Tag Archives: microstock photography

Ideas for Coronavirus Themed Stock Photos

Here in Melbourne, Australia we are 3 weeks into a 6 week, level 4 restriction phase due to coronavirus. Under these restrictions we are only allowed to go out for 4 reasons – to do essential shopping, to exercise for 1 hour per day, for medical needs, and for education needs. As you can imagine that makes work as a photographer very difficult. With the absence of client contact and sports, I have been finding it difficult. I haven’t been very productive, and have only shot a limited amount of stock content. If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos.

Lifestyle Themed Images

Ok, first up in our ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos is lifestyle images. Where I live we have restrictions largely keeping us at home, so I have not shot any of these recently. However, if you have greater freedom than we currently do (!) consider stock images of people going about daily life. Grab a face mask and have your model go about daily life – travelling on public transport, going to work, taking the dog for a walk etc.


An example of lifestyle images is in this previous post on Beyond Here, Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown.

Medical Themed Images

I have seen some very well executed images of drive through virus testing facilities. There is high demand for this type of stock image so consider drive through and testing based in a medical facility.

Business or Economic Themed Images

This is where I have focused most of the (few!) stock shoots I have done in the last few weeks. There is already a significant impact on the global economy which is likely to worsen in coming months. Some economic commentators are predicting a recession which will be the biggest economic downtown since the great depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s. Wow! I expect there will be strong demand for images which capture the economic impact of unemployment, financial difficulty, recession, depression, property crisis, and difficult economic conditions.

Business or economic themed images are likely to be in demand for several years

Things That are New

We are starting to see unique things appearing as a result of coronavirus. While out walking the dog I have been noticing how many parked cars have face masks hanging from the rear view mirror. Have you been noticing things like that? Can you turn those ideas into stock images?

Thanks for reading these ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos. I hope that it has been helpful, and prompted ideas for how you might create popular content during this difficult time. Keep well. Happy shooting.

Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure

This week there has been a significant development in the microstock photography industry. One of the largest players upset many of it’s contributors by revamping their royalty structure. Read on to learn more about what’s happening and the reaction as Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure.

What is Shutterstock Announcing?

Shutterstock is announcing a major change to it’s royalty program for contributors. Previously contributors received a fixed amount for each subscription download depending on their level. The minimum royalty is currently USD$0.25. This week’s announcement moves away from a fixed amount to a percentage (also with different levels).

Contributors reactions have been angry with many proposing boycotting Shutterstock

How have Contributors Reacted?

Contributors have reacted negatively with a fear their income will be reducing. Most controversially, contributors percentage will re-set to the lowest level on 1 January each year. Regardless of your portfolio size and previous level of success, every contributor will re-set to 15% royalty at the beginning of each year.

When will the Changes Take Effect?

The changes will be effective from 1 June 2020. Although it seems barely believable, Shutterstock is introducing a major change with less than one week notice.

From this date, contributors percentage royalty will be based on the level of sales achieved so far in 2020. It will then reset to the minimum 15% from 1 January 2021.

Thoughts?

I have liked the certainty which previously came with a fixed royalty per download. If anything, it provided an incentive for Shutterstock to increase prices over time as this would expand their margins.

Unfortunately it seems they are interested in the same model as Getty / iStock who sell high volumes at very low prices, which in turn means very small royalties per download for contributors.

I believe contributors fears are well founded, and expect we will see a decline for contributors revenue per download.

Many Shutterstock contributors have already de-activated their portfolios in protest at this weeks announcement. We wait to see if and when Shutterstock responds.

Subsequent News

Earlier today another microstock agency, Dreamstime, announced an increase in royalties for contributors. The timing of this announcement can only be in direct competition with Shutterstock as they seek to benefit from the discontent Shutterstock has created with contributors.

Where to From Here?

I am going to wait and see what happens to royalties during June 2020 before deciding what actions to take with my small Shutterstock portfolio. If you are a Shutterstock contributor, what are you planning to do?

Thanks for reading Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure.

Delays with Microstock Image Inspection During Pandemic

Looks like I was speaking too soon! In this post My Microstock Experience During the Coronavirus Pandemic I was outlining that microstock seemed to be largely business as usual. That seems to be changing with delays with microstock image inspection during pandemic. Shutterstock and Adobe Stock have been communicating likely future delays, and my most recent submission at iStock has taken longer than normal for inspection.

What Are We Seeing?

