In 2014, Adobe the software house of Photoshop, and also that of After Effects, which is the software I will suggest you use in creating time-lapses, bought Fotolia, one of the most important microstocks, but for sure not the biggest one. The cost of the operation should tell you many important things:
This was in 2014; but, just to understand how microstock industry is growing, in 2006 Getty bought the largest microstock at that time, Istockphoto, for only $50 million, 16 times less.
Buying an Agency does not mean buying millions of stock images and stock footage it sells, which remain the property of the authors, but simply buying:
$800 million in the off-line world is the price of a Company with dozens of thousands of employees.
Do you know how many employees Fotolia had when it was bought by Adobe?
Less than 200.
Come on photographers, I want an answer now!
What's the future? Being part of a digital project or opening a shop where your core business is printing grandmother's holiday photos?
There are already two different worlds you can live in. Regardless of:
- where you come from
- who your parents are
- how much you have
- the school you went to
you can be part of the internet revolution and start creating a better life for you and your family or you simply can let things happen, keep thinking about what your parents thought you when you were young:
- Send your CV to hundreds of Companies
- Get a job interview
- Start your daily routine inside an office you'll soon hate, hoping that one day an artificial intelligence won't shut you out of the door.
You don't have to risk living a life, where your most exciting moment is reading your Facebook newsfeed made of fake political news, kittens, complaints and old friends' dinners.
No private companies will spend $800 million cash, if they don't believe that the acquisition can generate a business that is worth the investment. Microstock industry is not hype, it’s a reality. A North American multinational company like Adobe, won’t spend a single dollar in a business that has no future.
Do you want to be Netflix or do you want to be Blockbuster? Do you watch videos on YouTube or do you rent VHS tapes?
I started talking about that $800 million acquisition for a simple reason:
- I sometimes quote my $3000 dollars monthly earnings generated by a job of few hours a week to produce stock images and stock footage.
There are a lot of screenshots of my sales reports on my videos and posts but, people have the right not to trust me:
- The $800 million dollars is history. You can find the news everywhere on the internet; so what I’m asking you now is:
Do you still hope to make a business:
- creating photos of weddings
- knocking on the doors of Companies trying to create videos for them, selling your time at a price that is in competition with friends of friends who work for $5 per hour?
Do you still hope to make money becoming an Instagram star? Do you believe you can make more than $100 per month with the YouTube partnership?
Dear friends: the internet is not just for Silicon Valley giants. The Internet is also the world of people like me, with $1500 equipment who can live free, thanks to what they create.
You don't need a University degree to start your journey in the digital world. You need to start from the ability to work hard every day of your life, waking up early in the morning after sleeping only 3 hours and building your business day by day. You don't have to spend half of your life inside an office with people you don't respect. You also know how bad the world can be; but now, my friend, stop complaining and
start adapting your life to the friendly face of technology that can change your life.
I'll tell you a story of what happened to me a few weeks ago. My driving license expired and I had to make a new photo for that. I could do it myself and print it, but I had little time, so I took my bike and went to the last photographer shop in the small in Italy town where I live.
I arrived, and inside the shop there was no one apart from the photographer who was in front of the computer. From the mirror situated behind him I saw that he was on Facebook. I assume because the previous customer had entered the day before. I found myself in front of this man:
The typical man to whom all my respect goes because thanks to him the world is a better place.
But there is a big problem in that situation. That man has not understood that his work is over. I'm sorry to say it, but he is riding a horse when the world is asking for a self-driving car.
He's a hero, because 30 years ago he struggled and survived the mass arrival of the shopping centers. He was David against Goliath and he won. But the internet revolution is far bigger and those who don't understand it are not heroes, but are crazy people; because they will soon be in trouble.
It's easy to understand what's going on. If on the window of your shop, you have 10 models of compact cameras, which is a product that makes no sense given the photo quality of today's smartphones; and those cameras are 30% more expensive than Amazon, how will you pay the rent of your store?
Moreover, how can you stay 10 hours inside your shop talking with just one or two customers from morning to night?
If instead of connecting to Facebook, for example, that man had spent his time producing lifestyle photos, which he could make just by creating a corner in his store to shoot, and then sell those images in microstock agencies; wouldn't it be better for him?
Not just for money, but for producing something that has a future in business; being that, just stock images or being that, the first step to create a business in the digital world.
What do you prefer?
Spending your time on Facebook to watch what your old school mate did in the weekend, or start building your future?
Something like publishing your photo on a website where customers from around the world can buy them.
Unfortunately, the old photographer situation gave me a lot more sadness. More sadness than that left to me by days without sales in microstocks; like it used to happen when I started producing 10 years ago. When that man will be forced to close his shop, my town will be a worse place without him. As it is a worse place today, after the second photographer shop that was owned by two young people shut down a couple of years ago.
Unfortunately this is the business today
and I told you at the beginning of this episode; because it is like this:
- A microstock Agency that is a bit more than its website, which was sold for $800 million.
- A glorious photographer, lonely behind the desk of his shop, waiting for customers from morning to evening.
Does this situation suck? Does it make you upset?
I'm sure the answer is yes, but the good news is that there's a strategy to fight against the bad part of the business; and I worked hard to find it. And I can teach you. The right word is “fight”! It's a kind of war you have to go through. I'm not telling you a fairy tale, but I'm sure
99% of listeners can build a business of $80.000 a year based on the web, if they want to learn how to do it.
I'm quite sure now that, you are sadder than you were after watching the last episode of Lost, back in 2010; but immediate sadness is much better than an empty plate that can arrive tomorrow for those who do not want to change their lives.
Talking about empty dishes, this story I'm going to tell you, has nothing to do with photography, it's no more than a personal event I want to talk about. More or less three months ago, after watching a TV show, I didn't eat anything for 24 hours, drinking only:
just to see if I could resist without food for a long time. And I finally did it and was so proud of that!
