[Update March 2012: LookStat is now closed down. Much of what they learned and shared is still available on their blog]
Microstock agencies provide real-time data on the performance of your portfolio. This information enables you to analyze what works so you can improve your contributions and repeat your successes. But collecting and combining the data from multiple agencies is a lot of work. Until now.
LookStat is the first microstock facility to address the opportunity of automatically combining this data. It will instantly pull down your data from each agency that it supports and tell you how you and your images are performing. At the time of writing it supports iStockphoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime. Fotolia is next on the list and coming soon.
In addition to providing a total view of your portfolio performance, the combined data also overcomes algorithmic bias, which is where an image performs spectacularly at one agency relative to other agencies due to metrics in the search algorithm.
While LookStat is still in beta it’s totally free. The proposed fee structure will ensure the service remains free for those earning under a certain amount through the agencies they’re tracking via LookStat (perhaps under $200 per month).
Meet Rahul Pathak
I first met LookStat CEO and Founder, Rahul Pathak, in 2008 during PhotoPlus, though we’d previously spoken by phone and email. He struck me as exceptionally well informed about the microstock market and passionate about the opportunities to use technology to ‘reduce friction’ in the marketplace. We’ve been in constant contact about lots of different topics since that time, including when Rahul presented at UGCX in February.
In addition to his ideas and vision for what LookStat can do for microstock contributors, Rahul has a natural ability to inspire confidence and trust. This is important given what he’s doing.
That’s Great, But How Does it Help Me Sell More Microstock?
Analytics tells you how you’re currently performing. The idea is that within the data is information which can help you craft what you do in the future to improve your success. In microstock, the most basic form of this is knowing which of your photos sell most frequently.
Seeing those photos listed by thumbnail, you can quickly see what works. Which subjects are common among your best selling photos. Which models, which location, which message, which shooting styles, which fashions. All these things can be seen and analyzed.
You can do this individually at each microstock agency, or manually compile the data yourself. The benefit of using LookStat is that it does this for you, giving you the whole picture in one place. Soon, measuring these various metrics will be even easier and more accurate with the ability to tag photos however you choose – model, location, subject, style, etc. This will also make determining the return per shoot quick and simple.
Let’s take a look using my portfolio:
This is a daily earnings chart for February 2009. I manually make the monthly equivalent of this chart for my earnings reports. Manually creating a daily chart would take substantially more time. Instead, LookStat does it for me automatically. I can generate this chart for various time periods, including an all-time chart.
This list above shows my top selling images for February 2009 from the agencies that LookStat is currently tracking. I can see that my stock market and data centre photos are (still) my best sellers.
You’ll notice the stock market picture appears twice in the list. LookStat automatically matches images, but it’s not yet 100% accurate. However, in the statistics box on the right we can see an accurate match.
The earnings for all three agencies have been matched and presented together. This particular image highlights the algorithmic bias I mentioned earlier, with Shutterstock selling a disproportionate quantity compared to iStockphoto and Dreamstime. (It also sold an Enhanced License at Shutterstock, which explains the high Earnings to Downloads ratio)
There’s so much useful information to be taken from all these charts and lists. Here’s a few examples:
- What sells (model, location, subject, theme, style, etc)
- Are earnings increasing or decreasing
- Which photo types have the longest half-life
- Return per image, return per shoot
- Which photo types sell best at each agency
- Which high-selling photos are missing from other agencies
But what is most exciting is the power of the insights that are possible with this data as the LookStat system moves beyond its infancy. So as I’ve previously encouraged: develop LookStat team, develop!
To access your data LookStat requires your agency login credentials. This can be a deal-breaker for some, which Rahul concedes, acknowledging that his service isn’t for everyone.
Well aware that LookStat’s survival depends on maintaining a solid reputation for security, Rahul’s not taking any chances. The entire website (except the blog) is encrypted (SSL certificate – the web standard) and the site is security tested daily by McAfee Secure.
I’ve been using LookStat since late 2008 and obviously haven’t experienced any problems. Top microstock contributor Andres Rodriguez has also been using LookStat for that amount of time – with the scale of his earnings, he’s putting more trust in Rahul than me. I asked him to comment on what made him feel comfortable using LookStat. He responded, “The professionalism of Rahul as CEO and the overall company. You can tell it’s trustworthy.”
Try LookStat for Yourself
You can register free at LookStat while it’s still in beta.
Disclosure: LookStat is currenty a Microstock Diaries advertiser, though anything this relevant to microstock contributors rates a review.
Posted March 23rd, 2009 by Lee Torrens