10 Jun Dreamstime

Dreamstime - Microstock AgencyDreamstime are one of the top tier microstock agencies and are working hard to stay at the top. They’re creative and entrepreneurial, developing original technology and business models. Their commission for photographers is 50%, among the highest in the market, and certainly the highest of the top tier microstock agencies.

Dreamstime Background

Dreamstime began life as a royalty free CD store in 2000, but came onto the Alexa radar in 2004 when they became ‘community enabled’. They’ve innovated in line with their close competitors to remain at the top of the market. Despite relatively slower sales, their success in generating high earnings for contributors is largely due to their high commission rate.


Web Address www.dreamstime.com
Google Pagerank 6
Google Backlinks 8,560
Alexa Rank 1,941
Image Stats 1,272,506
Minimum Image Size 3 MegaPixels
Vectors Yes
Footage No
Licenses Royalty Free (including Editorial). Extended Licenses: Increase Max Copies; Web Usage; Print Usage; Sell the Rights.
Compensation 50% – 80% of sale price 20-60% less referral costs (see calculator)
Pricing Dependent on photo sales quantity: $0.74 – $5.92
Payment Methods PayPal, Moneybookers, Payoneer, Check
Payout Threshold $100
Referral Program 10% of purchases contributor sales for 3 years. Important note!
Application Process No application, just upload
Exclusivity 10% extra per exclusive photo, plus $0.20 bonus for approved photos of exclusive artists
Upload Methods HTML Form and FTP
IPTC Data Yes
Delete images? Only up to 70% of the images submitted in the past six months
Currencies US Dollar
Languages English
Headquarters Brentwood, USA (with operational headquarters in Bucharest, Romania)

Cool Features

  • $5 Instant referral bonus – place the Dreamstime banners on your website and let them know. They’ll inspect your website and credit your account with a $5 instant bonus.
  • In-the-News editorial photos – submit photos of current events to be presented within the In-the-News section
  • Keymentors – suggest batches of 10 or more keywords on images other than your own and receive $0.02 for each accepted batch.
  • Keymasters – pay $0.20 and have your image professionally keyworded for you! Or apply to become a keymaster and earn that $0.20.
  • Sell the rights – Dreamstime allows you to set a buyout price for your images, allowing buyers to gain exclusive rights to a photo
  • Upload capacity – Dreamstime’s default upload limit, set at 100 per day at the time of writing, is reduced down to half or a quarter if your approval rate drops. FTP access is also withdrawn at low levels. This protects Dreamstime from deliberate time-wasters and those who need to focus more on their photographer than contributing, allowing other contributors to have their submissions reviewed sooner.


Dreamstime fluctuates around position four in terms of traffic of microstock agencies. They have a high payout per image which makes up for lower sales compared to other microstock agencies. Community is evident on the Dreamstime website and in their forums.


Dreamstime are definately in the top tier of microstock agencies with most microstockers reporting them amonge their top four earners. They’re also viewed as the most contributor-friendly microstock agency, paying high commissions and considering contributors a priority in their decision making. While they may lack the turnover of Shutterstock and the bleeding edge innovation of iStockphoto, they have a solid system and produce great results.

Register at Dreamstime here.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 01:09h, 05 November Reply

    The only two microstock agencies that have worked for me are iStockphoto and Shutterstock. The rest barely make me anything.

  • joe
    Posted at 06:18h, 12 March Reply

    I prefer Shutterstock because they are the most friendly sites. CresStock staffs are rude as well.

  • joe
    Posted at 06:21h, 12 March Reply

    oh forgot to say. thanks for the best reviews and summaries of most of the famous stock photo sites. Very nice details tables and best i’ve ever seen.

  • soca1987
    Posted at 07:05h, 22 January Reply

    I love dreamstime… i get a lot of money from there…i think dreamstime is a fair microstock agencie because they give 50% of sale price, the other less than 50%…

    • Cat
      Posted at 21:23h, 22 January Reply

      How many images you need to have at least in stock in order to start making money? I just started Dreamstime a month ago. I am the contributor to Photospin and I make some money but not too much, as I just started 2 months ago and just building up my portfolio, so far almost 100 images in my portfolio. Dreamstime has more commercial requirements, whereas photospin is more receptive to different off the wall images.

      • Lee Torrens
        Posted at 21:56h, 22 January Reply

        Hi Cat, the quantity of images you need depends on how much you want to make, but both quality and commercial appeal have more influence on how well you do with Dreamstime or any stock photo agency.

        Though it’s also worth noting that as the size of your portfolio grows there are ‘increasing returns’ through greater exposure across the site and higher search result placement. Even so, those who focus more on quality and relevance (commercial appeal) always do better than those who just focus on quantity.

        Good luck!


