Microstock Statistics – March 2016
The positive trends started in autumn 2015 are still going on in this year 2016, and also in March there have been significant results. Beaten the previous February record in terms of licenses sold, with a further increase of more than +6% from last month and despite the final slowdown due to the Easter holidays. Also revenues increased compared to February by about +3% (second best month ever), despite a low incidence of single downloads. In particular on Shutterstock, there was an unusual sequence of single downloads of medium-low value (about $20-25), and there have been very few “heavy” licenses (for instance, those ranging about $70-80). I am not yet able to say whether this is a coincidence or a new trend, but these first days of April would seem to confirm this trend. In any case, the positive result in March is particularly due to the good performance of the main agencies (Shutterstock, iStock, Depositphotos above all), while there has been some bad results by the smaller agencies.
The positive results of recent months are due to a series of factors that have allowed me to cross the border of a simple hobby, making this activity a real (though small) profession. First, all the experience accumulated in recent years has allowed me to continually optimize my workflow, avoiding to repeat the mistakes that I made at the beginning and, ultimately, allowing me to increase the approval rate of my works (therefore my sales). In addition, registration of my VAT number as a photographer gave me an extra boost to set my mind as a professional, to plan investments and to better manage the resources needed to carry out this activity in a professional manner. Finally, the equipment upgrade by switching to a full frame camera and to pro lenses, plus a greater mastery of some post production techniques, have allowed me to further improve both the quality and quantity of my images online. Thanks to all of these reasons in the last 6 months (starting from September 2015) the exposure of my images online has more than doubled, although in the same period I finished my collaboration with some agencies, due to a personal choice (as in the case of Photodune) or because the agency has closed the business or has been acquired by other agencies (as in the case of Photokore and Veer). In total, these “defections” have effectively erased over 6,400 files from my total of online images. Nonetheless, despite these cancellations, my overall portfolio grew in the same period by more than 16,000 new files. In the chart below, which summarizes the performance of my portfolio month by month since December 2012, you may notice the “change of gear” started in September 2015.
In this important growth, the month of March made no exception, with an increase over February of around 4 percentage points.
I mentioned above the positive impact of the transition to a full frame camera in terms of approval rate of my images. In fact I have not yet squeezed the full potential of my new Nikon D750, indeed, I think I’ve had so far only a taste of the incredible performances of this extraordinary camera (especially coupled with the legendary Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G), though in a few weeks I already received approval for many new works created with this camera body. Here are some examples of photos already on sale on Shutterstock, all made with the Nikon D750 in Rome, particularly in the scenic districts of EUR and Aventine Hill.
Also in the month of March I started to experience some shots with homemade sets (not exactly my speciality) and I have tried even my earliest examples of flat lay photography. Below an image that has already sold on Shutterstock:
Going back to the statistics of March 2016, here follows a breakdown of the performances of the main agencies:
|It’s once again Shutterstock to drive global growth: best month ever about downloads (broke the record of February), with growth of +17% compared to last month. The second best performance ever with regard to revenues, with a growth of more than +23% compared to February. In growth, even if to a lesser extent than in previous months, the number of total images online, with an increase of +6%, for a total of over 2,270 files online.|
|Good month for 123RF, with a new record in terms of downloads, and an increase of +4% compared to the previous record made in February. Why then the look “so-so” of the face? Because revenues decreased by approximately -20%, due to a lower incidence of downloads made by credits. Very slow time for the revision of files: despite this, the portfolio continues to grow also this month (+8% vs. February). 123RF once again confirms as my second best agency, although at a great distance by Shutterstock.|
|Back to grow Depositphotos, which increases both downloads (+7% compared to February) and revenues (+21%). Something must have happened with the reviewers in March because I found an unusually long time for the review of the files. Despite this, the portfolio was further increased by over +11% compared to last month.|
Also iStock continues to grow: license sales are up by more than +17% vs February, with revenues up by about +20%. Is it maybe already begun the positive effect of the closure of Veer, which inevitably will have oriented his old customers towards iStock? We’ll see if April will confirm these excellent results.
|Fotolia have its long positive streak stopped in March, which was a very negative month, though it’s compared to the record month of February. Decrease in downloads of around -20% and revenues by more than -25% compared to last month. Slight growth for the portfolio, with an increase of the files online by about +4%.|
|After the great month of February for Pond5 comes a new and unexpected setback. Download declining by about -20% and revenues down by more than 30 percentage points. Back instead to grow the portfolio, thanks to the fact that finally arrived approvals for files that were in the queue since January. +13% the files online with this agency.|
|Dreamstime is basically stable in March, both in terms of downloads and of revenues. Nothing exciting then, but it must be said that in recent weeks I have slowed down a lot the uploading of new works with this agency: the not exactly fast submission process and starts to give me nerves, especially given the not so memorable results of this agency. I need to restart uploading new files, I know, but I will do that only when I will have some free time to waste (will this ever happen?).|
|Setback for CanStock in March, with downloads declining by about -18% and revenues almost halved compared to February. Continues to grow very slowly the portfolio (+3% vs. February).|
|After the record in February, here comes a slight decline for Bigstock in March (although always at very good levels): -10% of downloads and -8% of revenues compared to the previous month. The portfolio keeps growing, with an increase of online files of +7% compared to February.|
Concluding the report for March 2016, here following the charts with the top 5 agencies in terms of downloads and in terms of revenues: we’re back to a “classic” top 5, with all the major agencies more or less at the ranking where they belong.
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