Of Interest To Microstockers

Posted on 5/4/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The following are a list of articles that will be of interest to microstock photographers.

Yuri Arcurs: Microstock Star
Anyone who has heard the term microstock has probably heard of Yuri Arcurs. He is recognized as the worlds most successful microstock photographer, but is much more than just a photographer. He is a brilliant businessman adept at marketing, self promotion and managing a large staff. He is a production company with a full-time staff of about 30 and another 20 part-timers who work at least 10 hours a week. Included as part of his staff are 4 or 5 other photographers who actively shoot and whose work is marketed under the Yuri Arcurs brand.

Microstock Plateau: iStockphotos July 2010
A 14-month review of data from the leading microstock supports the theory of the fastest-growing industry segment having reached a plateau, with flat unit sales and revenue growth resulting from price increases. The top 198 iStock contributors currently have a combined total of 567,324 images, or about 5.2% of the total collection. In the past six months the collection of this group has grown by an average of more than 10% per contributor with a total of 52,449 images added. Images belonging to these contributors represent 29% of total downloads in the last 14 months.

Top iStock Contributors: 2009 Sales
This chart provides information for 198 of the leading contributors to iStockphoto. It shows the total number of downloads each photographer had as of May 1, 2009 and the minimum and maximum number of downloads the photographer had on December 31, 2009.  We were unable to report exact figures for the period May through December because iStockphoto changed its reporting policy in June to only supply a greater than number that indicated the downloads were in a certain range. Using this data and interpolating for the first four missing months in the data we were able to make an estimate of the number of downloads each photographer had in 2009.

Has Microstock Reach A Plateau?
Using the figures from iStockcharts, we tracked monthly sales of 198 the top 250 photographers. This group represents about a quarter of 1% of iStock’s more than 80,000 contributors. Download numbers reported by iStockcharts are exactly the same as the numbers reported on iStock itself for each contributor, but information for approximately 50 of the top 250 is not made available publicly through iStockcharts.

Stock Photo Business Gets Smaller in 2009      9/14/2009
It’s time to revise previous industry estimates based on what has happened in the stock photo business in the past year. For several years I have estimated that the size of worldwide market for still images and illustrations at about $1.8 billion. I’ve also claimed that overall it was a no-growth business despite the fact that some companies and individuals could point to growth.

Future Dim For Professional Stock Photographers
In the near future the vast majority of professional photographers will be unable to earn enough from producing stock images to offset their cost of production. There have always been two major problems for stock image producers. (1) Even in the best of circumstances, the photographer has no idea how many customers will want to use the image he/she plans to produce. And (2) the photographer has no idea how many other photographers are simultaneously something very similar, or something that would better fulfill the customer’s need. If you have no idea of the revenue that might be generated from sales how do you manage costs?

Coming Together: Volume Relative To Price
In the very near future, RM photographers and traditional RF photographers will need to take a hard look at the whole issue of volume relative to price. Traditionally, photographers brought up in the old school (before 2000) focused on getting the maximum possible fee for every image licensed. Volume was secondary.

Reaching The B2SB Market
Those selling images to big business at traditional prices must develop a different strategy for addressing the B2SB (small business) market. The strategy needs to embrace the idea of pricing based on value received. Big businesses that receive greater value from the images they purchase should pay more. Few producers and afford to ignore the 25 million B2SB customers in the U.S. The challenge is determining how best to address these customers.

Why Price Discrimination Makes Sense
In a recent blog article Lee Torrens said, “I cannot understand how you believe large corporations need to pay more for their photos because they can afford it. What other business services and products do they buy above the market value just because they can? You are talking about price discrimination based on who the customer is, not the quality of the product (in this case, the photo itself and the license.)” In this article I'll explain why I think price discrimination based on the value the customers receives from using the image is legitimate (Usage) and that price discrimination based on file size is inappropriate and has absolutely nothing to do with the "quality of the product".

Is Microstock Pricing Simple
Microstock sellers insist that simple pricing is a key to their success, but many of the current strategies aren’t really that simple.

Can Traditional Distributors Learn From Microstock?
Increasingly RM and traditional RF photographers complain about declining incomes and the difficulty in getting information from the companies that represent their work. Traditional distributors might do well to adopt a number of idea, initially instituted and popularized by microstock, that have led to improved relationships between photographers and distributors. 

How Microstock Affects Top Pros
Does Microstock hurt Top pros or not. Here's some comments from microstock shooters and from the pros.

Microstock Exclusivity Does Not Benefit Image Owners
The first thing photographers must consider when pondering microstock exclusivity is why a distributor needs exclusive representation of a royalty-free image—which, by its very nature, is a non-exclusive product. Customer know that hundreds of people—maybe even the customer’s direct competitors—may simultaneously use any image the customer purchase. That's what royalty-free is all about. If they want exclusivity they will look for a rights-managed image.

RF History: Why Creators Only Receive 20% of Royalty Free Sales
This story provides some history on how royalty-free got started and why creators only get 20% of the gross fee paid for royalty-free images.

Ron Chapple: New Directions, Embracing Change
After great success at producing and selling traditional rights-managed and royalty-free imagery for more than 25 years, Ron Chapple started producing microstock in 2006. He uploaded 5,000 images in February 2007 and aggressively produced images for microstock until early 2008. By September 2008, he had about 15,000 images in his iofoto collection, available on a non-exclusive basis through a number of microstock distributors. In October 2007, Selling Stock did a story outlining his early experience with microstock.


Copyright © 2010 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 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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