On this page, you can find an updated list of the best Microstock and Macrostock agencies where you can sell your pictures and stock footage.
Best Microstock and Macrostock websites
Adobestock has managed to carve out an important place for itself in the world of microstock, both thanks to their commission model and to asinine decisions by other agencies (the latest of which is Shutterstock). After buying Fotolia, it has continued to grow and is set to become increasingly important.
The real problem is that at the moment it does not accept photos uploaded with an editorial license, thus limiting the possibilities of sales. If this should change, I imagine that in a short time Adobestock will become the first agency in terms of the number of sales.
It’s probably the most famous Macrostock agency. A characteristic of Alamy is that the curators don’t check every single picture but only a small sample. This means that the number of photos uploaded is very high and the competition is very strong. It can also take a long time between the first upload and the first sale. You’ll have to be patient but you will eventually make some good money with Alamy.
Alamy used to pay 50% commission to photographers until 2018. Unfortunately starting in 2019 they reduced it to 40%. On top of that, I also noticed a drop in the number of sales.
EyeEm it’s the antitheses of iStock: it’s a new agency that has become quite popular thanks to its way of doing marketing and thanks to the fact that the pictures can be sold on EyeEm and on Getty Images. This fact alone seems to have attracted a lot of new contributors.
Unfortunately, just like many other agencies that started off quite well, also EyeEm has recently dropped a lot in terms of the average sale price, mainly actually due to the partner sales (which can be deactivated if you want to) via Getty.
Before the creation of newer agencies such as Shutterstock, iStockphoto didn’t really have any alternative and was a real goldmine for photographers who joined quite early: the average quality of the pictures was very high (thus attracting the best clients), the prices were high as well and on top of that if you were an exclusive contributor, you would also sell on Getty Images (back when it was a decent agency) Since then many things have changed and today iStock is an agency in decline.
Now iStock it’s just a shadow of the agency it used to be.
Getty Images is the giant in the world of stock photography. The success of this agency is very much linked to the business model: they basically bought out most of the competitors and made several agreements to host collections from other sites on their website. Average sale prices have unfortunately been quite low but despite this, Getty still seems to be the secret dream of many photographers.
Currently, you can’t upload directly as Getty is not accepting new photographers. I managed to get approved several years ago through Flickr. If you really want to try to become a Getty Images contributor here I explained how to do it, but do keep in mind that the commissions are really low: about 20%.
The sales per agency are quite low, but when you add them up they count for about 1/5 of the total revenue. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth continuing to work with these agencies, the answer is it depends: some months you’ll sell a lot some months you won’t. But my recommendation is to diversify as much as possible if it doesn’t involve wasting too much time.
However if within a reasonable amount of time, I see that an agency doesn’t make me earn much, as is the case with Depositphotos and 123R, I stop uploading my content there.
Sell photos and videos as NFT and AI-generated images
I wrote a detailed article explaining how NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) work and if you can monetize your photos and videos through this tool. I recommend you read it because it’s a relatively new technology that may have a lot of potential.
It’s a rather complicated topic but in my opinion, it cannot be ignored. I’ve also written a review of Sloika, a new marketplace where you can actually start selling your images as NFT.
If you want to know more about AI-generated images check out this article.
What about Shutterstock?
Shutterstock has unfortunately gone from being the best to be the worst agency in just 6 days. Since June 1st, 2020 it changed its commission model and cut the earnings of the contributors by as much as 70%. I strongly advise against starting to upload your best photos to Shutterstock. An alternative would be uploading your best content on Alamy or Adobestock and then dumping the other pictures on Shutterstock.
Best websites to sell Stockfootage
I recently signed up with a new agency called Motion Array. The commission model is honestly very complicated, and long story short, the sales prices per file are some of the lowest I’ve ever seen. However, they do have one notable advantage: the sales volumes are quite high and for this reason, in recents months has become my best performing agency for stock footage content.
The main problem Motion Array suffers from at the moment is the file upload method, which is extremely slow and obsolete and also the review time, again super slow. Let’s hope they fix it.
Many microstock websites allow you to sell stock footage but Pond5 it’s one of the best option. Don’t expect to sell any image with them, but for some reason, they do pretty well when it comes to selling videos. I honestly don’t have many videos since I’m more into photography, but I did sell a few. Pond5 lets you choose the sale price and keeps only 50% of the revenue.
Best tools to edit your pictures and videos
I often use GDN and ND filters, but sometimes, they are not enough because the dynamic range of the scene it’s too high or because the horizon it’s not straight. In this case, a double exposure can be useful. Raya Pro is in my opinion, one of the best Photoshop Panel for blending two or more exposures.
You can read my review of Raya Pro here.
Besides Raya Pro, I use another Photoshop plugin: TM Panel developed by the Italian photographer Gaspare Silverii. The difference between Raya Pro and this Panel is that the TM Panel allows you to select a part of the picture based on its luminosity AND tonality.
Here you can read my complete review of the TM Panel.
Finally, if you are into Time-lapse photography I’m pretty sure that you know and use LRTimelapse. The reason is simple: it’s the best software to create time-lapses especially if you want a smooth day-to-night transition. Without this software, the time-lapse will suffer from an ugly effect called flickering. Time-lapses are a good option if you want to increase your sales on stock-footage websites. Here you can read my review of this great software.
Since 2014 I’ve been using Santech’s laptops, an Italian company specialed in custom-assembled laptops. Being a digital nomad I can’t afford the “luxury” of working with a desktop workstation with a 32-inch Eizo monitor but with Santech laptops I have never had the feeling of sacrificing performance. The prices are very affordable and there is the possibility to add or remove hardware according to your needs.
BEST ONLINE COURSES TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS
If you really want to progress and improve your photography skills the best suggestion is to spend some money on good video series.
The advantage of online courses, compared to workshops, is that they allow you to learn new things while sitting in your home and, if you don’t understand something, you can always watch the video over and over again. There is an infinite number of more or less valid courses and before buying any, I suggest you check the reviews on the Internet. This is because very often you will not learn anything new: the courses are often a gold mine for those making them. That being said, here’s a list of what I think are very good courses that will teach you something new.
Advanced Cityscape and Landscape Photography by Elia Locardi and Fstoppers
Elia Locardi is one of the most famous and successful photographers of the past few years. He has managed to establish a real personal brand and the number of collaborations with international brands is countless. One of the most challenging projects led him to collaborate with the guys at Fstoppers and in recent years they have created a series of video series on photography that has set a new standard in terms of quality. I’ll be honest: Elia courses are the best you can find on the market at the moment but are also among the most expensive. At the moment there are 4 courses of increasing difficulty and you’ll learn to master Photoshop and Lightroom. If you want some more information I reviewed 3 of the 4 courses of Elia and you can find them here: review to Landscape Photography 1 and here the review to the most advanced courses.
Finally, I want to mention one of the best websites out there focused on the world of stock photography and videos: Brutallyhonestmicrostock, managed by Alex, a veteran in the world of microstock. He regularly talks about new agencies and possible strategies to increase sales. A very good feature of his blog is that he publishes his revenue every month divided by agency. This will give you a clear idea of what to expect if you decide to contribute to a specific agency he’s also a contributor of. Definitely recommended.
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