Tag Archives: microstock

Request Your iStock Payment Today

Pay Day

21 January 2015 is the final day to make an iStock payment request

iStock, one of the best known microstock photography sites, is making changes to its payment frequency. Instead of being able to request payment once a week, from the end of January 2015, payments will automatically be made once per month. So, if you would like to request one more payment, request your iStock payment today.

What are the key dates? Wednesday 21 January 2015 is the final date to request a payment.


What then? After January 2015, money left in your iStock account at the end of each month (above the minimum payment threshold) will automatically be paid to you on the 25th of the following month. For example, if you have $376 in your iStock account at the end of February, this will be paid to you on 25 March.

What do you need to do? To make a final payment request, do that today (21 January 2015). To receive the automatic monthly payments beyond January 2015, you need to register how you want the payment to be made and your tax details. You can enter these details on your account after 22 January 2015 on the iStock website.

Thanks for reading ‘Request Your iStock Payment Today’. If you are an iStock contributor I hope this has been useful to you. If you are not an iStock contributor and would like to learn more about stock photography please see this post – Starting In Stock Photography.

iStock Changes Payment Frequency

Beyond Here has been following the changes in the micro stock photography industry, and particularly the changes at iStock. This coming week, on 21 January 2015, iStock changes payment frequency options for contributors.

Previously contributors were able to request payment of their earnings on a weekly basis as long as their earnings were above the minimum payment threshold. That process was outlined in the earlier post How Does Payment from Stock Photography Work.

Midnight

Midnight on 21 January 2015 (PST) is the final date you will be able to request a weekly payment of earnings from iStock

What are the changes? 21 January 2015 is the final date that iStock contributors will be able to request a payment of earnings. After this date, contributors will be automatically paid on a monthly basis, as long as they are above the minimum payment threshold and have entered their payment details.

Who will this impact? This change will effect all iStock contributors. This isn’t an opt in or opt out exercise, it is a change in the way that iStock operates to be more in line with its parent company, Getty Images.

What impact will it have? This change will have the biggest impact on contributors who are currently requesting a payment on a weekly basis. Instead of the steady cash flow of a weekly payment, those contributors will be paid monthly. To operate their businesses they will need to plan for the more ‘lumpy’ cash flow of monthly payments. Ironically those that it will impact the most are those contributors who generate all or most of their income from iStock and rely on the weekly cash flow.

What benefits are there? Not many that I can see from a contributors point of view. For iStock it will simplify their payment processes and presumably bring some cost savings. How that might be reinvested for benefits for contributors or customers hasn’t been made clear by iStock yet.

What do I need to do? If you are an iStock contributor and wish to make a final payment request – this needs to be done by 21 January 2015 at midnight MST. Keep in mind the time difference to where you live. Then you need to make sure your payment details are entered in your profile so that you can be automatically paid on a monthly basis. That first monthly payment will be made on 25 February 2015.

Thanks for reading ‘iStock Changes Payment Frequency’. If you are running or plan to run a photography business and would like regular articles from Beyond Here, please sign up in the area in the margin of this blog.

Understanding the Changes at iStock

Since Beyond Here began in June 2014, many readers have become aware of the opportunity presented by selling their images through microstock sites. Several readers have turned intent into action. They have opened accounts and are building their portfolios.

Microstock Income

Many iStock contributors have seen a decline in income since September. I have seen a small overall increase.

I have been a contributor to microstock sites since 2008, and an exclusive contributor with iStock since 2010. iStock has made significant changes in September 2014. I covered those developments here:

We are now 2 months since those changes. This post covers my experience and expectations, and I hope it helps your in understanding the changes at iStock and how you can make the most of them.

The Changes – iStock made a series of changes in September 2014. The key ones are outlined below.

  1. Offering just one payment method – credits. Previously there were multiple ways to pay, now credits is the only way for customers to buy files on iStock. In addition, and this is the key point, there is now a strong pricing incentive for regular buyers to take up a subscription plan. I have seen this pricing strategy in other online photography businesses too. A good example is Adobe making it very cheap now to use Photoshop and Lightroom by paying a monthly fee rather than buying the product outright. The advantage for Adobe, is very steady and predictable cash flows, instead of large ‘lumpy’ one time sales of their products. In addition, monthly subscribers typically are very ‘sticky’ customers who don’t go elsewhere.
  2. Dividing the collection into 2 tiers. This has effectively simplified the collections and the pricing structures on iStock. This is not universal popular with contributors – but I view it as a step in the right direction by making it easier for image buyers to understand the different collections and price points.
  3. Implementing one price per file. This is the most controversial change. It effectively means a price decrease for buyers who typically bought the largest sized files, and a price increase for buyers who bought the smallest files.

