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My Microstock Pie – Earnings Split by Agency

4 October 2009 No Comment

There is always a lot of discussion among photographers which microstock agency is the best performing one, which belongs to the “Big 6”, is it Big 6 or Big 5, 4, … On right there a screen shot of current poll from Microstock Group forum. That discussion is coming to life at least once per month there. It is interesting that microstock earnings split varies dramatically among contributing photographers.

For me it is something like

2 + 1 + ?

I started my miscrostock experience in November 2007 with submissions to iStockphoto followed by Dreamstime, Fotolia, BigStockPhoto and 123 RF. It took me 4 attempts to get into Shutterstock and 5 to StockXpert. Early this year I added CanStockPhoto and 3 months ago Veer Marketplace.

Below I am slicing my pie of microstock earnings between different agencies from which I am getting regular payments. It looks like Veer may be included soon.


My total earnings are dominated by contributions from iStock and Shutterstock which provide 72% of my revenue. These are my Big 2. Adding sales from Dreamstime makes 81%. Should I focus on these three agencies according to 80/20 principle and neglect all smaller players?


How my microstock pie looked a year ago? Above there are split results from the 3rd quarter of 2008. It would be difficult to predict a future performance of my lower earners, but the sale shares of IS and SS looked almost the same as in my total results. However, big changes were coming – SS accelerated and dominated my microstock income for the following three quarters reaching as much as 50% in April of 2009.


The 3rd quarter of 2009 shows already another change. IS moved to the 1st place among my earners in June of 2009 and, now, provides most of my microstock earnings (44% in September 2009). My formula for best agencies is still valid: 2 + 1 (IS/SS + DT). It is not clear which will be the next agency FT or SXP or, maybe, Veer. For sure, we can expect big changes in SXP and BSP.

The last quarter provided 1/3 of my total earnings from microstock phtography. IS, SS and DT brought almost 83% money during that time. What about the remaining 17% ? Well, 17% of my current microstock income doesn’t feel negligible any more. I also believe that my time spent on submitting to multiple agencies is just a very small fraction of time used to shoot and process pictures. I am slowly moving my focus from quantity to quality in my microstock production.

My latest stock photos on Dreamstime Stock Photography Community

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