07 Jul 2007 Acceptance Rate Averages at Microstock Websites

What portion of the images that you submit to microstock websites are accepted? Are you a quality or quantity contributor?

I asked around and collected official acceptance rates from most of the top microstock agencies. Here’s the results.

Average Acceptance Rates

Acceptance Rates of the top Microstock Websites

Data Sources

Agency Contact Position Source
ShutterStock Jon Oringer Founder and CEO interview
Dreamstime Ellen Boughn Director of Content and Business Strategy email
StockXpert Steve Kapsinow Community Evangelist email
iStockphoto Yvonne Beyer Marketing Specialist email
BigStockPhoto Suzanne Hopkins PR Director email
LuckyOliver Bryan Zmijewski Chief Instigator email

Complications with the Data

Dreamstime penalzse contributors with low acceptance rates, reducing the number if images they can submit. This artificially raises their average acceptance rate.

iStockphoto also restrict upload quotas based on the status of the contributor. The status is determined by the number of sales the contributor has generated (their level) and their exclusivity status. This affects their average acceptance rates in a similar way.

So What Does it All Mean?

What are your acceptance rates? I published some of my acceptance rates previously. You can see that I am above average at ShutterStock and Dreamstime but below average at iStockphoto.

Not only does Dreamstime adjust your upload limit, but your acceptance rate also affects where your images appear in their search results.

Also, be aware that some agencies focus more on content than quality. So in addition to the technical quality of the image, they will look at the popularity of the subject and the commercial appeal of the image.

How do your approval rates compare? Are you a quality or quantity contributor?

Update: This post originally reported iStockphoto as having an acceptance rate of 71%. Yvonne Beyer later contacted me to correct the figure she’d provided and added that it “has never been any higher that 60% since iStock began”.

  • fr4ncesca
    Posted at 12:08h, 07 July Reply

    Well-done! This post is very interesting. But what about Fotolia?

  • Lee Torrens
    Posted at 12:12h, 07 July Reply

    Hi Fr4ncesca,

    Yes, I would have been happy with the Fotolia stats in there, but they didn’t get back to me yet. If they do so in the future I’ll update the post.

  • David Franklin
    Posted at 23:48h, 07 July Reply

    Very nice work Lee. Well done.

    David Franklin (Brisbane)

  • L. F. File
    Posted at 13:01h, 08 July Reply

    Lee, Great article. Pretty much mirrors my experience but I find Lucky Oliver more restrictive than Big Stock. I am at about 70% for Bigstock but around 65% with Lucky Oliver.

    c h e e r s

  • Chibberson McGrib
    Posted at 19:38h, 10 July Reply

    Do quantity submissions even work? If most of the work is subpar, you won’t make that many sales even if you have lots of stuff on a site.

  • Amos
    Posted at 19:36h, 15 July Reply

    Thank you for this article, i really like how you check all the stock photo agencies with a critical feeling.

  • Cass
    Posted at 20:39h, 18 January Reply

    Very interesting article. I’ve only got 23 images currently through the queue, but my acceptance rate with iStock is 68.57%.

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    Posted at 16:48h, 03 June Reply

    […] In der Regel ist das der schwierigste Schritt, auch weil unser Selektionsprozess einer der strengsten auf dem Markt ist- wir akzeptieren weniger als 40 Prozent von allen gelieferten […]

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