The Impact for Contributors

I am an exclusive contributor at iStock. For exclusives, the total revenue for each month is made up from 4 sources – ‘normal’ istock sales, extended licence sales, subscription and partner program sales, and sales via the Getty Images.

Normal istock sales and extended licence sales are recorded and credited in real time. Subscription and partner program sales are reported once per month – typically near the beginning of the following month. Getty Images sales are reported once per month – typically near the end of the following month. So effectively, an exclusive contributor will need to wait until nearly the end of November to fully understand October sales.

What has my experience been? September was a fair month. Overall download numbers were good. There was not a noticeable shift between normal downloads and subscriptions. I was fortunate to have several extended licence sales and a strong month for Getty Images downloads.

In October I started to see the impact of the changes. My iStock normal downloads fell by 10% from September and my subscription sales increased by 110% (from a small base). The effect was a significant increase in total downloads, and a small increase in income. (Note, October Getty Images sales have not been reported yet. When these are credited to contributors a full month on month analysis will be possible).

While it is early days, my experience is that the iStock strategy is working. They appear to be focusing on the large volume buyer as outlined in my earlier post and generating increased volume of downloads at a lower average price per download.

Sub sales

The increase in sub sales is seeing reductions in average income per download. This is being offset by increases in download numbers.

Implications

The changes have several implications for contributors. The way I see it, to develop your own strategy you will need to consider these issues:

  1. Increase in subscription sales. iStock seem to be succeeding in attracting high volume buyers through the subscription plans. This will see a strong increase in subscription sales. These are currently reported once per month.
  2. Decline in normal downloads. For buyers of reasonable volume, the subscription plans are very attractive. This will see an increase in sub sales and a decrease in normal downloads. As normal downloads are reported in real time, contributors will see fewer downloads and revenue being added to their accounts on a daily basis.
  3. More variable income. iStock income used to be very steady week to week. Because of the shift to sub sales it is likely that contributors incomes will be higher in that week, and lower in other weeks. I’d like to think iStock is considering a way to report sub sales in real time, but that has not been the message from iStock so far. For now, contributors will need to plan for more variable weekly income.
  4. More challenge in meeting Redeemed Credit (RC) targets. A contributors royalty level currently depends on achieving RC targets. Sub sales do not attract RCs making the step up royalty levels harder. This adds weight to the argument that iStock are going to have to revise the RC system entirely in the next 12 months. iStock have deferred this decision for another year by maintaining current royalty levels for 2015. This is of great value to existing contributors, but not much help to new ones.
  5. It is going to be tougher to meet exclusivity requirements. To become an exclusive contributor currently requires you to meet a minimum number of ‘normal’ downloads. Once you become exclusive you receive higher royalties. Exclusivity is getting harder to achieve due to the shift to sub sales. My view is that iStock will have to change this criteria if they want to attract contributors to be exclusive.
  6. Income may decline in the short term. The shift to sub sales is negatively affecting many contributors income at the moment. This is because sub sales generate less income per sale than ‘normal’ iStock downloads. It will take time to attract more larger buyers, and for the volume increase to offset the reduction in earnings per download.

I continue to be optimistic about the long term impact of the changes iStock have made. There is some “change pain” being experienced by contributors at present, and it will take time to adjust to fewer ‘normal’ downloads being reported per day. As for the future – I’d like to see iStock move to real time reporting of sub sales, changes to the RC system, and continued growth in total download numbers.

Thanks for reading ‘understanding the changes at iStock’. I hope this has been useful for you. If you are an iStock contributor, what has been your experience? or concerns?

Moving iStock Forward?

Last weekend iStock, one of the leading microstock photography agencies, implemented some significant changes in the pricing of their images. I outlined those changes in the post My Take On this Weeks iStock Announcements. So what has happened since then, and is it moving iStock forward?

The most significant change iStock introduced was to make files of all sizes the same price. Previously a small size image would be cheaper than a larger size. That meant that buyers who were using the image on the web only would buy the smallest size, and a buyer who was going to use the image in print would buy a larger sized image for a higher price. After the changes, all sizes are the same price.

