25 Nov 2008 Microstock Mash

The growing functionality that enables websites to interact with each other – sharing information and services – is producing some exciting and creative tools. The microstock market is no exception. Here’s a quick summary of some of the tools we’ve seen emerge so far.


PhotoKeywords ScreenshotOne of the earlier websites that took advantage of the wealth of data in a microstock agency was photokeywords.com, now part of Yuri Arcurs’s website. It helps microstock contributors identify keywords for their images based on the existing collection of images. While there are some issues with how this works (keywords are copyright, easy to include non-relevant keywords), it’s a great tool for finding keywords you may have missed and for those less familiar with the English language.

Another website based on the same concept but with more active ongoing development has recently launched at findphotokeywords.com.


Picniche.com screenshotpicNiche also provides real value from microstock agency data, simply telling you how lucrative a keyword or set of keywords can be. By comparing the quantity of photos which have a particular keyword to the quantity of sales for all those images, an index rating indicates how well images for those keyword/s are serviced at the microstock agency.

Since I wrote the above review, picNiche creator Robert Davies has added an extremely useful ‘suggestion’ function which finds similar keyword terms to the one you’ve just searched, but with a higher index rating. It also now provides a list of of the highest rating recent searched keyword combinations.


iStockcharts.de ScreenshotiStockcharts.de is a tool created by the German Internet agency 21TORR founded and managed by top exclusive iStockphoto contributor Alexander Hafemann (mlenny on iStock). This website tracks the iStockphoto contributors whose usernames have been entered into the system – almost 16,000 so far. Alex himself is currently number 28!

The website allows the list to be reordered by various metrics which it gathers and calculates based on data gathered from iStockphoto. The default order is total quantity of downloads, so naturally Lise Gagné appears on the top of the list (her account marked as anonymous) with Yuri Arcurs catching up quickly.

The site also shows portfolio size, downloads per day, downloads per file, and total ratings for each portfolio, and the list can be sorted by any of these metrics. It also provides charts of downloads over the previous 30 days and some general statistics about all monitored accounts at the top.

Didier Kobi’s Tools

Araminta Statistics ScreenshotOn his Studio Araminter website, Didier Kobi has created some interesting tools which compare top microstock contributor statistics as well as their images. The comparison chart on the main page shows the top contributors and their photos, plus those of a few not-so-top contributors who requested our accounts be added. It also retains the data each time Didier does an update, so you can go back in time to see how the landscape of what’s selling has changed over time.

This is a great tool to get a sense of what the top contributors are shooting and which of their photos are selling. While it’s often said that tools like this encourage copying of the top selling photos, there’s little point doing so unless you can do it better.

Didier also has a statistics tools which allow you to compare your own performance against that of another microstock contributor, or compare two other contributors. Find this tool via the “my statistics” link in the top-right corner.


LookStat ScreenshotLookStat is one of the most exciting microstock mash tools to emerge so far. It aims to empower contributors to extract information they can use from the massive data generated by their microstock portfolios. At the moment the website is early beta, but creator Rahul Pathak has some amazing features planned. See the LookStat blog for an informative commentary on their development.

Already, the system collects data from three of the top microstock agencies and presents earnings charts for various timescales and the top-earning (as distinct from top selling) images for the same time periods. I’ll be writing a formal review of this service as it gets more functionality online.

Uploading Utilities

The three microstock uploading utilities (ProStockMaster, StockPhotoExpress and CushyStock) are software programs rather than websites, but they use some of the same technology to interact with microstock agency websites, namely their APIs, RSS/XML and FTP.

Which Ones do You Use?

Are there any I’ve missed?   Which ones do you use?

  • cudazi
    Posted at 10:46h, 25 November Reply

    I’m at #4706 on iStockCharts – I guess it’s a little better than I thought.
    Only 3669 more positions to climb to get to Lee status..

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 14:32h, 25 November Reply

      Ha ha, I tweeted about iStockcharts when it first came out, saying that I was 500 or thereabouts. A week or more ago I slipped out of the top 1000. 🙁 Too much blogging and not enough shooting for me!

      4706 puts you in the top third – not bad.


  • CofkoCof
    Posted at 11:07h, 25 November Reply

    Here’s another one for keywords. Has more sites than photokeywords:

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 14:34h, 25 November Reply

      Thanks Mitja, I mentioned that one in the post but forgot to include the link (I was pre-coffee). Thanks for including it here. 🙂


  • Rahul Pathak
    Posted at 13:37h, 25 November Reply

    Thanks a ton for thinking of LookStat for this post and for introducing me to some of the other cool services in microstock. It’s great to see the innovation in the microstock community and we’re excited to be part of it.

    Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share creator credit with Casey Zednick, the co-founder and technical brains behind LookStat. The system wouldn’t exist without him.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 14:35h, 25 November Reply

      Nice work Casey.

      Rahul, can you do Casey’s housework or something so he has more time to develop?

      • Rahul Pathak
        Posted at 15:59h, 25 November Reply

        Ha! Nice. I keep offering to dive in and start programming, but Casey doesn’t fully trust me with the code base yet. I’m working on him though.

