12 Jun 2015 Top 10 things microstock agencies say that make photographers roll their eyes

We’ve heard it all before.

It seems new businesses wanting to enter the stock photo industry don’t do their research very well.  Even established agencies roll out these cliches from time to time when they launch something new.  It’s always very bold claims about how great their “new” idea or business model is.

This list is an attempt to help new businesses – and let’s face it, existing ones too – to get real with their thinking and their marketing.

We recommend this post be required reading for all microstock agency marketing departments.

So here they are.  The top 10 things microstock agencies and new stock photo businesses say that make photographers, and illustrators, and videographers, roll their eyes:

1. We’re created by photographers, for photographers

Yep, you are a photographer and you’re tired of seeing the “money men” make the majority of the money in this industry, so you’re starting an agency that’s going to be kind to photographers.  Work “with” photographers.  Only problem is that almost every other agency was also started by photographers.  Today’s money men are yesterday’s photographers.

2. We’re expanding the market for photography to new buyers

Stock photography itself did this.  Royalty Free licenses did this.  Microstock did this.  Now mobile-shot imagery is doing this too.  If you can expand the market with a new innovation, that’s great, but lowering prices is not innovation.

3. Our model is the future of stock photography

You think the way stock photography works is so 1980.  It’s time to bring the power of technology and modern business processes to the market.  We’ve never heard that before.  Nobody at any stock photo agency is trying to innovate, so you have a clear path.  Go for gold!

4. You’ll make up the lower royalty with higher volume

You have an idea that you think is going to make a lot of money.  The royalty is lower, but this idea is so good and so sure to be successful that you’ll end up making more money in the end.  So don’t worry about the lower royalty right.  Subscriptions set the precedent, and now this argument is rolled out for every new innovation.  Yeah, sure we believe you.

5. When photographers win, we win

We know our fates are tied.  We feel it in our earnings when you have a bad month.  And a good one.  But when you try to convince us that you have our best interests in mind using this phrase, forgive us if our eyes roll.

6. We’re focussing on buyer functionality first, to build your earnings

It makes sense that you need to get buyers before you make it easier for contributors to work with your system.  We understand that.  But there’s a limit.  When your revenue hits a million a year, a bulk submission tool is probably not unrealistic.

7. No royalties, but it’s great exposure

Oh, you want to put my rejected images in your free collection?  You want to put the images that haven’t sold in a few years into the free collection too?  You think the freebie hunters will like my rejects and non-sellers so much that they’ll click that tiny link buried halfway down the page and buy from my portfolio?  Excuse me, and my scepticism.

8. We don’t need a marketing budget, this will go viral

Ah huh. Yes, you’ll compete with the big boys using social media, SEO and content marketing.  Good thing the big boys don’t do any of that.

9. It’s fair

Seriously?  You’re using the F word??  Do you realize what industry you’re in?  80% royalties aren’t “fair”, they’re suicide.  There’s fair, and there’s the laws of supply & demand.  Choose one.

10. Stock is dead, *our* model will replace it

Yeah, you think the best way to get ahead of this industry is to tell all its participants that they’re doing it completely wrong, in the hope of appealing to the masses of discontented photo buyers.  Good luck with that.

Feel free to name n’ shame in the comments!

  • Bob Davies
    Posted at 17:10h, 12 June Reply

    You nailed it! 🙂

    Every new agency who has contacted me for many years has had at least 2 of these in their ‘hello world’ email. Now we just need to figure out what the next one is and add as #11 🙂

  • Andres Rodriguez
    Posted at 13:06h, 16 June Reply

    My favourite post ever!

  • Elnur
    Posted at 02:51h, 24 June Reply

    Very true !! you must have been wriiting all these marketing letters :))))

  • Pavel Orekhov
    Posted at 16:28h, 01 February Reply


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