Australian Currency

Contributors will have to wait until subscription sales are reported to fully understand the impact of the changes

So what has been the impact on buyers and contributors? After less than a week of the ‘new iStock’ there is mixed reaction from buyers and contributors. Buyers who mainly purchased small size files for web use have been very vocal that the changes have resulted in a large price increase for them. And in effect, for this buying group, they have. These buyers have expressed their anger in iStock discussion forums and in social media. Many have said that they will use up their current credits and then move to other microstock agencies. To see some examples, check out the iStock facebook page. For me, as an exclusive iStock contributor, it’s pretty ugly reading.

What is unknown is the response from large buyers who mainly purchase larger sized files. For this group the changes are effectively a price decrease. So that should mean an increase in downloads.

The way the new pricing structure works, this group has an incentive to use the subscription program rather than make individual downloads. While individual sales are reported as they happen, subscription sales are only reported in the middle of the following month. So subscription sales being made in September will not be reported to contributors until the middle of October. It won’t be until then that contributors will know whether there has been a large increase in downloads from this buyer group.

What has the contributor response been to date? Well, it has been more balanced than the buyer response. Some are reporting an increase in sales, but many are reporting a decrease. Contributors with a lot of content in the Vetta collection seem particularly upset. These high priced files have become much more ‘affordable’. The price decrease also means a decrease in royalty per download for the contributor. To generate the same total royalty will need a large increase in volume which is not apparent yet. But in reality, contributors will not know the total impact until subscription sales are reported in the middle of October.

What’s my experience? My downloads and average $ per download have both decreased since the changes. That said, we are less than a week since the changes were made.

I am going to resist the urge to jump to any conclusions until we have more data. I’m sorry and disappointed that many buyers of small images are upset and are considering moving to competitors. But I don’t yet know the impact of larger buyers through the subscription program. I will wait to see those results before considering changing course.

I am hoping there has been a large increase in subscription sales. iStock and its owners, Getty Images, will be hoping so too. The direction they are taking iStock is very difficult to reverse, and the customers who leave will be nearly impossible to attract to return. Such a big move would not have been made without detailed research – now I hope the reality matches the research. Fingers crossed.

Are you an iStock buyer or contributor? Do you think the changes are moving iStock forward?

 

My Take on This Weeks iStock Announcements

Over the last 3 months I have written a series of posts on Beyond Here about stock photography. Several readers have since opened microstock photography accounts and become contributors. Many are turning their passion for photography into an income. Super.

In those posts I have shared my positive experiences with iStock, where I have been a contributor since 2008 and an exclusive contributor since 2010. This week iStock announced some significant changes that will come into effect on 15 September 2014. Here’s my take on this weeks iStock announcements.

First, some background. In April 2014, iStock introduced a subscription offering in addition to its normal offer. This allows high volume image buyers to purchase high volumes at a fixed price. This is an area where competitor site – Shutterstock – had been doing considerably better than iStock for many years. iStock’s subscription offer seemed to be a re-focus on the large volume buyer.

In this weeks announcement iStock states that ‘in only a few months, these subscriptions now represent a meaningful percentage of total iStock sales and materially increased spend per customer’.

It is the final part of this message which I find interesting – the ‘materially increased spend per customer’. In microstock photography there has long been an obsession with the calculation of dollars per download to assess value. The statement from iStock suggests their thinking has changed. If a customer is spending $1000 per month on images and buys 1 image from iStock for the month for $100, the revenue per download is $100. What that statistic overlooks is that the customer is spending $900 with competitors. The announcement suggests to me that iStock are refocussing to look at that remaining $900.

Unfortunately for the buyer, iStock’s highest quality content has previously been excluded from the subscription offer. That is about to change.

So, what’s changing?

iStock are taking several steps to ‘dramatically improve the simplicity of the iStock site, search and messaging’.

The key changes include:

  1. Offering just one payment method – credits
  2. Dividing the collection into 2 tiers
  3. Implementing one price per file

What do the changes mean?

(1) Offering just one payment method – credits

iStock previously offered two ways to pay – the buyer could use credits, or they could use a credit card to pay for images directly. The credit method suited the regular buyer, the credit card method suited the occasional buyer.

Going forward buyers will only be able to use credits. Discussion in the iStock forums suggests that this change will simplify the coding on the site. It seems again, that iStock are focusing on the needs of the large volume buyer and are prepared to fore-go the needs of some smaller buyers. This seems a fair trade off, if the large buyers in the example above bring more of their monthly budget to iStock. I like this approach. It strikes me as another application of the 80/20 rule. I expect 80% of downloads come from 20% of buyers, and iStock seem to be tuning in to that 20% of buyers.

