Michael Jay Fotograf Berlin

Selling photos across agencies

The time for sharing information is over

Sales statistics from my early years

Sales statistics from my early years (Screenshot StockPerformer)

If you have read my blog on a more or less regular basis, you know I was quite open discussing my own sales even in detail. Well, I will not do that anymore. At least not in that much detail as I used to.

I used to be a big believer that sharing knowledge is a positive idea: If you look back at human history, I think “language”, “writing” and “printing” are three of the major inventions we have made as a race. And I have no doubt that the “internet” will be considered the fourth major step in the same direction. It allows us to learn from other experiences in the past and present, combine the knowledge of many to create more and better.

However, what is “the greater good” is not always right for the individual member of the group. In the past, I appreciated reading the specific numbers of other contributors because it helped me to put my own successes or failures into perspective. And I will continue to do that as long as I can. However, there are too many individuals out there who go a step further and not just apply knowledge to their own way but just copy what others have done successfully. I appreciate this is just the way things are. And as I am struggling to make a living from stock now, I will take some blame myself as I am certainly analyzing more detailed these days which type of images are making the best return for a given effort I am able to put into the business. There is no judgement from my side because in the end we all have to set our own lines.

But it seems to become a part of general concern among contributors that in today’s oversaturated market, we just can not afford to make it too easy to copy other people’s successes. iStockphoto had made the first step by only showing rounded download numbers a few years ago, agencies like Fotolia and Mostphotos have listened to their contributors and removed public download numbers as well, Shutterstock as long as I remember never had them shown. They are not helpful for clients in making their buying decision anyways, so I believe other agencies will follow. Shutterstock has changed their terms last year, so contributors are not allowed anymore to publish confidential information about their own sales – it might be arguable what exactly is allowed under those new rules but I had a discussion with their support team and my generalized and summarized data would still be allowed. However, the step also makes clear that it is neither in the agency’s not in the contributor’s interest to share too many details.

I will still publish a few general statistics on numbers that I think are representing market developments in general. And I will keep analyzing general information like in my recent article about Sell Through RatesHowever, don’t be surprised if you no longer find sums and totals, monthly revenues or other detailed information on my own imagery.

Using anonymized contributor data is still valuable information

While I have come to the conclusion, that some sharing is valuable to everyone in the market. I keep looking at the information I can find on MicroStockGroup on a regular basis and the revenue trend chart is helpful in measuring my own successes or failures compared to others. Therefore, I’d like to encourage you to take part in the monthly revenue poll at MSG on a regular basis as well as the annual survey they are doing. Even if you are exclusive with an agency, having a look at the global market certainly can be helpful to make informed decisions.

I’d be interested in your opinion on this topic. Feel free to post here or on my Facebook page or on Google+ on this.


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