On three of the major microstock sites I contribute to we are seeing image inspection delays and communication to expect slower inspections.

My most recent submission to iStock has taken 10 days to pass through the image inspection process. That’s nearly double the usual time frame. I don’t expect that was anything to do with the images – they were simple wildlife shots like the ones shown here – and more likely reflects quantities and operational challenges during the pandemic.

What about the Immediate Future?

Both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock have issued communication that contributors can expect to see delays in image inspection. To date, my own submissions have been reviewed relatively quickly by both sites. I am impressed that their image inspections have been so prompt up until now. It seems that may change in the near future.

Shutterstock today have put limits on uploads so that all contributors files can be pass through inspection in a timely manner.

So What?

I’m not sure there really is a so what here! Be patient. Inspections are continuing. Try to shoot stock content which is relevant and not too time sensitive.

Thanks for reading Delays with Microstock Image Inspection During Pandemic. Keep safe. Keep patient.

My Microstock Experience During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I am making the most of the current lock down situation to add to my microstock portfolios. The three microstock sites I upload to are iStock, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock. Here is my microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic.

Image Inspection Times

All three microstock sites continue to operate ‘business as usual’ with both uploading and downloading available. It is impressive that there isn’t any real business interruption, though both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are indicating there may be an impact on inspection times.

My microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic has largely been ‘business as usual’

I am uploading daily to each site and to date my experience is:

  • Shutterstock – inspection is taking 24-48 hours with files available in the database very soon afterwards
  • Adobe Stock – inspection is taking 3-4 days
  • iStock – inspection is taking 6-8 days (note, I am an ‘independent’ contributor to iStock. I am expecting that exclusive contributors file inspection is faster).

Sales of Newly Approved Files

My newly added content has been a mix of historical files and newly shot coronavirus themed images (discussed more in this post Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown).

My experience with newly uploaded files is similar to my usual microstock experience:

  • Shutterstock – new files are selling well, particularly those with a pandemic theme
  • Adobe Stock – new files are selling well, and slightly better than my usual experience
  • iStock – unfortunately iStock only reports once per month so at this stage I don’t know how well new images are selling. iStock is well behind the other two agencies in the information it provides to contributors
Social distancing is a popular theme right now

Total Sales

It is still early days in the new ‘pandemic world’. Without full data yet available it seems my overall microstock sales are down on usual sales numbers. I am expecting this to be the case as the overall business activity in the economy is below the normal level.

What is your microstock experience at this time?

Thanks for reading about my microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Happy shooting.

Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown

It is very challenging times right around the world as we deal with the coronavirus. Here in Australia the government is encouraging people to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary. I recently wrote a post called Coronavirus Realities for this Photographer. Today, it’s shooting stock images during the coronavirus shutdown.

Background

We had a small amount of advance notice that there will be restrictions in daily life as the world tries to ‘flatten the curve’ in growth of coronavirus cases. During this small window I was able to do one outdoor coronavirus themed stock photo shoot. I also made a visit to the craft shop to stock up on supplies which I could use in stock photo concepts.

Shooting stock images in the coronavirus shutdown. I was able to do one outdoor themed shoot recently.

Early Feedback

There are currently a lot of coronavirus themed images being added to microstock sites. To date, I have been concentrating on local themed images like the one above. Why? Firstly, because it is relatively easy for me to shoot this style of image, and secondly there is very little competition. Encouragingly, there have been immediate sales on each of the microstock sites where I submit images.

From Here?

Now, with daily movement restrictions increasing, I’m not expecting to be able to do outdoor shoots in the near future. The increasing requirements around ‘social distancing’ are going to make this impossible in the short term. So where will I focus? I built a small home studio several years ago and am planning to shoot a series of simple stock images there.

There is strong demand for coronavirus themed stock images right now

What Can You Shoot?

Right now is a unique time to be able to shoot specifically themed images. The whole world is reporting on the virus, and there is high demand for relevant images.

You don’t need a studio to shoot coronavirus themed stock images. With the large push to stay at home, work from home, social distancing, and ‘flattening the curve’ there is real opportunity to use your own home surrounds to shoot relevant images.

Final Thoughts

In a world turned upside down I am grateful for the small amount of revenue coming in through stock photography. All my booked jobs for the next 2 months have cancelled, with no current time line for when normal activities might resume. In the meantime I’ll be staying home, keeping safe, and doing what I can with stock imagery.