(2) Dividing the collection into 2 tiers

iStock’s collections were previously divided into 4 areas – Main, Signature,  Signature+, and Vetta. From the middle of September that will be consolidated into 2 tiers – Essentials (standard content) and Signature (premium content). The old Main content will become the Essentials tier. The old Vetta, Signature+ and Signature collections will form the new Signature tier.

The big implication here is that Vetta and Signature+ content will become significantly cheaper – good for buyers, and potentially good for contributors only if an increase in downloads makes up for the reduction in royalty per image the contributor will receive (because of the lower price).

The second big implication here is that the best content on iStock (Vetta) will now be available to those buyers who have taken up the subscription offer. This will make the subscription offers more attractive.

(3) Implementing one price per file

Currently the price paid per file downloaded depends on which size the buyer wants. A small file suitable for web use only is cheaper than a large file suitable for printing.  From the middle of September the price will be the same regardless of the size. This is a very big change for iStock. It will make life much simpler for buyers. It will be to the advantage of buyers needing large sized images and to the disadvantage of buyers only needing small sized images.

Again, this seems to support the view that iStock has asked and listened to what the high volume image buyers want. And they seem to want access to the best images in the subscription offer, simpler collection structures, lower pricing, and more transparent pricing.

What’s my take?

iStock’s moves are bold and have the potential to re-shape the microstock industry again. iStock has a reputation for having a high quality collection of images – and the Vetta collection is the jewel in that crown. There will be high volume, large budget buyers who are now considering switching to iStock. There will also be current iStock customers considering spending more of their total budget with iStock.

I expect these moves will generate a higher volume of downloads, at a lower average price per download. iStock will be counting on the volume increase to drive total revenue increases. Whether that happens will be known in a few weeks.

What’s the risk?

There is a lot at stake for iStock. Successful execution could see benefits for buyers, contributors, and iStock itself. Failure could see current customers move to competitors, and exclusive contributors looking for alternative sales avenues for their images.

Overall, I am very positive about the boldness of this strategy from iStock. I can see benefits for buyers and contributors. But having a good strategy is only half of the challenge – being able to execute it is another question. iStock’s record for implementing major change over the last 5 years is not great – I’m hoping this time it will be different.

iStock is making a big move in 2 weeks time that may re shape the stock photography industry. It seems to be focussing on the needs of the high volume, large budget buyer. I like the focus and the offer. As an exclusive contributor I just hope iStock execute this well.

That’s my take on this weeks iStock announcements. What’s yours?

Simple Stock Concepts

Earlier this week I wrote a post called Starting in Stock Photography. I have had several people contact me who, since reading that post, have opened microstock photography accounts and become approved contributors. How very cool! Within a week, they have gone from enthusiasts – to being able to generate an income from their images. This post looks at where to next, starting with simple stock concepts.

When your first become an approved microstock contributor there is a tendency to want to upload all the images that sit on your hard drive – pictures of flowers, trees, landscapes, and anything else you have. There is a perception that it will just be a matter of uploading those images and waiting for the money to roll in. Danger sign! While it can feel like progress to have images in your account, most contributors find that this burst of energy produces very few downloads.

So, what should you do?

Stock photography has a huge range of uses. Many of those are websites or print material which help to tell a story. Images which help to tell a story are going to do better than plain landscapes or pictures of flowers.

Let’s look at some simple stock concepts and images.

Stock Photo

A simple stock concept, bullying

The first image is one which shows a concept of bullying. It was shot outdoor, on a cloudy day. This is a simple image of a much-talked-about topic. The subject is clear, and the message is clear. Some space around the subject also gives room for a graphic designer to crop the image or to add some text on the wall to the left. Don’t think that a successful stock image has to be a masterpiece, simple stock concepts executed well are the key. I have used this image on Beyond Here before. It is a good example of a simple stock concept. It was shot and uploaded in 2012 and has been downloaded more than 400 times.

Finance

Finance concept

In the second sample image – I chose to show an example which doesn’t involve a model. Stock images can be shot with household objects and simple lighting. This shot did use a studio soft box, but could have used a lamp or window to light the subject. It was shot with a macro lens, and with a black sheet as the background. Finance and business themed images are popular.