It is a great experience I will recommend to everyone. Probably I won't try it again. Of course, talk with your doctor first if you decide to do it.
That said; let me say that a lot of questions have arrived after the previous episode, so I'm quite sure the podcast is becoming bigger.
This is Alex's question, which I think is very interesting for all of you:
On Shutterstock I had a $45.54 balance after the sale of two videos and some photos. At the beginning of the previous month, the balance was automatically cleared because I set the minimum payment threshold at $35. I received the payment notification from PayPal for $43.64. Why is the entire balance not paid on PayPal? Is there a percentage commission on the payment from Shutterstock to PayPal?
So dear Alex, let me tell you: this time it's not PayPal’s fault. I am saying so because the company was founded by Ellon Musk; when you change Euros into dollars, it has some hidden commission I don't like. Your $1.90 missed, is the 8% withholding tax that Shutterstock applies to sales of footage generated by customers living in the United States.
I'm sure there is a bilateral treaty between your Country and the United States for which that reduced tax rate is applied, instead of the normal 30%; if there isn't any treaty, then maybe it’s because you didn't fill a form called W8-BEN.
The three agencies I upload to:
are all American companies but in terms of tax at source they have different policies:
- Videoblocks/Storyblocks applies 8% on all sales
- Pond5 on none
- Shutterstock, whose headquarter is in New York in the Empire State Building, applies 8% only on sales from American customers.
So the rules can change according to... something I don't know.
Now, guys a question from a Lady who lives in a beautiful Country called Australia. A few episodes ago a man from Thailand sent a message, and I quoted the Hangover part 2 that was set there. What about Australian movies? Can anyone quote one of them? Thanks to wikipedia I'll do that:
- Crocodile Dundee
- Dead Calm
- Mad Max.
It's easy to understand that I'm 40 years old.
I said the Hangover part 2 wasn't a masterpiece, probably also this Australian movies are not. But... how did we start talking about the first Nicole Kidman or Mel Gibson films?
Please send me a message to tell me, in the meanwhile the question of the lady from Australia is:
First off, well done for all the effort you're doing inspiring other stock footage makers. You are pretty much the one and only out there who shares his knowledge. That is very noble and keep up the good work, most of us appreciate it.
I was wondering after I listened to your funny podcast that how many clips you have uploaded on each site to be able to make $3000/month. I understand it's about quality, just out of curiosity. I have around 1300 videos on Pond5 and Storyblocks and around 950 on Shutterstock which is only pulling in a few hundred a month. I am very passionate about making stock footage as just like you I also had enough of film festivals and I'd rather enjoy the freedom of being a freelancer contributor.
Very polite woman I should say. Australians are great people. I usually receive messages from italy, because I also have a blog and a podcast in my language. Do you know what kind of questions do I receive?
- Tell me how to make money with my photos.
Hallo, sorry, please, thank you, but the strangest thing is that Italians have the accent even when they write in English.
Back to the answer: I've got about:
- 12k clips on Pond5
- 8k on Shutterstock
- 8k Storyblocks.
In the last 2 years I've almost gave up producing contemporary footage. I've focused on:
- buying historical home movies on Ebay
- digitalize them
- restore them.
I created many digital projects and I've had no time to produce new stuff, so I used my knowledge of microstock market to find the right footage and grow my collection without spending too much time.
One of the visitor of my Italian blog has just send me her sales report, which is very interesting. This producer, whose name is Silvia, has less than 300 clips online, and she makes about $200/400 per month, using a cheap DSLR and a tripod.
Her secret is that she has spent the last two years to study the market, which is the most important thing to make more money.
You quoted Storyblocks, and I should say something now. They have slow down for me too, because their algorythm is killing the clips in the marketplace to favour those on their "All you can download" collection, because it's the only part of the website where they make money.
If you try to search some keyword you will realize that the clips of the marketplace are in the bottom of the ranking page. Well, it's a business decision, related to the 100% commision they give to producers. I think they can decide whatever they want to.
I've watched your portfolio, dear listener from Australia. In my opinion you have to focus on clips with models.
Let me explain: you have a lot of footage shot in cities:
- Abu Dhabi.
First you need to work always with a tripod. Then, if you put a model in front of the camera, with the city in the background, you will be different from your competitors. There are thousands of clips set in tourist destinations. If you use a friend of yours or someone who is there with you, to create a lifestyle situation like:
- a man holding a map
- lovers making a selfie
- someone checking the smartphone
you can create unique footage, and the market rewards who is different.
I live 50 Kilometers from Venice: 10 years ago I could go there for a couple of hours and sell the footage I created earning more than 1000 euros. Today unfortunately is different.
Competition changed microstock industry and you need to adapt yourself to the new scenario.
- try to "hire" friends and family for your clips.
- Use always a tripod.
- Use the drone not only for landscapes.
- Work with .csv to use Pond5 descriptions on Shutterstock and Videoblocks...
and keep listening to my podcast, or buy my course which is better.
OK guys. After 5 episodes of “Sell your photos and videos online” I hope you like my style. In Italy listeners use to say that they like the fact that when I talk, I go straight to the point. I like to talk like this because the time of life is limited; and there's no time for jokes in this world that goes very fast.
I gave you a lot of information that I hope can make you earn a lot of money with your stock images and stock footage because the internet must be:
Today I talked about the small shop of the old school photographer, whose business unfortunately, is failing like other businesses in photography.
Be careful guys if 90% of your business is making wedding photos or something like local TV commercials like Saul Goodman. Do not get stuck on your position. Hurry up and reinvent your job, because you do not even know what's coming along and the only way to make money is to study and adapt yourself.