If you are starting or considering to sell Stock Photos or Stock Footage online to make some creative, passive income you are probably asking yourself things like:

  • What stock agencies profit the most?
  • Should I upload to multiple stock websites?
  • What websites should I start with?
  • Is there a difference between Stock Photography and Stock Footage?

Well, CreativeInco.me is here for you!

The content of this article was recorded into the video above.

New Stock Agencies are being launched all the time, and though it is a good idea to diversify your income sources, it can be very frustrating wasting time uploading to agencies that will never get you a sale. That’s why it so important focus on the right stock agencies

With this article, my goal is to expose:

The stock agencies where I profit the most

I hate taking conclusions too early and assuming things are the same for everybody. After all, there’s a big difference in selling stock footage and selling stock photography. And that connects to what agencies will be the most profitable.

My Stock Footage Earnings:

On the Footage (video) side of things, I usually see that the best websites are Shutterstock, AdobeStock, and Pond5.

The image below was captured from my video and shows how Shutterstock is by far the most profitable one. I took the years of 2017 and 2018 to make that calculus.

Screenshot captured from my video: Stock Agencies that PROFIT the most

Adobe Stock is not that strong for me because it doesn’t allow editorial content – the biggest part of my content.

iStock/Getty could be something, if only their commission rate wasn’t so messed up – 15% for non-exclusive contributors. Plus footage sales for less than $1. Enough to make me give up on them.

There’s an article where I showcase my best selling files and how much they made in each agency, you can check that if you want to learn a little more with my own earnings.

Stock Photo Earnings

As mentioned before, things are very different between stock footage and stock photography. So we will take stock photographer Alex Rotenberg’s earnings into consideration. (Alex is the author of the Brutally Honest Microstock Blog and you should definitely check it out)

In this article, Alex broke down his earnings of April 2019. By that time he had a portfolio of 10,500 images on a total of 19 agencies which made him $896 that month (considering images only).

This is the breakdown of his April earnings (I took footage out of the calculus:

  • Shutterstock: 40%
  • iStock/Getty: 20%
  • Robert Harding: 18%
  • Adobe Stock: 10%
  • Alamy: 4%
  • Rex Features: 2.4%
  • 123RF: 1.5%
  • Dreamstime: 1.3%
  • BigStock: 1.3%
  • Pond5, Canva, Colourbox, DepositPhotos, Sign Elements: ~1.5%
  • Arcangel, Creative Market, Picfair, Storyblocks, Wemark: ZERO sales

It’s important to say that some are not really microstock agencies and will work in a different way (sometimes exclusive, sometimes Royalty Managed. I suggest you read his articles if you want to learn more about it.

Alamy is also a good agency to sell photography. Sales are not as frequent as they are in Shutterstock, but they’re known for getting the highest pricing sales. Many contributors have experienced sales above $100 there.

Google Trends

If you are already a student of our online course or subscriber of the YouTube channel you noticed how I’m a big fan of Google Trends.

This powerful tool allows us to compare how specific search terms are made along a given period of time. So I obviously compared how the most known agencies are being searched.

That is clearly not directly connected to how much you will sell on these agencies, but is still interesting data.

Comparing searches for “Shutterstock”, “Getty Images”, “iStock”, and “Adobe Stock” on May 2nd 2019.

This proves how Shutterstock is still the biggest player of the market having 57 points compared to Adobe’s 20, Getty’s 19 and iStock’s 14. All other agencies didn’t get anything close to these 4:

  • Shutterstock: 57 points
  • Adobe Stock: 20 points
  • Getty: 19 points
  • iStock: 14 points
  • 123RF: 5 points
  • Alamy: 4 points
  • Creative Market: 4 points
  • Dreamstime: 2 points
  • Storyblocks: 1 point
  • Pond5: 1 point
  • Deposit: 1 point
  • Video Hive: 1 point
  • Robert Harding: >1

What is the future for stock agencies?

And it gets more interesting once you analyze how the graph is evolving since 2004.

Notice how GettyImages used to be the biggest agency reaching a peak in June 2006 – pretty close to when they have acquired iStock.

But then Shutterstock arrived and from then on it is clear that things haven’t been so good. Both Getty and iStock went down in searches and that is also reflected in contributors that More than a decade ago. Shutterstock is the top payer for almost every stock creator.

There’s no way to prove it, but I’m pretty sure that contributors had a strong part on the iStock decadence. The iStock/Getty group became the most hated among contributors because of their lack of transparency, bad commission rates (15% for non-exclusive), and low respect for the contributor. So you can see how both companies started to go down in Google Searches.

In the meanwhile, Shutterstock was growing constantly from 2006 to 2014, when the searches stabilized. And that’s probably because a new player joined the game –Adobe Stock.

Their growth since 2015 hasn’t stopped yet and that makes Adobe a very important agency for both Photo & Video. I really believe they’ll soon get closer to Shutterstock’s leadership.

Alexa Ranking

That gets clear when we use Alexa Ranking, another tool that can be used to analyze the most visited websites on the internet.

Here are their positions in the Global ranking:

  • Adobe.com: 64*
  • Shutterstock.com: 186
  • DepositPhotos.com: 940
  • 123RF.com: 998
  • iStock.com (or iStockphoto.com): 1.093
  • GettyImages.com: 1.790
  • Dreamstime.com: 1.562
  • VideoHive.net: 1.829
  • Alamy.com: 2.857
  • VideoBlocks.com: 3,984 (StoryBlocks.com is at 15,353)
  • Pond5.com: 6,151

It puts Adobe.com on the top because they use the “adobe.com” domain which is used for way more things than just Adobe Stock. That’s why they appear in the top 100 most visited websites. So you can’t really conclude that Adobe Stock gets more visitors than Shutterstock.

In this ranking, Adobe Stock and Shutterstock are clearly the best marketplaces. And they’re both good for Footage & Photography. Right now iStock and Getty get fewer visitors than DepositPhotos and 123RF, which I would say are better for selling photos over videos.

My personal advice

For photographers,

I would advise starting with Shutterstock and AdobeStock.

They have the best platforms, good reviewal times and will get you the biggest number of sales.

Shutterstock has a mobile app that lets you edit metadata and submit files from it. You can even upload pictures you took from the phone.

Then as soon as you get the taste of it, grow your portfolio to other agencies. Alamy would be the first one because of the high price sales I told you a little ago. Then I’d go to more agencies like DepositPhotos, 123RF, Dreamstime, and Pond5.

To then try all the other new or small agencies.

The best way to upload photo files to multiple agencies is by using Multi-uploaders like StockSubmitter or Xpiks. It’s not that hard to learn how to use and I do cover them in my online course.

For filmmakers,

I suggest this order: Shutterstock, AdobeStock, Pond5, and Storyblocks.

In general, that’s what I believe are the most profitable and also the easiest to deal with.

Video demands a whole different workflow and uploading through FTP. Not as hard as it sounds and I also cover the process in my online course.

I also got my eyes on other agencies like Vimeo Stock, Dissolve, and Film Supply, for high-end content. ArtGrid and Envato are also coming with quite interesting business models and might grow in the next years.

Just as in photography, I suggest you use a multi-uploader if you want to submit to multiple agencies. StockSubmitter works well too.

But for footage, we have BlackBox, a platform that submits your footage to 5 agencies at once. I wrote an entire article to help you learn more about it.


Thanks for reading

What about you? What are the most profitable agencies in your opinion? What do you think the future of microstock will be like?

Thanks for reading. Stay Creative.