  • Peepo
    Posted at 14:28h, 25 November Reply

    Thanks for these Lee – very interesting and will be extremely useful!

    I really like the look of LookStat.com and twice have been through the registration until the point where I have to enter my stock password which I do not want to give out. I personally would feel too vulnerable as the password is the only thing that prevents anyone from withdrawing my hard earned stock money. For me, it would be the same as giving out my bank username/password.

    istock lets you download stats as CSV – would be great if LookStat could allow you to upload this instead of having to enter username/password info?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 15:03h, 25 November Reply

      Hi Peepo, yeah, I get that. I met Rahul in person and spent some descent time with him, so it’s a lot easier for me. Otherwise I don’t think I’d have registered.

      Also, Andres Rodriguez met Rahul in person too and he’s registered. He has a lot more at risk than me!

      Obviously microstock agencies can’t endorse third-party sites that require your password, so everyone has to decide for themselves. Rahul knows and accepts that it’s not for everyone, so it’s fine if you prefer not to use it.


    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 15:58h, 25 November Reply

      Hi Peepo,

      First, let me say that I completely understand your hesitation and respect your decision. We take trust & security very seriously, but we will not be for everyone.

      Your thought about allowing uploads of csv and providing analysis is a very interesting one. Realistically, it’s not anything we can do in the near to medium term, but it’s a cool idea and may be useful in the future.

      If nothing else, thanks for considering us. If I can answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at at lookstat.com.



      • Peepo
        Posted at 14:49h, 26 November Reply

        Hi Rahul

        Many thanks for the reply. From the few posts here you come across as a decent lad, and also being endorsed by Lee and Andres Rodriguez is a big plus too.

        The csv upload idea came about as I found this: http://wavelength.org.nz/istockroyalties/ It’s specific to istock and you import the csv file that you can download directly from your profile.Im not sure if other stock sites do the same thing, and if not, I can see why it may not make sense to include that on your site.

        I would be interested in using lookstat – it looks great from the screenshots, but for me, giving out my password is not something I want to do.

        Thanks Rahul and I sincerely wish you all the best with lookstat

        • Rahul Pathak
          Posted at 15:06h, 26 November Reply


          My pleasure and ‘decent lad’ is good praise indeed. Thank you. Lee & Andres (among others) have been great early supporters and we’re lucky to have them in our corner. Also, thanks for the istockroyalties tip. I’ll definitely take a look.

          Regarding your position on LookStat, while I’d love it if you decide to try us at some point in the future, your good wishes in the meantime are very much appreciated. Again, if I can answer any questions directly, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


          PS: Even if the service is not for you, if you ever feel like sharing your thoughts on metrics you find useful, I’d love to hear them.

  • Duncan Noakes
    Posted at 15:13h, 25 November Reply

    Very interesting Lee. I really like all the info you come out with. Hope it is all worthwhile to you in the end!

    I use ProStockMaster and I love it. Latest build is very good with suggesting keywords too.

    On another note – iStock sales have dropped dramatically for me this month. My performance on all sites in relation to each other is very similar to what you experiance. But this month???? iStock is down about 60% from last month. Is this the same for you??


  • Bob Davies
    Posted at 20:58h, 25 November Reply

    Heya Lee

    Thanks so much for inclusion in the post, always good to see people are getting use out of the site 🙂

    I’m hoping to add some new features soon (working on finding a server that’ll do what I need) will drop u a mail when I know more 🙂

    Cheers 🙂

  • Gary Cookson
    Posted at 03:17h, 26 November Reply

    Thanks Lee, really enjoyed that article and fascinating to play around with the stats on istockcharts. Cheers.

  • Artem Sapegin
    Posted at 04:18h, 26 November Reply


  • Mikhail Lavrenov
    Posted at 08:50h, 26 November Reply

    at the moment I use DeepMeta for iStock and FTP upload to the other sites. However with optimization of my workflow and gradual increase of the number of photos I produce per month I am starting considering using one universal program like CushyStock…

    For the keywords I use sometimes PhotoKeywords.

  • Perrush
    Posted at 16:52h, 27 November Reply

    interesting observation from istockcharts:

    Ranked by # downloads a day over the last 300 days : only 1 non-exclusive in the top 50 !! (Yuri)


  • dreads
    Posted at 21:43h, 28 November Reply

    Is it any wonder that contributors keep complaining about increased competition, copycat creators and sales losses ? The people that run these tools just give more tools to your competitors to profit of your and others’ work. The argument that all this data is just scraped from sites and is available to anyone doesn’t hold water when it is so easy to access and take advantage of here. Sorry, jmo.

  • Perrush
    Posted at 06:25h, 29 November Reply

    @ dreads :

    yes, you are correct, these sites make it more easy to copy (y)our work and probably they benefit from it too. But …

    In real live their are two ways to stay on the top.

    The first is to become better and thus keep an advantage to your competitors
    The second is to suppress your competitors

    Dictators always choose the second way … …

  • Cory
    Posted at 15:46h, 01 December Reply

    Nice post. I’ll have to check out all of these.

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