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Microstock Sites – Money For Photographers

People often ask me who I suggest in terms of micro-stock agencies, or who to supply their images to, if they want to make a buck on the side, so I put together this list. Yes, if you sign up through these I’ll get a couple of pennies every time you buy or sell, but that comes from the agent’s commission, not yours. I suggest you sign up for all of them, because you just can’t predict where your stuff will do well, but Shutterstock is definitely one of the first, and a close second is istock, but they’ve got pretty steep acceptance requirements. The rest are all pretty cool to get in with, you just sign up and sell. However, the most movement is on Shutterstock and istock, with Dreamstime and Fotolia short on their heels. Crestock, 123RF and BigStockPhoto are slower, but great for cutting your teeth and getting an online portfolio established.

All the agencies work on a non-exclusive model (although exclusivity is available), where it allows you to upload the same image to different sites. However, if you go exclusive (Dreamstime allows you to submit individual images exclusively instead of your whole portfolio), you are not allowed to submit to any other sites, anywhere. If they find you do, you’ll be blackballed, and most probably by all of the agencies. If you have some great travel images, or great images shot with a decent camera (normally bigger than 4mp – but DSLR recommended), give it a shot (no pun intended). 

So herewith my selection. There are more out there, but in my experience, these are the only ones worth trying for now.


stock-photo-young-south-african-woman-laughing-while-on-mobile-phone-36039166

SHUTTERSTOCK:

I highly recommend trying to get in here. It is the largest online agency in the world, and probably the most sales due to it’s subscription model. Your royalty is not much, US25c per regular download, and the odd extended license can go up to US$28, which is not bad. The key here is good images, and lots. If you’re into video or audio or vectors, you can also submit here.

ist2_12555838-effervescent-tablet

ISTOCK:

Lots of movement, good commissions. Sign up for the partner program for each image, it can increase your sales nicely. Probably the best known agency in the industry. You need to pass a tutorial first, but after that it’s good fun. Uploads are slower though, with a very thorough key-wording process. If you’re into video or audio or vectors, you can also submit here.

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DREAMSTIME:

or signup at www.Dreamstime.com and supply my Referral ID: res1519312

After the above two, the most profitable. Demanding model release requirements, but if you please them, all agencies will be happy. Also, they have a fabulously interactive community via the blogs that you can post and very active forums. If you’re into video or audio or vectors, you can also submit here.

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 FOTOLIA:

Some of the bigwigs from istock now find them here. A very slick operation and I believe this is probably the next very big one. You have to be here as well. If you’re into video or audio or vectors, you can also submit here. 
Mojito Rum cocktail on white background in highball tumbler. photo

123RF:

A very cool up and coming agency. Very easy signup procedure. No nonsense, great interface.

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CRESTOCK:

A very slick sight. Currently approval takes a while, but a very neat selection of images. It’s a great part of one’s mix.

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BIGSTOCKPHOTO:

Recently acquired by Shutterstock, this site will grow tremendously still. Shutterstock is spending big money here.

 

© All images: Danie Nel Photography cc/ta nelimages.com – all the images above are also available through my own portal.

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