Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An update on RPI and $/dl

This an update of my post published last January about the evolution of  RPI and $/dl across my microstock agencies.

In 2008, my cumulative RPI was quite high (0.82) but constantly went down the second half of the year. In addition my $/dl was  flatlining pretty much all year long.

In 2009, RPI went  up again even if  the  average (0.65) it was significantly lower than in 2008. On the other hand , $/dl gradually  increased to reach $0.95 in december. As my sale volume did not change much compared to 2008, my earnings went actually up (+100 % increase between december 2008 and december 2009).

The increase  in $/dl can be explained by the following things:

  • Microstock agencies increased their prices.
  • A higher ratio of credit to subscription sales (the amount of pictures sold at Shutterstock  went down between 2008 and 2009).
  • More  distribution channels:  I distribute my pictures to 16 agencies in 2009 compared to only 10 in 2008.
  • Having a bigger portfolio (1000+ pictures) increases the odds of extended licence sales especially at Shutterstock.
  • A higher  number of best selling pictures (especially on Istock).

24 months evolution of cumulative RPI and $/dl

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My microstock Do's and Dont's list

I put up a non exhaustive list, not in a particular order, of few things that came to my mind about microstock that I organized in a Do's and Dont's list. I wrote this list with pictures I mind but it can be applied as well to a large extent to other medias such videos and illustrations.


  • Do keep uploading
  • Do spend time on keyworking
  • Do aim to simplify your workflow (by using distribution softwares and platforms)
  • Do submit to multiples agencies
  • Do prefer quality over quantity
  • Do submit small batches of pictures
  • Do backup your data regularly
  • Do find multiple thematic niches
  • Do think about shelf life and seasonality of pictures
  • Do check your pictures at 200% for spots, chromatic aberration and sharpness
  • Do adjust contrast and levels
  • Do shoot horizontal and vertical
  • Do shoot what you like and sell but not always
  • Do shoot with the designer in mind
  • Do learn about new processing techniques and softwares
  • Do resubmit pictures if you they worth it
  • Do learn from rejections
  • Do participate in forums and read blogs
  • Do research
  • Do try to make sense of your stats but not too much
  • Do promote your work on social networks
  • Do invest in new equipment that potentially can add value
  • Do  branch into new activities (illustration,audio,footage)
  • Do follow microstock business news


  • Do not spend too much time on forums and Twitter
  • Do not check your stats every minute
  • Do not use a compact as a main camera
  • Do not take rejections personally
  • Do not take only objects isolated on white
  • Do not think that microstock is a get-rich-quick scheme
  • Do not take the same subject over thousand of multiples angles
  • Do not necessarily submit to every new agencies

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 microstock commissions, highs and lows

It is time for an update of  my post of last year post regarding microstock commissions. I added 6 new agencies to compare and lower and upper limit commissions.
To sum it up, sales commission will depend on: amongst over on the type of sales (subscription or credit), image size, agency or photo exclusivity, contributor or photo ranking.

Once again these numbers are not universals but are related to my ranking, exclusivity and my photo equipment: I have a  10MP and 12MP cameras, a bronze level at Fotolia with some exclusive photos there, some level 2 images at Dreamstime, sold more than $ 500 worth of pictures at Shutterstock but less than $ 3000.

These are the highs and lows I registered for 2009 (extended licenses are excluded from the list):

  • Shutterstock : between $0.33 (subscription) and $2.48 (on demand sale). Same numbers than last year.
  • Stockxpert (subs opt-in) : between $0.3 (stockxpert, photos.com, jupiterimages subscription) and $5 (L size, pay per download stockxpert) . Up limit dropped from $7 last year due to the discontinuation of photos.com credit sales this year, drop from $0.5 on the lower limit because I opted-in for subscription sales.
  • Istockphoto : between $0.19 (XS size) and $3.36 (L size). Upper limit is up this year from $2.70 last year:)
  • Fotolia : between $0.31 (subscription) and $4.99 (L size, exclusive). Lower commission dropped from $0.36 last year. I however expect for the upper limit to be lower since my commission for exclusive photos dropped from 52% to 32% in 2009! You have now to be 100% exclusive to get a 49% commission (bronze ranking)...
  • Dreamstime : between $0.30 (subscription) and $3.75 (panoramic image maximum size, level 1). $3.32 (level 2 image, maximum size). Up from $2.70 last year for the upper limit.
  • BigStockphoto : between $0.5 (small) and $3 (panoramic image, extra large). Up limit was $2 last year.
  • Crestock : between $0.25 (subscription) and $1.5 (S size). Up limit up from $1 last year
  • 123RF : between $0.36 (subscription) and $4.94 (Mega High XL TIFF). Up limit up from $4.5 last year

New agencies:

  • Canstockphoto: $0.3 (Fotosearch subscription) and $19.80 (Fotosearch regular)
  • Cutcaster: $4.70 (XXLarge)
  • Yaymicro: $3.69 (S size) - $7.38 (L size)
  • 3DStudio: $2.40 (Small) - $7.20 (large)
  • Scanstockphoto: unique commission at $1.46
  • Fotomind: $0.9 (full resolution)

In the light of last year numbers, few conclusions can be made:

Fotolia is the agency with the more disparity between lower and higher commissions ($0.31 to $4.99).

Sales commissions are the highest for the new agencies, unfortunately sales volume is still very small:(

The difference between higher and lower commissions increased compared to last year (from $7.3 to $19.61).

Agencies where my commissions are stable: Shutterstock,bigstockphoto
Agencies where my commissions are raising:) Istock, Dreamstime,crestock,123RF
Agencies where my commissions are dropping :( Fotolia, Stockxpert

Looking at my average monthly sales commission (including extented sales) for the first nine months of the year, it actualy increased this year to $0.74 from $0.58 last year.

See you in a year to see if these numbers are moving up or down......

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Compilation of HD Stock footage agencies requirements

A quick memo about the requirements of the HD stock footage agencies I contribute or plan to contribute to. I will update this table from time to time but feel free to leave a comment if you find that some informations are outdated...Thank you.

Submit Footage Clips to Shutterstock and make $$$!

Royalty-Free Stock Video at Pond5

Revostock footage

Friday, October 2, 2009

September 2009 earnings

September was a new BME and for the first time my microstock earnings (minus referrals) were above $500 which was initially my goal in 2009. SS had a BME this month (with 2EL and 9 OD sales) , the first one since June 2008 but IS is still number one this month (with 1EL sale), beating SS by only $1...

Another BME to report at BSP with a first EL sale and another BME at SCP with just regular sales which is quite encouraging. Amongst the newcomers, 3DS had a noticeable slow down this month with only two sales and Veer earnings graph is desesperatly flat.... No sign of life at YAY and Cutcaster either...

Luckily, sales at Panthermedia and SmugMug brought my monthly earnings just above the $600 mark.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I started contributing to footage agencies in September by sending HD clips to Shutterstock, Pond5, Revostock, Clipcanvas. My application is still pending at Istock and AlwaysHD. I immediatly wrote off Fotolia from my uploading list due to their low price policy. I will start disclosing my footage stats only next month since a lot of my clips are pending approval at the moment.
The Isyndica platform was very useful to upload these huge HD clips and I can still decide to distribute them later on in few clicks to Stockxpert and Canstock if their footage sales are taking off.

Will October will be another BME? I hope so and you will find daily updates on my Twitter account.