Do More Images Generate A Proportionate Increase In Downloads?

Posted on 1/9/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Most stock contributors want to believe that if they continue to produce more and better images more of their work will be downloaded (purchased by customers), and they will make more money. That’s not the way it seems to have worked at iStock in the last two years.


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Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

Comments

  • Thomas Wear Posted Jan 10, 2015
    In the beginning of the article you seem to suggest that adding more images to a photographer's collection does not bear fruit in terms of increased downloads (and therefore increased revenue, though with varying price-points those numbers will not move exactly in tandem anyway.) However, your figures show that for EACH level of increased submissions, the number of downloads DID increase, with the greatest increase going to those who uploaded the greatest numbers. Which directly contradicts your claim in the first paragraph.

    Later, it appears that what you are really trying to show is the much less sensational, though still disappointing, trend (according to your numbers that according to your notes are at least partially estimates and not solid numbers) that the increase in the number of downloads does not track with the number of new uploads, as one would hope it would.

    However, there are at least two important factors that could influence that statistic, that you don't seem to take into account, or at least you don't report on.

    1.Most importantly, you do not look at the age of the images in the contributors' collections. If these are all large contributors with a very substantial number of images in the collection, it stands to reason that for most of them they will have been fairly long-time contributors. (Note the "year start" in your second table to bear this out.)
    They will have a substantial number of older images, which will show a much greater drop-off in number of downloads than more recent ones. So by adding new images, they are able to avoid what would be a significant reduction in number of downloads, and instead net an increase in downloads overall.

    2. Less important, but possibly also significant (we don't know since the information is not provided) is the question of WHEN those new images were uploaded. For a contributor who had been uploading very regularly over this period the download percentages would probably track pretty well. But for those contributors whose uploads were mostly toward the end of the survey period, the number of downloads could be misleading since there is always something of a lag between the time an image is uploaded and the time it starts to see significant traffic.

    So I would caution any readers against concluding that, as you seem to imply at the beginning of the article, adding more images to iStock (or any stock collection for that matter) is not worthwhile or will not provide an expected return. For anyone who has been and still is producing actually salable images (which is not everyone who uploads images by a long shot) adding more images is the only hedge against even more precipitous drops in downloads and income.

    Thanks,
    Tom Wear

  • Thomas Wear Posted Jan 10, 2015
    I should note, for anyone who might recognize my name, that while I formerly worked for Getty Images (owner of iStock) I left Getty in August to pursue freelance editing and consulting, so anything I write is my own opinion and NOT in any way official (or even unofficial) information or response from Getty.

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