Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Microstock Earning and Summary for 2012

The year is coming to an end, and here I am to conclude the earning and major hull of 2012. Overall, it has been a great year with improvement in many sites due to heavy uploading and hard works.

Shutterstock has been amazing all along except for the few months in summer holiday (June, July, and August). Although, there is no extraordinary improvement in it compare to last year, but it is still a satisfying year. Every now and then, you hear people announcing BME (best month ever). There is still room for improvement with demands coming in. Shutterstock introduced SOD (Single and Other Downloads), and there are people who reported netting $120.00 for one single download. This is a major leap for Shutterstock and the whole microstock industry. This proves that there are buyer who are willing to pay a lot of money for stock photos and vectors. Apart from that, Shutterstock has also introduce a new Follow feature that allows buyers to keep track on contributor's new files.

IStockPhoto has been catastrophic for its exclusive contributors in 2012. Ever since the introduction of RC (Redeemed Credits), IStockPhoto has been on a major downturn. Major contributors had been reporting a loss of 50% in recent months. The site is buggy and slow as well. And due to their greediness on hauling contributors earning percentage to as low as 15%, contributors had been driving customers away. They no longer recommend IStockPhoto to their customers. This is the power of words of mouth. Due to the obvious  major downturn, IStockPhoto's management is in the panic and is trying to gain back contributor's trust by reaching out to them through the forum and promise to do what they could to restore it back to its former glory. This is difficult though, because there are layers of politics and hierarchy in IStockPhoto management.

IStockPhoto's major downturn is not a good news for every contributors in the whole microstock industry . If the exclusive contributor turns independent, their exclusive photos and vectors file will start to flood into the market, and thus creating a massive competition among contributors. By leaving exclusivity at IStockPhoto, one contributor's earning will undoubtedly drop to hell at IStockPhoto. As a matter of fact, many major vector artist in iStockPhoto are icon designers. Their icons are normally grouped in a set of 12-16 icons. They sell this for about $15.00. However, in site like Shutterstock, many vector artist grouped over 100 icons in a set and earn about $0.50 average per download. By understanding this simple scenario, it would mean hell for iStockPhoto's exclusives if they are to leave exclusivity because the competition out here is crazy and may be too wild for them. So, if you are an independent contributor, please do not be sadistic about IStockPhoto's problem, because it may soon be yours.

Fotolia continues to be OK in earning, but they still rejects all my work. Due to this, I cannot increase my earnings at Fotolia. They don't communicate with contributors even when you try hard to contact them. I just hope they change their reviewers soon as their reviewers have very different opinions with standard reviewers in the industry.

123rf is doing OK too, but not good enough. Many contributors failed to reach the Redeemed-Credit rate of 50% for next year. Good for 123rf, bad for contributors. I hope they will soon learn that contributors is an important asset for the success of a microstock company, and appreciate us a bit more.

CanStockPhoto and DepositPhotos are doing well throughout the year. DepositPhotos has been advertising hard and creating a lot of promotions. DepositPhotos acceptance rate are high too and less stressful. However, I think they need to increase their price, especially for subscription package. As for Dreamstime, they has been doing well near the end of the year. A lot of on-demand sales and they are less strict in accepting my files these days. However, Dreamstime continues to approve vector file in a very slow manner.

Crestock is rubbish. Despite a change in management, they continue to fail in getting customers. Not only sales are rare, all of them are subscription sales that earns me only $0.25/download, the lowest in the industry.

GraphicRiver continues to sell in constant rate throughout the year, but agency like this must step up a bit more in case they wanted to reach the next level. I have not been uploading here for a long time because the acceptance rate is low, inconsistent, and the uploading process is a hassle. I do think Envato pays very little attention to GraphicRiver because Envato has many other sub agencies to take care of. They should start accepting more work and turn it into a real stock site. At the moment, it is more of a community-driven site.

Graphicleftovers - nothing special about this site. Sales are slow, and rarely reach $50.00 a month.


So what is it up for us next year? I just wish Shutterstock will continue to rise steadily and the IPO thing will not interrupt the daily operation. I wish IStockPhoto's management can gain back the trust of its exclusive contributors so that we all can have a win-win situation here. Fotolia should review their reviewing process, and GOD DAMN IT, PLEASE ACCEPT MY WORK ALREADY. CanStockPhoto, DepositPhotos, Dreamstime, and 123rf, please be a little more aggressive in 2013.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

iOS Tab Bar and Toolbar Icons

If you are an iOS app developers, then you will be needing a lot iOS tab bar and toolbar icons to make your app more beautiful and stunning. There are graphic designers who create these icons for a price, while some are for free. Over here, I will be recommending IconBeast Pro.

