Happy New Year!
Chris Guillebeau posted a very interesting review of his year 2009 and encouraged others to do the same. He went through his numbers, his business results and drew conclusions from them. His process appealed to me and I applied it to my photography business. I want to share it with you and would be very interested in knowing how your photography has done in 2009. How has you income evolved? What have been your costs? Has your business strategy worked?
So what are my conclusions for 2009?
Large increase in investment
in 2009 I invested almost twice the amount of money in productions. I always had a wardrobe stylist at each production and bought all the clothes necessary for each photo session. I also worked in rented places more often. These two elements considerably increased the cost of each photo session, some photo sessions costing over 1500 Euros.
Despite the big investment, I produced the same amount of images in 2009 as I did in 2008: in 2009 I produced 110 images (45 for iStockphoto and 65 for Getty Images) and in 2008 I produced a total of 111 images (81 for iStockphoto and 30 for Getty Images).
The decision to invest more was focused mainly on Getty productions. Since my royalties at Getty Images did not increase during this period, I conclude that the investment was not as profitable as I would have expected.
Nevertheless, the risk was necessary in order to best evaluate the profitability of Getty Images.
A considerable increase in royalties at iStockphoto
In 2009 my royalties on iStockphoto increased by 29% while my total download count only increased 2,6%.
Despite having produced half as much for iStockphoto in 2009 as I did in 2008 (45 images in 2009 and 81 in 2008) I still managed to earn a 29% increase! Tell me which employer gives you such an increase working half as much!? There are three main factors explaining the increase:
- The introduction of the premuim Vetta Collection: If you compare 2008 and 2009 you clearly see that between September and November there is a steep rise in sales. My amount of downloads for that period in 2008 and 2009 is identical. But if you look at the royalties it is clear that after the introduction of the Vetta collection in August 2009 my earnings increased.
- The continuous expansion of the microstock market
- The yearly increase in prices: every year prices go up and in 2009 my images sold more expensive. Even though prices increased my total number of downloads remained constant. This is very encouraging since it disproves the claims that higher prices scare buyers.
Poor results at Getty Images
Despite producing twice as many photos for Getty Images as I did in 2008, and the higher investment in production, I experienced no increase in royalties. My portfolio doubled its size but my royalties stayed constant. This translated into a considerable fall in royalties per image. I do not have a clear explanation for this, but here are my theories:
- Getty Images image price decreases: In order to face competition from the microstock agencies, Getty Images has restructured its pricing resulting in a large decrease of prices in certain of its collections and image sizes.
- Descrease in market share of Getty Images
- My images are not appropriate for the Getty market buyer: My images might not satisfy the demands of Getty buyers. This is an assumption but I cannot base it on facts. I would be interested in seeing earning reports from other Getty photographers in order to verify if my image style is the reason I see no increase in sales on Getty.
Specialisation of my portfolio
When I review the images I produced this year I observe a clear specialization in the area of commercial glamour. This has been a conscious decision. It is an area where I see potential and where competition is still low, but where demand is healthy.
This review will allow me to set new targets for 2010 and change my business strategy to achieve those goals. In a second post this week, I will go through my targets and share with you how I plan to achieve them.
Until then I would be very interested in hearing your opinion on my review. Did you see the same trends? Have you performed a review of 2009? What are you results?
Looking forward to hearing from you!