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Author Topic: How much do you think Shutterstock pays its contributors?  (Read 15714 times)

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« on: March 30, 2011, 05:37 »
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I mean percentagewise.
If a buyer buys 25 images a day for a month, he pays $249. If he buys images from top tier contributors only Shutterstock pays out $285-294 to its contributors, so there's a potential loss for Shutterstock. I know very well that most buyers don't use up their full subscription, but I've no idea why Shutterstock doesn't come out to reveal the average percentage they pay contributors as I suspect it's very high. They could brag about it if they wanted to.

If I were to buy a 25 a day subscription I'd probably use up 70% or more, even if I didn't "need" those images. If half of those 525 images are 25c ones and half are 38c ones Shutterstock would pay out around $165, which is 66% of what I paid for my subscription. If 25% of the images I buy are 38c and 75% are 25c, which is probably more realistic, that's a payout of $148 - an average commission of 59%.


So without knowing buyer habits, we can never know the exact percentage, but I'd like to hear some thoughts and estimates. What do you think is the average commission on Shutterstock ? With ELs and ODDs taken into consideration, I think the average percentage is somewhere between 40%-50%


« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2011, 06:01 »
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We have Thinkstock subscription in my parttime job and usage is about 50%.

« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2011, 06:05 »
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About 6 years ago Jon stated on the forum that roughly 36% was being returned to contributors.

Your figures are slightly out as referral fees of 3c per subscription download may also apply. Shutterstock are therefore paying out up to 41c per subscription download.

Shutterstock have always walked something of a tightrope in that they need to balance the risk to the business whilst, at the same time, they need to provide as much incentive to the contributors as possible to prevent them being lured into exclusivity.

« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2011, 06:15 »
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About 6 years ago Jon stated on the forum that roughly 36% was being returned to contributors.

Your figures are slightly out as referral fees of 3c per subscription download may also apply. Shutterstock are therefore paying out up to 41c per subscription download.

Shutterstock have always walked something of a tightrope in that they need to balance the risk to the business whilst, at the same time, they need to provide as much incentive to the contributors as possible to prevent them being lured into exclusivity.

Wow, I haven't been around that long, but nice to know. And you're right, I completely forgot the referral fees.
But six years ago the commission structure was different than today, wasn't it? I keep hearing about raises they gave for some years in the past, but was subscriptions substantially cheaper back then?

« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2011, 06:28 »
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That would be an interesting figure to know, not just at SS, but at every MS site that sells subscriptions. I really don't know if what they pay to On Demand sales could be a clue.

« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2011, 06:33 »
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There have been quite a few changes over the years. If I remember correctly a monthly subscription was about $119 and all downloads were paid at 20c (plus the 3c referral if applicable).

Travel back to those days with a ride on the Wayback Machine;

http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20041129003330/http://www.shutterstock.com/

« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2011, 07:12 »
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To add to the confusion, subscriptions are sold at different prices in different currencies (e.g. a one-month subscription here in Germany is sold for 199 which at current exchange rates is about $280).

« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2011, 07:22 »
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To add to the confusion, subscriptions are sold at different prices in different currencies (e.g. a one-month subscription here in Germany is sold for 199 which at current exchange rates is about $280).

In the UK it is 149 which currently equates to about $240. I suspect the difference in prices simply reflect how the currencies have moved relative to each other since the prices were last adjusted. It would be impracticle to modify prices each week or month according currency movements. One of the main benefits to subscribers is being able to budget for 'fixed' image costs.

« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2011, 21:23 »
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Whatever we get percentage-wise, one thing is for sure, its better than Istock. And amazingly Shutterstock can stay in business, but Istockphoto can't without cutting to the bone. Oh I know we don't do it for the money...;o)
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 21:25 by gwhitton »

« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 02:54 »
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We know how much we are getting for the On-Demand downloads though, subscriptions may be a similar %

In Norway the On-Demand packages are as follow

Regular Size: 5 Downloads ~ USD$11.75/image - Our share (2.85 / 11.75) = 24%
                    25 downloads ~ USD$11.06/image - Our Share (2.85 / 11.75) = 26%

Small Size: 12 Downlaods ~ USD$4.9/image - Our Share (1.24/4.9) = 25%
                60 Downloads ~ USD$4.61/image - Our Share (1.24/4.61) = 27%

« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 04:25 »
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Your math is wrong.

First of all a NORMAL month has 22 working days.
Assume a 30c per d/l payout (on average)
Assume a 50% average daily subscription usage (Wouln't be suprized at all if it is actually lower, MUCH lower)
22x0.3x50%x25=82.5$
82.5$/249$=33.13%

Take into consideration chirstmas and other vacations and the actuall figure is even lower...
A ~25% figure like leaf said makes more sense.

« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2011, 05:47 »
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Well actually I don't think my math is wrong, but most likely my estimates are. I'm just saying that if I bought a subscription, being a freelance / stock illustrator, I would also use my subscription on weekends. At the same time I acknowledge that most buyers wouldn't.

It probably doesn't make any sense to talk about an average commission as it's much higher for 38c-contributors. There's just too many things to factor, but I've revised my belief that they pay out 40-50%. It's probably more like 25-40% depending on the level you're at.

But one thing is for sure, I wouldn't expect a raise from them with the current market situation (and if you're reading along, Shutterstock, I certainly don't need a paycut either)
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 05:49 by ThomasAmby »

« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2011, 09:33 »
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I would vote for something between 20-30% depending on your level. I saw also some estimation bellow 20% but I think leafs is right aout this.

Always keep in mind that most microstock photographer never upload over 100 photos or reach payout - between 80-90% of them based on DT and IS stats. Only about 5-8% of contributors have more then 250 pictures online. Most contributors sell for 25c and only few for 38c. However it is hard to say how many pictures are sold for 25c or 38c - based on pareto's law, it could be 80% of all pictures submitted by 20% of top contributors - so it well might be that most pictures are 33c and 38c to the contributor.

helix7

« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 10:13 »
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I only know 2 SS buyers, and they download just a few images per day. Usually 2-4 images. Buyers like them keep SS very profitable.

I'm sure there are plenty who nearly fill their daily quota, but I think most fall somewhere in the middle.

Whatever the percentages and profit margins are, SS is doing something right. I'm having my best month there since June 2008, and my SS earnings are double my istock earnings this month.


 

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