Videoblocks was a stock footage agency from 2014 to 2019. As of today, the URL videoblocks.com appears once in a while within the project into which it merged: Storyblocks (learn more about Storyblocks).
The Videoblocks brand, however, has disappeared, and I think the continued presence of the URL is only a technical matter that requires a little bit of time to migrate the URLs.
The homepage of Videoblocks still exists and is indexed by Google, but if you click on the link you will arrive on the Storyblocks homepage.
Videoblocks: The story of this microstock
For many years, Videoblocks has represented a steady income for me as a stock footage producer. If you consider that I would have created the content I sold there anyway in order to sell it on:
and that the upload did not require the repeated insertion of titles and keywords (being able to exploit the information already entered on Pond5 thanks to .csv files), I was very disappointed when, in September 2019, it stopped selling stock footage because its successor, Storyblocks, changed its business model, as it meant losing thousands of euros in income each year.
But let's go step by step.
2015: 3 thousand dollars just to join the collection
Videoblocks was born at the beginning of the millennium, like many other microstocks.
Unlike its competitors (Shutterstock, Istockphoto, Dreamstime), which focused on single sales, Videoblocks had an alternative business model: the sale of subscriptions; once you bought one, you could download an unlimited number of videos.
So, they had an element of differentiation. But, given the poor quality of their collection, they had the problem of finding customers, because buyers could find far better stock footage on marketplaces like
though at much higher prices.
In 2014, Videoblocks decided to launch its own marketplace while keeping its subscription program. With this strategy, they aimed to raise the level of the content they offered and to compete with other microstocks.
Shortly after that decision, at the end of 2015, those at Videoblocks contacted me after seeing my portfolio on another agency, asking me to contribute to the marketplace (while the All You Can Download collection was created using the content of video makers selected by invitation).
The proposal they gave me was:
Why don't you send us your stock footage since you will earn 100% of the sales?
My answer was:
Yes, but I also want 3 dollars for each clip of mine you select (I had 9,000 on Pond5).
Having been a producer since 2006, I've received those kinds of propositions dozens of times. Usually, when I make that kind of counter-proposal, the people in charge of the new-born agencies disappear.
If you think about it, mine was not a crazy way of dealing, even when looking at things from the point of view of Videoblocks itself:
This one above is my Shutterstock dashboard from some time ago. At the time, it had already hit more than 35 thousand dollars in revenue (today it is well beyond 40 thousand: learn more about it).
Since Shutterstock pays 30% to producers, this means that, thanks to my content, they had made more than 70,000 dollars. Therefore, I was asking Videoblocks for a figure which, if they had produced a level of income similar to their direct competitors as they had also promised in the email with which they contacted me, they would have repaid in a few months.
By guaranteeing the contributor 100% of the royalties (another great feature), they did not earn anything on my sales. But since they are obviously not a charity, they did use my content and those of other producers to promote their subscriptions program, which they sold, earning the full amount paid by the buyers.
That promotion, since microstock is a business, had a cost that, from my point of view and from the rules of the economy, had to be quantified using the closest value on the market as a guideline.
Producing microstock (stock images and stock footage) is:
- not art
And, in business, entrepreneurs win and artists fail.
At first, the dialogue sank. 27,000 dollars (3 dollars x 9,000 clips) was a lot for an agency of that level and, frankly, when approaching a negotiation, I always use the unionist's strategy:
- I ask for 100
- to get 10
knowing that, on the other side, if they are interested, a counter-proposal will soon come. In this case, unfortunately, it was not immediately like that, because they gave me a classic response that many other new-born agencies’ representatives have given me in similar situations during my 10+ years of business:
We will let you know.
Which is not synonymous with not talking anymore, because those who have zero chance of considering the deal usually don't even answer.
In fact, a couple of months later, they contacted me:
We can offer you 3,000 dollars, one-off, to sell your clips on our marketplace (in addition to normal earnings).
To seize the opportunity without taking the discussion further, I accepted immediately, because I understood that it was an unrepeatable offer, as demonstrated by the many other cases in which new agencies had asked me to contribute, running away at my first requests to be paid in advance.
A couple of months after receiving the 3 thousand dollars, I suggested to a producer and good friend mine that he should upload his content there, and I acted as an intermediary by contacting via direct email the people with whom I had talked during the negotiations.
I received a respectful, but somehow annoyed, response:
Yours was an extraordinary payment. We don't make these payments anymore because we are losing money with the marketplace.