Addressing The Whole Market

Posted on 1/15/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

RM sellers have focused on the top of the market for so long they have lost sight of the whole market for stock photography. It's time for some outside-the-box thinking.

According to my calculations, of all the images licensed worldwide in 2007, about 3% were RM, 6% were traditional RF and over 90% were microstock. There are a huge number of buyers who are willing to pay something for images, just not very much.

Granted, that 90% of images licensed only represent about 5% of gross industry revenue. Many producers aim for the top of the market. But in doing so, RM sellers give up the opportunity to even talk to a significant segment of potential customers. Many would pay a little more, and others a lot more, than they currently pay for microstock images. The trick is figuring out the level of tolerance for each group and pricing accordingly.

With its usage-based pricing, RM is uniquely positioned to address all segments of the market without reducing prices for its existing customers. All RM sellers have to do is carefully define certain types-of-uses that qualify for lower prices. In MRR Usage Categories I provided definitions for a few low priced categories. In Defining Low Priced Uses, I have expanded that list. These definitions may not cover all possible microstock uses, but they enable RM sellers to reach out to what I suspect is a significant portion of those users.

Making traditional RM images available to customers who can't afford to pay much for usage enables RM sellers to gather important information including:

  • the number of customers and images needed in each usage category

  • the acceptable price point for each type of usage

With usage-based pricing, the fee for each category can be adjusted independently of all others. Many currently using microstock images are willing to pay more than $2 to $4 for the right image, but the allowable use must be clearly defined. It is important to note that with the file-size pricing strategy. it is virtually impossible for microstock and traditional RF sellers to gather the valuable information about their customers that is available to RM sellers.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Val Gelineau Posted Jan 16, 2008

    As much as I respect you and your knowledge of the industry, I have to disagree with you regarding offering multiple license agreements for image usages. Your idea certainly has merit, but our customers at PhotoSpin look for volume, great prices, and a simple to understand user agreement. We have and do offer commercial licenses for those who wish to use our content for specific resale products such as calendars, greeting cards, web templates, etc. But even those licenses had to be simplified. What RF and microstocks offer is an affordable and simple approach to purchasing images and that is why it is dominating the market in sales. Impart RF came into fruition as a result of traditional stock companies charging too much and making the process too difficult to acquire an image for a small print run. Admittedly the industry is changing, but that in itself is not bad. More and more customers are using microstock and subscription sites because they are finding what they need at affordable prices. It has been my experience that the multi tier agreements will drive customers away. We, as an industry, had that prior to RF and now that “the genie is out of the bottle, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to put back in”.

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