IconBeast Pro is a set of over 1000 vector icons which priced at $75. These are icons are ready-to-use for iOS app with retina display supported. These icons are not only stunning, but they are pixel perfect even if you don't have a retina display devices. By purchasing IconBeast Pro, you will be granted a royalty free license and you are also entitled to free update when IconBeast Pro adds more icons in the future. This is a good bargain.

IconBeast Pro | iPhone Tab Bar and Toolbar Icons ($75)
IconBeast Lite | Free iOS Tab Bar Icons (Free)

300 Free iOS Tab Bar Icons

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vector Sales Earnings in June, July, and August 2012

Vector sales has been amazing all the way until the last 3 months. Shutterstock has the biggest drop in sales compared to the rest. Many big contributors have been reporting a loss of 30% to 50% at Shutterstock. Other agencies fluctuated, but are still consistent and bearable, except Dreamstime.

In the last 3 months, I had failed to reach a payout ($100) at Dreamstime. This never happened in the last 2 years. The sales at Dreamstime is very disappointing with a lot of subscription sales ($0.35) and hardly any on-demand sales.

Other agencies such as DepositPhotos, CanStockPhoto, GraphicRiver, 123rf are all doing fine with little fallback. I hope they rise further.

iStockPhoto maintains its usual trend although I did not upload much there. This shows that iStockPhoto is consistent and sustainable. The sales is hard to improve, though.

Just like iStockPhoto, Fotolia remains strong, but again, I do not see major improvement despite heavy upload. The Enhanced License purchase at Fotolia is getting rare and almost unseen these days.

I believe the biggest reason for drop in sales (especially in Shutterstock) are due to summer holiday, Euro Cup, and Olympics. Many have complain that Shutterstock screws up its search algorithm making it difficult for buyers to purchase. I do not believe this is true. Looking at the site analytic from, Shutterstock traffic is dropping dramatically.

Summer holiday is ending soon, and I hope the slowdown is over. We should be seeing major improvement from September and onward. However, if no improvement can be seen at Shutterstock, then we could have a big problem.

The big problem may caused by competition from sites such as DepositPhotos, Fotolia, and ThinkStock which are currently promoting their subscription model heavily.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why New Images at Shutterstock No Longer Selling Great?

Shutterstock new images have always been performing well, but not in the past 6 months. Contributors are claiming that Shutterstock must had tweaked the search algorithm making new images getting less exposure. Or, perhaps bugs have been creeping through the site. But, I don't think those are the cases here.

Feeding the beast worked in the past because there were simply not enough of good images, then. When buyers could not get what they wanted in Popular, they will try to search through New. However, after years and years of uploading, Shutterstock has got enough of good images today. Buyers no longer need to search through the "irrelevance" New. We all know that searching through New is nightmarish due to keywords spam by contributors.

Here is a good example of why buyers no longer need to search New. Try to search for the keyword "seal" in Shutterstock...

... and under Popular, you can see all the seal vectors presented are good enough to satisfy the buyers. Buyers have no reason to search through New when Popular has enough of good choices already.

The beast is no longer liking the same old food. The beast wants to taste something new. Feed the beast with unexplored topics and I am sure they sell better than the seal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Children iPad Game that used Stock Vectors

All vectors contributors have been wondering where their works will be used after being bought. To be honest, I have sold thousands and thousands of vectors, but I have almost never saw where my work being used. It is so rare.

Recently, there is a children iPad game that used all stock vectors to produce the game. The developer is smart enough to pick Danilo Sanino's illustration as it is one of the best. This is cost saving for the developer as hiring a graphic designer to create such a work exclusively will be expensive.

Puzzle Safari HD is a children iPad game that designed for children from age 2 to 6 years old. I have downloaded the game and tested it out in my iPad. It is great. The game performance is smooth and I believe children will love it.

Whether you have a kid or not, I suggest that you download Puzzle Safari HD and see how our vectors are being used in the real world. This is an example of a successful vector artist. Danilo must be proud of this :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fotolia is Rejecting my Vector for no Good Reason

Fotolia had been one of my best agency. I used to love it. It accepted everything I submitted and produced a decent sales all the time.

