2012 Microstock Industry Survey – First Look
The responses have been tabulated and the results for the 5th annual Microstock Survey are ready. To date there have been 754 respondents, about 40 more than last year’s survey. A big thanks for everyone who responded. It’s great to have such a large sample size to look at. As I’ve done in previous years, I announced the survey in a large number of places in an attempt to gain as varied of a response as possible. The survey was announced on the MicrostockGroup Forum, Shutterstock forum, iStock forum, twitter, Facebook, Google+, microstock.ru and through the MicrostockGroup newsletter.
The survey was available in English as well as German and Russian thanks to the translation by Amos Struck of Fotos-verkaufen.de (German) and Alex Ander (Russian).
I am not a scientist, statistician nor mathemagician. This survey gives a general idea of the current state of the microstock industry based on 750+ people’s view. The respondents for this survey are self-chosen after following a link online 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 had images online, but isn’t that want we want to know? 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 2011 and 2010 survey results in many of the answers for comparison. 2011 results are in [square brackets], 2010 results are in (round brackets).
Microstock Artist Profile
Male: 79% [77%] (71%)
Female: 21% [23%] (29%)
Average Age: 41.9 [42.7] (40.4)
Oldest: 86  (84)
Youngest: 18  (16)
Did you take part in this survey last year?
How many months have you been involved in microstock?
Average: 50  (36)
Median: 48  (35)
Max: 144  (108)
Minimum: 0  (1)
How many hours a week do you spend on Microtock?
Do you Consider Yourself a Full Time Microstock Artist
Are you exclusive to iStockPhoto for any type of media?
A similar result to previous years but still, a tiny bit higher exclusive numbers. It should be noted however that this year I asked if the artist was exclusive for any type of media, allowing them to further break down their response by media type. In previous years I simply asked if the artist was exclusive or not.
Exclusive: 26% [21%] (24%)
Non-Exclusive: 74% [79%] [76%]
iStock Exclusivity by Media Type
Photo: 21 %
Do you actively submit images to Alamy?
Excluding Alamy do you submit to any macrostock or traditional stock agencies?
Media Types Submitted:
The numbers are pretty similar to previous years however there is a very clear growth in the number of contributors submitting video. 156 respondents this year are doing so. For audio, the number of respondents is so small it is hard to justify any hard conclusions.
Photography: 88% [90%] (90%)
Illustration: 30% [27%] (31%)
Video: 21% [15%] (10%)
Audio: 2.7% [5%] (1%)
Images Online as of Dec 31, 2012
Average: 2,320 [2,191] (1,450)
Median: 1,000  (700)
Images Added to Portfolio in 2012
Illustrations Online as of Dec 31, 2012
Average: 792  (525)
Median: 311  (250)
Video Online as of Dec 31, 2012
Average: 445  (82)
Median: 41  (15)
Audio Online as of Dec 31, 2012
Average: 177  (40)
Median: 36  (58)
Outsourcing / Team Work
Do you have full or part time employee’s (or work as part of a team or with a partner)?
Yes: 20% [15%]
No: 80% [85%]
Do you outsource any part of your workflow?
Yes: 8% [6%]
No: 92% [94%]
What parts of the workflow are outsourced?
Do you feel the future of microstock is positive?
Yes: 65% [69%]
No: 35% [31%]
Which agency provided the highest RPI?
What percentage of income came from your top grossing site?
What was your top grossing site?
Top 5 Answers
Is microstock your primary source of income (over 50%)?
Yes: 31% [24%] (25%)
No: 69% [76%] (75%)
How much money did you gross from microstock last year (2012)?
Average microstock income: $20544 [$17,016] ($13,439)
Median income: $4000 [$3000] ($3173)
Did your microstock income increase or decrease in 2012?
Increase: 73% [70%] (86%)
Decrease: 27% [30%] (14%)
On which site did you experience the greatest increase in gross earnings?
Top 5 Answers
On which site did you experience the least increase (or largest decrease) in gross earnings?
Top 5 Answers
It is reassuring to see there wasn’t any massive change in the industry the last 12 months. There appears to be a little shuffling of market share between the top agencies, but overall income for the artist appears steady. Although no big changes are registered yet, exclusivity is an interesting stat which will certainly be worth watching in the coming years. It was interesting to see more artists focusing on video and I’m curious to see if this trend will continue. I’ll break down the stats further in future blog posts, some of which will specifically look at exclusivity, income and media types.
How do you compare? Which stats do you want broken down further? How could the survey be improved next year? Let me know in the comments.
As a thanks to everyone filling out the survey, I ran a giveaway for a 52″ westcott reflector. Anyone who filled out the survey could enter once the survey was complete. I drew a random number and matched it up with the entries