Isyndica anbounced that they will close effective 10 October 2010
An alternative service called picworkflow is now available
isyndica.com is the first of what I expect to be many online services to assist photographers in the process of uploading their microstock images.
isyndica allows you to upload a selection of your processed photos or video to their servers, keyword them if needed and from there isyndica will redistribute (syndicate) them to each of your chosen microstock agencies - called 'channels' by isyndica. An advantage of this process that you upload only once via your own internet connection saving you bandwidth quota and time. This makes the submission of images significantly quicker for users with slower upload connections who submit to many 'channels'.
The service currently supports 21 channels for photos and 7 channels for video (as of 30 Jul 09), custom FTP channels can be set-up if an agency or site you use is not supported.
For photography you will notice a couple of obvious omissions from that list, istockphoto and shutterstock. It should be noted that both of these sites, istock in particular are often excluded from software based systems due to technical issues with their uploading or keywording systems. isyndica can syndicate to anything that has a standard or secure ftp connection, support for vector images is planned.
Once images are syndicated you still have to visit each microstock site to submit the files as you would if you have uploaded them yourself or via ftp
. In some cases this is as simple as clicking 'submit images' but for most sites you need to select image categories and click to accept terms and conditions. It's a long term goal of isyndica to automate some of this part of the submission process. The isyndica dashboard contains links to the login page of each of your channels to make this easier.
The service operates on a subscription and credit based system, and a series of subscription offerings are available which come bundled with free credits to allow upload. starting at $9.99 a month or $45.99 annually. 1000 credits will allow around 25 images per week for a month if you submit to 10 different channels. One credit is one upload to one channel, you can buy additional prepaid credits as needed for 1 cent. This not a lot to ask for a tool that can save so much time.
I know some of you will be put off by even the mention of the word 'pricing', but if you are not expecting to recoup about 1c after uploading an image to an agency then I think it's time to evaluate why you are submitting photos to that agency in the first place.
I'd be happier to pay for my credits if I had say 6 months to use them or they rolled over from one month to the next, buying more top up credits if they ran low. Some microstock photographers including myself don't upload the same quantity each month and those that do have a regular routine often take a break from it if priorities change. The fixed priced subscription leaves you with the feeling of 'waste' if you don't use the credits, but looking from a different perspective it's an incentive to make regular uploads each month. Prepaid credits never expire.
As the stock sites occasionally change their upload systems a paid service like this is more easily able to adapt to the changes. This is not possible for software running on a desktop machine which must be download or updated as new agencies emerge or simply ceases to work for an individual agency when their upload system or security changes.
Below are a couple of sample views from the isyndica website
The isyndica 'catalog' tab allows you to choose which images are sent to which channels. You can choose channels when you upload or come back later and select a whole row (an image to all channels) or a whole column (all images to one channel) and syndicate at a later time. This also offers the opportunity of uploading all the images you want to submit and then choosing individually which images go to which agency with just a couple of clicks.
As seasoned microstockers know there are certain types of images that some agencies tend to reject, being able to 'pick-n-mix' who gets what could be quite useful in maintaining a good acceptance ratio.
Security is always a worry with this type of service as you provide it with your login details for each of the agencies to which you submit. It's likely that your passwords are just as secure of not more secure on their servers as they are on your own home machine. Just because isyndica is hosted 'in the cloud' does not make it any more or less vulnerable than a piece of software like prostockmaster
running on your desktop - both are open to the internet and both contain your passwords (hopefully in some encrypted format).
The isyndica site includes all the expected corporate details and contact information, and if you sign up you'll notice that even if someone managed to access your account there is no way that they see your login credentials for each agency you use, once entered they are never displayed to the end user again.
I've not tested the video upload functionality, but this must be the killer app if you are uploading the same large video file to several places. If you live in the US or UK and have super high speed 10+Mbit and symmetric broadband connections then you might not think that uploading microstock images is such a problem, but for the rest of us whose broadband connection stretches to 1.5meg down / 370k up then being able to upload 30megs worth of photos once instead of 15 times is a big time saver even if you have, like me, automated the process with your own ftp setup.
Also regarding limited upload and download quota, I've recently been looking into getting mobile broadband, here in Australia at least, the prices of such plans have become quite affordable with 2 gigs of transfer at a 'reasonable' speed costing similar to that of a wired adsl connection (with a lot smaller transfer quota and slower speed of course). For such people who have limited amounts of data to use each month isyndica is a great help. isyndica opens up the possibility of uploading while traveling, or even submitting images from a USB stick or direct from a memory card at an internet cafe, this was just not practical for multiple agencies before now.
The reporting looks great! since lookstat
launched we've started getting used to being able to visualise our sales easily, while the two services have quite different features the more basic stats on isyndica are still a bonus for those using a paid isyndica subscription.
isyndica monitors overall earnings at present, which users who 'like to watch' will find useful. Future updates are planned with more detailed analytics of individual images, which will offer a much better insight into what style of images and which sites are earning you the highest return.
All accounts come complete with secure backup storage space for your images, starting with 5GB for the standard ($45.99 annually) account and up to 50GB for the Pro ($149.99 annual) account.
An advantage of having your portfolio stored at isyndica is that when a new channel is added (as was recently the case with cutcaster) you can easily submit your entire catalogue (or parts of it) to that new site, no re-upload needed.
I've just sent 8 different images to 12 agencies with isyndica, by the time I had finished uploading image number 8 (all 8 were done in a single step) and I clicked on the catalog tab to see the results I saw the first 7 images had already gone to all but one agency, the 8th was soon to follow - impressive stuff! Once you have entered all of the passwords needed to access each agency it's that simple, click and it's sent, or add a new agency and click - it's all done.
There is a little bit of advice in the isyndica help which is worth reading so that you don't get carried away with how easy this all is.
For me the price of $24 for my needs and for the improvement over my current workflow of ftp batch upload was at first a little hard to swallow. Now I've used it I'm not so sure - I think I might be sold! ....at least for a three months trial. Sometimes it's hard to put a figure on the value of your time and that's what you are measuring here. "Spend money to make money" is the old saying, and I'll leave the choice to you.
For a little over $5 month I get myself stats, 5Gb of storage, 1000 free credits plus the option to upload more for just 1cent per upload per channel.
Having moved a lot of my day to day work "into the cloud" I'm looking forward to seeing how isyndica develops. It has clear advantages over running applications on your own computer, especially if you travel extensively and/or connect to the internet with a 'slower' broadband connection or one that has expensive data charges.
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