2013 Microstock Industry Survey – First Look

The results from the 6th annual Microstock Survey are ready.  There were 812 respondents, nearly 60 more than  last year’s survey.  Thanks again to everyone who responded.  Perhaps next year we’ll break 1000 :)

For referance, here are links to the previous year’s ‘First Look’s’
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
You can also view all survey related posts in the Microstock Survey category on this blog.

Finally, if you haven’t filled out the survey, you can still do so and your answers will be included in future analysis.  [Survey Link]

Disclaimer

I am not a scientist, statistician nor mathemagician.  This survey gives a general idea of the current state of the microstock industry based on over 800+ 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 previous 3 year’s survey results in many of the answers for comparison.  2013 results are first, 2012 results are in {curly brackets} 2011 results are in [square brackets], 2010 results are in (round brackets).

Microstock Artist Profile

Gender

Male: 78% {79%} [77%] (71%)
Female:
22% {21%} [23%] (29%)

male female

Age:

Average Age: 43.18 {41.9} [42.7] (40.4)
Oldest
: 88 {86} [85] (84)
Youngest: 18 {18} [15] (16)

Did you take part in this survey last year?

Yes: 44% {39%}
No: 41% {47%}
Unsure: 15% {14%}

take part in last year poll

How many months have you been involved in microstock?

Average: 53 {50} [44] (36)
Median: 48 {48} [42] (35)
Max: 164 {144} [140] (108)
Minimum: 0 {0} [1] (1)

How many hours a week do you spend on Microtock?

Average: 19.5 {18.5}
Median: 12 {15}
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: 140 {120}

Do you Consider Yourself a Full Time Microstock Artist

Yes: 28% {29%}
No: 72% {71%}

full time microstock

Are you exclusive to iStockPhoto for any type of media?

Exclusive: 18% {26%} [21%] (24%)
Non-Exclusive: 82% {74%} [79%] [76%]exclusive istock

iStock Exclusivity by Media Type

Photo: 80%
Illustration: 15%
Video: 21%
Audio: 8%

exclusive media istock

Are you planning / hoping to go exclusive with iStock within the next 12 months for any type of media? (asked to non-exclusive artists)

Yes: 3%
No: 97%

going exclusive

Are you considering becoming non exclusive in the next 12 months?

Yes: 34%
No: 64%
No answer: 2%

become non exclusive

Do you actively submit images to Alamy?

Yes: 36% {31%}
No: 64% {69%}

submit to alamy

Excluding Alamy do you submit to any macrostock or traditional stock agencies?

Yes: 21% {21%}
No: 79% {79%}

macro

Portfolio

Media Types Submitted:

Photography: 90% {88%} [90%] (90%)
Illustration: 28% {30% }[27%] (31%)
Video: 26% {21%} [15%] (10%)
Audio: 4% {2.7%} [5%]  (1%)

media types submitted

Photography

Images Online as of Dec 31, 2013

Average: 2519 {2,320} [2,191] (1,450)
Median: 930 {1,000} [952] (700)
Minimum: 0
Maximum: 110,000 {50,000}

Images Added to Portfolio in 2013

Average: 754 {658}
Median: 300 {300}
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: 35,000 {24,000}

Illustration

Illustrations Online as of Dec 31, 2013

Average: 1189 {792} [744] (525)
Median: 253 {311} [200] (250)
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: 50,000 {15,250}

Illustrations Added to Portfolio in 2013

Average: 496
Median: 87
Minimum: 0
Maximum: 18,000

Video

Video Online as of Dec 31, 2013

Average: 326 {445} [248] (82)
Median: 40 {41} [28] (15)
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: 5,000 {15,000}

Video Files Added to Portfolio in 2013

Average: 140
Median: 25
Minimum: 0
Maximum: 3888

Audio

Audio Online as of Dec 31, 2013

Average: 213 {177} [160] (40)
Median: 50 {36} [25] (58)
Minimum: 2 {1}
Maximum: 2,232 {2,000}

Audio Files Added to Portfolio in 2013

Average: 30
Median: 10
Minimum: 0
Maximum: 200

Outsourcing / Team Work

Do you have full or part time employee’s (or work as part of a team or with a partner)?

