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Pixmac LogoNew microstock agencies launch every month. We contributors get tired of figuring out which ones are worth the risk of uploading and laboriously submitting our content.   They all market to us about how and why they’re going to be successful, but very few ever take off. Even fewer provide a positive return on time spent submitting.

Most of us have concluded that new microstock agencies have little chance of success without having something unique. That might be bags of money or something different in the business model. Cheaper prices and a cleaner website never seem enough.

‘Unique’ is something that Pixmac have achieved even since their launch at the end of 2008. Take a look:

What’s Unique about Pixmac?

The biggest challenge for new microstock agencies is attracting enough contributors to build a portfolio big enough to satisfy buyers while simultaneously attracting enough buyers to make it worthwhile for contributors to submit – the microstock catch-22. Pixmac overcame the microstock catch-22 very early by including photos from the Fotolia and Dreamstime reseller programs. With this method they reached 10 million available images before any other microstock agency.

Currently, the only upload method for Pixmac is through iSyndica. This achieves dual objectives. First it provides a solid and simple upload & submission process for us contributors, avoiding the painful and laborious processes common among microstock agencies. Second, it allows Pixmac to focus on generating sales.

Pixmac allow buyers to license images without registering.   This makes the checkout process very quick for buyers with ad-hoc needs.

Pixmac’s Visual Similarity search tool doesn’t just find images with similar keywords. It actually analyzes different aspects of the image content. Try it out. It’s very good.

Pixmac Details

Web Address www.pixmac.com
Minimum Image Size 3 megapixels
Vectors Yes
Footage No
Licenses Standard Royalty Free (though they don’t call it that) and Extended License
Compensation 30% to 44% dependent on sales volume,
Pricing $3.88 for direct purchase, credits from $0.92 to $1.00, subscriptions at $199.95 (25) or $299.95 (100)
Payment Methods PayPal & Moneybookers
Payout threshold $50 paid automatically
Referral Program Buyer only, and it’s complicated
Application Process None, just start uploading
Exclusivity Offered with higher commission
Upload Methods iSyndica
IPTC Data Supported
Delete images? Yes, immediately and individually
Lockin period removed. there is no longer any lock-in period.
Currencies US Dollars, Euros, Pounds, Polish Zloty, Czech Crowns
Languages English, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Finish, Polish, Dutch, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, Korean, Danish, Hungarian
Headquarters Czech Republic
Launched September 2008

Other Points of Interest

Subscription commissions – Pixmac subscriptions provide buyers with a daily credit allocation rather than daily image download limits. This method is not-dissimilar to other subscription offers in the industry. Contributor royalty on full resolution downloads is potentially as high as 41 cents and as low as 10 cents (it would be 3 cents but there’s a commission ‘floor’ of 10). Fortunately the 10 cent royalty is only for 0.1 megapixel size restricting the usage options.

Limited portfolio available to subscribers – Only photos uploaded directly to Pixmac are available by subscription.   This is not good for buyers who can only access around 1% of the entire Pixmac portfolio. Pixmac will struggle to attract subscribers with this limitation.

Cheap Extended Licenses – Extended licenses for the resold Fotolia and Dreamstime collections are priced at the same price as the original agency. However, Extended Licenses for photos contributed directly to Pixmac are priced at just $30, which is much lower than most other microstock agencies. The Extended License rights include unlimited print runs (standard license is 500,000) and items for resale.

Celebrity Collection – Pixmac also license stock photos of celebrities, but it’s not open for contributions. A quick browse through the Celebrities Collection shows plenty of non-celebrities and even some photos without people. The editorial license also restricts usage to personal use only, prohibiting use on commercial websites or by media companies.

Marketing – Pixmac is spending a LOT of money advertising on big web development blogs and the Alexa reports for pixmac.com show that it’s driving a lot of traffic. These blogs are Pixmac’s second and third highest sources of traffic and overall traffic is growing very rapidly. This advertising strategy is popular among microstock agencies as it’s easy to determine return on investment and keep it cashflow positive.

A Rocky Start

Uniqueness has come at the cost of many mistakes for Pixmac.   Here’s some of their follies:

  • using a one year image lock-in period – the longest in the industry
  • offering to do keywording for free – this just doesn’t work in microstock
  • partner images appeared with the incorrect contributor names, incorrect thumbnails and incorrect prices
  • launched a promotion with a known image thief (they obviously didn’t know at the time)
  • expired contributors’ credits after a year if they hadn’t earned enough to cash out

All those issues have been resolved now and Pixmac are wiser for the experience.

Is it Worthwhile to Contribute?

If you already have your images on Dreamstime and/or Fotolia you may wonder if there’s any benefit contributing directly to Pixmac. Directly submitted images are available through the Pixmac subscription and their own partner program. Right now this won’t provide much of a revenue boost, but it’s growing.

But more importantly, if you take a close look at the prices and commissions you’ll find that you actually earn less for a full size sale on Pixmac if you submit directly.   Only base level (white) contributors at Fotolia earn more from a direct sale. Pixmac is aware of this and hope to be able to improve the numbers soon. For now, they can reflect your existing revenue level if you ask. I recommend you do so.

Posted August 8th, 2010 by


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