Instagram: “Please Sell Us Your Photos”: The Instagram Influence Marketplace
The Initial Approach
My @JonesDoesLife account tends to get fewer “sign up for our website” messages than @ZoraFloraSays, so I was both surprised and intrigued when I was emailed by a company called Scop.io that seems to be trying to build a kind of stock photo repository.
I appreciate that they didn’t go the flattery route of “You could have so many more followers.”
They included a 4-page photographer agreement with their first email, which definitely lends them an air of legitimacy. The legal document basically says that the person who signs it:
- Will retain ownership of your work BUT you waive your moral right to attribution or the right to prevent modification/destruction of it
- Will agree that if they want to use your name, they can, and they can advertise it in any-which-way that they desire
- They pay on a quarterly basis (so 4 times a year) but only if your funds exceed $5 and they will take all fees out of whatever was paid for your content
- The “Photographer FAQ” page from 2016 says they pay at the end of every month in Venmo or PayPal, so I’m not sure which one to trust here
In return, they won’t submit your work to any sketchy/illegal/pornographic websites and they’ll try to market you.
Are they legit?
Looking at the website it seems like they’re catering to businesses and brands that don’t want to create their own content, but also don’t actually want to use stock photos/professional photography. Their “Plans” page doesn’t have any kind of cost associated with it, so I don’t know how much people are paying for these services (or how much I could potentially make from it). The company is new enough that when you search for related articles, you just get a lot of results along the lines of “Did you mean to search for Scorpio image plans?”
Looking back at their blogs, it looked like they launched the platform in April/May of 2016, so they’ve been around for almost a year and a half. Scrolling through their feed, I only see 2-3 names consistently showing up as authors so I’m guessing that it’s a fairly small operation (not that that’s a bad thing).
I found the “About Us” page and it shows 12 people actively involved. The developer to “sales growth” ratio seems to be about 50/50 – a team of 5 can definitely run a small website if they’re dedicated, and it seems like they’re doing it well (it’s a couple people’s full-time jobs and they’ve been mentioned in some notable publications). We’re definitely in startup territory, but less, “sketchy startup,” and more, “they’re still getting their feet on the ground but can probably pay their employees.”
The Follow Up Email
They sent me a second email (unprompted) that included different links than the first and included a “New” site link that looks one-hundred-percent more legit than the first one they gave me. It also includes prices on photos: the range seems to be somewhere between $6-$15 and the photos are classically well-lit picture-perfect Instagram feed photos, so they’re not just taking anyone.
This site bodes well, and I’m glad they sent the link because I definitely wouldn’t have been able to find it on my own.
How it (seems to) work
Here’s an excerpt from the follow-up email:
Do you have any images you’d like to share? Just create a Google Drive or other file-sharing folder for your work, sign the attached licensing agreement and share both with me at [redacted]. We’d love to promote it to our partners! If your work is published, we’ll arrange a payment with you near the end of the month. Scopio uses non-exclusive licensing, so you’ll still own the rights to your work, as well!
I understand not wanting to host photos if you aren’t going to choose them, but uploading them to a google drive seems like an extra step that could be a hassle if you’re already on a platform like Flickr or mainly use Instagram.
Additionally, if your photo gets “chosen” they apparently email you to let you know that it’s been chosen. While I don’t think they’re untrustworthy, operating purely via email and google drive doesn’t seem like it’ll scale well in the longterm (if it’s automated emails that changes the game a little bit, but right now I’m just imagining someone sitting in a room and emailing people back).
Is it worth it?
I’m going to rate this one a strong maybe.
Without knowing what the fees are and how much business they get from people buying photos, it’s hard to say how much this could benefit me as a content-creator. If I were a freelance photographer (or, rather, wanted to be more of a freelance photographer) I would be all over this because:
- I would already have the content to upload
- Their license is non-exclusive so it wouldn’t prevent use in other domains.
As someone who does some nice photography and just above-average-for-developers Instagram photos, I don’t know if it would be worth my time to up my photo-game just to have the possibility of someone-maybe-happening to see my content (and uploading photos to a google drive consistently seems like it would be more upkeep than I’m interested in). I do want to get better at lifestyle-y photos, but I’d rather get better first, and join this community when high quality photography becomes more of a second-nature and less of a special outing for me.
I think I’m going to keep this one in my back pocket. Scop.io definitely seems to be going places, but they still have some development to do before they make it a truly seamless experience. If I ever decide to go out on my own as a freelance photographer, they’ll definitely be on my shortlist.
If anyone’s had any experience on Scop.io I’d love to hear about it – feel free to leave a story in the comments.