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The Dreamstime levels system

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When I first joined DT years ago and was reading through all the info, I thought I had a fair idea of how their levels system worked. If I recall correctly, each time a photo sells, it reaches a higher level and you end up being paid higher commissions (or higher amounts) each time. But that doesn't work in reality. My latest sale was for a photo that has sold at least four times before. And this photo usually earns me exactly the same amount each time - $0.33c (including this latest sale.) Obviously subscription sales. One time, this image did earn me $1.90 for one of the earlier sales (which surprisingly was also a subscription sale.)

So I'm wondering what is the point of this levels system at DT? No matter how many times a photo sells and what level it is, you usually don't get an increase in earnings. It will usually be the same or similar amount each time. 

My understanding is that levels are for a la carte downloads (Non Subscription);  so for higher levels buyer has to spend more credits & contributor payout will be higher.  But I agree with you;  I've been on DT over 5yrs & have some images level 5 but don't see difference.   0.35 standard sub (0.38 during Covid) most of the time.  Occasional 2.00 Sub,   super rare EL never more than 17.

Ah thanks for the clarification. So these higher levels only really matter in the rare circumstances when we get non subscription sales. In the early days of being a DT contributor, I was really getting my hopes up about my images reaching higher levels.

Her Ugliness:
I think the level system is extremly vague anyways. The FAQ just says "When the amount of downloads per image reaches a specific number the level of the file is increased", but it doesn't tell you what that "specific" number is. Is it 5 downloads? Is it 50?

I found the information that "The prices go up 2-3 credits for each level. Level 5 images are between 11 and 20 credits", but even that is vague? Why "between 11-20 credits?" Is it 11 or is it 20? How comes no one knows?

And the same source says that the final cost of an image is determined by the credit pack the customer buys. This means you might get less for a level 5 image if the person buying the image has a 2000 credit pack than you might get for a level 1 image if the person has a 11 credits pack. So, at least according to this source (, the levels are also for subscription sales, not just for non subscription! But I can't confirm, as no detailed information can be found on Dreamstime's site.

All very intransparent. In the end I never held much hope for the level system anyways. It might probably work if you have very unique images, but as soon as your image is more generic and there are 5873 of the same topic in the database, it might just mean that customers will serach for a cheaper image once yours costs more, so the system might be sabotaging your sales.

These are great points.

This is one of my level 5 photos; 30 downloads.   Look right - all 0.35.  It's like that all the way to 1st DL except just one at Level 4,  2.96,  16 credits

Levels concept sounds great in theory, but appears to have little practical benefit


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