A U.S. photographer wrote recently that about 35% of his stock photo revenue comes from overseas sales. He suggested that for many photographers, gross revenue might still be strong despite a falloff in U.S. sales. The falling dollar may be masking a falloff in sales.
Assuming that a significant percentage of the revenue for most photographers comes from a market other than their home market, I decided to look at the numbers. I have also assumed that all non-U.S. sales were made in Euros. Taking November 2005 as a base, the exchange rate was 0.84624 Euros to $1.00. If a U.S. photographer received $100,000 divided 65% for home territory and 35% the rest of the world, the U.S. share would be $65,000 and sales outside the U.S. would be 29,618 Euros.
Assume the proportion of U.S. and foreign sales remained the same in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, 29,613 Euros would convert to $38,341 and added to $65,000 would have netted the photographer $103,341. He could have had a slight loss in total U.S. sales and still netted $100,000.
In 2007, the same volume of foreign sales as he made in 2005 would have converted to $44,003 and added to $65,000 U.S. sales would have netted $109,003. Thus, his U.S. sales could have been down 9% compared to 2005 and the photographer would still have earned $100,000.
But pity the poor photographer living on the European economy and making the same volume of sales. My guess is that the European photographer would have averaged 65% sales in his local region and 35% in the U.S. Thus, in 2005, he had 65,000 Euros from local sales, but when the $35,000 was converted to 29,618 Euros, he ends up with a total of 94,618 Euros. In 2006, $35,000 in sales would have netted him 22,879 Euros for a total of 87,879 Euros. In 2007, $35,000 is only 19,935 Euros for a total of 84,935 Euros.
If he just licenses the same number of images each year as in the previous one, this photographer is on a downward slope. He must make more sales overall, or at least more European sales, just to stay even.
These figures also make it clear that if you've must lose sales, lose sales in the U.S., not the rest of the world. If you can, focus on shooting what the rest of the world wants.