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Microstock News

Fotolia have announced the launch of their 'operation level ground' to attract new photographers. The program is open to both existing contributors at other microstock agencies (e.g. quit your istock exclusivity and come join us) and also to photographers who are currently outside of microstock selling their work elsewhere i.e. macrostock prices.


Cutcaster updated their list of image needs, thought it 'betta' that their premium collection be called crescendo and hired a new creative director. Cutcaster also announced improvements to their search system, providing good search is more complex than it first appears and is one of the many differentiators between the leading microstock sites and the many turn-key start-ups.


Coinciding with iSyndica's announcement of the official launch of their 'promotion service' I thought it was time to share a few preliminary results of my investigation into promotion with 'free stock photos'. Even before I wrote the article microstock photos for free I've had been redistributing some of my images for free on various websites with somewhat inconclusive results.

The following table shows the sites I have uploaded images to, the number of images, image views recorded by those sites and the number of times someone clicked a link to my website. Measurements for the first 4 weeks of September 2009.


Theres been plenty going on since my last new round-up, here's a few news stories that caught my eye:


istock announced that as of yesterday it would be legally guaranteeing all sales, blowing the 'unique' offering from vivozoom out of the water. Details of the guarantee on this istockphoto forum post and more discussion on it at microstockdiaries. The legal cover will pay for up to $10,000 in damages and for and additional 100 credits users can purchase up to $250,000 of cover.

When I first read the original release I thought "yeah..." not all that exciting is it, and stuck it in with all the 'end of month news stories'. But then I'm NOT a frequent photo buyer am I. There are plenty of people out there who choose to pay micro prices over finding something free because of the comfort that buying gives them. Draw a parallel with the corporate worlds take up of "paid" open source software - having the support of someone else to point the finger at when things go bad is a nice place to be.

As istock take pains to point out problems arising from the content of their collection are very rare, but just a day after reading the release I read the following post on a local website (well as local as you get here in Queensland) http://www.thedaily.com.au/story/2009/09/16/builder-claims-chriss-home-as-its-own-design. While in this case istockphoto might not be at fault there are a lot of risk averse non-professional buyers in microstock who will find the offer of some protection if the file they buy turns out to contain protected IP very attractive.


Startup microstock vivozoom have announced several changes to their site following buyer feedback , new marketing activity, improved search and "vivotweet" their twitter account. Interestingly they plan to announce their image needs to photographers via email and via twitter; currently citing agriculture, vineyards, farmland, animals, crops, harvest fruits and vegetable as subjects in need.

isyndica announced they now allow users to create new account using their settings from one of several third party sources including flickr, google and facebook. isyndica also now supports the distribution of illustrations (vector images) as well as photos and video. You can now also pay for your upload credits with paypal.

Shutterstock announced (press release) the launch of their shuttertweet application which automatically 'tweets' various (banal?) messages about contributors latest approved batches and sales stats.

Dreamstime announced a facebook application and fotolia launched a plugin for the wordpress blogging platform.

Mostphotos announced some server upgrades and that they were still on track with development of their new platform (mostphotos 3.0) details in the mostphotos development blog. A visit to mostphotos will show that the current platform seems excellent at picking attractive looking nature and landscape photos, not necessarily good microstock, this might be one reason my stock photo sales are so low at MP.

Panthermedia announced a new extended license to cater for the needs of corporate buyers, more flexible terms for double the cost of a standard license. New extended subscription options were also announced photographers can choose to opt-out of these extended sales options by 1st September if they want.

In late July Getty officially welcomed the free stock photo site stockxchng (sxc.hu) into the fold by replacing all the stockxpert advertisements on sxc with ads for istockphoto. Getty have controlled sxc since the February takeover of jupiterimages. sxc contributors who have an istockphoto account can include a link to their istock portfolio on scx.hu. Alexa recorded a noticable drop in traffic to stockxpert but only reducing levels to those back in March this year. As most of my sales on stockxpert (SXP) come from Jupiter unlimited and photos.com so it's hard for me to be exact about any drop in sales since the change but with alexa reporting 30% of SXPs traffic coming from sxc.hu it can't be good news for SXP contributors and their sales.

Clustershot added webdav support to allow easier batch uploads.


Dreamstime have announced a change to their photographer comission structure (dreamstime forum post) following a recent announcement of an increase in credit prices. The new structure leaves royalties for exclusive photographers unchanged at 60% but creates a tiered structure reducing royalties for non-exclusive photographers to 30% for the least popular images. Popular images still receive 50% royalty rate. Previously dreamstime paid a flat rate of 50% for all sales of non-exclusive photographer images. Exclusive images from non-exclusive photographers have also taken a bonus royalty cut from 10% to 3-5% over standard depending on sales levels.


Cutcaster have announced the launch of their "Betta than Vetta" collection, "Betta than Vetta" is apparently Irish for mountaintop, and is a collection of hand selected images available from the cutcaster stock collection of almost 400,000 items.

It's not the first hand picked collection and certainly not the last. While premium microstock sounds like an oxymoron to some traditionalists, and tongue in cheek or not, I can see that microstock agencies are taking multiple approaches to tackling a common problem: producing good image search results is difficult!


isyndica.com have just announced a restructuring of their pricing. I reviewed isyndica a couple of months back and since then I've been using it as part of my normal upload workflow. One of the only gripes I had at the time was the price, but now things have changed.

Update: iSyndica have announced a contest offering the chance to win $200 Apple gift cards


Images uploaded by contributors to the veer marketplace over the past month are now available for purchase along with images that were migrated from snapvillage.

Updates to the contributor area dashboard 'accepted tab' allow photographers to monitor sales and views of their uploads.

Over the past month veer have been working hard in the microstock community forums to iron out any bugs with their upload system.


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