06 Oct 2011 The Shutterstock Catalog Manager – Hmmm

Shutterstock has just launched a contributor lightboxes tool which they’re calling Catalog Manager.   You can access it via logging in to the submission site.

The tool has two purposes:

One: Earnings by Lightbox

By grouping individual files into lightboxes you can see the combined earnings of all the files together, just like at Dreamstime.   This is useful for analyzing our own portfolios by any different metric.   Unfortunately that’s it.   The tool stops short of providing more useful measures such as how long the files have been online or downloads per day – critical factors if we are to really understand how our photos are performing.

Two: Promote your Lightboxes

The lightboxes, or “Catalogs” can be promoted via a link which automatically integrates your affiliate code, much like the Twitter and Facebook integrations that Shutterstock pioneered. Promoting catalogs in this way is the same as the My.Fotolia service launched in 2007 and shut down last year due to lack of participation and traffic.

Where Are They Going with This?

The announcement, full of spin at a level usually reserved for customers, touts this feature as unique. That may have been true for the promotion part as Fotolia shut down their version last year, but it’s really no different to creating a lightbox at any other agency and adding your affiliate code to the link. And it’s not true for the earnings-by-lightbox part as Dreamstime have had that functionality for years.

Most of the new functionality benefits Shutterstock much more than it benefits contributors. Personally I can understand that – we’re all here to maximize our own profits – but I object to it being marketed to me as the “most requested” function along with near-deceptive claims about their affiliate program.   There’s a very long list of contributor functionality higher on the priority list than this, and affiliate programs with ongoing referral payments are many times more lucrative than Shutterstock’s one-time payout.

The video also highlights the nice drag and drop functionality. If used on the release matching page, that technology would save contributors considerable submission costs.

So while this new update is very welcome, it’s not unique, and actually quite overdue.   It’s a big disappointment after the original and useful Keyword Trends Tool launched in July.

  • Steve Gibson
    Posted at 04:35h, 07 October Reply

    SS hyperbole aside I think it’s a little great tool – but I get your point that it’s overdue and not that unique in concept.

    It does make it really quick to throw some images into a gallery, publish and send a link on it’s way. Something that I think my my fotolia was missing – I always though of that as more of a portfolio creation tool?

    Referral program, hmmm well I guess it depends on how many one off buys and how many repeat purchases – I think there are a lot of one off buys that never come back. If you could earn commission for a year then those lucrative repeat annual subscriptions would not earn you any more. At 20% with SS’s slant towards higher priced subscriptions and image packs I think it’s a pretty good earner when compared to the others http://microstockinsider.com/referral_schemes

  • Andresr
    Posted at 16:43h, 08 October Reply

    I think this is awesome. Long overdue, now we can track sales from one of the real big agencies by whatever criteria we want. This is really great to control and understand the money spent on shoots these days.

  • Brad
    Posted at 10:25h, 13 October Reply

    They do have one up on Dreamstime – you can see the earnings and downloads at a glance on your main contributor page. On Dreamstime it is separate, and you must go in and out of each lightbox to see the earnings.

    I like the search function in the catalog – very quick and easy to create a set. I’d like to see DPI or revenue per month in there…but overall a good addition to the site.

  • Rich
    Posted at 14:40h, 23 October Reply

    I find it very useful, it has already helped me a lot. I can see the return per image for different subjects and styles of photos very easily, so can see what is worth shooting more of and what is a waste of time

  • walklens
    Posted at 10:31h, 30 October Reply

    thank you, I never aware of the function in Dreamstime, it’s good, don’t understand why DT doesn’t promote it?

  • Thomas Arne Strand
    Posted at 06:18h, 08 November Reply

    This is a really interesting development, I look forward to see how it works out.

  • R. Kneschke
    Posted at 06:56h, 28 November Reply

    I don’t really care for the affiliate part of the program, but I love it that I finally can see how much money I made with a defined set of images. I agree that their could have been more functionality, but the total earnings are a good start that really helps me a lot.

    Best regards,

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