Erik Reis: Microstock Success Story

Traditional stock photographers argue that it’s impossible to make money selling at microstock prices. But microstock photographer Erik Reis is happy with his results.

Reis is a telecommunications technician who discovered microstock in 2005 and submitted a few files. Early results were encouraging enough that in 2006, he began to aggressively produce to give this “new line of business a chance.”

New Line of Business

To date, his images have been downloaded over 35,000 times. He receives an average of about $.50 per download. The best-selling of his 1,338 images on StockXpert has been downloaded 696 times.

Close to 1,000 of his 1,338 images were produced in the last year. On average, the sites he works with accept five or six variations of each situation, but often, he also tries to explore the same concept in several different ways. About half his images were shot in the studio and the rest on location. All his models have been family or friends, compensated with a few pictures, but he has some projects in mind that require paid models. Reis is also looking to move his studio to another location with more space.

About 94 percent of the images he has posted have sold at least once. However, he acknowledges that only about 10 percent are good sellers.

Same Images, Different Sites

As is the case with the majority of the more than 70,000 microstock photographers, he has chosen to put the same images on many different sites. Currently, his two best-selling sites — Shutterstock and StockXpert — produce an equal amount of income and together generate about 60 percent of his total stock income.

There are two interesting notes about this statistic.

First, iStockphoto is not one of his top producing sites. We have been led to believe that if you’re in microstock, you have to be on iStockphoto. But many photographers say that iStock is not their leading revenue producer. In addition, the sites that pay better per download, like StockXpert or iStockphoto, don’t necessarily generate more revenue for the photographer because they may not license rights to as many images.

The other sites where Reis’ images can be found are: Fotolia, Dreamstime, iStockphoto, 123rf, BigStockPhoto, CanstockPhoto, ScanStockPhoto, CreStock, Lucky Oliver, FeaturePics and Album.

But why wasn’t Reis trying to market some of his images at traditional RF prices through companies like “They don’t have an upload system on their Web site,” Reis says, “and its boring to save the files on a CD and send by mail.” He may try selling some exclusive images on the macro market, but believes, “it’s more lucrative selling a lot more at a lower price than a few downloads at higher prices.”

[tags]Jim Pickerell, microstock, stock photography, StockXpert [/tags]

4 Responses to “Erik Reis: Microstock Success Story”

  1. Alamy does have an online upload system now that works quite well...

  2. He raises a very good point though - many traditional agencies are still way behind the technological curve and are failing to do their bit to attract the new photographers that have to MicroStock.

    I believe the macros have their work cutout to save their business models and many will fall, still. I hate what "Micro" has done to the industry (i.e. my income) but I have to accept that the reduced RM and RF prices as well as reduced volume are our future as well as higher standards.

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