10 Apr 2008 Is Your Portfolio Growing or Shrinking in the Microstock Market?

Market share is a common metric in business, and there’s no reason why you as a microstock contributor can’t measure and monitor your own market share. With a market open to everyone, we each have a lot of competitors. Knowing whether you’re gaining or losing market share will help you understand your earnings figures.

Microstock Market Share

Market share is simply your quantity of the market, so as a microstock contributor I need to compare the quantity of images in my portfolio with the quantity of images at the agency. This will obviously give me a very small figure, but it’s the change in this figure over time that’s more informative than the size of the figure.

Let’s look at Ron Chapple’s iofoto collection, which is the largest portfolio at Dreamstime. iofoto has 14,450 online images at the time of writing, and Dreamstime’s entire database contains 2,738,388. Therefore, iofoto has a little over 0.5% market share at Dreamstime.

I’ve tracked both my own portfolio size and the portfolio size of the entire agency (for the agencies that publish their figures) so I can calculate how my market share has changed over time. Here’s the chart:

Microstock Market Share Chart

This chart tracks my own portfolio size with the dotted lines and the left axis, and my market share with the solid line and the right axis. You can see that during the month of December I uploaded enough to increase my market share. But there’s nothing remarkable about that, until you ask the next logical question:

How Many Images Must I Upload to Grow my Market Share?

The answer depends on your portfolio size and the growth of each agency. You simply need to grow your portfolio by a higher percentage than the agency portfolio grows in order to increase your market share.

Average monthly growth for these agencies in the past 11 months has been 6%, though can get as high as 8%. With my current average portfolio at these sites at 600, I need to add just 36 new photos (6%) this month to maintain my current market share – more if I want to grow. Next month that number will be a little higher and will continue to grow as it’s a percentage increase.

But Microstock Success is All About Quality!

Indeed, uploading high quality images is more lucrative than uploading a high quantity of images. If you continually contribute high quality images with popular keywords it’s actually possible to grow your earnings while still losing market share.

However, when considering what it is you want to achieve as a microstock contributor, don’t forget to look at the most successful microstockers. They all upload hundreds of new images every month, all of which are very high quality. If you want to compete in the same marketplace as these people you’ll need both quality and quantity.

What Does it Tell Me?

Looking at the above chart, the message for me is clear. My lack of earnings growth aligns well with my shrinking market share. To raise my microstock results I need to contribute more photos, preferably of superior quality.

As a metric, market share usually looks at the entire market, but it’s not practical to do that for microstock or the stock photography market. The chart lines of these five agencies are enough. They show a clear pattern about my share of the microstock market.

Calculate Your Own Market Share

If you have been tracking your own portfolio sizes you can use the figures from this table of agency portfolio sizes to do your own calculations. The figures are from ‘around’ the end of the month. I welcome corrections if anyone has more accurate data.

  Shutterstock Fotolia iStockphoto Dreamstime BigStockPhoto
Jun 2007 1997369 1959286 1834275 1417614 1197472
Jul 2007 2167448 2163838 2163838 1534254 1276000
Aug 2007 2294590 2318778 2096000 1647687 1343000
Sep 2007 2426105 2442201 2197786 1763758 1410000
Oct 2007 2576238 2595573 2322900 1925623 1493000
Nov 2007 2726724 2761446 2435467 2052519 1563000
Dec 2007 2855376 2895035 2537589 2149825 1656000
Jan 2008 3008853 3062124 2658409 2323127 1737000
Feb 2008 3170116 3249194 2775551 2498991 1820000
Mar 2008 3355483 3407468 2888318 2671128 1907000

You can also download this table as a CSV file (which you can open in any spreadsheet application).

What’s Your Current Market Share?

My average market share for March across these five agencies is 0.0002%. What’s yours, and what does it tell you?

  • Photonomikon
    Posted at 12:36h, 10 April Reply

    I would say that in order to just maintain your current market share you would have to upload increasingly higher numbers of images each month. If you’re doing this full-time it is definitely doable but for hobbyists there’s no point in losing sleep over it.

  • Matt Antonino
    Posted at 14:25h, 10 April Reply

    I like Dreamstime’s “exposure” value for figuring this – it’s not accurate on true “market share” but it lets you know if you’re keeping up with the Joneses or at least the Chappels. If IOFoto has .5% of the market, 1/200 DL should be theirs as well. If that’s true, either DT doesn’t sell as much as I though or I calculated IOFoto’s March DL wrong. 🙂 I’m guessing they probably get more like 1/500 DL or so. Still a HUGE number and something to aspire to.

    As far as maintaining my market share, it depends – right now that’s easy for me to do. With around 200 images on these sites, my market share is 1/3 of yours and I need just 10 per month to keep up! I’m averaging 15 uploads per day so … I don’t think I can factor this just yet – until my folio is large enough that 15 isn’t such a huge portion. 🙂

    Great post!

  • Mike McDonald
    Posted at 14:54h, 15 April Reply

    I’m not worried about it. My market share will undoubtedly shrink since I cannot upload enough images every single month to keep up. But I figure that much of the market growth is in areas that don’t concern me. For starters, I suspect that vectors represent a smaller percentage of the market than photos, and I only submit vector images. Plus within that segment of the industry, I believe my work is average or above average, and so the number of contributors I compete with shrinks even further.

    Overall my share of the market may be small, but I’m more concerned with my share of the market segments that I compete in, not those that I have nothing to do with.

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