Note: Phototrade has now closed, this post is for legacy / reference use only
Two years in the making photrade.com launched their beta in September 2008. Allowing me to work on a preliminary review. It's not a traditional microstock site, but does offer the option of selling digital licenses for stock (standard and extended for merchandise). It's an idea that a few sites have done already, most with limited success as far as selling stock in concerned, but photrade have a few other interesting ideas up their sleve...
Jack of all 'trade'
According to the press releases photrade.com is not only trying to take a piece of the pie from sites like istockphoto by offering a digital downloads of images they also allow you to sell your images as prints, on merchandise and provide a way of moneterising your images via advertising on blog posts.
They allow bloggers (if you choose to allow it) to paste code into their blogs which displays your photos with advertising at no charge to the blogger. You earn a portion of the money that this advertising generates - to be honest the diagram on photrade explains this a lot better than i do!
As photographer you can control if your images can be distributed for free to earn add revenue, or only available as digital licenses (downloads) or printed merchandise etc. There is a list of at almost 100 different merchandise, print and license options you can opt in or out off.
I can see a use cases for photrade were you could sell not only stock image licenses, but also:
Provide event photography and sell defined sizes of prints.
Operate a fine art shop and sell large canvas artworks.
Design t-shirts and sell them by only allowing prints on t-shirts and hoodies etc.
Sell part of your image collection as printed merchandise were you keep control of exactly what is available.
(I'd suggest opening a different account for each idea you wanted to try, lumping together all this in to one account would be confusing to say the least).
Like flickr where you can Sell Photos
After all the talk in the microstock community recently about what would happen if flickr allowed you to sell images, this site strikes me as exactly that, it's a bit like pro smugmug account and flickr rolled into one site. You can browse and search for photos, share them on a blog, email them to a friend, (if a photographer allows you) to and in addition to that also license them as stock photos, buy them printed onto posters and other merchandise.
There is a lot of technology behind flickr weeding out 'interestingness' from photos, and to be successful photrade will have to use something similar to filter images shown to users otherwise visitors will just be barraged with family snapshots instead of great looking photos (great looking photos in this case will probably not mean 'ideal for stock', just like the 'interesting' photos on flickr.)
Early days, still in beta, and still lots of things to be done to make the site 'nice to use'. It remains to be seen if the new ad supported license model will earn money (at least one of the major stock agencies is experimenting with a similar idea). Photrade has the issues and benefits that come from not reviewing uploaded content and this might open a can of legal worms down the line. They have yet to prove that the can get visitors to buy. The site is currently free to sign up to (they plan to charge $25 for a pro account in the future) making photrade a lot cheaper option than sites like smugmug which offer a similar (while slicker looking) service. At present I don't know another site offering the features of photrade, for free, on the same site.
There is a lot of talk about niche sites and specializations, photrade seems to have done the opposite, it remains to be seen if providing a photographer with a way to monetise their work in almost everyday imaginable on one site is really the way to go.
Personally I'm not expecting photrade to generate large amounts of sales from designers just yet, I'm currently exploring it for the opportunity to tap into a market I currently don't exploit, "advertising and merchandise".
3 Month Update
At the moment it seems that there is not much happening on photrade (as I wrote in my review I hope it does) but with 900+ images and less than 100 views (zero sales) over the space of a couple of months there are more important things to spend time on. Some might suggest that a such a low rating is a little unfair for a site that is beta, but this reflects what I think the current and immediate future income potential of this site will be. The concept is great; will it remain a lemon?