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Microstock Portfolio Return Per Image (RPI) – 2009-2011 Trends

12 January 2012 2 Comments

In June 2011 I posted 3 year trends in return per image (RPI) from my microstock portfolio. How it looks 6 month later? Here is an update for 2009-2011 years.

How RPI is calculated

Calculating RPI is straightforward for a single agency – just divide earnings from sales by the number of pictures in your portfolio there for a given time period, e.g., a month. It is getting more complicated when you are submitting pictures to multiple agencies. You cannot calculate RPI separately for each agency and then add those numbers together. That would be mathematically incorrect. You need to use the same number of pictures as reference for each agency, e.g., the average size of your portfolio.

I am submitting pictures to multiple microstock agencies. To derive the total RPI for my portfolio I am using the total number of pictures prepared for microstock. This way I can use RPI to compare performance of different agencies. My RPI depends obviously on the acceptance rate. So, the agency, which regularly rejects my pictures as too similar or duplicates, has a lower RPI in my system. The “similarity” issue is a major problem in the case of Dreamstime and to a much lower degree of iStockphoto.

After 4 years of my microstock adventure I have around 3800 pictures in my stock portfolio: 68% in iStockphoto, 83% in Shutterstock, 59% in Dreamstime and 66% Fotolia counting just the 4 top agencies. I do not analyze separately other agencies with lower sales, instead I am looking at total sales from them as “others” (Bigstock, 123RF, Canstock, Veer, Graphic Leftovers, Deposit Photos, PhotoDune, Panther Media, StockFresh, FeaturePics, Yay).

The graph above shows the total RPI for my microstock portfolio and RPI for IS, SS, DT, FT and other agencies for the 3 year periods from 2009 to 2011. Thin lines represent monthly RPI, while thick lines are 5 month running averages to make trends more visible. I scaled values for each month to a 30 day month to eliminate influence of a month length.

December 2011 was pretty bad for my microstock sales, but generally the total RPI still shows a growing trend. iStock is going downhill while Shuttertock takes a leading position in my microstock income. Dreamstime shows signs of stagnation. Fotolia RPI is declining and, soon, I may have to replace FT in my big 4 by one of “other” agencies. 123RF, Veer, DepositPhotos, PhotoDune?

Related posts:
Return Per Image (RPI) from My Microstock Portfolio – 3 Year Trends
Growth of My Microstock Portfolio in 4 Top Agencies
Earnings from Microstock Photography – 3 Year Trends
Big 4 in My Microstock Portfolio
Am I Really Making Money from Microstock Photography ? Part 1 and Part 2
My microstock referral links for photographers:
Dreamstime, ShutterStock, BigStockPhoto, 123RF, FeaturePics, Panthermedia, CanStockPhoto, DepositPhotos, Graphic Leftovers

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