iStockphoto: Revenue Decline or Growth?

Posted on 3/3/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Selling Stock recently analyzed some iStockcharts data in an effort to assess iStockphoto’s revenues during the first two months of 2009 and predict the possible effects of recession on microstock. Though the original analysis suggested a decline in iStock sales, new information about iStockcharts makes this a questionable conclusion.

Kelly Thompson, chief operating officer of iStock, says iStockcharts’ figures “are not right.” He explains: “iStockcharts is scraping our site for data… Sometimes [iStockcharts figures are] not even close. We have a very long tail that it does not pick up on at all.”

On the subject of revenues, Thompson said: “It is looking like iStock will have double-digit growth in February over January and nice traffic growth as well.”

Checking the previously published figures revealed that iStockcharts’ numbers for each of the 24,477 contributors it tracks are exactly the same as those shown at each individual’s portfolio on the iStockphoto Web site. Since over 90% of all iStock images belong to these contributors, it seemed reasonable to assume that, while not representing all the downloads from the site, iStockcharts should be offer an accurate view of iStock trends.

However, in addition to Thompson’s comments, we discovered another factor we forgot to take into account. iStockcharts data that suggests a 10% decline in February over January revenues does not include six of the top 75 iStock contributors, such as Lise Gagne, an iStock employee and top earner. Gagne and others have evidently asked iStockcharts to no longer include their numbers on its report. She alone has had 818,255 downloads since she first started with iStock. Together, the six contributors omitted from iStockcharts have a combined total of approximately 1,631,000 downloads.

It is unclear when the numbers for these contributors were dropped from iStockcharts. While previous calculations suggested a revenue decline, if these contributors’ information was included in iStockcharts’ data in January and not in February, the numbers look very different, bringing total February downloads to 3,355,189, with a daily average of 119,828 downloads. Comparing this number with a 74,107 daily average in the last 20 days of January, we get a 62% increase—not a decline.

Thus, all we can really say about iStock February revenues is that they are somewhere between a slight decline and 62% growth. But since we now have a record of the top 150 contributors, we can determine if more decide before the end of March to have their numbers dropped and the approximate number of downloads that represents. At the end of March, we should be able to make a much more accurate determination of iStock trends.

Copyright © 2009 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:  


Be the first to comment below.

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