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DPChallenge Forums >> Stock Photography >> Micro Stock VS Macro Stock a civizlied discussion
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10/12/2005 06:44:15 AM · #1
I would like this thread to keep in the general discussion and not a RANT. I would also like to keep this discussion civalized as I think this is a worth while, and important subject for us stock shooters.

It seems to me that it IS possible to earn a living at micro stock agencies. There has been a bit of discussion recently of people earning $100 a day, which seems like it is competing with macro stock income. And of course the all stars like who earns $500/dayLisa Gagne You can check her download stats today, and then again in 2 days to check my figures. Of course she is an exception and the likelyhood of me selling that much is the same as being a sports star, but selling $2000 a month is atainable by anyone with some hard work I figure.

So the question remains, where is it better to focus ones energies. Macro or micro. I would like to think macro, as it feels good to be paid $100/image. Images also sell for $5000 on Macro sites, but then this is Licensed images NOT royalty free (so with Licensed, there is no question, Macro is your only choice.)

So in the end, where do the 1000 images earn more. A macro site, or a micro. I am beginning to think it might be micro.

Another thought... with the enourmous amout of micro sites poping up everywhere, why would people purchase from a macro site. It is common knowledge that you can get professional looking images from a micro site. TV commercials, and news ads, and websites all use the micro stocks for their images.. i might think that this is where the future is going for Royalty Free images.

Here is a TV commercial with images from istock. here
I had the image of a van in there.

Did i feel 'used' to get paid only 50 cents for that image: Yes
However I HAVE earned $15.00 from that image in the last 6 months... which is closer to a better price.

I have had 600 images on Alamy the past three months now... only 1 download, earning $50.00 (actually that download was 6 months ago when i had 12 images on alamy but will include it in my calculations) .... I have had 350 images for the last 3 months micro sites.. earning $750. ($3.39) a day. If i wanted to earn $2000/month I would need 19.66 X more images. My images seem to be not very popular though... i don't have many people and not many isolated objects. Lisa G has only 2000 (excellent images) images, for her $500/day.

anyhow.. just some thoughts.. would appreciate other thoughts or ideas

and remember... DISCUSSION,not rant.

Message edited by author 2005-10-12 07:30:49.
10/12/2005 07:17:26 AM · #2
Originally posted by leaf:

So in the end, where do the 1000 images earn more. A macro site, or a micro.

Ultimately, they're seperate markets. It's a little like asking whether you will make more money selling mass-produced twinkies or hand-crafted belgian chocolate - you either make a little bit of profit per unit, but mass produce them and sell loads; or you make a much higher profit, but only sell a few units which have taken more time to produce.

What often gets lost in these arguments is that they are totally different markets. If you have 1000 images that are genuinely good enough to sell on a macro site than (IMHO) you'd be a fool to put them on a micro site. However, because the micro standards are lower the time it takes you to run off 1000 'micro-worthy' images is nothing compared to the time it takes to get together 1000 'macro-worthy' images.

I suspect that you can make a similar amount out of both channels; it's more dependant on your ability to produce saleable images than how you choose to sell them. If you view your photography as "art" then the idea of selling it to the mass market for $0.50 is probably abhorent. If you view your photography as a commodity, then it doesn't really matter whether the $100 for an image comes from one sale or 500.

Personally speaking, I'm happy to split my photography into "art" (really good images I'm proud of) that go to macro and "commodity" (which are perfectly good images, but aren't - if I'm honest with myself - the kind of thing someone will pay $00's for) that go to micro.
10/12/2005 07:27:15 AM · #3
Because of the changing nature of the photography business, many pro stock shooters I've talked to are using both macro and micro sites. It's something that's factoring in to my decisions over what type of stock to start shooting.
10/12/2005 07:34:59 AM · #4
Yeah, I think you both make good points.

I think however ganders, that if i managed to produce top notch images that were one of a kind, I would also be a fool to sell them RF (even on the Macro sites). I should sell them without a doubt, Licensed or (RM)... which then, as you said, is an obvious choice with Macro stock.
10/12/2005 09:21:36 AM · #5
Yes, sorry I wasn't expressing myself clearly. With those top notch, "art" images I was thinking more Licensed than RF.
10/12/2005 11:03:01 AM · #6
just another figure.

3 months ago I sent approx 100 espresso / cappucino / late shots to alamy. I did a special photo shoot for these shots. I haven't had a single sale on these images, despite the fact that there is very few to choose from on alamy. If I had had these images on the micro sites and earned my .015 cents per image per day, I would be $150 richer. If someone DOES decide to download an image at alamy, i will recieve approx $50 (for the RF file)... so I would have to recieve 1 download per month to equal my micro stock earnings.....

makes me think that perhaps all my royalty free shots should go to micro stock and images i am interested in licensing I will send to macro.
10/12/2005 11:14:28 AM · #7
Originally posted by leaf:

makes me think that perhaps all my royalty free shots should go to micro stock and images i am interested in licensing I will send to macro.


