Pricing Online Uses

Posted on 12/7/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



December 7, 1999

By: judywhite

judywhite of

offers some useful suggestions in pricing web page usages.

There are a number of issues when it comes to establishing starting points

for web-usage fees, not the least of which include perks beyond just a

monetary fee.

I've done a lot of work both buying and selling web images (I helped found

one of the first Time Warner websites on Pathfinder), and a key issue is a

photo credit that is also a live hot link either to your email address or,

preferably, to your website address, if you have one. Images also should

be embedded by the end user with your Digimarc (and if you don't have one,

get one for free at All this should be in your

delivery memo and your invoice.

Both the link and the Digimarc enable other people on the web to find you

more easily (excellent for publicity), and the latter helps you discover

and prove if your images are filched and used elsewhere. If the buyers

will not give you this, charge more, and tell them about the differences

in price based on getting the links and Digimarc.

Also important is specifying in advance the media resolution and size of

the image, because in the very near future most images will be delivered

in a broadband (extremely fast) way on the web, not the slow

telephone-modem way most common right now. If you sell now, specifying

the smaller telephone-restricted resolutions, the user will have to

eventually come back to you in order to utilize the image at a higher

resolution in broadband. Most users are not even aware yet that they will

want larger sizes later, and they will want them soon. Restrict uses now

to 72dpi, and try to include a pixel height and width limit on the image.

(There will be variances because there are so many different kinds of

monitors, but at least be aware of setting some limits.) Pixel height and

width specification now will severely limit the client's use of the image

on broadband unless they come back to you later and pay more.

Consider where the client plans to use the image on their site. A

homepage image should be sold for more than something used as a thumbnail

in an encyclopedic database, for example. A highly visited site should

pay more than a lower-trafficked one, the same way a higher print run or a

higher circulation publication has higher rates than small runs or small


Ask for statistics on page views for the area of the site on which the

client intends to use the image. Then specify in your contract where they

can use it. Specify one-time webpage use, so the image is not put any and

everywhere they like, and if the image is to be used both as a thumbnail

and a larger clickable image, the fee should reflect that. Specify

everything in your contract.

I believe a minimum small-resolution, small pixel height/width, one-time

web use of a hot-linked photo where you do not have to make any scans or

deliver digitally should start at at least $50 and rise depending on the

factors mentioned above. The client should pay more for scanning and

digital delivery.

Editors Note: While I agree with much of what judywhite has to say,

I believe the pricing for such usages should start at at least $100 for

any type of "commercial" or "editorial" site. Under some conditions I

could agree to a lower fee for "personal" sites, but I believe those uses

will be few and far between. One other factor that the seller must keep

in mind are the transaction costs of any sale. These costs can be

significant even when the sale is fully e-commerce enabled.

Editors Note: judywhite was one of the founding editors of Time

Warner's Virtual Garden, which debuted in 1994 as one of Time-Warner's original

four sites on Pathfinder. It was the highest visited gardening website in

the world, earning a "Webby" nomination. judywhite was editor-in-chief

until it was sold in 1998. inventories

over 60,000 images in gardening related

fields running the gamut of themes from orchids to backyards, pests,

vegetables, botanically-labelled plant portraits, public and private

gardens, landscaping, etc. The agency represents several photographers

both in the U.S. and the UK.

Copyright © 1999 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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