  • jean
    Posted at 23:09h, 16 December Reply

    High commission rate is not true anymore. Now they pay only 30% commission on majority of sales (level 1 images). Another bad point, they have subscription plan with not limited images size. You get 0.35$ for XXXL photo.
    Marry Christmas

    • Cath
      Posted at 13:56h, 02 July Reply

      Exactly. I had several images maximum resolution there sold for 0.35$ and the sales are extremely slow, poor search placement, since I am not in their exclusive group. Not to mention the increasing inconsistency in their reviews and the time it takes to review pictures. Shutterstock manages to sell several downloads of my photos by the time Dreamstime gets around to review them.
      Some people on DT blog say that once they went exclusive, their sales picked up, the search placement bumped higher, and the amount per image war slightly raised. Anyway – I am thinking of leaving, but that again is not an easy process as I read on a mickrostock blog. Files locked in for 6 months – disabled, but not deleted. Only 30% of the new portfolio (within the last 6 months) can be disabled. Rather complicated and full of obstacles.
      Yuri Arcurus gives a good advice regarding legal implication of joining microstock sites and locking of files and lost in revenues because of such politics.

  • Lance
    Posted at 10:53h, 21 October Reply

    Stay far away from DT. I’ve spent the last 15 days trialing their service and here’s what I found.

    — Their support is unhelpful and only check their email once per day.
    — Their submission process is cumbersome and instructions inconsistent.
    — You have no ability to delete or control uploaded photos. Once uploaded it’s stuck and support will NOT work with you to delete or replace images.
    — Some of their reviewers even insult submitters. I had one guy call a lingerie photo “Porn” and rejected it.
    — They offer a phone number to call for help, but in 5 days no one ever answered it.
    — You can not delete or remove your account, photos, model releases, etc… Their canned answer to everything in the forums is “email support” but support says you must do it from your own profile page, however, there is no button to do most of the things they say.

    It’s surprising to me that they are still in business at all. They are most likely being carried financially by the few long-term contributors. I expect to see them fall into the ditch with most other mismanaged microstocks.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 11:19h, 21 October Reply

      Hi Lance,

      While I don’t believe you can edit or delete pending files, you can certainly delete approved files at Dreamstime. Just to to Management Area > Online Files, and there you’ll see an Edit button for each image which takes you to a page which as a not-so-obvious ‘Disable’ button at the bottom.

      But keep in mind that they have restrictions which limit the quantity of files you can delete that are less than six months old (six months online with Dreamstime).

      Dreamstime don’t have the best reputation for contributor support, it’s true, but once you get used to how they do business they provide a consistent service and are a solid earner for most contributors. I encourage you to persist with them as I’m sure you’ll find them to be more lucrative than most other microstock agencies.

      Either way, good luck, and thanks for sharing your experience.

  • David ELLIOTT
    Posted at 12:43h, 04 April Reply

    I listed a few dozen images with DT in mid 2011 and had a few sales in the early weeks. Between the end of 2011 and early 2012 I listed more photos and now have steadily increasing sales, not totaling about 90 sales from 300 images, most in the last 3 months. In short I am happy with my Dreamstime experience but ….. I went as an exclusive contributor a bit hastily and on reflection I would rather, once the necessary time period has lapsed, revert to a normal contributor, thus allowing me to use other agencies – My only gripe with DT, and this is becoming irritating, is that I have emailed them 3 times and have never had a reply, they have a warning about email filters blocking their replies but given that I receive emails from many other sources, and regularly check junk mail I cannot accept that any reply is being blocked by filters. I am reluctant to write by snail mail but this may be my only option – I would be interested if anyone else has had this problem, and if so how they overcame it ?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 22:14h, 04 April Reply

      Hi David, I’ve emailed you some contact details directly. Dreamstime have to deal with a very large number of inquiries which makes things difficult and sometimes things slip through. Hopefully you’ll have more success with the details I sent.

  • Tia
    Posted at 02:09h, 05 August Reply

    Do you know what the numbers are for illustrators? I’m thinking about submitting vector artwork.

  • John Allen
    Posted at 10:21h, 25 April Reply

    I have been with Dreamstime exclusively for about six months. As of this date, I have 147 images posted on their site. Please bear in mind that I take the photos and do the editing myself. No backup staff. I think they rely a little too much on computers to make accceptance/refusal decisions. Some of their editors are knowledgeable, courteous, and helpful while others are not. This is probably true of any microstock agency. Response to challenges on refused images is not good, a fact I have pointed out to them. They also rely on canned responses for refusing images with some of the reasons applying while others do not. It takes awhile to learn how to work with Dreamstime but once you have figured out how they function they are decent folks to work with. Their WEB site is contributor friendly insofar as I’m concerned. I would strongly recommend Dreamstime to any potential contributor, particularly someone just starting out in microstock. They have made suggestions which were most helpful, particularly when it came to film images digitalized through a scanner. I plan to continue submitting to them.

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