It’s the Friday before Christmas and business is slowly winding down for the next two weeks. The season for family, relaxation, food and sweets is coming up, before our calendars are being switched for new ones showing a different number. It is a good time to sit back and reconsider the events of the last twelve months.
Almost exactly a year ago, I took the decision to cancel my exclusivity at iStockphoto after submitting my images to them for almost six years. Did I regret this decision in the last 12 months? I can honestly say: Not a single day. And this not just because I recovered to my previous royalties much quicker than expected. It’s mostly the changes in my mindset and the progress I’ve been making that make me happy about that decision.
Shutterstock has been an excellent place to be at: While those subscription downloads and low royalties certainly need some time to get used to, the number of higher valued downloads and the consistent growth came as a surprise to me. Only about half of my income is from subscription downloads. And I see a certain vision in the company that others are lacking of. Fotolia has established itself as my number 3 place, well ahead of the rest but also far behind Shutterstock and iStockphoto. I will spend some time to focus on how to optimize my income from Fotolia next year. Coming next would be Dreamstime, I still didn’t really figure out how it works in the end, it keeps surprising me with ups and downs. Among the smaller places, Depositphotos seems on a good track and is easy to use, while 123RF might finally become a nicer place after reaching one of their sales targets for raised royalty rates.
I am very honored and happy to be part of Stocksy United. It is not just some fancy place to hang around, it is an option for all of us to be part of a needed change in the market. And I am very happy to be represented by Westend61 with some (far less than I had hoped for) of my images, and along with Stocksy it will get far more attention of me next year.
All in all, I did not achieve all of my own targets for the year but I am making progress. And life is not easy to plan, so I try to go with the flow and make the best out of it.
My perception of the market has changed quite a bit over the last two or three years, as did the market itself. We are coming from a rapidly growing market segment, fostered by technology changes, into a phase of saturation. Growth is easy to achieve when you start with a miniscule share within an existing market but once you reach a certain share, growth can only be achieved by growing the market. And it will be interesting to see if the growth that only happened in volume (number of images licensed per year) in the last year can be transformed into growth in revenue (money generated from those licenses).
My conclusion to this is that we have to strive for higher prices – not necessarily for all images but we have to become more selective: Not all images are meant for mass usage and only mass usage can pay off in the long term in microstock. I am trying to find the right split between those images selling often enough to spend time on and those that won’t find more than a handful of customers. The latter need to be priced accordingly.
For me personally, the biggest challenge in 2014 will be to find the time I need to become better and more productive. I love this job, so I need to find a way to make it pay for my life and family.
With this said, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a well deserved rest, exciting days or whatever you are going to do for the remaiming days of 2013. I hope to see you again in 2014. 🙂