Strike

Concept – blue collar worker on strike

The third image is a more specific theme, a blue collar worker on strike. The models clothing has been themed appropriately. Again, this is a simple image which communicates a clear message. This style of image will be slightly more challenging for the beginner to achieve as it involves multiple light sources. When you are ready to move on to having different light sources, have a look at this post to learn how to shoot this image.

 

Stock

Household objects can be used to create stock images

The fourth image utilizes ‘props’ which you can find at home. This is a normal kitchen jar, some money, and a sticky note. The blue background is a poster size piece of paper. In this case the lighting comes from studio soft boxes, but a similar look can be achieved by placing the subject and background near a large window.

Rather than uploading all the old images sitting around on your computer, I recommend:

  • thinking up image concepts
  • research what is already available in image libraries
  • focus on shooting clear, simple images which tell a story
  • repeat this process!

If you have questions from this post, please leave a comment. If you would like to receive a weekly email from Beyond Here please sign up in the box at the top right of this page.

I’m excited that people who read last week’s post have taken action and set up their own microstock accounts. I hope this post helps them in the next step – building a portfolio and generating their first downloads. Good luck in shooting simple stock concepts!

 

Starting in Stock Photography

This weekend I commented on an interesting post in a Facebook group. This led to a series of private messages asking me about starting in stock photography. While earlier posts on Beyond Here have covered elements of stock photography, I haven’t written a post for people considering getting started. So here it is – starting in stock photography.

First, let me tell you about the Facebook group. I am not a big Facebook user – you can find me at Craig Dingle Photography Pty Ltd – but have recently joined a forum called Aussie Photography. It is very impressive for the quality of images posted, but more for the positive environment created by the members. It must be very well moderated to achieve such a positive, helpful group. I encourage you to check it out, whether or not you live in Australia.

In that group I commented on a post where the member was inquiring about how to deal with issues associated with client cancellations. The photographer was doing 5-7 shoots per week but seemed to be struggling with cash flow. I suggested stock as one way to generate a steady cashflow. That lead to a wave of private mail messages. They were mainly asking for more detail about stock photography and how to get started.

Volunteer

Simple concepts can do very well as stock images

How Does Stock Photography Work?

Stock photography works on the principal that it will be easier and more cost effective to buy an existing image than to get a photographer to shoot a new one. For example, if you need an image of a koala, you can buy one for less than $20. That is going to be cheaper and quicker than getting a photographer to shoot a new image for you.

From the photographers point of view, the stock photography model works on the basis of generating a high number of downloads (sales) for a relatively small amount per download. And again, in the case of the koala image, the photographer uploads the image to the stock photography site, and that image can be downloaded by multiple buyers. I have images dating back to 2008 in my stock portfolio. It seems amazing that images taken back then are still generating an income for me.

Micro Stock Photography

A significant income is possible through stock photography

How Much Income is Possible?

This was the most common question I received after the Facebook post. Of course, the answer is – the sky is the limit. There are people generating hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum via stock photography. They are in the minority. But it is a pity that most of the people I swapped messages with today had a view that you couldn’t make real money in stock photography. It is possible to make a significant income, but it will start out small, and it will require persistence. I have uploaded over 1000 images per year for 6 years now. I am not in the top echelon of stock photographers, but have generated an income well in excess of 5 figures per annum for the last 3 years. I expect to be able to maintain that level, as outlined in this post.

What Type of Images are Popular?

This was the second most asked question after my Facebook post. It is not an easy one to answer. If you look on a stock photography site, you can search nearly any subject and find images with hundreds of downloads. Try, diced tomatoes, for some really well lit and successful stock images. Pick another obscure subject and you will find the same.

That said, if you can shoot images with a clear theme they have a good chance to be downloaded. Again, search a stock site for ‘global warming’, or ‘workplace bullying’ or just ‘bullying’. You will find clearly themed, well executed images which have been downloaded many, many times. Nice.

What if you don’t want to shoot images like those? Well, study the type of images you do like to shoot, and see what sells. I can tell you in advance that simple, plain, uneventful landscapes will not be popular. There are just too many of them. But, if you have landscapes that are very well lit, or contain iconic content (like the Sydney Opera House), they have a good chance to do well. (The Sydney Opera House can only be used in editorial images – I will explain that in another post).

