02 Jun 2015 How many Microstock Agencies is Right for You? 5 Key Considerations

Some microstock contributors are exclusive and so only distribute to one agency. That agency will then distribute on to others, but the contributor only has direct contact with a single agency.

There are other contributors who distribute to up to 50 different agencies. The theory being that once the images are created, the bulk of the hard work is done. If there are lots of agencies that make it easy to contribute, why not send them a hard drive or upload to their FTP server. It could mean an extra revenue source for not much extra work.

Most microstock contributors fall somewhere in between with 10 – 20 agencies.

So what things can one consider when choosing which point on the spectrum will work best for them?

1. How organised are you?

If you have all your metadata embedded, a release spreadsheet, a neat file structure (including your releases) and you’re on top of your backups, it’s a lot easier to contribute to more agencies.

If you’re less organised, it’ll be more difficult, making it less worthwhile to increase your distribution.  If that’s you, adding more agencies will add to your stress and only compound your disorganised state.  Best to get organised first.

2. Your portfolio size and production rate

If you only have a small portfolio, or you’re one of those less-is-more contributors, wider distribution is less lucrative as the per-image return is higher against the cost of interacting with another agency.

But if you have a big and/or fast-growing portfolio, it’s much easier to make one more distribution point financially worthwhile.

3. How you distribute your files

Do you use an uploader service or tool; do you have a process; do you have an assistant?  If it’s as easy as configuring another service provider in your FTP application or your service provider, it easier to keep adding more agencies.

But if you have a complex system for managing files and getting them uploaded, submitting to another agency would only mean more complexity in your workflow.

4. Your tolerance for low prices, royalty rates or subscriptions

After you’ve added all the top agencies and you start working your way down the list, you’ll find many are trying to compete with the big players on price. This can make it tough for them to generate revenue for growth, which puts pressure on royalty rates. Subscriptions are also a key place agencies try to play around with the numbers, getting creative in how they calculate royalties.

Competing on price, pressure on royalty rates, and generous (for buyers) subscriptions add up.  If you’re already in microstock, let’s face it, you’re not ‘too’ sensitive to cheap.  But if you draw the line below microstock subscriptions, some of the smaller microstock agencies won’t work for you.

5. The ease of upload factor

Of course a significant factor in considering adding any new agency to your distribution has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with the potential agencies.  Most smaller and newer agencies realise this and make it super easy to upload and submit your content.  If they don’t, well, there’s no shortage of alternatives.

Check out my complete list of microstock agencies if you’re looking to expand your distribution.  Let me know in the comments how many agencies you distribute to and which ones you feel are worthwhile.

  • Eric B
    Posted at 00:29h, 03 June Reply

    You’re absolutely correct about being organized if you want to submit lots of work to multiple agencies. I’ve got actions, scripts folders and processes in place that make it possible. It’s hard work to set it up, but if you want to crank out 50-100 submissions weekly to 10+ agencies, it’s mandatory.

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