23 Mar 2009 LookStat – Helping You Sell More Microstock

[Update March 2012: LookStat is now closed down. Much of what they learned and shared is still available on their blog]

LookStat logoMicrostock agencies provide real-time data on the performance of your portfolio. This information enables you to analyze what works so you can improve your contributions and repeat your successes. But collecting and combining the data from multiple agencies is a lot of work. Until now.

LookStat is the first microstock facility to address the opportunity of automatically combining this data. It will instantly pull down your data from each agency that it supports and tell you how you and your images are performing. At the time of writing it supports iStockphoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime. Fotolia is next on the list and coming soon.

In addition to providing a total view of your portfolio performance, the combined data also overcomes algorithmic bias, which is where an image performs spectacularly at one agency relative to other agencies due to metrics in the search algorithm.

While LookStat is still in beta it’s totally free. The proposed fee structure will ensure the service remains free for those earning under a certain amount through the agencies they’re tracking via LookStat (perhaps under $200 per month).

Meet Rahul Pathak

Rahul Pathak - HeadshotI first met LookStat CEO and Founder, Rahul Pathak, in 2008 during PhotoPlus, though we’d previously spoken by phone and email. He struck me as exceptionally well informed about the microstock market and passionate about the opportunities to use technology to ‘reduce friction’ in the marketplace. We’ve been in constant contact about lots of different topics since that time, including when Rahul presented at UGCX in February.

In addition to his ideas and vision for what LookStat can do for microstock contributors, Rahul has a natural ability to inspire confidence and trust. This is important given what he’s doing.

That’s Great, But How Does it Help Me Sell More Microstock?

Analytics tells you how you’re currently performing. The idea is that within the data is information which can help you craft what you do in the future to improve your success. In microstock, the most basic form of this is knowing which of your photos sell most frequently.

Seeing those photos listed by thumbnail, you can quickly see what works. Which subjects are common among your best selling photos. Which models, which location, which message, which shooting styles, which fashions. All these things can be seen and analyzed.

You can do this individually at each microstock agency, or manually compile the data yourself. The benefit of using LookStat is that it does this for you, giving you the whole picture in one place. Soon, measuring these various metrics will be even easier and more accurate with the ability to tag photos however you choose – model, location, subject, style, etc. This will also make determining the return per shoot quick and simple.

Let’s take a look using my portfolio:

LookStat Earnings Chart - Feb 2009

This is a daily earnings chart for February 2009. I manually make the monthly equivalent of this chart for my earnings reports. Manually creating a daily chart would take substantially more time. Instead, LookStat does it for me automatically. I can generate this chart for various time periods, including an all-time chart.

LookStat Top Earners

LookStat Image Details

This list above shows my top selling images for February 2009 from the agencies that LookStat is currently tracking. I can see that my stock market and data centre photos are (still) my best sellers.

You’ll notice the stock market picture appears twice in the list. LookStat automatically matches images, but it’s not yet 100% accurate. However, in the statistics box on the right we can see an accurate match.

The earnings for all three agencies have been matched and presented together. This particular image highlights the algorithmic bias I mentioned earlier, with Shutterstock selling a disproportionate quantity compared to iStockphoto and Dreamstime. (It also sold an Enhanced License at Shutterstock, which explains the high Earnings to Downloads ratio)

There’s so much useful information to be taken from all these charts and lists. Here’s a few examples:

  • What sells (model, location, subject, theme, style, etc)
  • Are earnings increasing or decreasing
  • Which photo types have the longest half-life
  • Return per image, return per shoot
  • Which photo types sell best at each agency
  • Which high-selling photos are missing from other agencies

But what is most exciting is the power of the insights that are possible with this data as the LookStat system moves beyond its infancy. So as I’ve previously encouraged: develop LookStat team, develop!

Security Concerns

To access your data LookStat requires your agency login credentials. This can be a deal-breaker for some, which Rahul concedes, acknowledging that his service isn’t for everyone.

Well aware that LookStat’s survival depends on maintaining a solid reputation for security, Rahul’s not taking any chances. The entire website (except the blog) is encrypted (SSL certificate – the web standard) and the site is security tested daily by McAfee Secure.

I’ve been using LookStat since late 2008 and obviously haven’t experienced any problems. Top microstock contributor Andres Rodriguez has also been using LookStat for that amount of time – with the scale of his earnings, he’s putting more trust in Rahul than me. I asked him to comment on what made him feel comfortable using LookStat. He responded, “The professionalism of Rahul as CEO and the overall company. You can tell it’s trustworthy.”

