Why Be Exclusive on iStock

This week I have had two separate people asking me questions about where to contribute their stock images. I see many benefits in being an exclusive contributor to one site. And that site for me is iStock. So, why be exclusive on iStock?

First, for anyone not familiar with iStock – it is one of the best known microstock photography websites. It is owned by Getty Images. I have been contributing to iStock since 2008, and have been an exclusive contributor since May 2010. (You can read an introduction to stock photography here).


When you start on iStock, you begin as an independent contributor on a royalty rate of 15%. Your royalty rate can increase as you have more downloads of your files. When you reach 250 downloads, you qualify to become exclusive if you want to.

Save time

Contributing to many stock sites can be time consuming. Being exclusive can be a great time saver.

Why be exclusive on iStock? For these 6 reasons:

1. Higher Royalties. As an independent contributor your royalty rate starts at 15%. As an exclusive contributor that immediately jumps to 25%, and can go as high as 45% depending on your downloads and ‘redeemed credits’ (I will save an explanation of redeemed credits for another post). The point is iStock pay higher royalties for exclusive contributors.

2. Different Collections. Independent contributors files go into a collection called Essentials. These files cost 1 credit each. Exclusive contributors can also have files in the Essentials collection, but their new files default into the Signature collection. Signature collection files cost 3 credits, so again, exclusives can earn higher royalties by having files in a higher priced collection.

3. Better File Placement. Where your files appear in search results is driven by a complex algorithm. One factor is whether the contributor is exclusive. Exclusive files will generally, but not always, appear before independent files giving them a better chance of being downloaded by the buyer.

4. Time. Uploading and key wording images to multiple different sites is time consuming. While there are tools available to make this process easier – for me, I enjoy spending more time shooting or relaxing, and less time uploading and key wording.

5. Faster Inspection Times. Exclusive files have their own inspection queue which generally has a turn around of less than 24 hours. Its nice to upload files knowing they will be reviewed promptly, and displayed in the search results soon after.

Australian dollar

Being exclusive offers higher royalties and access to different collections

6. Getty Images. Files from the Signature+ collection are automatically mirrored onto the main Getty Images website. To get files into the Signature+ collection, exclusive contributors can nominate them at the time they are submitted. They will then be inspected for inclusion in the Signature+ collection. Having files on the Getty Images website is an additional place for your files to be downloaded from. The Getty Images royalties is a significant and growing part of my monthly royalties.

So, why be exclusive on iStock? Those are the 6 reasons for me. Exclusivity has worked very well for me, and helped stock to become a key component of my photography income. I am happy to answer any questions on iStock exclusivity – please leave a question on this post. Equally, if you have experience to share with Beyond Here readers, please use the┬ácomments section under this post. Thanks for reading ‘why be exclusive on iStock’.

3 thoughts on “Why Be Exclusive on iStock

  1. Steve Heap

    Someone told me recently that non-exclusive contributors to iStock could nominate files to Signature +, but I am finding it difficult to verify this. Has anything changed in this area? I wrote a review of qHero on my blog and that promoted the investigation as qHero has a check box for nominations.

    Good site, by the way!

    Reply
    1. Craig Dingle Post author

      Hi Steve, welcome to Beyond Here and thanks for the feedback. I’ve been exclusive on iStock since 2010, and as far as I know independent contributors can’t nominate to the S+ collection. It’s one of the few remaining perks of exclusivity, as those files then get mirrored onto the main GI site. It is now a significant source of downloads / income for me. I’ll check out your blog now.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: The life of a non-exclusive stock photo contributor Backyard Silver

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *