24 Apr 2008 MostPhotos
MostPhotos has been making a little noise in the microstock market lately, so I decided to take a closer look. What I discovered is that they’re not your ordinary microstock agency.
Defining themselves as “the democratic stock agency”, they’re intentionally different. There’s no image review process, photos are rated by other contributors, and they offer a new kind of exclusivity. Read on for more details.
MostPhotos started life as a Swedish stock photo agency in 2005 but recently switched to English and launched globally. There is still a heavy Scandinavian presence around the site’s users and language, and I understand all of their current marketing budget is spent in that part of the world.
|Image Stats||None provided|
|Minimum Image Size||4 megapixels|
|Licenses||Royalty Free, Editorial and Exclusive (buyout)|
|Compensation||50% or 70% for exclusive buyout|
|Pricing||€25 for Royalty Free, set your own price for Exclusive Buyout|
|Payment Methods||PayPal, Moneybookers or bank transfer (€2 fee)|
|Payout Threshold||None, request payout at any balance|
|Referral Program||Pays €1 for each sale by referred buyers and contributors|
|Application Process||No application, just submit|
|Exclusivity||Exclusive Buyout only – see below|
|Upload Methods||HTML upload form, FTP|
No Reviews – submitted photos are automatically accepted and instantly made available for sale. Any images not meeting the legal guidelines can be reported and will be removed by administrators.
Peer Ratings – you can earn points for rating other contributors’ photos. The authority of your ratings rises with your quantity of points. This gives photos a ‘MostPhotos Index’ value, or MPI, designed to replace a review system and empower democratic contributor self-regulation. MPI has a small effect on search order results, but much less that buyer views and sales.
Aside from saving the cost of reviewers, this strategy permits photos into the collection that aren’t what’s typically considered ‘stock’. According to management this is already successful as buyers are starting to seek out more ‘real’ images.
But there are downsides to this strategy. Contributors upset at low ratings occasionally retaliate by returning low ratings to the offending contributor’s entire portfolio. This makes contributors play safe and only give out high ratings. MPI monitors for inconsistencies such as these retaliations and adjusts the authority value of offenders accordingly. You can also block other contributors by name so they can’t rate any more of your photos.
A New Exclusivity – you have the option to sell photos with an exclusive buyout license at a price of your choice. How this differs from exclusive buyouts at other agencies is that the photo cannot be previously sold or listed for sale in any other place. The buyer isn’t buying the copyright, but contributors are agreeing that there are no other license holders for the photo and that it will not be sold again.
Request Comment – you can request other site members review your photos. The more points you’ve earned, the more photos you can put up for critique.
Free Backup – at any time you can download your own images from MostPhotos at full size and without watermarks. This serves as a free backup service in case you lose your original files.
The controversial MPI system is intended to serve as a democratic quality control system, but receives more attention from upset contributors who are the recipients of unjustified negative reviews. It also aids images that are more artistic than commercial, as they appeal more to photographers than photo buyers. Still, if buyers are indeed looking for less perfect stock images, this will strategy will give MostPhotos a competitive advantage.
Other microstockers already contributing to MostPhotos are reporting weak sales which is consistent with the age of the agency, but also consistent with their higher than usual €25 price tag. However, the high 50% commission will help make contributing more attractive to microstockers.
MostPhotos encourages contributors to add as many keywords as they can. Combined with a no-review policy, this will make it difficult for buyers to find what they’re seeking. I cannot understand this strategy, and I’m not sure if it’s a sign of market naivety their part or my misinterpretation on mine.
When considering a new agency I always look to see which top microstockers are contributing – none are active at MostPhotos. Many new agencies incentivize top performers to contribute, but to my knowledge MostPhotos haven’t used this strategy.
There are many things to like about MostPhotos and I’m keen to see how their strategies work out. However, with the closure of one of the more prominent microstock agencies still in fresh memory, I find myself less inclined to invest the time to contribute my entire portfolio. I’m going to upload some images as a test batch and keep watching. If MostPhotos can support their strategies with buyer growth I’ll happily add them to my list.