Here is a list of the major microstock agencies listed in order of most to least profitable based on the user polls at microstockgroup.com
If you are an image buyer, you may want to refer to the Image Buyers Guide.
Proven Dependable Earners
Shutterstock is a hard agency to get accepted to if you are not familiar with stock photography or do not have good equipment. That said, if and when you manage to get accepted the earnings potential is very high. To apply you have to submit 10 pictures and have 7 of them pass their review process. It sounds easy but many people take multiple tries before getting accepted. The upload procedure at shutterstock is very speedy so it is very easy to get a large amount of images online in a short amount of time. It is not hard to believe that most photographers earn the majority of their income with this site.
DepositPhotos is the newest site in this set of stock agencies but has proven itself quickly to be a dependable earner for many photographers and illustrators. Their upload is simple and they accept of a high number of images making it a good place to start for people new to the industry.
Dreamstime is a solid company with steady traffic and good sales. The photographer receives a 50% commission on the sale so earning potential is very good. Dreamstime doesn’t require any test photos to be accepted as a photographer so you can start uploading form day 1. They do however check every image they receive and do not stand for low quality. This is a great place to start out with an nice site design, good sales, and simple application process.
Fotolia is a quickly growing company with a large customer base all over the world. Photographer commissions are less than on Dreamstime but are still a fair price and increase as you rise in the rankings with sales. Fotolia seems to have a black list of image types they don’t need, so if you shoot lots of nature and background type imagry you may have a problem getting many shots accepted. The upload process is slightly more time consuming that either Dreamstime or Shutterstock, but is soon worth the time invested once the sales start coming in.
New Sites with Promise
There are a number of new websites in the microstock market, few however prove to impress. There are a couple however, which stand out and show promise for the future. These sites are the ones listed below. Although you may risk waiting a while for your first sale, it is often easier to get images accepted on new sites and allow you to get ‘ahead of the crowd’ when it comes to popular subjects.
Yaymicro is one of the newest sites but appears to be serious about the business of microstock. Earnings come in Euros and the photographers are giving a fair 50% cut of the sale. Subscription sales generate €1 which is the highest in the business. Although you may be waiting a while for your first sale, when it comes you will be happy. YAYmicro is one of the top new sites and may be the one to watch out for in a year or two.
Cutcaster has one of the most energetic management teams out there. This site could be a success if only on the work ethic of those involved. The Cutcaster team are very responsive to their contributers and open to suggestions on making the best site possible. John frequents the Microstockgroup forums, answering users questions and concerns. Cutcaster has a unique flexible pricing system which sets them apart from other agencies. If you want to try something new and innovative, add cutcaster to your portfolio.