In the last post I talked about the contract I just closed with Pond5, thanks to which from April 15 2016 onwards I will make $ 791 per month, only for giving 1582 clips of mine to the new membership are of the agency. This money will join Pond5’s:
- Regular gains (an average of $1000 per month).
- Bonuses related to the new membership area.
Then, as a stock footage contributor I also have earnings from:
- Other Agencies (Fotolia, Istockphoto, 123rf,….), even if I stopped uploading there years ago.
- Direct sales generated with my Youtube Channel.
Subscription plans for stock footage on BigStockPhoto (crazy prices!)
Videoblocks, BigStockPhoto and Fotolia launched subscriptions many years ago, but Pond5 is different. We are talking about the most profitable agency for most of the producers, so this decision could be one of the causes for which so many video makers and photographers tomorrow will have a hard time traveling the world and getting paid trips with their shots, as five years ago I used to do, even if I worked:
- Without the technical market knowledge I have gained today.
- Without traveling with the weather forecast that guarantees clear skies.
- Without tracking the sun’s position to shoot the subject with the light always on my back.
In May 2011, with three days in Paris, I earned enough for me to pay (only three months later!) for a 10 day holiday in Sardinia with my girlfriend (today the counter of royalties has rose a lot more!).
My best seller stock footage on Shutterstock was shot during that trip.
That same stock footage also sold on Pond5.
Declaring to be part of Pond5’s new membership area is sufficient to be contacted by a lot of angry producers. When you run a website sometimes people can talk to you politely:
I don’t agree with you Daniele.
In my opinion you’re making a mistake joining Pond5’s membership area.
But sometimes they can be a little rude (they don’t deserve to be quoted).
I take the opportunity of this post to specify some important things:
- My 1582 files selected were chosen from those of my collection with at least two sales.
- Until now, I have not had feedback from other people who have received the wonderful email which I showed you the screenshot of in the previous post, because usually those who sell do not spread their knowledge to others, to avoid creating competitors able to erode their market shares.
In other words: agencies forums are the perfect house for frustrated producers who earn $20 a month. The same producers that run to publish the news of every sale they have as if it was a life-changing event.
At the moment there is no other concrete evidence of the behind the scenes of the new membership area of Pond5, because the invited contributors spend their time producing Microstock to earn money, not to explain to beginners how to reach them (probably I’m the only one in the world who’s naive enough to do it).
I want to send a message to everyone who’s angry with me because, they say:
You think only for your own interest, without considering the negative impact on sales of subscriptions.
My message is:
Yes my friend, you’re definitely right. I think only for my own interest.
Because first I want to save my life and my family’s, and after that maybe I’ll spend some time to save the world.
I remember that some years ago a producer wrote on Pond5’s forum that he would erase his content if the agency had not deleted some files that, according to him, helped foment animal cruelty. It was crazy what he wanted. By analogy, if you shoot a tragic event, you are not necessarily endorsing cruelty. This is demonstrated by all the documentaries filmed on the worst regimes that have ruled the world and are filled with images of horrible situations. Pond5 didn’t change his policy, and that producer canceled everything. I believe that Mankind does not feel the lack of video of that contributor, while the whole of the Microstock industry continues to grind growth rates like China in the beginning of the millennium. In other words:
A single, insignificant filmmaker like me cannot stop a progression that has the power of the Internet and of freedom of enterprise.
If Pond5 had not moved to subscriptions, in an extremely competitive market, would close within three years. My prediction seems risky, but do you think they would have done so if it was not in their economic interest to do it?
This is business, not a Ken Loach film. What you have to understand is that Microstock’s market has no borders. I am Italian, and 99.9% of my sales are from buyers who work far away from my country. Microstock sales started with the global economy, so contributors cannot argue like a taxi drivers union when they fight against Uber when it comes to town. These are not the 90’s and the world doesn’t end in the neighborhood where you spend most of your time.
Instead of complaining about the state of things, or that your content is rejected, my advice is to distance yourself from your competitors, studying the market and improving the quality of your content. As I say in the course, take a trip in the Pond5 forum and go see some threads of those with more posts (some have thousands). You will find yourself in front of people in their fifties who still believe in dreams and who spend their days sitting on the sofa waiting for the world to change.
Do you really want to be like them?
You have to concentrate your forces on planning a strategy, spending your time on:
- Learning filming techniques
- Studying what the market wants
- Producing stunning content
If you plan to leave your job to get up later in the morning because your tired of facing your boss, you are wrong, because such a happy employment island is only reachable after years of hard work and good decisions, and it is not guaranteed for those who start producing Microstock today.
Going back to Pond5, I emphasize that their subscription program isn’t a “killer app”. There are two types of subscriptions:
- 5 clips per month ($ 99 for a single month or $ 799 for a full year)
- 10 clips per month ($ 199 for a single month or $ 1,199 for a full year), except for a promotional launch currently underway.
December 2016 price updates
Many of those who will buy it will not be people who would also purchase single videos at full price. In other words: if I was producing a documentary and I bought a subscription of five clips for $ 99, without that offer I would choose two alternative options
- Filming the material myself.
- Buying an “All you can download” deal on Videoblocks or BigStockPhoto subscriptions.
This is, therefore, a bit less tragic scenario than that designed by many of those who have written to me in the same tone that forty years ago, at least in western Europe, was used against those who tried to enter the factory on strike days. This is another world, and you cannot be happy for paying technical equipment on the Internet for half of what you pay at the store or maybe for going to Ikea and buy low cost furniture, and then complain if the same change adversely affects your interests.
I had a friend who bought a house before the collapse of real estate prices during the crisis. A few years later he found a bigger and better house for a great price, even less than he paid for his own. So he started trying to sell his flat. There’s a little detail in this:
he was asking the price of the heyday of easy loans when residential areas sprang up like mushrooms, and the contractors promised buyers an annual revaluation of 8%.
In the end, of course, my friend kept what he had and realized that the gains are achieved only in one way: by hard work and by the ability to adapt to a changing world.