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Author Topic: Tracking year on year sales - Shutterstock vs. Dreamstime vs. iStock  (Read 14032 times)

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« on: August 18, 2009, 16:00 »
A question on the Micropayment Yahoo group got me thinking about agency performance in a different way.  The member reported a sharp drop in sales at Shutterstock and Dreamstime this year and wanted to know if others were seeing similar results.  To be a little scientific about it, I compared the past twelve month's sales to the previous period: September, 2008 - August, 2009 (extrapolated to a full month) vs. September, 2007 - August, 2008.  What I saw surprised me a little.

Here's the thing: Shutterstock did 62% better for me this past year than the year before.  Dreamstime did half that: 30% year over year.  But iStockphoto was the shocker: a grand total of 1% better this year than last.  All that time and energy uploading just to stay where I was.

Of course, part of the difference is that I'm able to grow my portfolios at Shutterstock and Dreamstime (and others) as fast as I can create new images.  On September 1, 2007 I had fewer than 1700 images at Shutterstock.  By 9/1/08 I was up to nearly 3000; now I'm over 6300.  (I submit the same images to Dreamstime.  Any difference in port size is down to DT's review process.)

By comparison, iStock's upload limits have held me back in a major way.  My iStock port was under 1000 on 9/1/07, just under 1600 on 9/1/08 and around 2300 today.  Given the way images age and the vagaries of search algorithms and other factors beyond my control, the best I can expect is to tread water there.  And I doubt somehow identifying my best and most salable images for upload would change that result all that much.

Which is all food for thought.  Measuring incremental effort against potential gain, looks like there's a lot more value in generating more content for Shutterstock and then feeding it to the others than there is from the two hours a week I spend uploading and disambiguating on iStock.

« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2009, 20:29 »
Thanks for the information - that is interesting indeed ... what about your RPI on the 3 different sites?

« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2009, 20:34 »
I don't track RPI.  It's not a good measure of the kind of shooting I do now.  Instead of a handful of images from a single shoot, I may get up to a hundred to add to my port from a studio session.  Individually they don't sell all that well, but the aggregate does.  What that means is that my RPI has been falling, my revenue per shoot and my overall revenue continue to climb.

« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2009, 22:00 »
Good info Disorderly,

 I like your handle as well. Yes I think "sell through rate" is a better gauge than RPI or per shoot sales when dealing with such large production. Great post full of valuable information. Thanks for sharing.



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