Why I Removed my Dreamstime Referral Links

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Photo by Peter Atkins. Referral link by Fotolia[Dreamstime have responded to this issue. See the update at the bottom of the post]

With the update to image level parameters earlier this year, Dreamstime started calculating royalties based on the value of the transaction ‘after’ referral costs. This means all Dreamstime contributors earn less for sales to buyers who were referred, and even less if they themselves were referred.

I programmed this policy into the royalty calculator I published yesterday so you can see just how much this impacts your royalties.

No other microstock agency pretends that their referral program is a cost to be shared with contributors.   It’s a marketing cost, and like all other marketing costs, it’s an expense of the agency, not the contributor.

As a direct result of this policy, I have removed all the referral codes in the links to Dreamstime from my blog.   If you spot any I’ve missed, leave a comment on this post with directions to the link.

By doing this, and publicly sharing that I’m doing so, I hope to achieve 4 things:

Avoid Making Microstockers Earn Less

The entire point of Microstock Diaries is that it helps microstock contributors earn more.   If I don’t achieve that, I have no audience, which means no revenue and no reason to be.

Dreamstime’s new policy means anyone who has clicked on my Dreamstime referral link before registering as a contributor in the past three years is now earning less than they would had they not clicked my referral link. I can’t do anything about them, but I can avoid doing it to more people.

Ensure Confidence in Me and the Links from My Website

If my readers know they might penalize themselves by clicking my referral links, they will obviously avoid doing so.   And that would be pretty drastic for me.

So by removing the referral code from my Dreamstime links I can declare that there’s no disadvantage to using any links across Microstock Diaries.   Sharing that I’m doing so also lets my readers know I value their readership and confidence.

To be clear, this is no big personal sacrifice. My Dreamstime referral earnings will not instantly disappear by removing my referral links.   They just won’t grow.   They’ve actually been in constant decline for the past two years anyway, and now represent less than 10% of my top referral income generator.

Discourage Other Microstock Agencies from Doing the Same

Microstock agencies all keep a pretty close eye on each other.   If others see no downside to Dreamstime’s policy, they may implement the same policy themselves.

So by publicly calling out Dreamstime on this policy and demonstrating that it causes both negative publicity and a reduction in inbound links, I can help give other microstock agencies a counterpoint to consider.

Encourage Others to Stop Using Dreamstime’s Referral Program

The day Dreamstime introduced this policy the amount of money they pay out in royalties probably dropped by a good 5%.   That’s going to look very appealing to other agencies considering the same policy.   The only way we can discourage them is to demonstrate a big downside to the policy.   To do that requires more than just one blogger removing referral codes.

So I encourage you to consider removing any affiliate codes from your links to Dreamstime, and let people know about it. Ask the bloggers and forum owners you know to do the same – they probably don’t want to disadvantage their readers any more than I want to disadvantage mine.

If you’re using the Dreamstime Facebook app, consider that while you might earn referral income when your friends click through your links, your royalty will be lower. You could instead use the Facebook app of Shutterstock, Fotolia or Depositphotos, all of whom pay referral fees out of their marketing budget, not your royalties.

[Update 2012-07-15: Dreamstime have responded in the comments below stating that only ‘buyer’ referral costs reduce royalties, in contrast to the policy on their website.]

[Update 2012-07-16: Dreamstime have announced that as of today they will cover 100% of their referral program costs, reversing this policy. The announcement is here, but the policy is yet to be updated. When it is I will restore my Dreamstime referral links.]

[Update 2012-07-19: The policy has been updated and I have restored my referral links]

Posted July 13th, 2012 by


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