THE BUSINESS OF MICROSTOCK‐UGCX
OCTOBER 21 2009
Prepared by Ellen Boughn
Will the maturation of the microstock business
model track with the growth and leveling off of
the RF business?
A. Yes and…
B. Maybe not because of massive social and
Dreamstime.com statistics for 30 months
March 2007 October 2009
Artists: 12,857 Artists: 78,359
Images: 1,025,806 Images: 6,789,737
Aver/artist: 79.78 images Aver/artist: 86.60 images
Users: 279,880 Users: 1,711,673
Number of images/user only slightly higher in 09 vs 07
3.6 images/user vs 3.9 images/user in 09
Prices have increased significantly
Thus market is sustaining itself yet some report earnings declining.
Only two top contributors
In 07 remain in top in 09.
In 2009 there are at least
five production companies
in the top list of contributors
In 2007 there is only Andres
who had yet to build his
operation to the levels of
Dreamstime March 07 Dreamstime October 09
How to feed the beast and still succeed :
Keep overhead low by outsourcing keywording and distribution to
• Microstock Solutions
• Keep productions simple and low cost
• Hire cheap help!
Yes, look at best sellers but don’t copy the image. The image themes
remain fairly constant
Bring your view to the theme instead
Refresh wardrobe, technology based props
Diversify‐Develop a portfolio of a widely diverse subject matter
Develop a specialty
Photo by Freezingpictures…still possible to
build a microstock brand today? YES but not
as easily as it once was.
Why have some U.S. based traditional stock producers
left the microstock market?
They say that ROI is too low for their overheads
Many top producers both with staffs and sole
practitioners are not based in the U.S. or produce off
Have found secrets to keeping costs low.
Based in countries with lower costs of living, micro
income goes further.
Could perhaps signal a trend away from the U.S. U.K.
Pitfalls ahead for producers/photographers/companies
• Expansion into subscription by most companies ….many
more images have to license to earn the minimum payout.
Great for the microstock companies…not so great for the
• Oversupply of identical images
• Creative Commons‐the ultimate lack of a gatekeeper.
From the Internet Manifesto‐www.internetmanifesto.org
12. Tradition is not a business model. … because the Internet is fiercely
competitive, business models have to be adapted to the structure of the net. No
one should try to abscond from this essential adaptation through policy‐making
geared to preserving the status quo.
What was won’t always be
13. Copyright is a cornerstone of information
organization on the Internet... At the same
time, copyright may not be abused as a lever to
safeguard obsolete supply mechanisms and
shut out new distribution models or license
16. Quality remains the most important
quality. The Internet debunks
homogenous bulk goods. Only those who
are outstanding, credible and exceptional
will gain a steady following in the long
run. Users’ demands have increased.
Journalism <Photography> must fulfill
Internet Manifesto by * Markus Beckedahl *
Mercedes Bunz * Julius Endert * Johnny
Haeusler * Thomas KnÃ¼wer * Sascha Lobo *
Robin Meyer‐Lucht * Wolfgang Michal * Stefan
Niggemeier * Kathrin Passig * Janko RÃ¶ttgers
* Peter Schink * Mario Sixtus * Peter Stawowy
* Fiete Stegers /Translated from the German by
Jenna L. Brinning / *Leave a comment on the
internet manifesto! 106 comments have been
made so far.* 2009 CC‐BY
The Microstock Money Shot‐Turning Downloads into
By Ellen Boughn with preface by Andres Rodriguez
A comprehensive guide to the microstock business
illustrated with over 200 photographs
The Crown Publishing Group II/ A Division of Random House Publishing
Available summer 2010