November 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm #24660
As microstock creators we have no choice but to be competitive with pricing, because the market is headed towards being more free than ever before. I’m going to post a few cases as examples to shed some light on the situation.
Case 1: Example of Unsplash (Unsplash.com)
Unsplash provides 100% free, Creative Commons Zero (meaning images can be used for anything, without attribution) high resolution images. They started in 2012 and have since developed into a community of over 8000 photographers whose photos have been downloaded over 50 million times and been used by companies like Apple.
Whilst the Unplash community seems to focus on very artistic imagery and doesn’t have the diversity of styles that stock agencies offer, the fact that their images are highly usable for a variety of creative projects is at the heart of their growing success. And the fact that the images are FREE.
Their popularity continues to grow, as is demonstrated by their current efforts towards publishing an Unplash book for which they’ve crowd sourced over $58,000.
Case 2: Example of PicFair (PicFair.com)
PicFair is not a free stock media agency, however it is a good example of an agency that adopted the approach of allowing contributors to set their own prices. PicFair is not a small company, they received over $520,000 last year in seed funding from angel investors including the co-founder of Reddit. Unfortunately for PicFair, they are not doing too well. They have slow sales and low web traffic. To give you a good idea of their position, below is a traffic statistics comparison derived from Alexa (Alexa is a web analytics resource). Alexa ranks sites down from its top position being number 1 (held by google.com).
Alexa Canva: 1,275 global rank
Alexa Unsplash: 5,518 global rank
Alexa PicFair: 171,511 global rank
If a website makes it into the Alexa’s top 10,000 that is a feat and you can consider yourself to have an extremely successful site. Unsplash outranks PicFair by miles and miles.
This is very important information contributors must comprehend in order to have a proper grasp of current market conditions. If we want consumers to stay with paying stock agencies, we have to make it attractive for them and we have to do it now. Right now consumers are being deeply ripped off by subscription based agencies and they’re not happy about it. If free stock media sites are the only cheaper alternative they have to subscription sales, the free image market place will continue to swell and we could all be out of a job. This is why Symzio is so significant and it’s pricing strategy is ripe for the current market.November 30, 2015 at 12:10 am #24676
I don’t wish to speak out of turn here but we all have different reasons for wanting what we want. The owners of Symzio and contributors are bound to look at things differently. Contributors are not asking too much, maybe they want a fair price to cover cost of photog equipment, time out in the field or on site and work involved and the same for time and work to process images which surely can’t be given for free unless you are a saint or like doing volunteer work. The owners of symzio are in a different position. They want as many contributors and images and of course customers to purchase them to recompense them for the work they have put into developing it and to make a living from it and possibly get very rich if it takes off (who wouldn’t). But to draw an analogy we have the chinese and manufacturing, they use cheap labour, sell products stupidly cheap but their market runs into millions and millions of customers. They only need profit of a dollar an item when they are selling so many to become very rich!
I’m not saying I’ve got a way to resolve this, I’m just pondering the why’s and the wherefor’s.
We could do with a happy medium which will attract more contributors to submit to symzio and customers to buy!
And about unsplash, I don’t see the point in talking about free images at unsplash unless it’s a way to justify low pricing of contributors images. How could anyone have the time and resources to do it for free!November 30, 2015 at 1:39 am #24682
I understand your sentiments, but we need solid ideas to work with. When you have one, let us know.November 30, 2015 at 2:47 am #24685
To be honest all I can think of is letting contributors stick with the prices they set. And you the Symzio developers or the Agency still get 20% of the sales which I’m sure most think is fair enough.
On the Symzio site the header reads “the first completely contributor controlled stock photo, vector and video licensing agency”.
But I really don’t see how. If the contributor cannot set the price for their images as they see fit. My initial thoughts were this is the way it would be.
If the contributor cannot control pricing what exactly do the contributors control?November 30, 2015 at 2:53 am #24686
Let’s face it, you have created just another micro stock agency with bottom pricing. The initial idea behind Symbiostock was giving contributors the freedom to decide how they want to price their work. Symzio seems to be no better than any other micro stock agency. The prices are lower, the earnings might be a little higher. Other than that, not much difference.
Contributors wanted to get out of this rat race, not deeper in.
Lowering prices more and more devalues the work of every contributor. Why should anybody join? To make temporarily 0.80 instead of 0.25? Even IF Symzio gets successful and widely accepted, what do you think happens next? The big agencies might consider under cutting Symzio when they notice that somebody’s trying to get a share of their market. There’s really no point in going into a price war.
Keep pricing in the hands of the individual contributors. Not only to be different than all the agencies, but also to keep it fair to the contributor. That’s the only way to keep contributors happy in the long run.November 30, 2015 at 3:17 am #24688
I agree and it may not only be the way to keep contributors happy but also a way to attract more.November 30, 2015 at 3:29 am #24691
First of all, I’m now going to ignore anyone suggesting Symzio is ‘just another micro stock agency’ – the amount of free work I’ve put into Symbiostock, that you’re using, demands more respect out of you.
To the point – Picfair does exactly what you are suggesting, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of seed money, and is not doing very well. Following in that direction with less marketing prowess is not a logical course of action, and so, custom pricing has proven to be an unsuccessful business model. Zoonar tried the same thing with their bidding option, and even Pond5 is losing ground to both VideoBlocks and Shutterstock due to their custom pricing models.
Contrasting these examples, Canva, Shutterstock, and Fotolia, arguably the market leaders in their own right, all have standard pricing models.
The conclusion? Custom pricing confuses customers and does not work. It may make you feel a lot better, but it will still result in failure.
As to the second question:
What do contributors control? Through Symbiostock, you control exactly what images are available, when they are available, their titles, descriptions, their tagging, even the images themselves. Want to delete an image? Do it. Want to remove it temporarily? Do it. Want to disable your port temporarily? Do it. Want to add an image? Do it.
No submission process – once you’re approved, you have full, absolute control over every aspect of your portfolio, 24 hours a day. Symzio doesn’t even host your images.
I need not delve into the nightmarish experiences people have, or the plethora of monthly posts that show up everywhere about submission reviewers rejecting whole submissions, unfairly. Or the inability to contact the reviewer directly about some image that has certain artistic liberties taken with it. Or about people’s portfolios apparently being deleted randomly.
Hope this clarifies things. Unless you have new evidence that suggests custom pricing will increase customer demand, it won’t be entertained. We’re not here to babysit contributor emotions – we’re here to protect their careers.May 2, 2016 at 4:28 pm #26519
Robin, I agree completely.
I know how much work and endurance is needed to develop a software such Symbiostock.
Sometimes we take for granted what is not.
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