Show me the money....

Each mirostock agency has a different pricing structure. Some are a flat rate, and for some, it depends on a variety of factors, from image file size down to when the buyer purchsed their credits.... Here's my real data breakdown, for the sites on which I'm active.

Shutterstock - $0.252 per image
iStock - $0.722 per image
Fotolia - $0.784 per image
Dreamstime - $0.955 per image
Lucky Oliver - $0.700 per image
123RF - $0.523 per image (but they're new)
ImageCatalog - $0.500 per image
SnapVillage - $0.00 (still in beta)

SS has the lowest $/sale, but offsets it with highest volum. They pay $0.25/image, plus $0.05 any time somebody gets a backup CD. They have a commission increase when you reach a certain level of sales.
IS seems to have no rhyme or reason in their pricing, anywhere from $0.20 up. But the average seems pretty consistent.
FT is $0.33 per credit, with files costing 1, 2 or 3 credits based on size.
DT has the highest payout. That's probably why some people do very well with them. But my overall sales are pretty mediocre, and I've had problems building my portfolio with them.
LO has a price structure similar to LO's, but only $0.30 per credit
123RF is still pretty new, not really enough sales to judge..

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My latest images for sale at

My most popular images for sale at


Editorial or Commercial??

Most of the micro sites don't accept "editorial" images. Meaning images that include logos or recognizable brands (or people), without a signed model / property release. Editorial shots are considered "newsworthy". Usually, that means cloning out any logos or identifying names, which can be pretty time consuming.

Shutterstock is one exception. They will accept editorial shots. I've often wondered if editorial shots would sell well, since they have limits on thier use. Not too long ago, I took and image of traffic on the interstate, and uploaded it to SS, just to see how "editorial" would do. Then I took some time and cleaned it up for "Rights-free" submission. Both were accepted:

SO: 4 months down the line, how have they sold? Surprisingly, the "editorial" version has done pretty well. It is my 13th "most popular" image at SS, and #12 in sales. But not surprisingly, the "RF" version has done much better. It is my 5th most popular , and 4th in sales. The logo-less version has sold more than 2x as many times at SS. Plus the RF version is at my other sites, and doing well (#6 earner at IS, #3 at DT). Strangely, 123RF rejected this one for "Potential Copyright Issues" despite my meticulous cloning.


Sales Dollar Sources

So where do my microstock sales come from?? In terms of Dollars (the most important thing), since January 2007:

Shutterstock - 54% of total earnings
iStock - 37% of total earnings
Fotolia - 4% of total earnings
Dreamstime - 3% of total earnings
Lucky Oliver - 1% of total earnings
123RF - 0.5% (but they're new)
ImageCatalog - 0.2%
SnapVillage - 0% (still in beta)

So, what does it mean?? Well, it depends, of course.
Clearly, SS and IS are the big winners, at least for me. And while SS has the all-time lead, they're pretty much equal over the past 3-4 months. Most people rank those two at the top. I know some folks who do quite well with FT and DT, but I've had a heck of a time getting images approved at both places, and my numbers reflect that. I've only been with 123RF for 6 weeks or so, they get an incomplete. And SV is still in beta mode, so they don't count at all. LO and IC seem to be the big losers. I don't know anybody that is doing well with IC...

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Recently Approved Files

Some of the images added to my Shutterstock portfolio in the past week. Still more proof that anybody can do microstock. Even you?

Shutterstock Stock Photo Keyword Search:

Search Terms:



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If Shutterstock is the most popular microstock site, the iStock is a close second. iStock (or simply IS) is my #2 seller overall (7 months), but has been tops over the past 22 weeks. Plus, they have had a pretty steady upward trend. These two make up better than 90% of my total microstock earnings. Sales at IS aren't as broad as SS, but my dollars/sale is almost triple. The uploads aren't quite as easy, and their keywording is a drag. BUT, you just can't argue with the performance!!

My top sellers at IS:



It's a close call as to my "favorite" microstock site. But Shutterstock is probably the most popular among the folks I know doing microstock. In the 7 months I've been doing microstock, Shutterstock (or simply SS) is my best performer, accounting for 53% of my total earnings. SS was the hardest to get into of the sites I belong to, but were certainly worth the effort. They have one of the lower dollars-per-image, but make it up in volume. Best part?? Instant gratification. Images uploaded to SS tend to start selling immediately. And 74.3% of my images at SS have at least 1 download, a ratio that has been remarkably consistant over the months.

My best sellers at SS:


Moving On Microstock

Recent sellers from my world of microstock. These are from Shutterstock, which is my top volume site. Click on the images for more information:

I'm proof that anyone can sell images in the microstock world, why not give it a try?

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High quality stock photos. Starting at only $1

Under Construction!

Look for changes soon, Happenstance Photography is coming back!! In the meantime, check out my other blog: Lsquared. Thanks