Selling photography, illustrations and video footage as a microstock contributor you will sooner or later face an important decision: Do I sell my work exclusively at only one agency and receive higher royalties per sale or do I choose the non-exclusive path, sell my files at several agencies for lower royalty rates.
At first glance the question seems to be the old dilemma of quality vs. quantity. Although that is partly true, you shouldn’t forget, that the strategy you choose for your business has no direct impact on the quality of your work. It is solely a question of marketing and on what marketplaces your pictures, illustrations and video footage will be available for purchase.
- Higher royalties per sale
- Less time spend on upload & keywording
- Better ranking on marketplace
- Multiple Agencies (as many as you can manage…)
- More sales
- Portfolio gets more exposure
- If your work gets rejected on one website, another one will be interested
Most microstock contributors choose to stay non-exclusive and work a little harder during the upload process. But if you offer a very specific type of stock material, that is likely to sell only on one website anyway, you might as well try the exclusive path.
Exclusive File or Exclusive Contributor?
There is a difference in between uploading exclusive files and being an exclusive contributor.
If you sell an exclusive file, that mean that only this specific file is exclusively available on this agency, although you might sell non-exclusive images on the same and other sites as well. Both categories of pictures will be shown side by side in your portfolio and you can choose each time in the uploading process, what’s best for your sales.
Agencies offering to sell single files as exclusive:
- Fotolia: Offering an ‘Partially Exclusive Photos’ option, that can be set to cost more to end users, hence earning a higher income per sale, but only if you have reached bronze ranking (after your first 100 sales).
- Dreamstime: This agency offers a bonus between 3-5%, depending on the number of times an image has sold. Apparently you can also see an increase in sales!
- PantherMedia: While uploading and keywording your file, you can increase your royalty from 30% up to 50% on photos and illustrations that are “not sold at any other cheaper agency”.
On the other hand there are websites, where you can sign an exclusive contributor contract. This means that you will only sell your work exclusively on this single agency’s site. All of your uploads will be tagged as exclusive and sold according to the higher royalties.
Agencies offering the option of becoming an exclusive contributor:
- Fotolia: Exclusive Contributors benefit from earning 17% higher royalty on each sale and can set the prices for their own graphics.
- Dreamstime: Exclusive photographers always receive a 60% royalty regardless of the number of sales an image makes, compare with 20-25% for non exclusive contributors. Exclusives also get an extra 20c per accepted upload. You at least need 50 images accepted to apply for exclusivity.
- iStock: Exclusive photographers on iStock get an instant jump up from 28% to 35% per image sale, contributors at higher levels even earn up to 50% per download. They also benefit from a variety of other bonuses:
- Shorter review times.
- 10% extended license bonus.
- Exclusivity brings more attention to your portfolio.
- Exclusive photographers also receive help from the agency’s legal team.
- To apply you need to have 250 downloads (bronze level) and a 50% acceptance rate.
Agencies without exclusive options:
Pond5, Shutterstock, Mostphotos & DepositPhotos are just a few examples of high earning agencies, that work without the option of Exclusivity.
Visit our Microstock Beginners Guide for more Information on how to get started:
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