The beat goes on…

October already… Wow, does time fly. Lot’s of changes in my life over the past few months.

First, I’ve purchased a lot of new equipment, including a new camera.  I’ll be posting reviews.  I sold my T2i and was going to buy a T3i, but I ran across an amazing deal on the T4i that I couldn’t pass up. I also “downgraded” my tripod and picked up a new track dolly and other various gadgets.

My “day job” running my business has grown incredibly fast and has me working 60 to 70 hours a week, so there’s not much time for shooting stock.  But I do manage a few shots here and there.

Things with Pond5 aren’t any better.  Sales are still pretty dismal there and still not much in the way of communication.  However, things have been AMAZING at Shutterstock.  After ingesting over 1,000 new footage files my sales have more than tripled and consistently for the past few months. They are really going after the stock footage market hard.

The King is Dead! Long Live The King.

I’m going through my financials for this year and there is a very disturbing trend…  Sales on Pond5 are slowly dying.  My overall sales for this year are down from last year. Even worse, my August payout is the worst payout I’ve had since January of 2010.  Now part of that can be attributed to the fact that I’ve pissed some people off at Pond5 and they’re messing with my sales. I’ve been really hard on them for not keeping promises and in a couple of cases, just out right lying.  So of course, they’ve gone in an messed with the rankings of my stuff.

But, I hang out online with a group of other Microstock geeks, some of whom are the best sellers across the industry.  And they too are reporting (privately) that their sales on Pond5 are down considerably.

It’s like the site is on auto-pilot while the folks from Pond5 are out on a very extended vacation. The only real update this year is that Pond5 now allows uploads of still images, something they promised us over a year ago.  None of their other promised features have see the light of day, nor do they even talk about them any more.  I’ve hinted at this before, but now I’m beginning to firmly believe Pond5 is for sale. That has to be the only reasonable explanation for no real updates in nearly 2 years, stopping nearly all conversation with contributors and allowing Shutterstock to stage a major comeback into a position of dominance after thoroughly crushing them (and the rest of the competition) a couple years ago.

We’ll see how things play out the rest of the year… traditionally sales begin to pick up the middle of August with September being one of the best sales months of the year. While I’m see that trend already on Shutterstock, Pond5 sales are still lackluster and I’m no longer hopeful.

48 Hour Film Festival – Kansas City

48 Hour Film Festival Kansas CityFor the past 3 years I’ve been participating in the 48 Hour Film Festival.  The closest is in Kansas City, MO which is a little over an hour’s drive from my home in Topeka, KS. Which means, I drive to Kansas City on opening night for the kick off, drive home and nap for about 5 hours, then back to Kansas City where I help shoot and edit the film for the next 24 to 28 hours and finally a long drive home totally exhausted.

This year, rather than working on a team in Kansas City, I decided to create my own team in Topeka.  I put together a crew and a great group of young actors. My schedule will be just as grueling because I have to drive to Kansas City for the kick-off party, drive to Topeka to meet with the writing crew and work on the script until 2am-ish in the morning, then nap for 4 hours before getting up to begin rehearsals and shooting. Then nap for 3 to 4 hours before joining the editing crew for 24+ hours and driving back to Kansas City to turn in the film.

It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s great training for dealing with deadlines and shooting stuff “on the fly” which definitely comes in handy when shooting stuff for stock video.

I’ll post a link to the video after we win. 🙂

Finally! Pond5 allows direct photo uploads.

It’s been over a year since Pond5 announced they were adding photos.  They started out with importing millions of photos from 123rf.com in a partnership and promised that we’d “soon” be able to directly upload and submit photos.

Finally, they’ve opened up submissions. But is it too late?  By importing photos from 123rf.com, they gave up any control over the photo marketplace they might have had.  123rf.com has set the pricing on Pond5 and flooded the marketplace there so that anything we upload will be inconsequential. A “drop in the ocean” as the saying goes.

They announced on the forums that they are allowing uploads of JPG and PNG files, however their “submission guidelines” claim that they only support JPG uploads.  In the past they’ve also said they would support vectors and PSD files, so we’ll see if and when that happens.

Adding over 1000 new video clips to Shutterstock

So, I get a phone call out of the blue one day from an executive at Shutterstock. He asks if I have time to chat. And what a conversation it turns out to be. He was generally interested in my opinions about not only the microstock industry as a whole, but my brutally honest opinions about Shutterstock.

He was very observant, and noticed that I had only a couple hundred footage clips on Shutterstock and nearly 1500 on Pond5. He offers to upload the remainder of my portfolio into my Shutterstock portfolio if I mail them to him on a hard drive.  So, I took him up on his offer.

My hard drive arrived on Friday and his team is in the process of importing the clips I sent into my portfolio.  I had to create a CSV file for them, but that was relatively simple (I cheated and downloaded a CSV file from Pond5, modified it and gave it to Shutterstock).

Given that Shutterstock is being ULTRA aggressive right now in their attempt to dethrone Pond5 as the reigning king of microstock footage, I’m hoping the added clips will make up for dismal sales this summer on Pond5. And possibly light a fire under Pond5’s collective butts to actually finish the projects they’ve been promising for years now.