Social Distancing is a theme to consider for your stock photo shoots

Thanks for reading Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown. Good luck!

Coronavirus Realities for this Photographer

Wow, we are living in interesting times! Right now many events and activities around the world are facing cancellation or suspension as we try to halt the spread of coronavirus. This is already having a major impact on all industries and is clearly impacting photographers. In my business, all my jobs for the next 2 months have been cancelled or are likely to be cancelled. Here are the coronavirus realities for this photographer.

Coronavirus is having a major health and business impact around the world

Immediate Impacts

The response from health officials and governments has been significant this week. Here in Australia, gatherings of over 500 people are being discouraged. This is causing the cancellation or postponement of major events. As the majority of my work is in sports, the cancellation of many sports has meant my pipeline of jobs for the next 2 months has disappeared.

How Long Will this Last?

I wish I knew! With 2 weeks left in the local school term followed by Easter holidays I can’t see any change being likely until at least the end of April. I really don’t know what to expect from there. I am now planning for an extended period without major sporting events.

What to do in the Meantime?

The cancellation of sports events will have a significant impact to my business. To keep busy I am planning to shoot stock images and upload them to my online portfolios. My income from stock is well below what it has been in previous years but it is steady and comes in every month. Unfortunately I don’t know how long this challenge is going to last, but for the next few weeks I plan on creating stock images relevant to the current health crisis.

What will that look like?

I am conscious of helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus by limiting social interaction. For me that will mean shooting stock images in my home studio. I can see I’ll need a break from that at some point (!) and plan to visit wildlife areas close to home.

Do you have an action plan in place to get through the next few months? These are the coronavirus realities for this photographer. What are they for you?

Helpful Resources

If you’d like to look into stock photography please check out

Highs and Lows of Microstock Photography Royalties

This week I received my latest monthly royalty report from leading microstock agency – iStock. It highlighted to me the highs and lows of microstock photography royalties.

So What do I Mean?

Let’s start with the highs. One of my royalties was USD$145 for a single download of one of my images. That’s good news. Especially as the image was shot about 5 years ago and continues to sell. Based on today’s exchange rate, that’s about AUD$200 for a single sale. This type of royalty is uncommon, unfortunately! But when it does happen it is a very nice boost to the overall royalties for the month.

Australian dollars

Occasional big royalties make a significant difference

Now for the lows. One of my downloads generated a royalty of just USD$0.02. I’m really not sure how Getty Images and iStock justify such low royalties. This month I’m glad these small royalties were offset by several large ones.

What Should You Learn from Your Royalties?

I’d suggest not reading too much into individual month royalty amounts. Based on a few large sales, your monthly royalty income can vary significantly from month to month. Making any assumptions based on just one month, or even a small collection of months would be unwise.

So How Should You Assess Progress?

If you are looking for measures which reflect your progress I’d suggest 2 measures are worth looking at.

First is the total number of downloads from month to month. While royalties can vary significantly from month to month, your total download numbers are likely to be much less volatile. There will be seasonal differences in what is downloaded, but the variation in download numbers will not be as dramatic as the variation in royalty amounts.

money

Growing the size and diversity of your portfolio is the only sure way to increase royalties

Second is the total number of files in your portfolio. If you are serious about stock photography you’ll be adding new content regularly. Your number of future downloads – and hence your royalty income – will be determined by the size and diversity of your portfolio. If you want a number you can directly control, measure the number of files in your portfolio and make sure it’s increasing!

What’s the Wrap?

Be happy when the larger royalties come your way. Don’t be too unhappy when they don’t. Keep building your portfolio so that it is large and varied.

Thanks for reading the Highs and Lows of Microstock Photography Royalties. Happy shooting.

Letter to Mark Getty from an iStock Contributor

I have been reading in Petapixel that Getty Images to be Fully Controlled by the Getty Family Once Again. According to that article the Getty family have taken a majority stake in the business, and will take full control. Mark Getty led the negotiation and purchase on behalf of the Getty family. I know very little about the broader Getty Images business, but I have been a contributor to iStock since 2008. I used to love iStock and the high volume, low price business model. With major changes to iStock over recent years it no longer looks like the site I joined in 2008. With this post, it’s time to write a letter to Mark Getty from an iStock contributor outlining the issues and to make suggestions to make iStock great again. 

