15 Sep 2007 How Many Microstock Agencies do Contributors Use?

In a Line, Konstantinos KokkinisMicrostock contributors who aren’t exclusive need to decide how many agencies they’ll use to sell their photos. More agencies means more earnings, but also more work. How do you decide?

How Many Microstock Agencies Exist?

The number is always changing as new agencies open and others close. I have 30 in my casual list of all microstock agencies. I don’t know of anybody who contributes to them all and I don’t think it’s a good strategy to invest where there’s little evidence of promise.

How Many do I Use?

I have my images selling on ten agencies, but actively contribute to nine.

How Many do Top Microstock Contributors Use?

Yuri Arcurs contributes to 16 agencies in total, some macrostock. Ron Chapple is working his way up from eight microstock agencies with his branded microstock portfolio, iofoto. Andres Rodriguez contributes to eleven microstock agencies.

The Principle of Increasing Returns

Creating and preparing photos takes much longer than uploading and submitting. Also, creating photos doesn’t take longer if you’re contributing to more agencies. Therefore, submitting to extra agencies incurs only marginally more time.

Let’s say you spend an average of 9 minutes per photo to shoot and prepare and just 1 minute to upload and submit. Uploading the same photo to a second agency will only take 1 extra minute – a 10% increase. Your image is now on two microstock websites providing a 100% increase in exposure. That’s increasing returns: 100% more return for 10% more investment.

This means extra agencies you add don’t need to generate as much as your top earners. The extra earnings just need to cover the marginal increase in costs (10% in my example) to make it worthwhile. All but the weakest agencies will achieve this for most contributors.

Lowering Marginal Costs Further

Your 10% marginal time investment can be lowered further by using upload methods that combine and automate the process. Using an FTP program to upload your images to multiple agencies goes a long way to automating the process. Contributing to one more agency can be as simple as entering their FTP server address and your user credentials.

Using ProStockMaster to manage and record your uploading activity automates the entire upload process. This can bring the marginal cost of contributing to an extra agency down to almost zero, assuming ProStockMaster supports the agency you’re adding.


Putting aside the one-time task of uploading your existing portfolio, low marginal costs make a good argument for contributing to as many agencies as possible. That is, assuming they have a pain-free upload process or are supported by ProStockMaster. The guru contributors mentioned above are obviously taking advantage of increasing returns and using many agencies.

What about you?

I actively contribute to:

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  • Susie
    Posted at 14:05h, 17 September Reply

    I’m new to the industry so for the moment I’m contributing to 15 sites, not with my complete portfolio though. I just want to test where my photos sell and then continue with the best selling sites. And of course, being from Finland I just have to support the scandinavian sites, even though it took me over a month to get my portfolio up on Scanstockphoto.

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