In one of my other posts I talked about the contract I closed with Pond5, thanks to which from April 15, 2016, onwards I started making $791 per month, only for giving 1582 clips of mine to the membership are of the agency. This money joined my Pond5’s:
- Regular gains (an average of $1000 per month).
Plus, 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 by my historical footage archive.
Subscription plans for stock footage on BigStockPhoto (crazy prices!)
Videoblocks, BigStockPhoto and Fotolia launched subscriptions many years ago, but Pond5 is different, because it is the most profitable agency for most producers, so that decision maybe one of the causes for which so many video makers and photographers tomorrow won’t be able to travel the world and got trips paid by their shots, as five years ago I used to do, even if I worked:
- Without the technical market knowledge, I have today.
- Without being sure of the weather.
- Without tracking the sun’s position to shoot the subject with the light always on my back.
In May 2011, in a couple of days in Paris, I earned enough for me to pay a summertime holiday in Sardinia for my girlfriend and me (today the counter of royalties has risen a lot more!).
My best seller stock footage on Shutterstock was shot during that trip.
That same stock footage also sold on Pond5.
Before the membership area was launched, I talked about that in my microstock blog in italian saying I accepted to join it. Making such a statement in a website visited by thousands of people every month is enough to be contacted by a lot of angry producers.
When you run a digital project 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.
Like they should do in the offline world.
But sometimes they can be a little rude (they don’t deserve to be quoted).
I want to point out some important things:
- My 1582 files selected were chosen from those of my collection with at least two sales.
- Until now, I never had feedback from other people who have received the wonderful email that I showed you in the other post because usually those who sell a lot of stock images and stock footage do not spread their knowledge to others, to avoid creating competitors that can low their profits.
Agencies forums are the perfect house for frustrated producers who earn $20 a month. The same producers publish the news of every sale they have immediately as if that sale was a life-changing event.
I don’t know if online there other behind the scenes of the launch of the membership area of Pond5 because the invited contributors have better things to do than explaining to beginners how to be like them (probably I’m the only one in the world who’s fool enough to do it).
But I want to send a message to everyone who’s angry with me because, as they say:
I think only to my interest, without considering the negative impact of subscriptions on incomes of non-invited contributors.
My message is:
Yes, my friend, you’re right. I think only to my interest.
It is just business. It is not about killing someone. Like Henry Ford created unemployment on the horse carriage drivers work category. The world changes every day. Pond5 and other agencies destroyed the business model of:
and other macrostock agencies. So being a contributor to stock images and stock footage in the last 15 years is one of the reasons why many photographers went out of business.
As everyone who have to pay the rent and bills, first
I want to save my life and my family’s, and after that maybe I’ll spend some time to save the world.
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 because let’s say you are the director of a documentary about a regime. It doesn’t mean that you are endorsing that dictator.
Pond5 didn’t change his policy, and that producer stops being a contributor. I believe that nobody doesn’t sleep at night because that part of the collection was deleted, while the microstock industry continues to grind growth rates like China at the beginning of the millennium. In other words:
A single, insignificant filmmaker like me cannot stop the power of the Internet and the freedom of enterprise.
If Pond5 had not moved to subscriptions, in an extremely competitive market, it would close within a few years.
Do you think they would have done so if it was not in their economic interest to do it?
This is a money making game, not a Ken Loach film.
What you have to understand is that the microstock 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. These are not the 1990’s, and the world is not made only by the neighbourhood where you spend most of your time.
Instead of complaining about any change, or because your content has been rejected, my advice is to distance yourself from your competitors, studying the market and improving the quality of your content. As I say in my course:
- go to the Pond5 forum
- read some thread 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 want to be like them?
You have to think about creating 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 my friend. you can reach such a happy work situation only after years of hard work and good decisions, and if you start producing today is far more difficult than it was for me.
December 2016 price updates
Back to Pond5, I want to say that their subscription program isn’t a “killer app”. There are two types of subscriptions:
- Five clips per month ($ 99 for a single month or $ 799 for a full year)
- Ten clips per month ($ 199 for a single month or $ 1,199 for a full year).
Buyers 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 to 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 Storyblocks/Videoblocks or the BigStockPhoto subscriptions.
This is, therefore, a scenario less tragic than that designed by many of those who have written to me using the same words that forty years ago, at least in western Europe, were used against those who tried to enter the factory on strike days. This is another world, and you cannot be happy for paying for your camera on the Internet for half of what you pay in the stores, or to be happy for going to Ikea and buy low-cost furniture, and then complain if the same change gives problems to 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 days of easy loans when residential areas sprang up like mushrooms, and the contractors promised buyers an annual revaluation of 8%.
Finally, my friend kept what he had and realized that to make money there’s only one way:
- hard work
- being able to adapt to a world that changes every day.