That sounds like a pretty good idea, leaf. It is kind of hard to tell, though, which images people will download at sites like Alamy. It just sems like there should be something between 20 cents and $50, but I don't think that sites like ImageVortex are doing that well in the middle ground.
10/12/2005 11:34:41 AM · #8
No, i would think that people who want a professional agency, go and get it (ie alamy and such) those who want cheap images go to the micros.

I think though, that one cannot look at the 20 cents. An image is NOT worth 20 cents. however if it is downloaded 100X, then it's worth is now $20, NOT 20 cents.
10/12/2005 11:49:22 AM · #9
Originally posted by leaf:

I think though, that one cannot look at the 20 cents. An image is NOT worth 20 cents. however if it is downloaded 100X, then it's worth is now $20, NOT 20 cents.


Yes, that's a good point. Of course, I mean 20 cents per use, but the photos that I've posted at the micro sites generate an average of a few dollars an image, which is certainly better than getting no sales on Alamy or other similar sites.

I still like your suggestion of putting your best images on the best sites and then trying to make a few bucks with the rest of them on the micro sites.
10/12/2005 12:16:22 PM · #10
Originally posted by leaf:

No, i would think that people who want a professional agency, go and get it (ie alamy and such) those who want cheap images go to the micros.


Actually I bet most check the micro sites first to see if they can find what they want, then the macro sites, and then look into contracting a photographer if they can't find what they want. Most businesses look at the cheapest option first.

Also, to add to the discussion, the quality of microstock has gone up in the last few years. Istock use to take anything and now they are very picky. They acutally just removed my images that had no dowloads recently. With more people submitting, they have more options and can now be more picky.

10/12/2005 12:48:42 PM · #11
I think that there is a big shift towards Micro. I have images at shutterstock, istock and dreamstime, and over the last two months there has been a huge increase in sales on all 3.

I have between 100 and 300 images on each site, and am currently making $250 per month. This is almost garanteed income where as with Macro it would come in irregular packages.
10/12/2005 01:05:03 PM · #12
Yeah, I would tend to agree (about the big shift). Starting in August, my earnings per day have doubled on the micro sites... however i haven't added any images since April (was tyring to do only macro.... )

Message edited by author 2005-10-12 13:05:29.
10/12/2005 01:59:17 PM · #13
I am still in two minds on the micro vs. macro (that helps you right:-) and agree with both sides in most ways. So far I have not signed up for any micro sites but I did start an account at one of the macro sites and have yet to upload the photos. This is partly that I wanted to see the requests/search keywords/stats that they send out to everybody when you sign up before deciding if I was just wasting my time or deluding myself on what images I could contribute (plus I am lazy by nature of course).

I have no issue with the low unit price on micro sites as long as the image is used enough times that itís worth my while to shoot, process & upload. On the flip side, some/most images would have none or very small volume, so in a way I would feel those shots would be wasted. I understand that itís the overall picture (pun intended) that is more important and you will always have more and less selling images but itís an unknown (no doubt the hit ratio would improve as you gained experience at putting up stuff that people want).

I like the theory of putting the best images on macro and that is the way I am leaning but the catch is that itís not obvious which images would sell the best vs. the better pictures in my view. I am not convinced that the targets are separate since I suspect most companies try to get stuff cheap if possible and would check micro first.

My biggest issue would be having a micro image used in an application that IMO should have been macro Ė per use license (I wish right). Imagine how you would feel if somebody paid $1 for an image on the front cover of a mag (far fetched I know but it happens). If I could put a circulation/usage limit on micro then I would not have a problem but that ainít the deal.

Then are the points about the business model moving towards the micro which I agree tends to push you down that path.

Itís interesting to see a civil conversation on this topic (see if that continues:-))).
10/12/2005 02:38:34 PM · #14
Well i am not sure I agree with you when you say "if i could put a circulation/usage limit on micro then I would not have a problem".. A circulation/usage limit DEFINES a licensed, or RM image. .... which is why one would choose RM (which controls circulation)... and actually in a way IS micro in a sense. If a company wants to use just a tiny version of your picture on a run of 100.. they pay VERY little. I have had people at Alamy (a macro site) claim they have earned less than $5.00 of a RM shot, this is due to the purchaser wanting to use it very little. If you are wanting to control the use of your images go RM, Macro stock.. there is no question about it.
10/12/2005 03:19:41 PM · #15
All of the micro-sites have usage limits, both for types of usage and quantities of reproductions, although the limits are quite generous.

I have about 70 images at Shutterstock, most of which I now plan to also upload to iStockphoto.

I send images to these sites because they are the only ones which will accept images from my smaller cameras (2MP, 3MP). I don't find it a reasonable proposition to upsize those to the extent required by the RM sites. For me, there is a choice of microstock, or sell nothing.*

They also provide a form of photographic validation -- my "average score" at SS is quite a bit better than at DPC! Remember, the designer doesn't pay 20 cents for that photo -- if they find the one photo they need for their publication at SS, it will cost them $139 (1 month subscription). In some ways, a sale is a sale, and the fact that someone downloads it at all corroborates my opinion that it was a "good" photo.