But recently, Fotolia has been rejecting my vectors... without giving me a good reason. I am really frustrated and annoyed. Below are the sample of rejected vectors. Bear in mind that these vectors had already been accepted by all other agencies and they are selling already.

And below is the rejection reason from Fotolia.

Fotolia: Photograph Declined - Technical Problems 
Hello leremy, 
We regret to inform you that photo 39961352 was not accepted. Photographs submitted to Fotolia must meet high technical standards.
The image contains one or more technical problems:

  • Blurry or out of focus
  • Over/Under exposure
  • Framing problem
  • Over or under saturated colors
  • Problems with contrast
  • Noise or Pixelation
  • Quality of routing
  • Interpolation problem

Looking at the rejection reason, one vector contributor can clearly understand that these reasons are standard reasons for declining a photograph, not a vector. Vectors will not have the problems mentioned above. What I am really questioning now is whether my reviewer is a qualified vector artist himself or merely a photographer who don't understand anything about vector.

Since Fotolia did not gave me a reason that make sense, I guess the problem could be having jagged edges in my vector when Fotolia requires us to submit a 15MP resolution JPEG for the vector. You know, when you save any artwork of that size, your artwork will have jagged edges because the DPI in our screen could not accommodate such a precision. This is actually a limitation. That could be the reason for rejection. Thus, I have resubmitted my vector and explained to them about the problem in the Note to Moderator column. What happen was, they rejected it again with the EXACT SAME reason like above. I was hoping that they could at least give me a clue on what's my problem was. This is utterly frustrating.

I then, wrote a message to Fotolia about all the problems mentioned above. Below is the message.

Fotolia keeps rejecting my vector work recently and the reviewers did not specific the problem. They only give me a general reply to the rejection which doesn't make sense at all. This is making me very frustrated.
The REF in my Inbox for these problems are:9054164490541643905416419054164090541639
Can you please explain in details what are the problem with these submission?
From a very frustrated contributor. 

And this is their reply. Again, another standard reply which makes you feel the that you are unimportant to them.

Thank you for your e-mail. 
All of your images and videos have been reviewed by our selection team. Please note that the selection team is a separate department, so we have no influence on their decision. The main criteria for validation or rejection are: the quality of the image/video, the technical requirements, the similarity to existing Fotolia photographs and the image's/video's sale potential. We know that it can be difficult to have an image or video rejected but please bear with us. You would be able to view your deleted files by going to: "My Files > Manage My Files > Show Deleted Files (green button located on the right side)". We encourage you to continue uploading your images and videos.
Kind regards, 

You see, up to this point, there is almost nothing I could do to get my artwork approved. These artworks had taken days to produce. It is not just about tracing photograph. It takes days and months to gather the resources from real objects and human model I photographed myself.

To conclude this, I will give up submitting to Fotolia for the time being, and hopefully there will be a change in the reviewer system one day later. Of course, this will not break my spirit to continue since all other agency still love my work.

If you are a vector contributor and having the same problem, please share with us. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Upload Vector to Fotolia

Uploading vector Fotolia is one of the easiest. You will need to prepare only 1 ZIP file. The ZIP file should contains:

  • Vector file saved in EPS8 or EPS10.
  • JPEG in 4000pixels x 4000pixels. Fotolia does not accept image dimension smaller than this.
Go to My Files > Upload new Files.

Upload your ZIP file accordingly.

Fill up this page like the below. A few things that you should take notes are:
  • Title must be short and precise.
  • Enter as much keyword as possible. Make sure the important keyword are moved to the top.
  • Choose 2 categories.
  • Make sure you offer this vector file for Extended License to maximize your sales profit.

Submit and you are done. Wait about 1 day to get approve.

How to Upload Vector to Shutterstock

Uploading vector to Shutterstock may be confusing to newcomers because Shutterstock does not coupled the vector and JPEG together to sell. You need to upload both of them separately so that both your vector and JPEG version are available for sale.

First, prepare the below 3 files.
  • JPEG in 2800pixels x 2800pixels. This is for the JPEG version. You are advised not to save this JPEG in a much bigger resolution because your illustration will look jagged and distorted when you view it in 100%, thus the reviewer will most likely reject it. So saving it in 2800pixels x 2800pixels is sufficient.
  • Vector file saved in EPS8 or EPS10.
  • JPEG in 4000pixels x 4000pixels. This will be used to generate the preview for the vector file above. It is OK to save this file in a much smaller dimension, however, some agency like Fotolia will need this JPEG to be this big.
Go to Upload Content > Upload Images > via HTTP. Upload your 3 files accordingly. Please take not that the vector file and JPEG for preview MUST BE IN THE SAME NAME. Press submit files when you are ready.

