LuckyOliver Employs Midstock Model, Reports Rev Growth

Posted on 7/26/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

LuckyOliver, a 1-year-old online stock-image retailer with a fun carnival brand, has had 10 consecutive months of revenue growth. Last week, company founder Bryan Zmijewski announced an all-time sales and contributor payout records, adding that the management team remains focused on continuing the growth trend.

While posts in online microstock forums suggest that LuckyOliver's sales are slow, the company reports receiving 2,000 to 3,000 image submissions every day. Despite the higher financial rewards offered by the established micro-payment Web sites, LuckyOliver has attracted amateur and professional contributors from 130 countries in less than a year. In addition, microstock observers unanimously agree that LuckyOliver is the one recent launch most likely to catch up to - and rival - the top microstock brands.

What differentiates this newcomer from the many others trying to capitalize on the microstock model?

Zmijewski, who refers to himself as "chief instigator" in lieu of the more conventional CEO title, thinks that LuckyOliver's "midstock" model makes the difference. "Many of the people who sell on our site are pro photographers, because our approach combines the volume sales of microstocks with the higher pricing and margins of traditional retailers," he explains.

Once contributors pass 100 image downloads, they can set their own prices for a quarter of their portfolios. At 500 downloads, the contributor controls the price of half of his or her images hosted by LuckyOliver. Zmijewski points out that this allows photographers who have demonstrated a solid knowledge of what sells to earn higher margins: "We introduced [the set-your-own price feature] three months ago. Today, average contributor royalties on these images are over $5.00 each." This number is substantially higher than the typical microstock contributor's return-per-image.

LuckyOliver's baseline commission is 30%, which goes up to 50% on extended licenses and image buyouts at contributor-determined pricing. According to Zmijewski, top LuckyOliver photographers are currently earning upwards of $400 per month.

More than half of the company's management team hails from a design background, bringing years of experience with buying and using stock to the selling side. Zmijewski stresses that this grasp of what buyers want leads to innovation. "We have some of the best "related image" and search-term functionality on the Web. We make it easy for buyers to create accounts and purchase photos directly from each photo's description page. We also introduced the blog-sized image to the marketplace; nobody had ever considered selling such a small size before."

LuckyOliver has also been commended for its entertaining brand. Whether you like being called a Carny (contributor) or Oliver (buyer), there is obvious thought and continuity in how the company has implemented its circus-inspired image throughout the site. Much of the company's unconventional character comes from its good-humored, Stanford-educated founder.

Contributors have also commented on the technical superiority of the site, which has supported metadata, FTP upload and a user-friendly and proprietary keywording system since its launch.

Zmijewski sees the potential market for images growing over the next 10 years - and LuckyOliver with it. And he's only half-kidding when he says: "We're looking to buy Getty."

Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


  • Tim Mcguire Posted Jul 27, 2007
    How many contributors make 20,000 or more downloads a year? From a photographers POV it seems that is what it would take to make Microstock distribution into a Professional endeavor rather than a way for amatuers to make extra cash from their hobbies.

    Nothing wrong with extra cash in your pocket! More power to ya. I just wonder if you could really be a professional full time photographer only participating in microstock distribution through LuckyOliver and actually make a comfortable living (house, car, insurance, family, vacation, retirement savings...).

    There's no doubt that being Luckyliver is profitable. They get what they license at no cost. I'm just wondering about the supplier side of the equation.

    Tim McGuire

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