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

When people are starting in stock photography – I encourage them to shoot the type of images they like. If they are wildlife shooters – shoot wildlife. If you like shooting architecture, shoot architecture. Got the idea? As your skill level and success grow you will find other areas of interest that have a market.

What’s My Story?

I got started in stock photography in 2008. At that time, I wasn’t very successful but I could see the power of being able to shoot an image once, and have it downloaded for years afterwards. In many ways, stock photography is a form of passive income. Make the effort to shoot the image once, and get paid multiple times.

Like many stock photographers, it took me a long time to come to grips with the quality standards and to understand what types of images would sell. I like to shoot wildlife and first came across some success when shooting images of flying foxes. They are popular in the lead up to Halloween each year. While it is a fairly small market, I was able to do well by shooting a wide range of flying fox images and uploading them in the weeks before Halloween. At that time, there wasn’t much competition either – that has changed now.

Halloween

I have been successful with Flying Fox images at Halloween

Today I have over 6000 images available to be downloaded. My most successful files are of people doing something and with a clear theme. (I still shoot and upload wildlife images, mainly because I like to).

What Stock Sites Should You Consider?

There are a growing number of stock sites where you can upload your work. But I would suggest starting in stock photography with the largest and best known sites because they have the most buyers. I suggest Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and iStockphoto. (You can find a link to iStockphoto on the right hand side on each page of this blog).

Each of these sites have millions of files available. Do a search on a topic that interests you. What is there? How can you add different files? Is there something to learn from the files which are successful?

What About Model Releases?

Where ever a stock image contains recognizable people, it will require a model release to be accepted by the stock library. A model release is a document that provides permission to use the person’s image. Model release templates are available from all the major stock photography sites. You simply download, complete, sign, and upload the release with your image. They are not hard – and once you are familiar with them they are straightforward.

Is Stock Photography Easy?

Starting in stock photography is easy. You just go to a stock photography site and open an account. Try, you will have it done in just a few minutes. But succeeding in stock photography is not easy. There is lots of competition and you need a large number of downloads to generate a meaningful income. That generally means you need a large number of files, and that takes time, skill, and persistence.

Can Anyone do It?

I believe anyone can succeed in stock photography (I can hear people criticizing that statement already!) One thing all successful stock photographers have in common is persistence. They research image concepts, shoot quality images, and repeat the process. They keep at it. Over time they build a large and diversified portfolio. They don’t give up. Persistence is the key.

Where to From Here?

I’ve tried to keep this post simple. If you have questions, please add a comment to this post. I will do my best to answer them for you. If you would like to receive a weekly update of popular posts on Beyond Here, please go to the top right of this page and sign up.

Give Me More!

If you are ready to get cracking, consider this ebook called Build a Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time through microstock photography. It is available to download for $5.

Thanks for reading this post. I wish you success as you are starting in stock photography!!

My Take On Microstock Photography

The microstock photography industry is going through a period of change. This post is my take on microstock – and whether it is still possible to make a financial return through microstock.

I have been actively contributing to microstock photography sites since 2008. This was firstly through sites including Shutterstock and Dreamstime, and since 2010 as an exclusive contributor to istock (owned by Getty Images)

In 2008 the istock discussion forums were very active. Contributors were reporting strong growth in download numbers. It seemed that every day there were people posting they had “ditched the day job and were now full time istockers!”

Those times have changed. Today the istock forums are not as active, and there is almost no-one reporting increases in download numbers.

Tough Times

Challenging times for microstock contributors

So what’s changed?

  • istock and other microstock sites have increased prices. It is no longer “cheap” to buy good quality stock images.
  • there are more competitors. The number of stock photography sites has increased and continues to increase.
  • there are a lot more contributors
  • there are even more images

My average royalties per download have increased fourfold over the last 3 years. On the surface, that sounds great. But the trade-off has been a reduction in the number of downloads. Overall my total monthly royalties have remained steady, despite an increase in portfolio size.

The total market has seen a very significant increase in the supply of stock images, without the same growth in demand.

What does the future hold?

If you are a customer looking for stock images, the growing supply of images is going to give you a huge range of images to choose from. Given the very competitive nature of the market, you should be able to get these at fair prices.

For contributors, I see it being very difficult to make a full time income from microstock photography in the future. That said, microstock continues to generate a significant supplementary income for me and many others. I expect to be able to continue to build my portfolio and maintain the current level of income. It is a very worthwhile part of my photography income and I encourage others to commit to microstock.

Are you a contributor to microstock? What is your experience? What are your expectations?