Yes: 17% {20%} [15%]
No: 83% {80%} [85%]

team work

Do you outsource any part of your workflow?

Yes: 8% {8%} [6%]
No: 92% {92%} [94%]

oursource microstock

What parts of the workflow are outsourced?

Never Sometimes Always No Answer

Pre Production

56% {51%} 23% {28%} 15% {13%} 5% {8%}

Shooting

66% {70%} 15% {14%} 14% {8%} 5% {8%}

Editing

34% {19%} 37% {48%} 25% {25%} 5% {8%}

Keywording

34% {25%} 31% {30%} 31% {37%} 5% {8%}

Uploading

48% {47%} 15% {21%} 32% {24} 5% {8%}

Microstock Outlook

Do you feel the future of microstock is positive?

I didn’t ask this question in the 2013 survey and instead broke it down into an agency and contributor specific question (seen below)

Yes: {65%} [69%]
No:  {35%} [31%]

Do you feel the future of microstock is positive for artists?

Yes: 49%
No: 51%

Do you feel the future of microstock is positive for agencies?

Yes: 80%
No: 20%

Self Hosted

Are you selling any media on a self hosted platform?

Yes: 14%
No: 86%

self hosted microstock

Which self hosted platforms are you using?

Symbiostock: 46%
PhotoShelter: 11%
Ktools: 6%
CMSAccount: 6%
XMStore: 1%

self hosetd count

Money Talks

Which agency provided the highest RPI?

Shutterstock: 60.7%
Dreamstime: 10.3%
iStock: 10.5%
Fotolia: 4.4%
Stocksy: 2.7%
CanStockPhoto: 1.4%
123RF: 1.2%
Self Hosted: .9%
DepositPhotos: .8%
Veer: .8%
Other: 6.5%highest rpi site microstock

What percentage of income came from your top grossing site?

Average: 67.2% {52.3%}
Median: 53% {50%}

What was your top grossing site?

Top 5 Answers

Shutterstock: 74.7% {75%}
iStock: 9.6% {9%}
Other: 5.0% {5%}
Dreamstime: 4.5% {3%}
Fotolia: 3.5% {6%}

top grossing site microstock

Is microstock your primary source of income (over 50%)?

Yes: 28% {31%} [24%] (25%)
No: 72% {69%} [76%] (75%)

microstock primary source of income

 

How much did you spend on microstock shoot production?

Average: $1,795
Median: $100
Minimum: $0
Maximum: $100,000

How much money did you gross from microstock last year (2013)?

Average microstock income: $16,168 {$20,544} [$17,016] ($13,439)
Median income: $3,000 {$4,000} [$3000] ($3173)
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: $960,000 {$523,000}

Looking Forward

All things considered, which agency are you most excited about?

Top 3
Shutterstock: 56%
iStock: 12%
Stocksy: 7%

All things considered, which site are you most frustrated / irritated / fed up with?

Top 3
iStock
: 44%
Fotolia: 13%
Shutterstock: 6%

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.

[Microstock Forum Discussion of Results]

Giveaway

Lastly, thanks to the sponsors who supported the giveaway (ProImageExperts, StockPerformer, MicrostockSubmitter, MicrostockGroup).  The winners were announced on the forum, here.

Stay Updated

Be sure to sign up to the MicrostockGroup newsletter and stay informed of any major industry changes.  [Sign-up Link]

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
http://www.simplefoto.com
Posted on March 2nd, 2014 in Microstock Survey | tags: ,
  • fredlucato

    It is a very interesting survery, I think things are changing anyway, for example the Shutterstock photo review policy is changing, they are rejections 90% of pics while they accepted more than 55% just 3 months ago, this is going to affect my view about microstock, I think the same are undergoing other artists as well