19 May 2011 Monkey Business Images – Serious Business Microstock
We don’t hear of many examples of people with a background in traditional stock flourishing in microstock. Monkey Business Images is the company that makes up for it. Despite quietly going about their own business, they haven’t been able to avoid becoming well known in the industry for their success. They were cited in the popular Micro Machines article on PDN (subscribers only), had one of the top selling images on Fotolia for 2009, and spoke at the CEPIC New Media Conference last year. But there’s more to the Monkey Business Images story than lots of high selling photos.
Monkey Business is owned by Cathy Yeulet. Her first stock photography business was a premium Royalty Free collection called Banana Stock which she launched with royalties from her Rights Managed stock. As the impact of microstock became more apparent she sold Banana Stock to Jupiterimages in October, 2005. After a two-year non-compete agreement, she assessed the landscape and decided there was money to be made in microstock – not a common conclusion for people with her background.
With 12,000 images already produced, Monkey Business Images signed up their microstock accounts in March 2008.
Monkey Business has a staff of 8 full time employees covering production, post processing and distribution. Cathy manages the business and directs the shoots. Sales and Marketing Director, Mark Butler, is responsible for growing sales through their distribution channels and third-party representations.
Very little is outsourced at Monkey Business. Cathy does the production, styling and art direction herself, keeping costs low. All retouching and post-processing is kept in-house to ensure consistency.
Monkey Business Images started producing stock in 2008 and now has over 22,000 images in their microstock portfolio. As you can see below, the level of quality throughout the portfolio is very high by microstock standards.
Production is a serious business for Cathy and the team. They produce multiple shoots each month with a full production team. They use mostly professional models who are all paid an hourly rate. The teams travels to locations for most shoots, though the top selling Fotolia image was shot in Cathy’s back yard.
Monkey Business will also be launching a premium priced RF collection in May, expanding their production back to the non-microstock stock photo market.
Monkey Business Images is a non-exclusive microstock producer. They have accounts at all serious microstock agencies:
Not content with all those businesses, Monkey Business Images have started producing content for a new premium priced RF collection to fill the void of new content at traditional stock photo agencies. They’re doing this in addition to their usual microstock production. The new collection marks the start of plans to broaden distribution to all levels of the stock photography market.
The really interesting part about the Monkey Business Images distribution is what they’re doing with their images, and the images of other top microstock producers, in the traditional stock photo market. That’s what the StockBrokerXtra product is all about.
StockBrokerXtra Cross-Market Distribution
StockBrokerXtra is a business owned and operated by Monkey Business Images; essentially just a separate brand. The business distributes the portfolios of top microstock contributors to agencies in the traditional stock photo market. The company currently uses 70 distributors who sell the microstock content alongside traditional RF and RM at higher-than-microstock prices. Invited contributors can simply send in their portfolios by hard drive. Monkey Business will then check the images to ensure all required releases are available and prepare the images and metadata to the various requirements of the distributions, which are substantially different to those of microstock agencies. Feedback from those participating so far is very positive and Monkey Business is open to hearing from microstock contributors interested in participating.
Additionally, StockBrokerXtra contributes images from traditional stock photographers into its own microstock accounts, providing an easy microstock entry for those with the skills to produce the content but not the inclination to handle microstock distribution themselves.
How’s it all Going?
While reserved about actual figures, Cathy reports that business is going very well for Monkey Business Images. If you take a look at the publicly available measurements you see a clear picture of meteoric rise through the ranks of microstock contributors:
- Black Diamond rank at iStockphoto with over 290,000 downloads
- Ranked 16th at iStockphoto by iStockcharts.de
- Second-top selling non-exclusive contributor at iStockphoto
- 6.07 sales per image at Dreamstime, which is particularly impressive with over 23,000 files
- Ranked 3rd at Fotolia
- One of the top selling images at Fotolia in 2009 (shown at right)
The StockBrokerXtra distribution business is also traveling a positive line. It’s growing in size and reach, creating a positive growth in revenue for both the business itself and its contributors.
In the microstock market we’re used to hearing about successful microstock contributors who were designers or hobbyist photographers. We’ve all learned a great deal from the professional stock photographers in the traditional market. The rapid rise of Monkey Business Images through the ranks of microstock contributors demonstrates that most of us still have a lot to learn.
The Monkey Business Empire
Monkey Business Images has a very powerful position in the microstock, and wider stock photography markets. Their own contributor accounts are possibly the fastest growing accounts in the market. Additionally, they control one of the largest channels of microstock content into the traditional stock photo market.
Given the company has achieved all this in under three years, it’s going to be fun watching their trajectory over the next three.