This is a MUST JOIN stock agency for everyone who wanted to become a successful stock contributor. You can make about $0.25 to $2.85 for every stock you sell. Though, $0.25 is just too little, but you will be amazed by the number of volume you can sell at Shutterstock.
Another interesting fact about Shutterstock is that almost everything you managed to upload to Shutterstock sells. You hardly get 0 sales on your stock. Poor stock sells at least once or twice in a month, and a good one will sell everyday for the rest of the year.
Uploading and getting approved at Shutterstock are rather easy. I personally get about 99% approval rate from Shutterstock. There are almost no specific rules and they are very lenient on vectors (but not photos).
Due to the high acceptance rate and volume of downloads, Shutterstock is by far my biggest gainers compare to the rest.
IStockPhoto is the most successful stock agency in the world today and it is the pioneer of microstock industry. Those who have joined them in the early 2005 have already made hundreds of thousands already. The figures I claimed is a reality.
In the early years of 2005, there were very little contributors and there were no significant stock agencies to compete with. Buyers were not picky about the things they wanted to buy because there were not much to compare. Some poor artworks sold for thousands of times and each download earned the contributors a few dollars. These stocks I have seen, will only took a vector artist 3 hours to produce. That basically means, 3 hours of work was worth $5000 in a lifetime.
However, things have changed today. IStockPhoto no longer accept "normal vector and photos" because they have got tons already and they want to have better quality stock. You can no longer send them simple silhouette, buttons, and shapes. That kills off all the newbies. Apart from this move, contributors are forced to produce very high quality item, which sometimes are too "high quality" to become a stock photo. That means, an artwork might now take an artist 5 days to produce but with less than 10 sales in its lifetime because the stocks are too special for general usage.
Although the acceptance rate is very low and the submission procedure is tedious, it is a MUST for every stock contributors to try and join IStockPhoto because it is definitely worthy once your stock is accepted. You can make about $2 to $5 per download. Some good stocks will have downloads everyday and the selling rate is very constant.
Fotolia is my 3rd biggest gainers among all the microstock agencies. I love Fotolia a lot because the uploading process is among the easiest and the review time is no doubt the fastest. My acceptance rate is also very high at Fotolia.
One thing about Fotolia is that if your image don't sell at Fotolia, it will hardly sell anymore. On the other hand, if it is already selling, it will keep selling every now and then, and you will love how much money you can constantly make from it. For instant, you can make an average of $1 per download.
The biggest upset about Fotolia is the watermark protection. Take a look at one of my web icons. I am practically giving away the raster version for free because the watermark is too small to cover the icons. Perhaps vectors are still ok because designers would normally need the EPS format to make the most out of it, but photos will always be at a risk.
All and all, Fotolia is another MUST JOIN stock agency in the planet because this will definitely maximize your profit.
I have done a lot of research on the Internet, and I found out that there are two very different opinions regarding Dreamstime. New birds will definitely find Dreamstime sales bad. Old timers will say that Dreamstime is their top gainer. Now, why is that?
In my humble opinion, Dreamstime site features are somehow not able to capitalize on new stocks. If you look at Shutterstock, fresh stocks will have a lot of sales, but not Dreamstime. It takes a while for Dreamstime to make sales, and even so, the sales are not as constant as Fotolia. I think this phenomena happens because Dreamstime does not have loyal buyers. Loyal, or regular buyers will look for new and fresh stocks because they have already bought the old ones. In the meantime, new buyers will definitely look into "Most Downloaded" first. So, who owns these "Most Downloaded" files? The old timers.
The uploading process of vectors into Dreamstime is a nightmare. And not only that, the reviewing process is so awkward and slow that nobody will ever understand why the company does not do it the simple way? Below is an example of comparison.
Fotolia - Uploading (2 minute) - Getting approve (1 hour later)
IStockPhoto - Uploading (5 minute) - Getting approve (1 week later)
Shutterstock - Uploading (2 minute) - Getting approve (3 days later)
Dreamstime - Uploading (3 hours) - Getting approve (2 weeks later)
I do not have high hopes on Dreamstime, but again, as someone who wanted to maximize my profit, I joined Dreamstime and hope that one day later, I will be branded as old timers.
One word, GraphicRiver generates sale. You can upload vectors and Photoshop files to them, but be aware that the accepting rate is even lower than IStockPhoto. Many contributors here are exclusive contributors and they are mostly Photoshop guys. GraphicRiver has managed to build up its own community and they are like a big family. Everyone seems to know everyone here.
In average, you can make about $0.50 per download for a decent vector. With some regular buyers, low number of files (but high quality) there, I am able to generate good money every month. If you are a vector or Photoshop artist, this is another place for you.
The one thing I am not so please with GraphicRiver is that it is not corporate enough and it is more like a community. Wow, isn't that a good news? Yes, it is good that the management listens to us. But, I kind of felt that the directions of GraphicRiver is influenced too much by the community. When that happens, it is hard for an agency to expand because of all these opinions and distractions. One forum post with 50 replies can influence the whole direction of the agency. If you look at the Big 4 (IStockPhoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Fotolia), the higher management rarely join into the forum and once they made a decision, they hardly change.
If you were to ask me, I think GraphicRiver does not want to become like the Big 4 - massive stock agencies. GraphicsRiver wants to become a community with elite artists. I said that because GraphicRiver only accepts high quality files and they believe that 18000 files is a lot. For your information, Shutterstock have 2 millions vectors and you can basically search for anything at all. Although, I personally don't agree with GraphicRiver on this, but they may be right because if they were to compete in the same direction as the Big 4, they may lose out this wonderful community.