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Author Topic: Thoughts on microstock market  (Read 5143 times)

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« on: September 11, 2007, 07:53 »
An exclusive photographer friend at IS told me the other day that one of the executives at Corbis was saying that the microstock market still counts only for 5% of the whole stock photography business. (Is there a market research on this?) This is a business which has the potential to go completely online than any other business. Much more than online music or movies. It means that we can expect many fluctuations including selling prices, new websites, disappearing ones, more stringent approval criteria, anything...

Although all seems positive for the contributing photographers, it may not be so for the individual ones, as big agencies discovered the potential of microstock. Look at iofoto.com. Now they have a portfolio of 10,000 photos on several microstock sites.

For now, some microstock sites still try to stay big by enlarging their number of images. Some seem to have more stringent criteria but still random, mostly influenced by the subjective opinions of the reviewers, the ratio of the number of reviewers to the number of uploaded images, unprofessionalism... These secondary factors still dictate the business. Even at IS, which seems the most professional of all, they changed the upload limits many times in a short period of time.

While the microstock sites, although some are already a subsidiary of a corporate business, are still struggling their way through technical problems, downtimes, staff shortages, they still rely upon uncontrolled costumer demand. I mean they do almost nothing to create additional demand. Direct mailing to existing stock photo buyers? I don't think so... While they started to implement better search mechanisms, lightboxes are not effectively used (as in the sense of stock CDs), nor the contributers are not effectively chanelled by the sites to take pictures/create images which have a higher demand potential. There is no business segmentation (for magazines of different sorts, advertisers, business sectors etc.). We are practically in the stone ages of microstock business.

IMHO, these will all change. But will those changes be to the good of individuals, I'm not sure. Some amateurs decided to be a contributor for a pocket money, then some even quitted their daytime job when they started to earn several thousands of dollars per month, but the introduction of photo agencies may change the picture.

« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2007, 08:04 »
I came nearly to the same conclusion. 


final word is that we only can wait and see what happens.  But I surely think things will change big time over the next 2 to 3 year

« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2007, 08:18 »
yeah, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the future.

i think there will always be a place for the casual submitter though - although they might not be as good revenue sources as they are now.  there will always be new sites that are looking for photographers.

the good sites however that give a decent return on your submissions - may have strict guidelines that are hard to meet unless you are a professional.

« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2007, 08:20 »
I came nearly to the same conclusion. 


final word is that we only can wait and see what happens.  But I surely think things will change big time over the next 2 to 3 year

Thank you for the link Perrush, I also read all of your articles, which are very helpful. Kudos for the community spirit.

« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2007, 08:31 »
I read your article Perrush.  Nicely prepared and researched.

Your charts of 'number of contributors' interests me.  I actually don't think the published 'total photographers' at each of the agencies gives us any clue at all.  Many thousands of amateur photographers sign up for the agencies, contribute a few pictures, then give up but leave their account active.  The number of highly active contributors at each agency is a very small percentage of the total.

It's good that Stockxpert publish their complete users list, because this helps us understand what's going on; of 3,400 contributors there, 800 or so have ten pictures or less; that's a quarter of the total.  I imagine the numbers are similar at the other agencies, particularly at Fotolia who attracted a lot of amateurs in the early days who have seen few downloads.

So I don't think those charts of yours showing rapidly increasing numbers of contributing photographers should give the rest of us any cause for concern.

It would be helpful if the agencies started to close inactive accounts, or those that are very small, or those that have atrocious acceptance ratios.  That will happen one day I'm sure.

« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2007, 08:41 »
Hatman, I do call my article 'a complete guide' ... and therefor those graphs your talking about are on the site  ;D


but I agree you have to look for them.  There is such a lot of information that it is hard to arrange properly (for a non-English speaking person)


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