2011 Microstock Industry Survey – First Look
Over 700 people responded to the 2011 Microstock Industry Survey (709 to be exact), beating our previous year’s record by nearly 100 responses (nearly 200 more responses compared to this time last year). Thanks everyone! If you haven’t had a chance to fill out the survey, you can do so here. All responses will be included in future analysis.
This is the ‘first look’ at the survey which simply presents raw data calculations and figures. In future posts I’ll compare the stats to previous years and analyze the data within itself (earnings vs portfolio size for example).
I am not a scientist, statistician nor mathemagician. This survey gives a general idea of the current state of the microstock industry based on 700+ people’s view. The respondents for this survey are self-chosen after following a link online (MicrostockGroup Forum, Microstock.ru Forum, ThePhotoForum, DPChallenge, Shutterstock Forum, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, iStock, Facebook stock group, Yahoo Groups,
Fotolia (Thread was removed)) or a direct email (from the MicrostockGroup mailing list). I publicized the survey in as many places as possible to minimize a bias towards any one group of respondents. There is a healthy profile of respondents from various sites, countries and exclusive / non-exclusive status. The results will obviously be biased towards people who are interested and active in microstock photography and leaves out those who have given up or forgotten they even had images online, but isn’t that want we want to know anyhow? We want to know how WE are doing, we who are trying to make this work. I believe these results tell us.
I have included the 2010 results in brackets where applicable.
Male: 548 – 77% (372 – 71%)
Female: 161 – 23% (152 – 29%)
Where have all the women gone?
Average Age: 42.7 (40.4)
Oldest: 85 (84) (looks like Smiling Jack is still at it :), albeit a year older)
Youngest: 15 (16)
Media Types Submitted:
Photography: 636 – 90% (460 – 90%)
Illustration: 192 – 27% (163 – 31%)
Video: 107 – 15% (61 – 10%)
Audio: 18 – 5% (5 – 1%)
The numbers this year show a very similar profile compared to 2010. Illustration numbers are slightly down while it looks like there are more people working with video and audio. This could be due to people experimenting in other media, or simply a slightly different sample group of respondents. We can look more into this and get an answer in future analysis.
Are you exclusive to iStockPhoto?
Exclusive: 147 – 21% (126 – 24%)
Non-Exclusive: 562 – 79% (398 – 76%)
Is microstock your primary source of income (over 50%)?
Yes: 170 – 24% (129 – 25%)
No: 539 – 76% (395 – 75%)
Very similar results compared to 2010, which both confirm the accuracy of the survey and the randomness of the participants. With nearly 200 more respondents, the profile is very similar.
How many images do you have online?
Average: 2191 (1450)
Median: 952 (700)
How many illustrations do you have online?
Average: 744 (525)
Median: 200 (250)
How many videos do you have online?
Average: 248 (82)
Median: 28 (15)
How many audio files do you have online?
Average: 160 (40)
Median: 25 (58)
How many months have you been involved in microstock?
Average: 44 (36)
Median: 42 (35)
Max: 140 (108)
Minimum: 1 (1)
Average microstock income: $17,016 ($13,439)
Median income: $3000 ($3173)
It’s always exciting seeing how the money is doing. There is a big jump in average income this year. More analysis to come – but needless to say it is exciting to see 26 people reporting an income of over $100,000 with many many more in the high 5 figure amounts.
Highest reported income: $900,000 ($211,708)
Lowest reported income: $0 ($1)
Did your microstock income increase or decrease in 2011?
Increase: 398 – 56% (450 – 86%)
Decrease: 169 – 24% (74 – 14%)
It’s been a tough year in microstock for a lot of people. Quite clearly shown here with only 56% of people reporting an increase in income.
Microstock Agencies Breakdown
What agencies do you submit to?
Where do you generate the most income?
Obviously this is for non-exclusives – but wow, Shutterstock is really grabbing more of the pie here. In 2010 48% of respondents indicated that Shutterstock was their top grossing site.
Which site gave you the highest return per image (RPI)?
Last year iStock had 30% of the votes on this question, this year they sit at 15%. There have been a lot of reports (complaints) on the MicrostockGroup forum (and elsewhere) of falling income for independents (and some exclusives) – this graph appears to confirm that. Last year Shutterstock got 27% of the votes, this year they were nudged up to 37%.
Outsourcing / Team Work
Do you outsource any part of your workflow?
This is the first year I’ve asked this question. 40 people (6%) of the respondents outsource some part of their workflow, I’m guessing this number will only grow in the future. Outsource specific analysis of the stats will be the subject of a future blog post.
Do you have full or part time employee’s (or work as part of a team or with a partner)?
It appears the majority of people still have a positive outlook on the industry. 69% of the respondents feel the future is positive, with 63% of photographers saying they plan on submitting more content next year compared to previous years.
Do you feel the future of microstock is positive?
Do you plan to submit more or less photos this year compared to last year?
There have certainly been some changes and shuffling of market share in the last year but overall I’d say things still look positive and I’m excited about 2012. I’m also excited to do more in-depth analysis of the stats – Keep in touch with RSS, Twitter, or join the mailing list so you don’t miss out.
If you have any specific analysis you think would be interesting, let me know in the comments below.
ColorChecker Passport Giveaway
As a thanks to everyone who filled out the survey, MicrostockGroup is giving away a ColorCheck Passport to one of the respondents who indicated they wanted to be entered (210 people did so). WolframAlpha was used to generate a random number…
193 corresponded to Ken Hunter, congrats! …
that said, he hasn’t responded to my ‘you won’ email yet – I’ll give him another week or so before picking someone else. If you’re out there Ken, let me know your mailing address. Update Update: Ken has been found 🙂 here’s his portfolio on Alamy,The ColorCheck Passport has been ordered and delivered. Hope you can make good use of it Ken.