This list includes 12 microstock photo agencies recommended for photographers and illustrators willing to sell their images online. The best ones are at the top of the list. Those at the bottom of the list are worth trying if you already submit your work to bigger ones. Smaller agencies will provide some additional income, but will not become the main source of your revenu.
Exclusive photographers always get higher commission, but submitting your work to all of these sites will provide 12 sources of income for your business. And as your online portfolio grows, your income will grow as well.
Earnings are usually based on the customer’s selection of payment plan and the size of the file that was downloaded.
Highly recommended! Shutterstock is based on a subscription model that encourages buyers to download a large volume of images. Shutterstock will pay you 25-36 cents every time one of your images is downloaded. Your commission raises as your earnings grow and can reach up to 38 cents per download. Shutterstock also has On Demand Subscription, starting at $1.88 commission per image download. Earnings for Enhanced License are much higher (in my case – $28 per image). And there are also occasional “Single & Other” downloads, which can bring up to 120$ per sale.
Shutterstock is famous for their high-quality image collection, and for new photographers it can be quite challenging to get accepted. Each new contributor has to submit 10 images for initial review and get 7 of them approved to be able to start selling. Don’t be discouraged if you are not approved at once – you can try again in 30 days, and it’s really worth the effort! You can sell photos, Vector illustrations, music and footage.
Dreamstime is one of the leading microstock sites. Images sell well, and and the review process is fair. You can upload photos, vector illustrations and footage. When approved, your file will be included in the database as a 1 level file. As it gets downloaded, the image/video moves to a higher level and sells for a higher price. Files can be sold as single downloads or through subscription.
Photographer’s commission for non-exclusive files starts at 33% and can go up to 63% for exclusive cotributors. Earnings from subscription sales range between 25 and 40 cents per image. Commission rates are based on contributors ranks. The higher the rank the higher the % commission. Earnings for Extended license sale start at about $20. Image review process is usually fast but sometimes images get rejected with all kinds of strange reasons that seem completely illogical. But it’s certainly worth trying, Fotolia is one of the best microstock agencies. It accepts photos, vector illustrations and footage.
iStockPhoto offers a huge image collection and boasts the largest number of exclusive photos and vector illustrations that you will not find anywhere else. You can also buy footage and audio files. Choose a credit package or get a Subscription plan.
A pioneer of microstock industry, iStockPhoto offers a huge image collection and boasts the largest number of exclusive contributors. You can sell photos, vector illustrations, flash files, video and audio. iStock pays a base royalty rate of about 15% for single file download for non-exclusive contributors, and up to 45% for Exclusive contributors. Subscription royalty is $0.28 for non-exclusive contributors and minimum $0.34 for exclusive contributors.
In terms of percentage, iStock offers the lowest payout in the industry for non-exclusive contributors, but despite this, it still provides a decent monthly income compared to other agencies. For me, in terms of earnings, iStock is number 2 after Shutterstock, which is the best.
Exclusive artists benefit not only higher commissions, but also faster review times, better portfolio exposure and lower upload limits, which result in much better sales than those of non-exclusive artists. iStock will offer you to go exclusive with them after you reach 250 downloads with a minimum 50% approval ratio.
BigStock is now owned by Shutterstock. It is quite easy to get your photos approved. It doesn’t mean that bad-quality images will be accepted but approval ratio is still very high. You can make from 50 cents to $3.00 per image download, and $25 from Extended License downloads. While not a top performer, BigStockPhoto is still considered to be one of the ‘Big 6’ microstock agencies and can give you a nice addition to your monthly income. The site accepts photos, vector illustrations, and footage.
DepositPhotos has a rapidly growing collection of photos, vector illustrations and footage. Your royalty rate depends upon your Contributor’s Level and ranges between 34% and 42% for on demand downloads, and $0.30 to $0.35 for subscription downloads. Review process is fast, and acceptance ration is pretty good.
123rf offers an impressive collection contains photos, vectors, footage and audio. Depending on the quality and size of your portfolio, you can get a nice monthly addition to your income. The amount of commission that you will receive as a contributor will depend on your Contributor Level, and ranges between 30% and 60% for single downloads, and $0.22 to $0.43 for subscription purchases.
Sales at CanStockPhoto are pretty slow but still regular. If you already submit your work to bigger agencies, CanStock can become a nice addition to your income. Subscription sales will bring you $0.25 – $0.35 per download. Credit sales – from $0.50 for single download to $25 for an Extended license. The site accepts photos, vector illustrations and footage.
Featurepics will give you a 50% royalty for each image sold, which is a good commission in the microstock industry. Sales are slow but it can be worth trying if you already have a big portfolio ready to upload and if you submit to bigger sites as well. Uploading is very easy and practically takes no effort. Accepts photos and vector illustrations.
Pond5 accepts a variety of media: photos, illustrations, footage, music, sound effects, 3D models. Contributors can set their own prices and receive 50% of net license fees. This site has been popular among video contributors. As a photographer, I can say that sales are very slow, but they happen once in a while.
Scandinavian agency. Sales are slow but with a big portfolio you can still earn some extra cash. Uploading is easy, review process is usually fast and photos get accepted easily. In November 2015 ScanStockPhoto has announced that in order to maintain a decent sale rate for its existing photographers, the agency has become very restrictive and now only accepts very good portfolios. You are required to send a link to your portfolio and get approved in order to start uploading. The site accepts photos and JPEG illustrations (all Vector files have to be saved as JPEGs).
StockPhotoMedia is another Scandinavian agency, accepting photos and vector illustrations. Photos get easily approved and commissions are paid in Euro. Sales are slow but with a big portfolio you can still earn some additional income. You will be credited with 35% for small images, 45% for medium images, 55% for large images, and 50% for vector illustrations of the revenue generated by every image download. You can request payment when your earnings exceed 60 EUR or every 3 months (which is nice because it guarantees payment even with slow sales).