Fill up the this page like the below. A few things that you should take notes are:
  • The title is best to be short and precise. Do not spam this section or you may get warning.
  • It is best to have as many keywords as possible, but make sure they are all relevant.
  • Choose two categories.
  • Illust/Clip-Art must be checked as Yes for both the Vector and JPEG version.
  • Although Shutterstock will not ask you for the photo (or sketches) you used to trace or refer when you create the illustration, but make sure you keep the original photo for this in case there is a dispute in future. REMEMBER, the photo that you used to trace or refer must be owned by you 100% or your account will be shut down.

Submit for review and you are done. Wait about 1 week for them to get approve :)

Good luck.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Where is the Best Place to Buy Stock Photo and Vector?

There are more than 30 stock agencies out there, and I will only recommend a few based on their credibility, trust-worthy, quality, and quantity of stocks available in their site.

iStockPhoto is definitely the top site to buy photos and vectors from. They are reliable and very customer-centric.The special thing about iStockPhoto is that it has many exclusive photos and vectors. Meaning, you cannot get these stocks anywhere else. Furthermore, the quality of their stocks are top notch. The only fallback is that they are more expensive compares to other agencies.

Another issue to concern about is the expiry of your credits. Your credits will expire in a year time if you do not finish using them. This has been quite a headache because these credits cannot convert back to cash.

If you are looking for the most-loved stock agency in the world, then Shutterstock is my choice. Shutterstock is loved by buyers and contributors. From my observation, there are at least 10 to 30 times more buyers at Shutterstock compares to other agencies.

They are loved by buyers because they have the biggest collection of photos and vectors. And most of their stock are NOT available at iStockPhoto because they do not meet iStockPhoto's requirement. This is not because they are low in quality, but because they are "too cheap" and contain text. A single file can contain hundreds of beautiful elements, and Shutterstock is selling them at the same price. You cannot get these files at iStockPhoto.

Apart from that, the on-demand and subscription plan are simple and easily understandable. The search is amazing as well and you can easily find the stocks you want. Whether you plan to buy one file or many files, it has the right choice for you. Shutterstock is a MUST-CONSIDER stock agency.

Why Fotolia? They are the cheapest. Yes, the pay-as-you-go and subscription plan at Fotolia are unbelievably cheap. You can also customize your credit plans and this is one of my favorite tool. Fotolia will remain as one of my top choice when considering where to buy.

The quantity of collection at Fotolia is lesser compares to Shutterstock and iStockphoto mainly because contributors contribute less here - because they sell too cheap and the royalty rates for Contributor is among the lowest too. You can get an Extended-License at Fotolia for the cheapest price in the industry because many of the contributors did not (or forget) to adjust the pricing for their Extended-License. So, many files remain as 40 credits for Extended License as oppose to 100 credits.

The only reason not to choose Fotolia is because their search engine are less accurate. If you compare search results, Shutterstock would almost beat Fotolia anytime. This is a very important criteria for designers because a good search engine saves time - a lot of time.

Stock Photos from 123RF
If you are looking for the best customer service with live support, then 123RF is the agency you are looking for. Their live support (Live Chat) is definitely quick and supportive. Whatever questions and help you need, they can answer you straight away and you don't have to wait for emails or queue.

There are two things that GraphicRiver offers to designers that you cannot get anywhere else. First, is the Photoshop file. Second, is the exclusivity of their files. Furthermore, their files are very high in quality.

GraphicRiver tags their files very cheap, and you don't have to buy credits in bulk, and so this is good for small time buyers. If you cannot find what you need elsewhere, then perhaps you should look into GraphicRiver. It may contains just what you needed.

Another great site. DepositPhotos is the rising star in microstock industry. Small time buyers love to buy here because they only have to pay very little before they can actually start buying. Their pricing is as good as Fotolia.

As a contributor myself, I can see DepositPhotos is moving into the right direction. I believe in the long run, DepositPhotos can be a top agency.

To summarize this, on whether which is the best stock agency to buy from will depend on who you are. If you are a small timer, then Fotolia, GraphicRiver, and DepositPhotos are good choices. If you are looking for high quality items, then buy from iStockPhoto. And if you are looking to buy a lot of photos/vectors, I would strongly recommend Shutterstock as it has the most choices, plus the search engine returns the most accurate result - always.