Graphic Design USA Stock Survey: Pro Use of Microstock Skyrockets, RM Falls

Posted on 9/22/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

The 24th annual Graphic Design USA stock survey shows increasing use of microstock by professional graphic designers. They are looking for high-volume low-costs options and are generally satisfied with the range of choices and image quality they are finding at micro-priced outlets.

Designers are being asked to do more with less, and microstock sites are used by 67% of respondents. This number is up from 21% in 2005. In addition, 60% use subscription sites. The volume of use has increased dramatically, with 54% of respondents using stock imagery more than 20 times a year. This is nearly triple the number who used stock imagery that frequently a decade ago. Even more stunning, 20% reported that they used stock more than 100 times in the year.

Almost all (95%) of the 1,139 designers responding to the survey use royalty-free stock in their work, up from 64% in 1990. The difference between online and print uses is marginal: 71% said they use stock images for Internet projects and 83% use stock for print.

Only 41% of respondents use rights-managed images, and 37% use both rights-managed and royalty-free. Sixty-seven percent of designers spend more total dollars on royalty-free images than on rights managed, 20% spend about the same on the two types of imagery, and only 13% spend more for rights-managed.

A major concern is the relatively small selection of images that show the ethnic and lifestyle diversity of our increasingly multi-ethnic, multicultural society in the U.S.

The survey was sponsored by iStockphoto. Designers were asked for their site preferences if they visited multiple sites, and 70% said iStock was their favorite go-to microstock agency.

Copyright © 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:  


  • Pete Saloutos Posted Sep 23, 2010
    Better hop on the MS Express
    or be left at the Station
    from Santorini
    pete saloutos

  • David Sanger Posted Sep 23, 2010
    Jim - the question was raised in a conversation "How reliable is a stock user survey, sponsored by a micro stock agency, that concludes micro stock is what everyone wants?"

    Do have any additional context comparing the GDUSA surveys with other surveys of stock buyers.

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