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Image Libraries Changed The World For Designers (Part 4)

11/22/2012 11:34:17 AM
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ON THE OTHER hand, advanced functionality can leave you stranded because there are more breakable layers that rely on each other. ‘Say you have a shop based on WordPress, a plug-in for customer interaction and a theme. If WordPress gets updated to patch a security hole, applying the update will risk breaking the theme or plug-in. Or a theme update might not work with the plug-in.’

While Johansson says this can force owners into a ‘lesser of two evils; decision (not updating rather than risking incomppatibility), Clark and La’s comments suggest you should be able to except prompt updates when paying for a supported theme rather than using a low-cost or free template. ‘We take the time to ensure that our themes are compatible with plug-ins and the core updates from the WordPress platform; says La, ‘and we provide support and troubleshooting to provide the smoothest experience possible.’

Description: Description: Description: Description: Website: michaeloglesby.com

Website: michaeloglesby.com

This is one reason why freelance digital consultant Michael Oglesby (michaeloglesby.com) was drawn to Themify: ‘WordPress theme development is a bit of a hidden science, and I found free themes limiting.’ He advocates Themify’s lifetime support, updates and forum-based help system: ‘Sometimes you run into problems, so having support is important.’

Oglesby also values the ability to easily update a theme. He’s never been concerned about the non-exclusive nature of stock – ‘The chances of someone visiting another site using [the same design] are remote’- but he likes Themify’s approach of theme preferences. These are safer than direct editing, which can overwrite changes after updates.

La says Themify, which builds themes on a common framework, aims to enable users to customize their themes heavily ‘without having to touch code, to the point where no two designs should look the same.’ But even just adding your own unique images and colours can go a long way, says user Johansson – although he admits that for larger organization, a fully custom design from scratch is usually a better route.

La summaries: ‘Not everyone is comfortable designing or developing for WordPress, or at all. You should consider buying a WordPress theme because it will save you many hours of headaches associated with building your own, and you’ll be able to bring your content to life much quicker.’

Of course, if you are comfortable developing for WordPress or another popular CMS, selling premium themes could be a way to generate income. As mentioned by Richard Heathcote, ThemeForest (themeforest.net), part of Envato, pays a basic 33% of purchase price to contributors, and 50% for items exclusive to the site (you can still sell other items elsewhere), rising to 70% as you rack up more sales. WordPress themes sell for around $35-$50, and popular choices show unit sales figures into the hundreds and beyond. As with other stock, knowing your market is key.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Website: themeforest.net

Website: themeforest.net

MOVING PICTURES ARE an obvious addition to a stock image library, and most now sell videos as well as stills. Submission is a little more complex; with numerous codecs in use, you’ll need to understand what formats are acceptable to your chosen service. Quality control is also a thorny issue. You might, with care, get a photo shot with an iPhone 4S accepted nto a microstock library; a video taken with the same device won’t pass muster. DSLR footage is viable, but will need to be well shot, with minimal noise and super-smooth panning (if any). Where motion clips include audio, this will also need to meet decent standards, although most clips are sold without sound.

Buyers for motion stock include corporate video makers, TV production, independent filmmakers, enthusiasts and students. Microstock libraries offer very affordable prices (though in a higher bracket than for images), and even the more tradition high-end stock outlets will vary their pricing to reflect the budgets of different kinds of customer.

Although it’s not relevant to sellers, video buyers should look at bbcmotiongallery.com. Click the Royalty Free tab for a range of easily licensable clips from around $337.5 for HD down to under $112.5 for web resolutions. Venture into Rights Managed and you can find everything from hard news to on-location establishing shots at prices tailored to industry sectors; if you don’t need broadcast rights, clips can be surprisingly affordable.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Website: bbcmotiongallery.com

Website: bbcmotiongallery.com

Science Photo Library has added video to its collection through SPL Motion. From the Milky Way to cell division, these engrossing clips sell to educational publishers and factual TV production as well as independent filmmakers. Ben Jones, head of SPL Motion, told MacUser: ‘The explosion of new learning platform prompted us to create rates for electronic educational (no other) publishing and display screens, as distinct from printed material. The collection licenses clips on a per clip basis, although large volume clients have the ability to pay per second.’

This flexibility in licensing models is key to the collection’s success. Pricing is adjusted to different use cases, so educational publishers pay around $75-120 per clip, TV production around $525, or $75/second, and TV advertising around $3000, or $450/second; but independent filmmakers can license a clip for around $375.

SPL Motion’s clips are often commissioned from established filmmakers, and while enquiries are accepted from potential contributors, the library only invites those with ‘a body of work’ to sell. For the rest of us, microstock libraries accept contributions on the same basis as for images: pass a basic quality test and you can submit as much or as little as you like, and see what sells.

Even if you’re already selling photos through a microstock site, it may be worth looking further afield when it comes to video. Pond5 is a stock service that isn’t as well-known as some in the image market (it also sells vector illustrations, music and fx and 3D content) but is very popular with video sellers. It pays video contributors 50% of purchase price. Revostock, which specializes in audio and video, is also favoured by filmmakers. Be prepared for some trial and error, not only to learn what kind of footage buyers are looking for but to figure out which services give the best returns.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Revostock - Another stock photography website where photographers can sell their photos for some passive income

Revostock - Another stock photography website where photographers can sell their photos for some passive income

Terry Barksdale (barksdalemedia.com) had two decades’ experience in video production before moving into stock. With a portfolio of over 2,700 clips, he now sells through most of the major stock libraries. On his stockvideoseller.com blog, he ranks the sites that actually generate the most revenue, with Pond5, iStock, Shutterstock and Revostock at the top of the list. Your results may vary, but what’s interesting is that the sites that pay the highest royalties don’t produce the highest income; the number of sales is a bigger factor. ‘Don’t base where you upload stock video on the percentage offered,’ Barksdale concludes. The same advice undoubtedly applies to image sales.

 
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