Leading Shutterstock Contributors

Posted on 1/5/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

At the end of 2016 Shutterstock had 190,000 contributors. By May 2017 that number was up to 225,000 and in September when they launched Shutterstock Custom Content they said they had 250,000 contributors. Presumably the number was even higher at the end of the year.

Early in 2017 I discovered Microstock.top that tracks Shutterstock leading contributors with more than 999 images in the collection. At the end of February there were 14,373 and the combined total images of these contributors was 91,700,000. At the time Shutterstock had 119,000,000 images in its collection so 77% of total images were supplied by about 7.5% of Shutterstock’s total contributors.

At the beginning of 2018 I took another look. Now, there are 17,739 contributors and these contributors have a total of 122,143,734. That is now about 71% of the total image in the collection. The number of contributors is up 23% and the number of images is up 33% since last February. The percent of contributors with more than 999 images remains about the same.

It is also worth noting that while the number of contributors and images are growing dramatically, the number of downloads has grown a little less than 2% in 2017 compared to 2016.

The breakdown of these top contributors is as follows:

2 more then 1 million images
120 between 100,000 and 1 million
144 between 50,000 and 100,000
619 between 20,000 and 50,000
1,342 between 10,000 and 20,000
2,885 between 10,000 and 5,000
12,629 between 5,000 and 1,000

About 2% of total contributors each had more than 10,000 images in their collections. The total images of these 5,112 contributors was 71,647,381 or 42% of the collection. In all likelihood much more than 42% of Shutterstock’s gross revenue is generated by these less than 1% of contributors.

Given the sizes of their collections these contributors have a significant advantage over those with smaller collections. Given their volume they are able to get a better understanding of what specific subjects, and treatments of those subjects, tend to sell and which ones don’t. Then they can concentrate on producing more of the kind of subjects that are in demand and not bother producing more what no one seems to want to buy.

A few with large collections may not be doing as well as the number of images might indicate. For example, about one-third of the contributors are illustrators and vector artists who produce illustrations and backgrounds. In some cases, they may produce more than 100 very slight variations of a basic concept. Chances are only a very small percentage of these variations actually sell. In many cases any customer with Photoshop experience could take any one of the versions offered and easily apply whatever variation the customers desired. Having all these variations available may save the customer a minute or so in time, but it may also make it much more difficult and time consuming for the customer to review all the truly different and unique approaches to solving the same problem.

A few of the with large collections have been provided by entertainment photographers who earn most of their income from assignments to cover red carpet and other entertainment events. They tend to upload virtually every frame they shoot. While there are some secondary sales of this type of subject matter the demand tends to be very low compared to the demand 24 hours to a week after the image was shot. While the average annual revenue per image in the Shutterstock collection is about $2.82, of which the photographer should earn about $0.78 per image in royalty, one entertainment photographer with a huge collection told me earlier this year that annually he only earns about $0.05 per image in the collection.

Where Contributors Work

Another interesting fact is the number of contributors in each country with more then 999 images in their collections. On the 17739 contributors in this group only 76% listed a country of residence so this analysis is not totally accurate, but it probably gives us a representative idea of where the leading contributors work.

There is at least one contributor from 137 different countries. The 105 countries listed below have 2 or more contributors.

Country supplier Country supplier Country supplier
Thailand 2547 Portugal 55 Uruguay 6
Russia Federation 2107 Israel 54 Uzbekistan 6
Ukraine 1849 Switzerland 51 Ecuador 5
United States 778 Taiwan 50 Korea, Dem. People's Republic 5
Germany 449 South Africa 49 Malta 5
Italy 356 Austria 48 Chile 4
Belarus 343 Greece 46 Qatar 4
Poland 341 Croatia 42 Saudi Arabia 4
United Kingdom 328 Slovenia 37 Sri Lanka 4
Spain 300 Belgium 36 Venezuela 4
Czech Republic 257 Finland 35 Yugoslavia 4
Serbia 224 South Korea 35 Bangladesh 3
Romania 205 New Zealand 32 Cambodia 3
Japan 202 Vietnam 32 Canary Islands 3
Canada 196 Hong Kong 31 Costa Rica 3
Andorra 182 Denmark 29 Cuba 3
Malaysia 160 Bosnia and Herzegovina 25 Monaco 3
Indonesia 158 Philippines 25 Morocco 3
Turkey 129 Norway 21 Reunion 3
China 125 Ireland 20 Bahrain 2
Netherlands 125 Mexico 20 Christmas Island 2
France 124 Pakistan 20 Cocos (Keeling) Island 2
Latvia 114 Colombia 18 Guatemala 2
Australia 112 Macedonia 18 Iran 2
India 97 Singapore 18 Jamaica 2
Hungary 86 Argentina 17 Jordan 2
Bulgaria 82 Armenia 15 Kyrgyzstan 2
Moldova 77 Georgia 14 Lao People's Republic 2
Azerbaijan 75 United Arab Emirates 14 Lebanon 2
Estonia 67 Cyprus 10 Nepal 2
Lithuania 66 Egypt 9 Palau 2
Slovakia 66 Montenegro 8 Panama 2
Kazakhstan 65 Antarctica 6 Puerto Rico 2
Brazil 57 Iceland 6 San Marino 2
Sweden 56 Luxembourg 6 Tajikiistan 2

In March we published a country-by-country breakdown for various parts of the world which showed that a high percentage of the images are being produced in low cost-of-living countries in Eastern Europe and Asia.

The chart below shows the top 20 countries with the most contributors, the combined total images these contributors have in the collection and the average pre contributor for each country. The overall average per contributor for these top 20 is 6,331.

  Contributors Total Images Average
Thailand 2547 11,643,263 4,571
Russia Federation 2107 12,724,587 6,039
Ukraine 1849 13,676,567 7,397
United States 778 5,555,417 7,141
Germany 449 2,443,154 5,441
Italy 356 2,016,941 5,666
Belarus 343 2,178,547 6,351
Poland 341 2,808,970 8,237
United Kingdom 328 2,506,614 7,642
Spain 300 2,245,242 7,484
Czech Republic 257 1,420,093 5,526
Serbia 224 1,192,295 5,323
Romania 205 2,397,437 11,695
Japan 202 1,295,444 6,413
Canada 196 1,339,199 6,833
Andorra 182 1,859,199 10,215
Malaysia 160 886,471 5,540
Indonesia 158 1,063,630 6,732
Turkey 129 1,142,037 8,853
China 125 739,970 5,920
  11,236 71,135,077  

Copyright © 2018 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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