“G’day Mark,

My name is Craig Dingle. I live in Melbourne, Australia and have been an iStock contributor since 2008. I’ve been reading in Petapixel that the Getty family has taken a majority stake and full control of the Getty Images business. I’m sure you are doing that as you see potential for a good investment. In the stock photography side of the business, and specifically iStock, I see considerable potential but not on the current trajectory. I’ve outlined the issues and potential solutions from a contributors point of view.

Background

When I first joined iStock it was a vibrant community made up of photographers from around the world. iStock was known as the micro stock industry leader, and for the high quality content on the site. It was a badge of honor to be an exclusive iStock contributor. There was a dynamic contributor forum, and contributors who were submitting strong content were making a considerable income. That’s not the case today.

money

Up until 2012/13 contributors could make a significant income in microstock

Where it All Changed

Many things have changed about iStock since 2008.

Where the fundamental shift occurred was when iStock stopped selling licences to contributors images – and starting selling subscriptions. At this point, the most important change in iStock history happened. The interests of iStock and contributors were no longer aligned.

iStock is interested in selling subscriptions. I can see why. With a subscription iStock’s monthly income will fluctuate much less than if it were based on a percentage of image sales revenue.

Where is the misalignment? The contributor is still receiving a percentage of the amount to licence their image.

In my case, I was exclusive and on a 35% royalty. I decided to drop exclusivity last year and now receive 15% royalty as an independent contributor. That means I see many royalties of less than USD$0.20 per download. The lowest royalty I have received for a download is US$0.02. (Some contributors report seeing royalties of US$0.01 but I haven’t had one of these – yet!)

Contributor Royalty Rates Versus other Microstock Libraries

So, one issue is the misalignment of Getty Images interests with contributors interests. The second issue is how the royalties are structured and what it means in royalty per download for your contributors.

Contributors are sometimes receiving US$0.02 royalty when a customer licences one of their images via iStock. Let’s let that settle in for a moment. It’s worth repeating. Contributors are sometimes receiving US$0.02 royalty when a customer licences one of their images via iStock.

iStock’s major competitors overcome this by offering minimum royalties. I now contribute to Shutterstock. My minimum royalty there is US$0.33. It’s not much per download, but it is 16 times higher than iStock is paying on some downloads. iStock is paying contributors much lower royalties per download than the other major microstock agencies.

What’s the Implication of Paying Contributors so Little?

At the level of an individual contributor – the implication for me is that it no longer makes financial sense to contribute images to iStock which have any cost of production. That means I only contribute content that has cost me nothing to produce.

All my other content goes to other agencies where there is a greater financial reward for the contributor.

Again, let’s pause and let that settle in.

Melbourne lifestyle

My stock photography has focused on lifestyle content in the last 3 years. I don’t upload it to iStock as the financial returns are not there.

Other contributors will be in the same boat. I expect that iStock – previously the market leader in microstock – is becoming a dumping ground for contributors of low cost of production images. That’s not likely to make any difference to the iStock collection or business in the short term. But in the long term, iStock risks being the low quality, low price image library. I presume you’ll need to do massive volumes to make that business model work.

Contributor Reporting

An outcome of the royalty structure is that iStock contributors see a major delay in reporting. We get visibility of what content has been licensed at what prices on the 20th of the following month. So for August sales, I see reports on the 20th of September.

Mark, I imagine Getty Images has a monthly board meeting in the middle of each month. I imagine financial results are tabled at that meeting plus management commentary for the previous month. Can you see the irony here?

While Getty Images reviews the previous month’s financial results, contributors are still waiting for their financial reports.

To compound the issue for iStock – your competitors are miles ahead in this area. Each time one of my files is licensed on Shutterstock I get instant notification on my smart phone. It tells me which image was downloaded, what my royalty was, and the total amount Shutterstock now owe me.

The process I take to receive the same information on iStock is – wait until the 20th of the following month to receive data. Then, I download a text file. I save it to my computer desktop. Then I upload it to Qhero stats function to see what has sold for what amounts.

Shutterstock is leaving iStock behind by making it easier for contributors to run their business.

New Content Visibility

When I look at the Qhero stats functionality I see it is mainly my old files which customers are licensing. I’m not getting a return on recent files, which is a major disincentive to upload new content. You can read more about that in this post iStock Shutterstock Comparison.

iStock has identified issues with ‘search freshness’ but there is no evidence that it is taking action. The lack of sales of recent content is a further disincentive for contributors to add fresh material.

