13 Jun 2007 Acceptance and Rejection

When you contribute photos to microstock websites they are either accepted or rejected. Photos can be rejected for a variety of technical or commercial reasons. Acceptance is the topic of much debate and ranting in the microstock contributor forums.

So which microstock agencies are tough and which are easy? Let’s take a look at some evidence.

My Acceptance Rates

My Approval Rate Chart

This is our chart of approval rates from our top four earning microstock agencies. The statistics apply to our entire time selling our photos online.

As you can see our rates are not high. I attribute this to our technical ability. A lot of the images we upload have technical problems or aren’t overly commercial. I’d be interested to see the approval rates of professional photographers who really understand the technology and have a commercial eye.

I will also be interested to see how these rates change over time now that I’m collecting the data. Hopefully our technical ability improves and our approaval rates start to rise to more respectable levels.

Other Microstock Agencies

There are only four microstock agencies in this chart. We have submitted a lot more photos to these four agencies than the others, as you can see from our portfolio figures in my last results update. Comparing across the board with such differences would too great an impact on the resulting ratios. I’ll reserve publishing my approval figures for the other websites until our portfolios are more balanced.

However, I will add that our current ratio of approved to rejected images at Crestock is 4 to 21. That’s 16% approved. We started with our top selling photos and are working our way down. Crestock are clearly very stringent in their review process.

Statistics Availability

The top microstock websites provide different statistics on your approval rating. Here’s what they offer:

Microstock Agency Statistics Provided
iStockphoto Approved and rejected images are available in the My Uploads section. All-time totals are provided but no time-specific separation.
ShutterStock Approved and rejected images are available in the Status of Submitted Photos section. All-time totals are provided but no time-specific separation.
Dreamstime Excellent statistics: Numbers provided for each month of the year-to-date and a percentage calculated. Figures are also charted.
Fotolia Total uploads and total approved figures are in constant view in the statistics column.
BigStockPhoto Approved and declined images are available in the Uploads section, though declined images are quickly removed from the database.
CanStockPhoto Approved, rejected and deleted image numbers are displayed on the statistics page.
123rf Stats available by month and for all time.
StockXpert Status of each image is shown but you need to manually count – no statistics are provided.
LuckyOliver Submitted images are available for browsing and each one indicated approval or rejection. However, there are no statistics available.
Crestock Displays the quantity of approved and rejected images in your private portfolio.

So What?

With their very low upload limits, you are naturally encouraged to keep your acceptance rate high at iStockphoto.

Contributor approval rates influence search result order on dreamstime. They also determine your daily upload limit in the range of 25 to 100 and whether you have access to the FTP upload facility.

Your approval rate is taken into account when reviewing your submissions at Fotolia.

If your approval rate drops below 70% you’re limited to 40 photos in the BigStockPhoto approaval queue at any one time. Fall below 50% and it drops to 20 photos.

Agency Motivation

It’s no secret that some microstock agencies need photos more than others. The established players already have substantial quantities in their databases and have reached critical mass. Most new entrants are still trying to get there, so they will have more incentive to approve submissions. On the other hand, no agency wants to be known as having lower quality images. It’s a delicate balance, but agencies find their own balance in different places.

What About You?

Do you know your approval ratios? How do they compare?

  • L. F. File
    Posted at 16:05h, 13 June Reply

    Enjoyed the article. You showed me yours now I’ll show you mine.

    Dreamstime and iStockphoto – under 20 images submitted but acceptance under 20% (with resubs)

    Bigstockphoto – 70% on about 40 images submitted

    LuckyOliver – about 65% on about 160 submitted (with resubs)

    Lets hear from some others!!

    c h e e r s

  • Gimmerton
    Posted at 10:59h, 14 June Reply

    Nice article and very informative, same for all the web. You’re really doing a very well done job 😉

    I think that acceptance ratio depends a lot of on affinities with a particular stock site. I only can show the ratio in iStockphoto and here is aproximately 80% with over 200 photos submitted.



  • Larry L
    Posted at 19:22h, 17 June Reply

    The ones where I’m active:
    Shutterstock: 106 images approved, about 62%
    iStock: 41 approved, 53
    Dreamstime: 13 approved, 31% (they seem to hate me)
    The also-rans:
    Lucky Oliver: 87% approval
    Fotilia: 60% approval
    iMageCatalog: 60% approval (but NO sales)

  • John
    Posted at 15:36h, 25 February Reply

    how about an update on this post?

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