03 May 2012 Yuri Arcurs launches PeopleImages.com the Ultimate Direct Sales Website
And if you take a good look you’ll see it’s been worth the time it took to build. It’s anything but a standard photographer’s direct sales website. Which is no surprise for anyone who knows anything about Yuri.
In addition to direct sales, the site adds after-sales services and a host of new innovations.
And of course it includes Yuri’s entire portfolio, with 6,000 exclusive images, adding up to a whopping 70,000 images!
Let’s take a closer look.
Time Exclusive licenses – cleverly undermining a key benefit of the Rights Managed licensing model, this new license allows customers to purchase exclusive use of new images that haven’t yet been licensed. Customers purchase exclusive use for as many months as they like. After the exclusive license period expires, the image gets distributed throughout the market as normal.
Late Licenses – for customers who are already using images beyond the rights they’ve purchased, or without having purchased any rights, this special license allows them to retrospectively purchase the necessary rights.
Filter by Model and Shoot – attacking a core weakness of most microstock agencies, images on PeopleImages.com are grouped by shoot and model. These functions empower customers to easily find similar images in great quantities and with greater control than at a microstock agency.
Custom Retouching – leveraging Yuri’s established post-production team, PeopleImages.com customers can request custom retouching with their license purchases. Prices are cheap as the new versions become available to other customers, though there’s an option for an exclusive retouch too. The retouching menu provides some addictive little before/after examples.
Social Media Integration – customers can earn free credits by linking their social media profiles in a variation of the PhotoXpress model. This not only helps Yuri get to know his customers better but also helps make it easier for the customers to help promote the site. Given how much some microstock agencies invest in customer profiling, the extra customer information is likely very valuable. And it’s a smart way to implement social media based promotion.
Selling Copyright (almost) – for customers seeking exclusive rights to an image that has already been distributed (and likely licensed), Yuri has developed a ‘99% Buyout License’. Not unlike Dreamstime‘s ‘Sell the Rights’ option, clients get all the rights of the Standard and Extended Licenses and the image will be removed from all agencies to the best of Yuri’s ability.
Contributions by Copyright Buyout – before you get excited about contributing yourself, contributions are invite only; restricted to staff photographers and some freelancers trained by Yuri. At least for now, contributions are by copyright buyout so PeopleImages.com isn’t deemed an agency. This is important so Yuri doesn’t contradict microstock agency policies which prohibit contributors who own or work for competitor agencies.
User-Driven Similarity Search – called aiBot, the similarity search works by associating images that other customers have viewed when seeking similars, rather than just matching metadata. Implementation is also straight forward from the user perspective – simply add various images to a lightbox and aiBot will find similars.
Some Agencies Could Learn From This
It’s clear that PeopleImages.com has been designed by someone intimately familiar with how to sell stock photography online. At launch it’s already superior to many of the fully fledged microstock agencies that have arrived in recent years, and well ahead of most photographers’ website services.
The site is super clear. From the succinct yet comprehensive explanation of how the site works on the home page, through navigation which doesn’t make you think, all the way to advanced search that’s ever-present and dead easy to use. One of the biggest hurdles for new customer adoption is having them get to know the website, but Yuri has all but removed that hurdle by making the site as intuitive and self-explanatory as possible.
The design is modern and slick – a visual experience that appeals to design-sensitive people like photo buyers.
The interface is well considered. Lightboxes, called ‘folders’ on the site, are bundled in with the shopping cart – one of those “why didn’t we think of that” kinds of ideas. Images can be added to the cart or lightboxes with drag n’ drop. Help messages automatically appear when you mouse-over buttons and options, then fade out when you move on. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into making the site gracefully simple without compromising on functionality.
The search includes all the usual tools photo buyers have come to expect from microstock agencies. They’re well implemented with the search options permanently in the sidebar and applied filters appearing above the thumbnails.
It’s All About Strategy
For those of us not likely to be customers of PeopleImages.com, the most interesting part is the strategy.
And keep in mind that what works for Yuri is not likely to work for too many other stock photographers. Yuri has the scale and the resources to make things work – things that wouldn’t work for other stock photographers.
First of all, PeopleImages.com is as close to being an agency without actually being one. As we’ve already seen, not being an agency is crucial to his existing relationships with agencies. But it has all the benefits of an agency such as credits and dedicated support.
Pricing strategy is also interesting. Yuri has set his prices above average microstock levels. By combining value-added services and extra licensing options, he’s targeting the high end buyer – the same market iStockphoto is clearly targeting with great success. These are lucrative buyers; willing to pay higher prices, buy value-added services, and who don’t need a lot of hand-holding.
The distribution strategy is quite clever. He’s inserted a more lucrative destination at the start of his distribution process. Not only is his new content available on PeopleImages.com first (where prices are higher and royalties are 100%), but it’s also available with the Time Exclusive license and 99% Buyout Licenses. Yuri can now generate revenue even before his content hits the channels.
As a business producing a large volume of content, Yuri already has a substantial post-production team in place. This makes offering custom retouching services efficient, not to mention the benefit of having access to RAW files and layered post-process files. Yuri can offer this service with relatively little marginal cost, making it a lucrative revenue stream and attractive value-add as the retouched versions accumulate.
Finally, by redisintermediating, Yuri is regaining the most valuable part of the stock photography business: the customer relationships. He’s already been hard at work doing this, with 2,000 active photo buyers already in his records (50 have been beta-testing the site, buying 10 – 30 per day). Now he has a substantially more lucrative destination to direct his promotional resources and leverage the fame he’s built as the “worlds top selling stock photographer”.