google and Apple more and more each days, and that has never happen in microstock industry. I wish that one day, a revolution will come and takeover the whole industry to a new height where it will benefit everyone (contributors, the agency, and buyers). Adobe should create a microstock site. But they don't have Steve Job or Bill Gates.

Revolution must come. Now the only savior is Shutterstock. If it offers exclusivity, I will definitely join them. I believe 90% of the independent contributors will join Shutterstock if it offers exclusivity and increase the pricing. Shutterstock earning is about 30-100 times more than other agencies. With move like this, competitors such as Fotolia and Dreamstime will really go down.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to write a DMCA

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In case you found someone took your vector and sell it at certain agency, you can write a DMCA to the agency to request for the removal of the infringed item. Recently, someone took my artwork, modified it, and sell it at a specific agency. I have contacted the Support about it, but they have requested me to write them a DMCA. Below is a sample on how to write a DMCA.

My copyrighted work: [state your URL item here] 
The infinging item: [state the URL of the item that used your work]  
This is a copyright for the following reasons:
1. [state your reason on why/how you think he steals your work]
2. [state your reason on why/how you think he steals your work]
3. [state your reason on why/how you think he steals your work]
My info:
Name: [your name]
Address: [your full address]
Tel: [your telephone number]
Email: [your email address]
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegelly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty or perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
[your signature here]

Once you have write the above, print it out, and then put your signature on it. After that, scan it into an image file (JPEG) and send it to agency by email.

I hope the above will help those in need of a DMCA sample.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adobe and Stock Vectors

There are many new companies who fail to become a prominent stock agencies. There are not without reasons why they fail. They do not have technology, marketing, commitment, and people. And to cut it short, they simply don't have the money to do it.

Apple is great. Steve Job is one in a billion. Just look at Apple, they are not just a computer or mobile manufacturers. They make money from various type of businesses. They sell music, games, and softwares as well. They don't develop games and software applications themselves, they let people like us to do it. They take royalties from iPhone App Stores and Mac App Stores. This is exactly the same scenario as what we have at ShutterstockIStockPhotoFotoliaDreamstime, and GraphicRiver.

Now why Adobe don't want to do this type of business? Why Adobe don't want to become a stock agencies for vector and photo? They have the money and already have the brand name. If Adobe cannot do it, no one else can. The market for stock vectors and agencies is still very big. Simply ask any of your friends who are a graphic designers about Shutterstock and IStockPhoto, they probably have not heard about them. This is not a saturated market.

Adobe is the most well known graphic technology in the world. I suggest Adobe to have a store for contributors like us to submit our vectors and photos there. Is just easy for them to market this. Can you imagine for every Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshops that we are using will have a small button on top of the tool bar that says "Sell this artwork?".

I truly believe Adobe can takeover the whole market of stock agencies easily. The world is changing. If Adobe just want to brand themselves as a Software Companies forever, then I must say they are retro.

Adobe, please become our stock agencies.

I have write an enhancement request to Adobe at to suggest them to become a stock agencies for us. Below is how it sounds like.

Hello Adobe, 
I have a suggestion. Can you please become a stock agency like,, or
I have write a blog entry about this at to request Adobe to become a Stock Agency.
Hope you will consider my suggestion.

If you want Adobe to become a stock agency, please write a suggestion to them as well :)


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DepositPhotos Review

I felt that I need to maximize my gain with the vectors I have created in the past 8 months. One will say it is obvious that you should upload all your vectors to every agencies you can find to maximize your gain. However, I must say this is NOT TRUE.

There are about 30-40 agencies out there, and the one that are truly making money are ShutterstockIStockPhotoFotoliaDreamstime, and GraphicRiver. You might be thinking that it is good enough to make $5 dollar a month from unpopular stock agencies, but to be honest, you might not be making a single dollar at all. Yes, the performance is that bad.

I have recently uploaded my 200 vectors to DepositPhotos and I hope it can at least makes $10.00/month. I I do not have high hope on DepositPhotos but I must try to see if I am lucky enough to make it through. I will let you guys know my earning on DepositPhotos 6 months later.

For those who have not joined DepositPhotos, let me give you a bit of review on the features inside. The upload features is good and it did not demand you for too many information. Reviewing process is super fast (less than an hour), and  I have a 100% acceptance rate with it. The contributor page contains a lot of useful features and it allows you to see the number of views, and other important statistic.

Although the site is not that active compared to the top 4 agencies, but I must say the viewing rate of my file is still in the acceptable range. I have a few views for every files that I have uploaded in just a few days time. This is a sign of life. And best of all, I already have 5 downloads in less than a week. 5 downloads in a few days is consider OK, but my target is to have at least $10.00 a month (that is equivalent to 34 download a month) . If it does not have such result in 6 months time, I must say this stock agency is a failure and is not worth uploading to.

Apart from having nice features for the contributors, DepositPhotos also have very good features for buyers. The search engine is good because it provides enough filtering features. I believe buyers have a good time browsing files and finding the things they want. For example, a buyer can filter by Best Match, Downloads, Newest, Oldest, Most Popular, and many more. You see, the more filtering features we have, the higher possibilities of our files being viewed.

The one thing I really dislike about DepositPhotos is the web design. It is rather ugly and it doesn't look professional at all. You feel like you are in a Web2.0 wannabe website. Just look at the gradient bar on top. That gradient bar color is a sign of noobish. Either the designer do not have good taste, or the CEO feels that such gradient looks interesting. I dare to comment on this because I am a web designer myself. Clients that are not internet savvy will always force me to use that kind of gradient and they will tell me it is the color for Web2.0 website.

Ugly gradient.

All and all, I do hope DepositPhotos will emerge to become a top agency in the future. If not, I hope it can at least make a payout every 2-3 months. I know DepositPhotos has been doing a lot of marketing recently, but it might all go down to drain if the website still looks like that. The performances and features are awesome, but the web design is suck.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Resolutions

So, we have finally step into 2011. I like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year and a better days ahead in everything. My resolutions for 2011 are simple. I will...

1. Take care of my health.
2. Making baby.
3. Be a little more hardworking and creative in microstock. I hope to reach an income of $4000 a month by the end of 2011.
4. Continue blogging and to have more readers.
5. Enjoy my life a little more than usual.

Yes, only 5 simple things I want to achieve in 2011. What about you? Have you got a resolution yet?