Most people are aware of the saying “Don’t keep your eggs in one basket”… which was probably coined the first time a farmer dropped his basket of eggs. But the same thing can be said for MicroStock… Don’t just sell your assets through a single agency.
There are artists who are exclusive at one agency or another who would argue with me, but I believe those who are truly doing well as an exclusive are the exception, not the rule. Not all buyers buy from just the top agency. In fact, many buyers will buy from multiple agencies.
My first year of selling stock footage I was exclusive at Pond5. Not because of any agreement (they don’t offer exclusivity), but simply because I found it to be a major hassle to upload at other agencies. I figured if buyers didn’t find what they were looking for at other sites, they’d find my stuff on Pond5. Boy was I wrong… Some buyers only buy from a single agency. Especially buyers who purchase subscriptions or those who use multiple types of assets (stock images as well as stock footage). So even if I had a better clip that fit their needs, they’d never see it because they never left whichever site they were subscribed to. Encouraged by other artists, I soon joined other agencies and started uploading my portfolio there. But I ran into a number of problems.
First, unlike stills, video clips are HUGE. Some of my clips are nearly 500 megabytes in size and those can take as much as a half hour to upload to just one site. So uploading just that one clip to 7 or 8 sites took 3 to 5 hours. Multiply that times nearly 1000 clips and it could take a lifetime to spread my clips around. Thankfully iSyndica solves that problem. I can upload the clip just once to iSyndica and then “syndicate” it to all of the other sites I distribute to.
Second, the description and keywording process is different at every site. And unlike JPEG stills, there is no embedded description/keyword functionality in .MOV files (the standard used by all of the video sites). So you have to manually add descriptions and keywords to every clip uploaded to every site. Initially I would upload my clips to Pond5, describe and keyword them there, then open up a second browser window and copy/paste the data to other sites. However, I found it to be just as easy to fill in the title, description, and keyword info on the iSyndica catalog page and copy/paste from there. The quicktime .MOV file format actually does support embedded meta-data, but nobody has bothered to come up with a standard or tool for embedding. Since they are the most artist friendly sites, I’m hoping Pond5 or RevoStock will create such a standard that artists can then use to force other sites to support.
And Third, every site has different “standards” which means that some sites reject what other sites accept. Photographers who support multiple agencies have been dealing with this for years and there are tools available that will track which images have been uploaded to which sites. No such tool yet exists in the footage world, but I’m hopeful.
Once I started uploading clips to other sites, my revenues increased. Sure, because my portfolio on other sites is smaller than on Pond5 I make less on those sites, but as I continue to migrate more and more of my portfolio to those sites I expect my revenue to keep increasing. Indeed, my revenue has already more than doubled from “spreading the love” around different agencies.
More importantly, most agencies appear to cater to different types of buyers. So clips that don’t sell particularly well at one agency may find life on another. And when sales are down at one agency, they could pick up at another which helps keep your revenue stream more stable. My sales at the end of the summer on Pond5 were way down, but sales on RevoStock were up and made up the difference. Similarly when sales started to tank during the holiday season on RevoStock, Pond5 picked up.
So, my advice is to spread your portfolio around. Particularly if you have a group of clips which aren’t selling on your current favorite agency, try uploading them to another agency and see if they get better results there.