"Who has time? Who has time?" [Merovingian - The Matrix Reloaded]. When working as an illustrator contributor to the microstock market, the very first decision you are faced with is becoming or not becoming and exclusive contributor to some agency. Every rule has exceptions but my understanding (based on research and statistics) is that the top most successful exclusive contributors do not match the financial success of the top most successful non-exclusive contributors. That said, the decision is yours to make.
As you can tell from the links on the right pane, I am not an exclusive contributor. If on one hand you broaden your sales channels, on the other, you are taxed with the daunting task of adapting your work to individual agencies’ requirements, uploading the files and categorizing your work for submission/review by each agency. As you can imagine, this whole enchilada can get really time consuming, really fast, taking you away from your primary activity which is (or at least it should be!): creating artwork.
"How bad can it be?", you ask me, right? Well, if you decided not to become an exclusive contributor, it probably means you want to have as many quality channels distributing your images as possible. From the top of my head, these are the most renown agencies for your distribution pleasure out there: ShutterStock, iStockPhoto, StockXpert, Dreamstime,
Agencies have different spec requirements which work up illustrators, especially. Different file size (weight) limits, different minimum resolutions, different EPS version compatibilities, different thumbnail generating processes, different FTP naming rules (right, Dreamstime?), so on and so forth ad nauseum. Let’s assume you have selected "only" 7 agencies to upload to. If you spend an average of one hour for a batch of 30 images, prepping files to spec, uploading and categorizing for submission/review, then simply multiply that by the 7 agencies you contribute to and your day is gone! Okay, I know it’s not that linear, just as I know you won’t be submitting to 7 agencies only. I am not implying that you should work only 7 hours a day but trust me, after 7 hours of tedious borderline stupid work like this, you won’t be in the mood or inspired for creating fine artwork.
Business wise, there is a clear market to be explored here and it hasn’t gone unnoticed! Over the years I’ve seen several initiatives towards this goal but none of them quite actually seduced me for their less than encompassing cover of the most prominent agencies, their handicapped services or their price lines. Still I was happy to seeing these companies popping, hoping that eventually they would mature to the business tool I wanted them to be. Well, I have bad news and good news for you. The bad news is we’re not quite there yet. Good news is we just took a huge leap forward in the name of iSyndica.
iSyndica, as the name suggests, syndicates all your artwork to several agencies at once. You upload the original files (EPS and JPEG) once and they take care of the rest for you. Once the files are in their repository, you simply select which stock sites you want them to be syndicated to and voila!
The service is not perfect yet, you might step into a few quirks, but fear not since that has happened to me and I am very honest in reporting that their customer service is second to none! They will not debate your issue, they will solve it.
iSyndica does the most boring and exhausting part of the work for you but you still have to (and probably want to) visit each agency and categorize the images for submission/review yourself. Since this is a highly subjective task, I am okay with doing it myself but I am sure, with time, iSyndica will figure out a smart algorithm to suggest categories based on the image’s IPTC (which you would review just once) and then interface with each supported agency’s own category list.
Talking about that, unfortunately iSyndica does not support all agencies natively, but they offer a generic FTP syndication which you can customize to your needs. I tried that with DepositPhotos and it worked like a charm. Hopefully they will implement support for some notably missing agencies such as iStockPhoto and ShutterStock. By the way, all this information is in regards to *Illustration only*! iSyndica does offer syndication for photos, video and audio (they don’t yet announce it on their front page) media, and even if they don’t support iStockPhoto for illustration they do support it natively for photos so make sure to check each medium. Not enough, they even syndicate your images to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites for free!
So why am I so fond of them? Next time you reduce your nonsensical workload by a factor of 0.7 you tell me… But there is more to iSyndica than meets the eye. Doing what they do, if they manage to expand their user base, iSyndica will potentially become one of the largest databases on microstock market trends and values. It’s all in the statistics, my friend.
I just hope that the good people at iSyndica realizes the potential their business is uncovering, purposefully or otherwise. With all that data, users could start an organic, espontaneous movement towards the agencies that
really matter in terms of return of investment, yes investment, not only in equipment but mostly investment of their time and talent. This way, iSyndica could become the hub connecting contributors and agencies, forcing the last to perform properly in all fronts so that first would actually be willing to submit their content to them.
I wouldn’t mind that, I wouldn’t mind it at all!