The year is coming to an end, and here I am to conclude the earning and major hull of 2012. Overall, it has been a great year with improvement in many sites due to heavy uploading and hard works.
Shutterstock has been amazing all along except for the few months in summer holiday (June, July, and August). Although, there is no extraordinary improvement in it compare to last year, but it is still a satisfying year. Every now and then, you hear people announcing BME (best month ever). There is still room for improvement with demands coming in. Shutterstock introduced SOD (Single and Other Downloads), and there are people who reported netting $120.00 for one single download. This is a major leap for Shutterstock and the whole microstock industry. This proves that there are buyer who are willing to pay a lot of money for stock photos and vectors. Apart from that, Shutterstock has also introduce a new Follow feature that allows buyers to keep track on contributor's new files.
IStockPhoto has been catastrophic for its exclusive contributors in 2012. Ever since the introduction of RC (Redeemed Credits), IStockPhoto has been on a major downturn. Major contributors had been reporting a loss of 50% in recent months. The site is buggy and slow as well. And due to their greediness on hauling contributors earning percentage to as low as 15%, contributors had been driving customers away. They no longer recommend IStockPhoto to their customers. This is the power of words of mouth. Due to the obvious major downturn, IStockPhoto's management is in the panic and is trying to gain back contributor's trust by reaching out to them through the forum and promise to do what they could to restore it back to its former glory. This is difficult though, because there are layers of politics and hierarchy in IStockPhoto management.
IStockPhoto's major downturn is not a good news for every contributors in the whole microstock industry . If the exclusive contributor turns independent, their exclusive photos and vectors file will start to flood into the market, and thus creating a massive competition among contributors. By leaving exclusivity at IStockPhoto, one contributor's earning will undoubtedly drop to hell at IStockPhoto. As a matter of fact, many major vector artist in iStockPhoto are icon designers. Their icons are normally grouped in a set of 12-16 icons. They sell this for about $15.00. However, in site like Shutterstock, many vector artist grouped over 100 icons in a set and earn about $0.50 average per download. By understanding this simple scenario, it would mean hell for iStockPhoto's exclusives if they are to leave exclusivity because the competition out here is crazy and may be too wild for them. So, if you are an independent contributor, please do not be sadistic about IStockPhoto's problem, because it may soon be yours.
Fotolia continues to be OK in earning, but they still rejects all my work. Due to this, I cannot increase my earnings at Fotolia. They don't communicate with contributors even when you try hard to contact them. I just hope they change their reviewers soon as their reviewers have very different opinions with standard reviewers in the industry.
123rf is doing OK too, but not good enough. Many contributors failed to reach the Redeemed-Credit rate of 50% for next year. Good for 123rf, bad for contributors. I hope they will soon learn that contributors is an important asset for the success of a microstock company, and appreciate us a bit more.
CanStockPhoto and DepositPhotos are doing well throughout the year. DepositPhotos has been advertising hard and creating a lot of promotions. DepositPhotos acceptance rate are high too and less stressful. However, I think they need to increase their price, especially for subscription package. As for Dreamstime, they has been doing well near the end of the year. A lot of on-demand sales and they are less strict in accepting my files these days. However, Dreamstime continues to approve vector file in a very slow manner.
Crestock is rubbish. Despite a change in management, they continue to fail in getting customers. Not only sales are rare, all of them are subscription sales that earns me only $0.25/download, the lowest in the industry.
GraphicRiver continues to sell in constant rate throughout the year, but agency like this must step up a bit more in case they wanted to reach the next level. I have not been uploading here for a long time because the acceptance rate is low, inconsistent, and the uploading process is a hassle. I do think Envato pays very little attention to GraphicRiver because Envato has many other sub agencies to take care of. They should start accepting more work and turn it into a real stock site. At the moment, it is more of a community-driven site.
Graphicleftovers - nothing special about this site. Sales are slow, and rarely reach $50.00 a month.
So what is it up for us next year? I just wish Shutterstock will continue to rise steadily and the IPO thing will not interrupt the daily operation. I wish IStockPhoto's management can gain back the trust of its exclusive contributors so that we all can have a win-win situation here. Fotolia should review their reviewing process, and GOD DAMN IT, PLEASE ACCEPT MY WORK ALREADY. CanStockPhoto, DepositPhotos, Dreamstime, and 123rf, please be a little more aggressive in 2013.