2014 Microstock Industry Survey – First Look

rimary sourcHere are the results from the 7th annual Microstock Survey.  So far, there have been 632 respondents – You can still take part if you haven’t completed the survey yet.  Thanks again to everyone who responded.

For reference, here are links to the previous year’s ‘First Look’s’
2013
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 600+ 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 4 year’s survey results in many of the answers for comparison.  2014 results are first, 2013 results are between |bars| 2012 results are in {curly brackets} 2011 results are in [square brackets], 2010 results are in (round brackets).

Microstock Artist Profile

Gender

This is mostly just a general interest question but it is also reassuring that the numbers are consistent from year to year.  I feel this gives credibility to the sample of respondents  and proves their consistency.

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

malevsfemale

Age:

Average Age: 43.09 |43.18| {41.9} [42.7] (40.4)
Oldest
: 89 |88| {86} [85] (84)
Youngest: 20 |18| {18} [15] (16)

Did you take part in this survey last year?

Yes: 50% |44%| {39%}
No: 37% |41%| {47%}
Unsure: 13% |15%| {14%}

poll last year

How many months have you been involved in microstock?

Average: 57 |53| {50} [44] (36)
Median: 57 |48| {48} [42] (35)
Max: 180 |164| {144} [140] (108)
Minimum: 0 |0| {0} [1] (1)

How many hours a week do you spend on Microtock?

Average: 20 |19.5| {18.5}
Median: 15 |12| {15}
Minimum: 0 {0}
Maximum: 140 |140| {120}

Do you Consider Yourself a Full Time Microstock Artist

Yes: 33% |28%| {29%}
No: 67% |72%| {71%}

full time microstock

Are you exclusive to iStockPhoto for any type of media?

Exclusive: 15 |18%| {26%} [21%] (24%)
Non-Exclusive: 85 |82%| {74%} [79%] [76%]

exlusive

iStock Exclusivity by Media Type

Photo: 84% |80%|
Illustration: 15% |15%|
Video: 20 |21%|
Audio: 6% |8%|

media type

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: 2% |3%|
No: 98% |97%|

exlusive become

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

This number is a pretty drastic change.  21% more people than last year are considering terminating their exclusivity.

Yes: 55% |34%|
No: 43% |64%|
No answer: 2% |2%|

stop exclusivity

Do you actively submit images to Alamy?

Yes: 37% |36%| {31%}
No: 63% |64%| {69%}

alamy

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

Yes: 22 |21%| {21%}
No: 78 |79%| {79%}

other macrostock sites

Portfolio

Media Types Submitted:

Photography: 84% |90%| {88%} [90%] (90%)
Illustration: 33% |28%| {30% }[27%] (31%)
Video: 26% |26%| {21%} [15%] (10%)
Audio: 2% |4%| {2.7%} [5%]  (1%)

media types

Photography

Images Online as of Dec 31, 2014

Average: 3457 |2519| {2,320} [2,191] (1,450)
Median: 1270 |930| {1,000} [952] (700)
Minimum: 0 |0|
Maximum: 85,000 |110,000| {50,000}

Images Added to Portfolio in 2014

Average: 920 |754| {658}
Median: 325 |300| {300}
Minimum: 0 |0| {0}
Maximum: 40.000 |35,000| {24,000}

Do you plan to submit more or less photos this year?

More: 62%
Less: 10%
Same: 28%

more less photos

Which agencies are you actively submitting to?

Top 5 agencies
Shutterstock
: 91%
Dreamstime: 82%
Fotolia: 75%
123RF: 70%
iStock: 69%

Other: 28% – popular other sites: Canva, Pond5, MostPhotos

sites submitting to photos

Illustration

Illustrations Online as of Dec 31, 2014

Average: 1196 |1189| {792} [744] (525)
Median: 350 |253| {311} [200] (250)
Minimum: 0 |0| {0}
Maximum: 30,000 |50,000| {15,250}

Illustrations Added to Portfolio in 2014

Average: 1196 |496|
Median: 350 |87|
Minimum: 0 |0|
Maximum: 30,000 |18,000|

Do you plan to submit more or less illustrations this year?

More: 67%
Less: 11%
Same: 21%

more less illustration

Which agencies do you actively submit illustrations to

Top 5 agencies
Shutterstock: 94%
Dreamstime: 72%
Fotolia: 70%
123RF: 68%
DepositPhotos: 61%

top illustration sites

Video

Video Online as of Dec 31, 2014

Average: 523 |326| {445} [248] (82)
Median: 80 |40| {41} [28] (15)
Minimum: 0 |0| {0}
Maximum: 8000 |5,000| {15,000}

Video Files Added to Portfolio in 2014

Average: 213 |140|
Median: 33 |25|
Minimum: 0 |0|
Maximum: 3000 |3888|

Do you plan to submit more or less stock video this year?

It appears people are fairly positive about video.  Compared to illustration and photo, considerably more video produces plan to upload more content this year compared to last.

More: 73%
Less: 8%
Same: 17%

more less video stock

Which agencies to you have stock video with?