Try LookStat for Yourself

You can register free at LookStat while it’s still in beta.

Stephen Gibson also has a review of LookStat over at Microstock Insider and there’s an ongoing discussion over at Microstock Group.

You can connect with LookStat via Twitter and the LookStat blog, and with Rahul via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Disclosure: LookStat is currenty a Microstock Diaries advertiser, though anything this relevant to microstock contributors rates a review.

  • Rahul Pathak
    Posted at 13:17h, 23 March Reply

    Hi Lee,

    Thanks a ton for taking the time to review the site and for coining our unofficial motto – “develop LookStat team, develop!” It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, Andres and others in the microstock community and I feel lucky to be part of it.

    We’ve got a lot of work to do to realize our vision of what LookStat can be but Casey (my co-founder) and I are excited about the possibilities and passionate about the opportunity to use technology to make life better for contributors.



  • Chris Nuzzaco
    Posted at 23:34h, 23 March Reply

    I can’t wait for this tool to take complete form. It’s going to take microstock photography to the next level of professionalism.

    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 02:17h, 24 March Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Chris! (and all the great ideas)

  • Sheridan Stancliff
    Posted at 19:28h, 24 March Reply

    I have set something like this up here in our studios, though it is a manually entered system (or import for info I am lucky enough to receive electronically).. though ours is mostly with “traditional” agencies and developed for my own specs and report needs, I am heartened to see something being developed to help photographers track their sales. The information can be a powerful tool when developing plans as to where production dollars are spent and what types of images are providing the biggest ROI.

    Well done. I will be peeking in on this more often and perhaps utilizing it for our own micro imagery records. Any plans to evolve it into something that you can download and incorporate with personal asset management set-ups? (Excel, Filemaker, etc?)

    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 19:51h, 24 March Reply

      Hi Sheridan,

      Thanks for the kind words and I hope you do choose to use the system at some point.

      Philosophically, we are data source neutral, but our focus at the moment is expanding our coverage of micro sites then working on enabling earnings tracking and analysis by shoot, model, category, keyword etc. Integration with personal setups hasn’t been high on the list but it’s definitely something we would consider down the road.

      If you’re open to it, I’d love to hear more about your setup and what metrics you track. The service is evolving constantly and input is always welcome.



      • Sheridan Stancliff
        Posted at 19:56h, 24 March Reply

        Sure, feel free to contact me via twitter or facebook..

        Our presence in micro is still relatively small, but we have a rather extensive collection in “traditional” where the data you have on there is not readily available other then sales reports, hence my reason for creating an in-house asset management and tracking system. It is rough and still evolving, but has already given me a breadth of information I did not have compiled before.

        I think even having your information in an exportable format would help if someone has set up a proprietary system.


        • Rahul Pathak
          Posted at 20:14h, 24 March Reply

          Thanks for being open to connecting. I’ll ping you on twitter and we’ll go from there.

  • Cory
    Posted at 12:15h, 26 March Reply

    Very interesting tool. When using it, I didn’t see options for statistics for a year or 6 months. I would think those would be the most useful because you can see what images are picking up steam.

    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 12:56h, 26 March Reply

      Hi Cory,

      This is something we’ll be adding to the system. Ultimately, we will provide the ability to look at arbitrary time periods. One stop gap in the meantime is to click on a thumbnail and look at its all-time stats. I’m happy to go into this further if you’d like. Please feel free to email me at rahul at lookstat.

      Thanks for trying out the service and for taking the time to post your thoughts.


    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 04:36h, 27 March Reply

      Cory, we just added ‘This Year’ and ‘Last Year’ as options.

  • Willie B. thomas
    Posted at 12:55h, 26 March Reply

    @Rahul, I’ve been using your site for the last week and can say I’m very impressed!

    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 17:25h, 26 March Reply

      Thanks for the kind words and I’m really happy to hear you’re liking the site.

  • abbitt
    Posted at 11:23h, 17 April Reply

    “At the time of writing it supports iStockphoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime. Fotolia is next on the list and coming soon.”

    However, when I create an account I find:

    “Which sites do you support for Analytics?


    Shutterstock is apparently not supported as this review indicates. Data analysis which excludes the vast majority of my sales, is of little use.

  • abbitt
    Posted at 14:20h, 17 April Reply

    Update: Just got a prompt reply from Rahul. Apparently they are fixing some glitch and hopefully ShutterStock will be included again soon.

    • Rahul Pathak
      Posted at 17:15h, 18 April Reply

      Hi there. Just to clarify. We don’t have any plans for SS support. Sorry if there was any confusion on that point.


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