Guess where this place is!
Until 2013, in addition to the three agencies to which I send today:
I sent my video to Istockphoto, Fotolia, Clipcavass, Clipdealer, Pixta, Depositphoto, 123rf and Artbeats as well. Fotolia had a selection system which was funny. At that time, I opted to send my stock footage according to the Agency:
- All to Pond5 (which had an acceptance rate very close to 100%) and was the most profitable site (and still today is).
- Only the best (selecting about 30%) to Fotolia, Shutterstock, Istockphoto, 123rf…
I shot it in 2008: it’s an island.
Fotolia used an algorithm to choose the files to include in its collection: there was a fixed rate of rejections. Only half of my clips were accepted. I can say it because one day I sent the entire exported footage (the same quantity I used to send only to Pond5), receiving a percentage of rejection similar to previous times.
For the record, however, today I send the same number of clips to the three agencies to which I contribute, because I want to optimize my time, and this is the best method to do so, especially since I discovered how to transfer descriptions and keywords from Pond5 to Videoblocks and Shutterstock with .csv files (I teach it in the course). That’s how I passed from the $600 a month I earned in 2013 to the $3,000 a month I earn today.
Everyone thinks that companies that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars (Fotolia was bought by Adobe for $800 million in 2014) have perfect workflows. Actually they have, but only when they relate with their customers. In the relationship with the contributors, the selection process is quite expensive due to the staff that they have to train and hire, there are often bugs, because in business sometimes it’s better to save money than to have your suppliers (we producers) completely happy.
I abandoned Fotolia in late 2013 because of their poor sales performance with stock footage (and partly for their rejection algorithm). Other filmmakers had boycotted the agency itself a few years earlier, after the introduction of subscriptions, which sometimes paid only $1 to producers for a single stock footage sale. I remember contributors started their protest in the forum, and finally erased their collections. I didn’t like Fotolia’s trade policy, but I was a business man and I just wanted to make money: I could not throw all the hours I had spent for keywording, so:
Yes, in 2013 I stopped uploading because sales didn’t pay my time anymore. But in 2011 I didn’t remove my collection from Fotolia, because that same collection still today generates me a few tens of euro earnings per month.
With iStockphoto, something a little different happened to me. My motto is:
Business is business
But since they were the architects of the birth of Microstock about 15 years ago, for many years I used to think about them with my heart and not with my brain.
Let me explain now what I use to do to understand if an agency is the place where I want to sell my stuff.
At the moment, I don’t trust stocksubmitter and my .csv workflow can be used only in my favourite three agencies. So it takes up to five hours to “keyword” 100 clips on a website. If I expect to earn only 50 Euros from them, it means that I value my work 10 euro per hour. I’m not that kind of worker:
I didn’t spend my last 10 years to study the Microstock market to get only 10 euro for an hour of work.
Keywording is not like a day of shooting in the city, which is pleasant. Those five hours in front of my computer while typing keywords on the keyboard are boring, and I do not think there is any sane person in the world that can consider it an experience worth living.
At a certain point, with iStockphoto, I asked for the revision of some of the clips that they refused. It was a polite question, from a polite person, like:
Can you explain exactly why you rejected my footage?
Because the reasons you find in the rejection mails are always generic:
- Clip exhibits distortion or an anomaly.
- Poor framing.
- Bad quality.
On the other side, there was a person whose technical level was very similar to what you find when you have a problem on the phone and call a customer service center that has contracted out the call to a call center in a poor country. At that point, with all my heart and brain I said:
Goodbye Istockphoto. I won’t miss your 16%.
The answer to the quiz is: Capo Caccia, north-western Sardinia, not too far from Alghero. If you want to know why shooting microstock in places like that is useless, please read this post.
Many people who contact me want to know what to do if images or footage are rejected. There are two scenarios:
- Upload them again. (You will not believe it, but it often works. Pay attention though: some agencies have a software that recognizes the files already rejected and automatically dismisses them and warns you to not do that anymore).
- Work like me: don’t care about rejections and just think about the next shooting.
There are now tools like Adobe Lightroom that combine the images with metadata, including descriptions and keywords, so you won’t lose much time to upload them again. But it’s not my policy: I’m like the CEO of a multinational company reading budgets and pulling the lines that are no longer worth insisting. I live the production of Microstock from a business point of view:
If I receive a rejection (for artistic decisions and not due to a lack of technical knowledge), I forget it a second later and start thinking about the next video I want to produce, because doing so is the best way to earn more money.
If you opt for a different strategy, I’m sure you will sell photos or clips which at first were refused, but then the question I ask you is:
How much money have you brought home, and how much did it take in terms of work to get the sale?
You have to consider:
- The time wasted to open the FTP program and launch the upload.
- The time you need to adapt the .csv (at least that’s what you have to do with Shutterstock using Pond5 .csv).
- The time spent reading the acceptance mail.
- The time to monitor sales.
This workflow can be worth it in the case of the individual sold files, but you also have to think to what was re-selected and then remained unsold. In my opinion, working this way affects negatively on your production, subtracting precious time from doing things
- shooting new stuff
- working on better descriptions
- finding efficient workflows…
that could be much more profitable for your business.