Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IStockPhoto Exclusive, or Not?

Should I become an IStockPhoto Exclusive, or not? That is the question, and will always be the question among all stock contributors. I have got the answer today, and it is... "Yes and no, depends".

What is IStockPhoto Exclusive? IStockPhoto Exclusive means that a contributor can only upload his stocks to IStockPhoto and he shall not sell it elsewhere. The advantages and disadvantages of being an IStockPhoto Exclusive are listed below:

  1. Your stocks price will be about 40% higher.
  2. Your royalty percentage is higher as well.
  3. IStockPhoto will rank your stocks higher in its search engine.
  4. The reviewer will review your stocks in a shorter time.
  5. The reviewer will be more lenient in accepting your stocks.
  6. You got a crown icon at your profile, and you will be respected more (at IStockPhoto).
  7. They will help you to fight against infringement.
  1. Very high risk, because IStockPhoto can change to a new plan that does not favor you. They can change this anytime they want.
  2. You cannot sell your stocks elsewhere. This means you may have not maximized your earnings.
Wait. There are 20 other microstock agencies out there. Shouldn't there be no argument at all that my earnings will be maximized if I sell to all of them, instead of IStockPhoto solely? NOT NECESSARY.

Yes, there are 20 other microstock agencies out there, but only 4 of them are making significant earnings. They are ShutterstockDreamstimeFotolia, and GraphicRiver. The rest are almost hopeless at the current state.

Let me get you straight to the fact. One top vector can make you about $5000 a year at a combined sales of all other stock agencies, while a decent vector at IStockPhoto can make you about $20000 a year. There is no secret that a vector can has the biggest revenue at IStockPhoto if it sells.

Below are some examples of IStockPhoto Exclusive's work that has generated a revenue of over $40000 in 1-2 years.

2400 downloads to date since March 2008.
Each download is 20 credits.
Per credit is about $1.30.

6900 downloads to date since June 2009.
Each download is 14 credits.
Per credit is about $1.30.

Now, is there any Independent Contributor (Independent Contributors means you are not exclusive anywhere) has made that much with a single vector? Not very possible.

So, why the hell are we still being Independent Contributors? The reason is simply because many of our best sellers (elsewhere) are not being accepted by IStockPhoto. There are many type of vectors that IStockPhoto don't accept. Here is an example of one of my best seller elsewhere.

stock vector : Kitchen Utensils Set Vector

The above kitchen set utensils is one of my bestseller (elsewhere) because I have combined all of these fine looking tools together and they look worthy by "being together". However, IStockPhoto rejected it because they think knife, cutlery, spatula, and scissor should not be group together, and they should be split into smaller groups. Ohh, ok... so let's split them up since there will be more artworks for me to sell, right? But no, my style of artworks don't work this way. When I split them up, they will look less-worthy and nobody will want to buy it anymore. See the below and you will feel it.

Click on thumbnail to zoom in.
2 sales since May 2010 at IStockPhoto.
10 credits per download.

Fortunately, the big group below is accepted by IStockPhoto, and they didn't say that ruler, protractor, and compass do not belong together. So, I have got a better sales :)

Click on thumbnail to zoom in.
17 sales since May 2010 at IStockPhoto.
15 credits per download.

Imagine, if I were to split the above mathematical instruments into smaller group, how will they look like? And will it look worthy anymore? I guess no, because this aren't great artwork. They only look good by being together. Imagine if the 3 compasses below were to be an artwork of its own, it will look awfully cheap.

Now, let's go back to the original question. To be, or not to be an IStockPhoto Exclusive?

If you are very good at producing super super super vector, then you should be an IStockPhoto Exclusive. If you are an average-skilled illustrator like me, then you should not become an IStockPhoto Exclusive because most of your work will go down to drain. IStockPhoto rejection rate is very high. Below are some of my bestseller (elsewhere) that IStockPhoto will not accept for sure.

stock vector : Barbecue BBQ Silhouette Set Vector
1st rejection reason: Split them up and resubmit, please.
(After you split them up and resubmit)
2nd rejection reason: We don't accept silhouette anymore.
(What a waste of time to have asked me to resubmit)

stock vector : Web Design Element Frame Template
1st Rejection reason: Delete the text and resubmit, please.
(After you delete the text and resubmit)
2nd Rejection reason: We don't think it is suitable for our stock.
(What a waste of time to have asked me to resubmit)

So, why don't I produce artwork that IStockPhoto can accept? Yes, I can, but with my current skills, I am not able to produce super super super vector, and thus there will be no sale on my stock. Moreover, I like to produce easy stuff like abstract, web design elements, silhouette, and etc, and the buyers at other agency are still buying them although they are not top in quality.

That is why whether you should become an IStockPhoto Exclusive or not is highly depend on your skills. If you are super good, IStockPhoto Exclusive is your route to millionaire. If you are not that good, you may want to consider joining the other agencies below:

Until then, good bye for today.


  1. Hi Leremy!
    I just found your website and think it´s awesome! You post here very valuable information for vector artists worldwide who always need more information about microstock websites.
    Thank you very much for sharing!

  2. Hi Leremy! Could you please write a post about what you consider a "super super super vector"? To me, a total newbie in vectors, your vectors look quite good, though simple. Thanks!

  3. Hi Ceridwen,

    Here is a sample of vectors that I think is in the highest of quality.