Stocksy: Impressive Growth

Posted on 5/31/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Stocksy has reported another year of impressive growth with gross sales of $7,928,745 million in 2015. That is up 126% from $3.5 million in 2014. The great news for image creators is that Stocksy paid out $4,323,735 in royalties. That’s 55% of gross revenue collected. In addition, because the company is a Co-Op, they were able to pay out an additional $200,000 in dividends to members who sold images during the year.
It doesn’t take a big collection to generate this kind of revenue. Stocky had a small, highly curated collection of 437,401 images at the end of 2015. They started the year with 232,886 images and almost doubled the collection in size in 2015.

In addition, the company doubled its staff in 2015 to 25 full-time employees, but lived up to its co-op values by maintaining a flat hierarchy model, where every member of the team is a leader, accountable to each other— and there’s total transparency between departments and positions.

While the company has strong sales worldwide, during 2015 its client relations team visited many of its growing list of clients in the U.S. and Canada to see how they could continue to improve their service and pitch the upcoming rollout of video and photographer-for-hire services. Both met with a lot of excitement.
The takeaway from every meeting was that clients LOVE Stocksy. One customer said, “I LOVE Stocksy. Very professional pics for a more discerning audience at a great price. Worth every cent.”

The most constructive piece of feedback was that the customers need more, WAY MORE! As Stocksy scales its operation in 2016 they are focused on quickly growing their collection in order to meet client demand and maintain momentum.
But, it is not easy to get accepted at Stocksy. Last year they had 3,403 applications. Only 174 contributors were accepted. They declined to accept 2,838 applicants and as of the first of 2016 the rest were still being considered.
In order to get more in depth with applicants and clearly articulate the expectations and responsibilities of co-op members, they ask applicants to upload any and all links to their personal and professional portfolios and social media feeds, so Stocksy can get a sense of an applicants overall aesthetic and where their interests truly lay. They then reach out to the brightest prospects and organize in-person video interviews with each candidate. The interviews are aimed to gauge each candidate’s experience, knowledge and intentions for supplying content to the co-op, as well as to give them a full orientation of what it means to shoot stock.

Many RM photographers argue that they couldn’t possibly consider working with a company like Stocksy because there would be no chance to get those “very rare,” but lucrative fees that customers are willing to pay to use an RM image. All Stocksy licenses are Royalty Free. However, Stocksy also offers “Market Freeze” licenses where the image is taken off the market for a period of time ranging from 6 months to 5 years. Higher fees are charged the longer the image is off the market. So far the highest single fee collected for a Freeze has been $6,000 for three-years off the market. They have also collected an unreported number of smaller payment for Freezes of shorter duration.

This works with RF images because from the customer’s point of view it no longer seems to be that important to have exclusive rights to an image. Customers are willing to accept that an image may have been licensed on an RF basis to someone else earlier and that that someone may continue to use the image during the Freeze period. The customer simply wants assurance that no one else will be able to license the image during the Freeze period, and that a direct competitor was not among the someone’s who licensed the images previously.

Stocksy is an example of a “Platform Co-Op” -- an online business designed to put power back into the hands of its co-owners through collaboration, fair distribution of profits, and ethical business practices. Throughout 2015, they did a series of articles, public speaking engagements and interviews educating the industry on how it has reached its level of success through collaboration with their community, democratic decision making, and a flat hierarchy at Stocksy headquarters. This business model is certainly worth watching.

For a look at their annual report check out this link.

Copyright © 2016 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, 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:  


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