15 Aug 2007 Want to Become a Microstock Reviewer?

Let me have a look!, Sharon DominickHave you ever considered becoming a microstock reviewer or inspector? Does the idea appeal to you?

It’s a very popular job, and with the microstock market growing rapidly, most microstock agencies are increasing their ranks. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.

What is a Microstock Reviewer?

Reviewers are the ones who decide whether a submitted image is accepted or rejected. They look at the full resolution image and review it in line with the guidelines of the agency. These will include technical photographic elements, legal requirements, as well as the commercial appeal of the image.

At iStockphoto reviewers are known as ‘inspectors’ and LuckyOliver they’re ‘bouncers’.

What’s in it for You?

Being a microstock reviewer has a reputation as being a lot of work with very low pay, which is often accurate. But if you’re serious about photography, reviewing lots of fresh images is a great way to improve your knowledge and ideas. Many microstock agencies also provide training and exposure to experienced photography professionals to aid your development. So while the remuneration may be low, it’s an investment in yourself.

What Can You Expect?

Training, some training, and likely more training. All the top microstock agencies thoroughly train their reviewers, many on an ongoing basis. The training will cover three key areas:

  • Marketable / commercial imagery
  • Legal issues including copyright and releases
  • Technical photographic quality

Payment in most cases is per image, usually a small number of cents per image whether it’s accepted or rejected. For example, Dreamstime pays US$0.05 per inspected image.

Images need to be downloaded at full size for inspection, so you will need a high speed Internet connection. Expect to be downloading a large quantity of data.

There will be a massive variety of image quality. Acceptance rate averages indicate how many great versus not-so-great images you’ll be viewing.

How do you Become a Microstock Reviewer?

iStockphoto – draw their reviewers from their contributors who are paid per image reviewed. Potential reviewers are identified by high and consistent quality in the images they submit. The additional revenue from reviewing along with the training and reviewing experience, is – in iStockphoto’s experience – often enough for the microstocker to go full time.

Dreamstime – 90% of their reviewers are staff. The remaining reviewers are selected from their exclusive contributors. Non-staff reviewers are paid 5 cents per reviewed image.

Fotolia – source their reviewers from within and beyond the Fotolia community of contributors and are paid per photo reviewed.

StockXpert – most of their reviewers came over from stock.xchng and review more than contribute. They’re all remunerated by the quantity of reviews they complete.

Crestock – source their reviewers from the photographic students in the local area and pay them per image. They work together in Crestock’s Norway office, fostering a collaborative and encouraging environment.

Conflict of Interest?

Recruiting reviewers from contributors is risky business. If a reviewer chooses, they can intentionally reject images that compete with their own. I know of one instance where a reviewer was dismissed for doing exactly that.

All of the microstock agencies listed in this post have some sort of quality assurance process. Some have every image double checked by senior reviewers. Others only review their reviewers’ work for a period after they’re first hired. Other rely on the community to let them know when something is out of order.

Sound Appealing?

If, by now, you’re thinking that being a reviewer sounds like a good opprotunity, balance out your perception with this cautionary tale from an experienced reviewer. If you have access to ShutterStock’s forums, read Reviewing, A Day in the Life.

If that doesn’t deter you, StockXpert are currently recruiting for a reviewer.

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