Melbourne lifestyle

My new stock content is going to other stock libraries, not iStock

Priorities to Make iStock Great Again

I have more than 10,000 files on iStock so I have a vested interest in seeing that business succeed. As the Getty family take majority ownership and full control, these are my suggestions for priorities to make iStock great again.

Priority 1 – Align the Interests of Contributors with iStock. When a customer licences an image (who’s copyright belongs to the contributor) there must be a financial benefit to the contributor as well as to Getty / iStock. Please don’t suggest that US$0.02 is a fair financial benefit to the contributor.

Priority 2 – Get Serious about Reporting for Contributors. Ironically, iStock doesn’t have a business without contributors content. We are partners. iStock need my content, and I need iStock’s distribution strength. If you want me to produce current, fresh content, you are going to need to build reporting which supports that.

Priority 3 – Find Ways to Reward High Quality Content. The first 2 priorities are the necessary first steps. Priority 3 must be finding ways to reward high quality content. I can tell you directly that I won’t invest in paying models, hiring venues, and paying assistants to receive US$0.02 per download. If the iStock team think back to the high quality collections of the past (Vetta and Signature+) these were real incentives for contributors to excel.

Priority 4 – Clarify the Business Model. iStock is getting confused as to whether it is an image library for royalty free content, or a broker of contract work between customers and contributors. The Custom Content initiative would not be happening if the core stock photography model worked better for contributors and customers. I see this as a distraction from iStock’s core business.

Conclusion

Mark, I genuinely want the iStock business to be successful – and much more successful than it is now. I would love to be proudly telling people I’m an iStock contributor. That’s not the case today, and I fear that the current trajectory means poor outcomes for contributors in the short term, and for the iStock business model in the medium term.

I hope the Getty family taking majority ownership and full control is an opportunity to steer the ship on a new course.

Kind regards,

Craig Dingle”

Note, I don’t really expect Mark to read this content, nor to respond. But I hope that it is helpful for photographers considering stock photography options to understand the current market and make decisions appropriate for their goals. Thanks for reading this letter to Mark Getty from an iStock contributor.

What to Expect Starting in Stock Photography

This month I had the opportunity to meet with a new stock photographer. He is excited about the possibilities stock photography presents, and we had a great discussion over nearly 3 hours. It reminded me that stock photography can be overwhelming at first. That’s prompted me to help new stock photographers by outlining what to expect starting in stock photography.

Concept for pay day

Your first pay day from stock photography will take time. Be patient. Keep learning. Keep going.

Beginning in stock photography is straight forward. You get online, open an account, and start uploading. I outlined some of my experiences in this post. If you haven’t already, go ahead and open an account with a micro stock site now. There is a link to shutterstock in the margins of this blog.

Once the account is open, that’s when many photographers let their doubts takeover.

Here are 5 things to expect starting in stock photography and how to deal with them.

Each Micro Stock Sites Upload and Review Process Seems Confusing.

While some are simpler than others, most new stock photographers deal with a level of frustration with the upload and review process. If you expect some frustration and be patient as you learn the process, you will succeed. Remember that thousands of people are uploading to these sites every day. If they can learn how, you can too. Be patient. Persevere. If you need help, ask other contributors to that micro stock site. They have gone through the confusion you are dealing with.

There Will Be Highs and Lows in Your First Year.

Highs and lows might continue well beyond your first year (!) but they are almost guaranteed when you are starting out. There is usually a period of great excitement and optimism when a photographer begins, followed by the realization that stock photography is not ‘easy money’. When the inevitable lows hit, just keep going. Persevere. (There’s that word again!) Don’t let the lows knock out the optimism of the highs. Push forward. Stock photography can provide great rewards, but it does take time and consistent effort.

Other Photographers Work Seems Better Than Your Own.

There is good and bad to looking at other photographers work. The good is that you can be inspired and it can motivate you to shoot better and better stock images. The bad is that you feel like your work is not good enough. Try not to let the negative comparisons overcome you. If the quality of your work keeps improving you will succeed in stock photography.

Sales Will Take Time.

Please don’t expect sales to begin on day 1 and continue every hour. While in theory that is possible, you are likely to experience no sales to begin with. Check that you are applying appropriate keywords, but then remind yourself that it is the image libraries job to make sales. The photographers job is to shoot and upload relevant content. There’s an old stock photographer’s saying which might help you – in good and bad times, shoot, upload, repeat.

