15 Jan 2008 Microstock Upload Limits
Who has them?
iStockphoto has them – depending on your canister level (determined by your quantity of sales) and your exclusivity status, you are restricted to between 15 and 180 per week. Here’s the breakdown:
|Level||Sales||Non-exclusive limit||Exclusive limit|
Dreamstime has them – set at 300 per day, but it goes down if your approval rate goes down too. As low as 10% of the upper limit: 30. Occassionally – as at the time of writing – the upper limit is temporarily reduced to 100 which makes the lower limit just 10.
StockXpert has them – limiting all contributors to a flat 50 submissions per day.
Why have them?
Reduce queue size – some of the bigger agencies receive around 40,000 new submissions each week! Limiting the quantity of submissions per contributor helps keep the queue of images pending review at a reasonable level. This in turn ensures quick review times.
Raise the quality of submissions – not only do upload limits encourage contributors to upload their best work first, but the limits can be used to give advantage to contributors with higher quality submissions. iStockphoto set the limits by sales success (and exclusivity) and Dreamstime set limits by approval success. Both these strategies result in raising the overall quality of submissions.
Provide equal opportunity – upload limits stop photographers or other agencies who have massive portfolios from flooding the queue with tens of thousands of submissions. This makes it possible for new and less established photographers to experience early success and grow.
Why not have them?
Upload limits can also have a negative impact on an agency portfolio quality. Many of the top microstockers have much smaller portfolios at agencies with upload limits, and these microstockers produce some of the best photos in the market.
Are they effective?
Yes, they’re effective at controlling the queue size. Agencies put the limits up and down based on the current size of their queue, so they’re obviously an effective tool for that purpose.
It’s likely a safe assumption that upload limits are effective at raising the quality of submissions. iStockphoto and Dreamstime haven’t revised their quality-aware upload limit strategies after having them in place for some time.
Yes, they appear to provide equal opportunity. Whilst the impact may be small if the agency already has a sizable portfolio, a large portfolio suddenly arriving on hard drives will capture a similar quantity of sales as a few thousand contributors uploading for a week. Of course if that happens, a few thousand contributors miss out.
Are they Popular with Contributors?
While microstock contributors often complain about upload limits, they may be unaware of the protection they provide.
Personally, I’m only impacted by the upload limit at iStockphoto, and while frustrating, my low output usually lets me catch up and avoid having a permanent backlog. The upload limits at Dreamstime and StockXpert are well beyond my current production levels. Microstockers who produce more may have different experiences.
What’s your experience?