Is Microstock Pricing Simple?

Posted on 5/28/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Microstock sellers insist that simple pricing is a key to their success, but many of the current strategies belie that notion.

iStockphoto's pricings is listed as $1, $3, $5, $10, $15 and $20. These basic numbers are not really dollars, but credits. The base price for one credit is $1.30, so the price listed as $1.00 is really $1.30; the $20 price is really $26. In 2007, iStock's average price per image licensed was $4.10, and it looks like that will be up at least 30% this year. Volume users can get better prices. If a customer buys 1,500 credits at a time, she can get the price per credit down to $0.97. All microstock sites offer discounts for buying bundles of credits. Most microstock sites, but not all, figure the photographer's royalty on the value of the actual credit used to license the image, not the base value of a credit.

Fotolia's prices vary, based on the contributor's rank determined by the contributor's total number of downloads. The price for the smallest size is $1.00.  But the price doubles or triples for images taken by nonexclusive photographers with 10,000 downloads from their entire collection, regardless of whether the specific image has been downloaded.

Fotolia has also integrated a new collection of professionally produced images called "Infinite" into its offering. Many of these images are from stock agencies, others are wholly owned Fotolia images. The prices of these images start at $20.00, rise to $520 for the largest file size. Extended license are more. The following lists prices in dollars for the various file sizes are:

      More than

 

 

 

    Base 10,000

Infinite

 

 

    Price downloads

Collection

DPI

File Size

Extra Small XS

1

2 or 3

20 to 50

72

0.12MP

Small S

2

4 or 6

40 to 100

72

0.48MP

Medium M

3

6 or 9

60 to 250

300

1.9MP

Large L

4

8 or 12

80 to 380

300

3.7MP

Extra Large XL

5

10 or 15

100 to 480

300

7.8MP

Extra, Extra Large XXL

6

12 or 18

120 to 520

300

15MP

Three Extras Large XXXL

7

14 or 21

 

 

30MP

Vectors V

7

14 or 21

 

 

any res.

Extended License X

10

90 to 200

300

 

orig. size

Thus, it has at least 40 different price points depending on the image picked, the file size needed and whether an extended license is required.

Dreamstime structures its pricing in a different manner. The price of each image is based on the size of the file delivered and the total number of times that image has been downloaded. There are four file sizes, and the dollar price per file size is:

Number downloads

<10

10--24

25--49

50--99

Over 100
800x600 pixels

1

2

3

4

5

3MP to 5MP

2

3

4

5

6

5MP to 8MP

3

4

5

6

7

Larger than 8MP

4

5

6

7

8

Vectors and RAW files are double the price of the highest resolution above. Subscriptions allowing up to 10 images per day, or 25 images per day are also available for large users.

Dreamstime's extended licenses cover five different categories of use. They are: (1) number of seat (art directors within the same company allowed to use the image); (2) copies that can be printed above the number allowed with the regular license; (3) using the image for electronic products for resale, such as Web templates, powerpoint or keynote templates, email or brochure templates; (4) Printed products for resale, such as postcards, stationary, calendars, mugs, games and retail products; or (5) selling all rights.

There are five different categories of extended use, each described by a different code and a different price. They are:

U-EL - Unlimited Seats

I-EL - Up to 500,000 copies are allowed with a regular license. This extends it to 2,500,000

W-EL - Web templates or other electronic products that are sold

P-EL - Uses on physical items for resale such as: T-shirts, postcards, greeting cards, mugs, mousepads, posters, calendars, framed artwork. There is also a limitation of  10,000 copies of any individual item.

SR-EL - Sell all rights.  Prices vary with the maximum price per image being $10,000.

Other brands have slightly different definitions and prices for each of these categories.

Stockxpert allows combined total print runs of up to 250,000 with a standard license, while many of the others allow print runs up to 500,000. Even with an extended license, some put limits on the number of copies that can be printed. Others offer unlimited use with the standard license.

From a buyer's perspective, each site has different and complex rules with little consistency from site to site. Given these variables, it appears that pricing simplicity may not be that important to customers at the bottom end of the market and the only thing that is really required is cheap prices.


Copyright © 2008 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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