When I first found out about microstock, I was very excited about the prospect that I might be able to sell photos. While I am a relative newcomer to microstock, I’ve learned a lot in my year of contributing and selling my photos.
First, I will list the microstock agencies that I currently contribute to, which has been paired down over time as I’ve learned which make money and which don’t.
That’s it for me. There are many other microstock sites to choose from, and I have tried the majority of them. However, my portfolio is still relatively small and the almost non-existent sales at the other sites don’t make them worth my time. I have read that some of these are very bad performers even for seasoned microstock contributors with huge portfolios.
Shutterstock is my personal favorite. Hardly a day goes by without a few sales on this site. Since they offer a subscription model, the amount earned per download is pretty small. However, since the buyer can typically download up to 25 images per day per the terms of their subscription, earnings are pretty good overall. There are occasional extended license sales which is always nice!
Texturevault is my second favorite site to contribute to. I earn nearly as much through this site as I do through Shutterstock, despite the relative newness of the site. Texturevault pays its contributors a full 60% of earnings, which is really excellent compared to all of the other sites. It’s also easier to get your images seen on the front pages of results since there is far less competition with other photographers.
iStockphoto is my third favorite microstock site to contribute to. While earnings there match Shutterstock and Texturevault pretty closely for me, I feel turned off by the 15% to 20% commission and by the heavy promotion of Vetta and Agency images. Exclusive contributors can earn up to 45% per download, and their images are more heavily promoted by iStockphoto. Personally, I would rather not lose control of my images and like that my photos can be sold anyplace I choose. Some people swear by exclusivity however.
Dreamstime is my fourth favorite site to sell photos. The images on Dreamstime are of the same caliber as those found on iStockphoto. In fact, I have found them to be even more strict on what they will accept than the top stock sites. Their customer base is smaller however, and sales there are rather slow. Still, there are a few sales here and there and every little bit helps!
So I hope that I was able to get you started on selling your photos!