Yesterday, Getty has uploaded the first sales report for iStock contributors into their ESP platform. As I explained in a blog post, it is the most terrible way to present data I can imagine. The PDF you can download contains all sales but it was probably designed in a time when the best stock photographers would get 100 sales a month, each paying $50-100, it doesn’t really make sense to go through dozens of pages for hundreds of subscription downloads. The TXT file you can download contains all the details, so there is a lot of information in there but about 80-90% of the spread sheet is unusable information, the formatting isn’t what I would call industry standards, so it isn’t really easy to get a good overview of what you sold. I tried to turn it into readable information for myself to get a better overview of what I sold and for how much.
“Increasing transparency” was what Getty Images announced in their second unification newsletter for iStock on November 15 of last year. Now the first report is available in their ESP system. You can download it as PDF which in my case is 28 pages; or you can export it “as a text file that can be imported into your favorite spreadsheet application”. I did this and got a spread sheet with hundreds of lines an 54 (!) columns. It doesn’t break up properly into a spread sheet because Getty is not capable of using a common format like “comma separated values” (CSV).
In a forum post, Shutterstock has announced they are “testing” (a rather common way of saying “introducing”) new price plans for some of their customers.
The new packages come in between the customers who are only occasionally shopping for images and go for an image pack and those who will use images almost daily and are better off with the subscription packages. From a market point, this offer somewhat makes sense as measure of customer retention.
In a few groups I saw people posting screen shots of their latest sales at Shutterstock, listing them with locations. As this looked cool, I looked for how to do that. Two contributors have taken the effort to write Greasemonkey scripts which read out the world map data Shutterstock provides.
Sales as list with regions thanks to Greasemonkey scripts
Every contributor faces this at the start, and many will have received a new message to renew it these days: The tax forms at the big US based microstock agencies. So let’s have a quick look at how to fill them out. But sorry, just let me tell you from the start, I can not give individual advice nor can I comment on how to fill out the form for people from non-treaty countries nor for contributors who are working in corporate entities. This article is just a help for those who are allowed to submit the W-8BEN form, those who are a single person coming from a country with an existing taxation treaty. I am no lawyer, I am no accountant, I am not tax consultant and simply won’t comment on individual questions on this, sorry. 😉
Finding the Tax Center at Shutterstock below the Earnings menu