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5 Years in Microstock Photography – Return Per Image Trends

9 January 2013 No Comment

5 years in microstock photography! It went so fast. I started submitting to iStockphoto and then to other agencies in November of 2007. Perhaps, it’s time for some reflections. I will start with updating my selling statistics.

Return per Image (RPI)

I calculate RPI in reference to the total number of images in my microstock portfolio, so I can add RPIs from different agencies and examine the total RPI.

Any statistics for 2008, my first full year in microstock, are not reliable due to a small portfolio. However, next three years show systematic increase of RPI. After a good first half of 2012, my sales started to slow down. RPI in the second half of 2012 is comparable with the stats of 2011. The end of growth?

I keep producing and uploading new pictures more or less at the same rate over the last 3 years. My income from microstock photography is still growing from year to year. However, any further growth will be more difficult. Let’s look at RPI from individual stock agencies.

This graph shows the total RPI, and the same stats from my 3 main agencies (iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime) and all other agencies – “others”. Plots are smoothed (5 month running average) to focus on long term trends.

RPI from iStock started to go downhill about 3 years ago, but during 2012 stabilized at level comparable to the RPI from Shutterstock. During the same time Shutterstock RPI was growing to reach plateau last year. Dreamstime shows a slow decline for the last 1.5 year. A part of my portfolio uploaded to Dreamstime is relatively small (~56%) due to their infamous “too similar pictures” policy. I have 73% and 85% of my portfolio at iStockphoto and Shuttertock accordingly.

RPI from all “other” agencies covering middle and low earners is still growing except the last year. Some years ago, Fotolia was my 4th top microstock agency, but currently dropped down below earnings from 123RF and Depositphotos, so I have now only the big 3.

How microstock affected my life and photography? More reflections in incoming posts.

Related posts:
Return per Image from Microstock Photography – Year by Year Comparison
Payout Structure from Microstock Agencies in 2012
Return Per Image (RPI) from Microstock Photography – Istockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Mid/Low Earners
Microstock Portfolio Return Per Image (RPI) – 2009-2011 Trends

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