Top 5 agencies
Shutterstock: 91%
Pond5: 81%
Fotolia: 41%
123RF: 40%
DepositPhotos: 25%iStock: 25%

Other: 16% – Other popular choices, Dissolve, Dreamstime, MotionElements

stock video sites

Audio

Audio Online as of Dec 31, 2014

Average: 298 |213| {177} [160] (40)
Median: 14 |50| {36} [25] (58)
Minimum: 5 |2| {1}
Maximum: 3000 |2,232| {2,000}

Audio Files Added to Portfolio in 2014

Average: 45 |30|
Median: 6 |10|
Minimum: 0 |0|
Maximum: 500 |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: 19% |17%| {20%} [15%]
No: 81% |83%| {80%} [85%]

employees

Do you outsource any part of your workflow?

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

outsourcing anything

What parts of the workflow are outsourced?

Never Sometimes Always No Answer

Pre Production

53%
|56%|
{51%}
32%
|23%|
{28%}
9%
|15%|
{13%}
6%
|5%|
{8%}

Shooting

66%
|66%|
{70%}
26%
|15%|
{14%}
2%
|14%|
{8%}
6%
|5%|
{8%}

Editing

40%
|34%|
{19%}
32%
|37%|
{48%}
23%
|25%|
{25%}
6%
|5%|
{8%}

Keywording

30%
|34%|
{25%}
30%
|31%|
{30%}
34%
|31%|
{37%}
6%
|5%|
{8%}

Uploading

40%
|48%|
{47%}
28%
|15%|
{21%}
26%
|32%|
{24}
6%
|5%|
{8%}

Microstock Outlook

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

Yes: 47% |49%|
No: 53% |51%|

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

Yes: 80 |80%|
No: 20 |20%|

Self Hosted

Are you selling any media on a self hosted platform?

Yes: 14% |14%|
No: 86% |86%|

self hosted yn

Which self hosted platforms are you using?

Symbiostock: 33% |46%|
PhotoShelter: 8% |11%|
Ktools: 8% |6%|
CMSAccount: 7% |6%|
XMStore: 0 |1%|
Other: 45% – popular responses were Zenfolio, PhotoDeck, SmugMug, WordPress,

self hosted platform

Money Talks

Which agency provided the highest RPI?

Shutterstock: 68.5% |60.7%|
Dreamstime: 7.2% |10.3%|
iStock: 8.3% |10.5%|
Fotolia: 2.6% |4.4%|
Stocksy: 2.0% |2.7%|
CanStockPhoto: 0.4% |1.4%|
123RF: .7% |1.2%|
Self Hosted: 1.3% |.9%|
DepositPhotos: .2% |.8%|
Veer: .4% |.8%|
Other: 8.3% |6.5%|

 top performing rpi site

What percentage of income came from your top grossing site?

Average: 55% |67.2%| {52.3%}
Median: 50 |53%| {50%}

What was your top grossing site?

Top 5 Answers

Shutterstock has certainly been cementing in their place at the top the last few years, but it will be interesting to see what changes Adobe has in store for Fotolia and how the still relatively new publicly traded state of Shutterstock affects the company and contributors.

Shutterstock: 79.3% |74.7%| {75%}
iStock: 6.3% |9.6%| {9%}
Other: 4.8 % |5.0%| {5%} – Popular responses were: Pond5, 500px, Alamy
Dreamstime: 4.3% |4.5%| {3%}
Fotolia: 2.2% |3.5%| {6%}
top gorssing site

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

I still find it reassuring that a lot of people are still making the majority of their income from microstock.

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

 

microstock primary source of income

How much did you spend on microstock shoot production?

Average: $2039 |$1,795|
Median: $140 |$100|
Minimum: $0 |$0|
Maximum: $80,000 |$100,000|

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

It’s also nice to see that the average income went up this year.  You can also see that the maximum income was quite a bit down (probably because of a user not voting).. but despite the absence of that heavy response upwards, both the average and median income are up.

Average microstock income: $17,056 |$16,168| {$20,544} [$17,016] ($13,439)
Median income: $4,000 |$3,000| {$4,000} [$3000] ($3173)
Minimum: 0 |0| {0}
Maximum: $400,000 |$960,000| {$523,000}

Looking Forward

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

I feel this question is somewhat of a contributor satisfaction sentiment.  I’m curious to see how this response changes over the years.  Shutterstock has still managed to hold onto their popularity.

Top 6
Shutterstock: 60% |56%|
iStock: 7% |12%|
Stocksy: 7% |7%|
Fotolia: 5%
Pond5: 3%
Dreamstime 3%

agency most excited about

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

Constant changes, difficult upload process and falling earnings are all common complaints about any site.  Here are the sites that contributors are most frustrated with – sites that are plagued too often with the above mentioned problems.

Top 4
iStock
: 42% |44%|
Fotolia: 13% |13%|
Dreamtime: 8%
Shutterstock: 4% |6%|

irritated with site

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 (StockPerformer, MicrostockSubmitter).  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 April 23rd, 2015 in Microstock News, Microstock Survey
  • This is great idea ! I also try to do it myself.Thank you for this post.