*Well, I guess you can buy my prints too ;-)
10/12/2005 03:53:56 PM · #16
If she can make $500/ om a microstock site, just think of what she would make at REAL stock site. Microstock sites do nothing but devalue photography. I've thought of starting a microstock where people could buy brochure designs for a dollar. I'm sure designers would love that. And this same old argument that keeps coming up about how "I don't need the money" & "it's just extra money for gear" are lame. If you can wait for teh cash then and it's not a source of major income, then why not put it out where when it does sell it will generate real money. All your doing is making those microstock sites more money and whoreing you images out like a Tijuana hooker. If your gonna whore them out, at least be the high priced call girl.
10/12/2005 06:27:01 PM · #17
Well that almost sounded like a rant, making this discussion possibly come to a short end....

However, I will reply none the less.

I am not sure she would sell $500/day on a macro site, that is what this is all about. I am not sure ANYONE on alamy sells $15,000/month, or $91 PPPY. But then again I am not sure. I know I have sold very little on the macro site. And like I said before, selling an image for 50 cents is like giving it away, but if I sell it 100 times and come away with $50.00, it is a decent price. Currently my micro stock images are selling cosiderably more than 100:1 against my macro images.
10/12/2005 07:31:08 PM · #18
And they should. One image on micor is what a dollar or two? And alamy it should be like 200 -300.
10/12/2005 07:36:00 PM · #19
I have sold about 16000 photos on Micro sites but I don't think I would make that much with a bigger stock like alamy
10/12/2005 07:45:46 PM · #20
Originally posted by melking23:

I have sold about 16000 photos on Micro sites but I don't think I would make that much with a bigger stock like alamy


Why not? You seem to be a good shooter. Telling photographers that they are better than they think they are is wearing me out....
10/12/2005 08:09:33 PM · #21
I'd be interested in doing Macro stock but I don't have the following:

Technique Mastery needed
Equipment needed
Money to pay for the above

Right now my little point and shoot can only make image sizes that are acceptable to the micro stock sites.

Also, I have no dvd burner and I don't have the money to invest in either a new camera OR the other equipment needed just so I can take pictures to put on a Macro stock and HOPE that they will be used and thus pay for the expense I just shelled out.

So for me its micro.

Better something than nothing. I will always believe that.

Once I have graduated into some better equipment & accessories and have better skills then I will be looking into macrostock. That said, I will also keep my lesser skilled images on the microstock sites.

Why close off an avenue to receive income on an image just because it doesn't make the grade in one arena (macrostock).

Those are my thoughts, for what they are worth.

PS: I apologize in advance if I kill this thread with my post, I seem to have that affect. :D
10/12/2005 08:58:05 PM · #22
Originally posted by melking23:

I have sold about 16000 photos on Micro sites but I don't think I would make that much with a bigger stock like alamy


I disagree, Melissa. I think you'd do very well with a larger Stock agency. Especially with your business and lifestyle photos. Those are always big sellers in any market.

10/12/2005 09:04:04 PM · #23
For those who want to do more reading about stock, there are great conversations here:

//groups.google.com/group/bit.listproc.stockphoto?gvc=2&hl=en

The RM vs RF, and micro vs macro comes up now and then.
10/12/2005 09:14:18 PM · #24
Originally posted by dogz:

Originally posted by melking23:

I have sold about 16000 photos on Micro sites but I don't think I would make that much with a bigger stock like alamy


I disagree, Melissa. I think you'd do very well with a larger Stock agency. Especially with your business and lifestyle photos. Those are always big sellers in any market.


Not bad for using a 5 megapixel camera for most of those :)
10/12/2005 09:33:41 PM · #25
I have met and shot alongside Lise Gagne in person. She works at microstock (exclusively on istock) full time with her Husband, Loius and they are really great people. She is really talented at what she does, and for the time being she is very happy shooting just microstock and just for istock. I really look up to her! And i got to play around with her 16mp nikon... that thing is huge and heavy!

Here is a shot of them together that i took last month...
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/24976/thumb/231603.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/24976/thumb/231603.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

But back to the discussion, personally I have been doing just microstock for the past few months, in recent months I've been making about $200-250 dollars per month and this figure has been growing steadily. I started ou on just shutterstock and istock but recently joined dreamstime as well. I have so far kept out of the macro market (i.e. alamy) just because of the inconvinience of upsizing images and sending them on cds to the uk, i have read through the process a few times and it really sounds like a pain in the rear end... But im aiming to have a portfolio available on alamy by the years end.

Do I think I can can get up to the level where I make $500 per day? I guess we'll just have to see. I used to aim for making at least a dollar each day, now I make about 10 dollars each day accross three microstock sites. 500 doesnt seem completely out of reach :-)

Message edited by author 2005-10-12 21:35:16.
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