You Will Doubt that the Effort is Worth the Reward.

There will come a time when you wonder whether the time and effort is worth the reward. Stock photography is not like a job. You don’t get paid based on the hours you put in. You get paid based on how much useful content you are generating. When that doubt gets to you, remember that all successful stock photographers started in the same way as you – uploading and key wording one image at a time. The more images you upload the more likely you are to have financial success.

letter blocks

Don’t let the doubts get to you. Keep learning, keep working, and success in stock photography will come to you too.

Thanks for reading what to expect starting in stock photography. The first year in stock will be challenging. Keep going. Shoot better and better content. Enjoy the process. Best wishes.

iStock Shutterstock Comparison

Regular readers of Beyond Here will know I have been a long time contributor to microstock. How long exactly? Well, this month takes me past 10 years of selling through microstock sites. For many of those years I was an exclusive contributor at iStock. I moved away from iStock exclusivity 6 months ago as I explained in this post Why I Dropped iStock Exclusivity. Since then I have primarily been building the Melbourne Stock Photos content. I’ve also been submitting my generic content to iStock and Shutterstock and that leads to this iStock Shutterstock Comparison.

Melbourne tourism

My Melbourne content is being uploaded to Melbourne Stock Photos

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 1 – Ease of Upload

I upload to iStock through qHero, and to Shutterstock through the Shutterstock contributor website. Both are intuitive, well designed processes which are straightforward to use. I like the keywording tools that both provide, and overall they are both easy to use. Well done iStock and Shutterstock. For me, one is not better than the other, they are just slightly different.

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 2 – Review Times

Ok. Review times is where we start to see a signficant difference. This week I uploaded the exact same content to both sites. (I find it interesting to see how the same content performs on the respective sites).

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive, well researched comparison. This is just what I experienced this week. So what has happened? Shutterstock have reviewed my content within 4 hours for each of my uploads this week. iStock has been variable. The fastest has been 3 days, and the longest is still waiting to be reviewed after 5 days.

While it’s not likely to have a significant bearing on the long terms performance of those files, it is nice to see work being reviewed promptly. Well done Shutterstock.

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 3 – Getting New Content Live

Comparison point 3 leads on from point 2. Reviewing files promptly is important, but getting them live on the database and making sales is what really counts.

This is an area where Shutterstock seem to excel. Last night I had 4 files reviewed within 2 hours, and a sale made 1 hour later. I was surprised, as the content was not ‘news worthy’ but just solid stock material. This is not the first time this has happened, and Shutterstock appear to be excellent at getting new content in front of buyers. Well done Shutterstock.

Woman on horse

I am uploading my generic stock images to both iStock and Shutterstock

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 4 – Minimum Download Royalties

Today I received my monthly sales report from iStock. It was reasonably depressing reading with a minimum royalty received of USD$0.14. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so down beat, as I’ve received royalties as low as $0.06 in recent months from iStock.

At Shutterstock my minimum royalty per download comes from their subscription program and sits at USD$0.33 This is still a very low amount and I am going to have to have a lot of downloads to make any meaningful returns, but it is a long way ahead of what I am receiving from iStock.

Well done again Shutterstock. (If this post makes it through to Shutterstock head quarters – how about raising that minimum amount? Not just once, but year after year. Photographers would love you for it. You heard it here, you heard if first from one bloke down at the bottom of the world in Melbourne, Australia!)

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 5 – Sales Reporting

If you are a current iStock contributor you’ll have been seeing little progress with iStock’s sales reporting. Today I received my monthly sales report in text file format. Thankfully I can now upload the file to qHero to turn the data into something more meaningful. Unfortunately that ‘something more meaningful’ highlights to me the issues iStock have in getting new material in front of buyers. My old content continues to sell well, while my content from the last 12 months leaves me scratching my head and wondering if I will ever recoup the money invested in those shoots.

Shutterstock on the other hand have excellent reporting.

When a sale is made I receive notification on my smart phone. This shows me which file was sold, how much the royalty will be, and the current balance which Shutterstock are due to pay me. Excellent and immediate reporting. Well done Shutterstock.

It’s been very interesting for me to experience the Shutterstock process after nearly 8 years as an iStock exclusive contributor. The ultimate comparison will be which site has stronger sales and highest total royalty income. When I compare the tools available to contributors and my experience this week, Shutterstock is shining.

Thanks for reading iStock Shutterstock Comparison. Happy shooting!