Best Microstock Distributors

Posted on 7/21/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Great Escape Publishing has published its first annual GEP Stock Photography Index 2020 which ranks, rates, compares and contrasts the top 10 online stock-photography sites.
In order the companies are:
    #1 Shutterstock
    #2 Adobe Stock

    #3 Pond5
    #4 Alamy
    #5 Bigstock
    #6 Dreamstime
    #7 Stocksy

    #8 Deposit Photos
    #9 iStock
    #10 123rf
The GEP analysis of each company may be helpful to creators trying to decide where to place their images. Most photographers place the same images on multiple sites non-exclusively in order to maximize potential revenue.

It should be noted that while Stocksy charges higher usage fees and offers photographers a higher royalty share of license fees than the others, it requires exclusivity. Thus, any images placed with Stocksy, and similars from the same shoot, cannot also be placed on any other site. Stocksy also limits the number of new photographers they will accept. Thus, it is questionable where Stocksy might fall in terms of generating the most revenue per-image for an image creator, assuming the creator places the images on multiple sites.

For comparison I decided to take a look Steve Heap’s top sites.

Not only is he a very active photographers who has his images on 29 microstock sites, he also has been very open in sharing details of his stock photography business.  He supplies monthly statistics on his blog about which images are selling and detailed quarterly analysis of total sales. Readers can also find many of his reports on

Steve earns about $36,000 a year from his stock photography. In my opinion he is one of the must successful microstock photographers in the industry today. (There are other production groups with teams of photographers and back office workers like Rawpixel and Wavebreak Media that earn a lot more money, but few, if any, individuals do better.

Steve works out of his home office/studio and does all the post production and keywording himself. He says, “I struggle to see how these outside agencies can get travel keywording correct at the level that I can - after all I was there and know exactly where the image was taken.” He uses StockSubmitter to distribute about 250 new images per month to his agencies.

Steve’s top 10 list for the most recent quarter is somewhat different from that of Great Escape.
    #1 - Shutterstock
    #2 - Adobe Stock
    #3 - iStock
    #4 – Canna
    #5 – Fine Art America

    #6 - Pond5
    #7 - Alamy
    #8 - Deposit Photos
    #9 - EyeEm
    #10 - Dreamstime
Bigstock and 123rf aren’t in the top 10 and he doesn’t have images with Stocksy.

It is important to note that about 58% of his revenue in the last quarter came from the top 3 companies and the top 5 represented about 72% of total revenue.

Since 2017 his stock income has been reasonably stable despite the fact that he has almost doubled the size of his collection of images and videos since 2017. He says, income per image online has been “falling like a stone over the past few years.” His return per image online has gone from over $0.60 per-online-image per-month in 2014 to around $0.22 per month recently.

While most of the information on Steve’s blog is free, since the beginning of 2020 he has also been offering Premium Paid Content for $4.99 per month. In this restricted section of his blog he talks about how he creates the images and videos that are good sellers. He shares his thinking about what he will be creating in the next few weeks and gives readers a chance to come up with their own concepts and ideas before the topic becomes over-subscribed. He is not saying that he can do this month after month – but he will let you know what he thinks could become profitable and how he plans to go about illustrating it.

Copyright © 2020 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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff