As a stock video contributor, it is pure joy to know that someone out there appreciates my work of art and has the necessity to use it. It gives you the power and motivation to create something more beautiful. There are a number of ways to show appreciation of one’s work, and the most effective way to express it is in the form of cash. Get well paid, and you feel appreciated. That is how capitalism works.
The system of contributor earnings in stock footage agencies is all different depending on the platform you are using. Thus it would be important to know what platforms offer a bigger and a reasonable percentage of the sales before starting signing papers and uploading footage. So here is a list of microstock platforms to give a clear comparison.
A Shutterstock contributor receives a percentage of the price Shutterstock earns for licensing his/her content. There is a special leveling system in Shutterstock; it has 6 earnings levels for footage, a percentage ranging from at least 15% to 40% max. You can reach the levels independently based on the number of video licenses you have in this calendar year. So, with more stock footage you upload, you will be able to reach a higher level at a fast rate, leading to a higher percentage of earnings you can get from each license.
Obviously, Shutterstock had many long-term contributors who were happy with their earnings and level. They were willing to upload more of their work on Shutterstock until the platform decided to implement a new earnings system in 2020. Now instead of letting the contributors keep their level, Shutterstock is resetting the level to level 1 every year on the first day of January. This news struck the microstock contributors’ community hard and it has been controversial ever since it came up.
Pond5 is more generous than Shutterstock and their new level system. For starters, Pond5 is more flexible in setting the price of the content. They allow their contributors to decide the price of the content on their own if it is within a certain price rate that the platform has designated (15$/HD, 25$/4K). Once the price is set, the commission differs depending on what work the contributor is sharing. For videos, the contributors can either have accounts exclusive or non-exclusive using two different email addresses. If it’s exclusive, you would get 60% of the share whereas non-exclusive content would bring you only 40%. However, if you go for exclusive, you’re not allowed to distribute the same clips on other platforms and should remove your previously uploaded content from other marketplaces within 2 weeks of the buffer period.
Among the microstock platforms, PlayStock offers the biggest royalty rate of all. PlayStock takes only 20% commission rate from contributors’ earnings, which leaves the contributors with 80% revenue share. Unlike other platforms, the royalty rate does not differ between exclusive and non-exclusive contributors and does not own a content level system. Furthermore, on PlayStock, you can set your own prices so that you can fully manage your sales and earnings.
The best part of PlayStock is the contributors’ convenience. It provides a mobile upload service that allows contributors to upload their stock footage directly from their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, it also offers an automatic keywords generator by analyzing your videos using object recognition. That means you’re totally stress-free from massive work of keywords and descriptions.
123RF also has a contributor’s level that determines the levels of commissions that the contributors receive. It’s basically similar to Shutterstock, but 123RF has 2 more levels, so 8 in total. Being a level 1 contributor, you get 30% of the credit, and 60% maximum if you reach the final level. At the end of every month, 123RF sums up the downloads in the previous 12 months and determines the level. Your determined level will be applied right away starting from the upcoming month, allowing you to be paid with increased credit for each download.
The earnings system in Adobe Stock is much more simpler and straightforward. For non-video content such as photos and vector art, contributors earn up to 33% royalties and 35% royalties for videos. Commissions are based on the customer’s subscription plan. They have a very thorough table with the standard pricing and contributor payment rates as you can see below.
Dreamstime also has content levels based on video downloads. It offers 25-50% share to non-exclusive contributors. Also, the commission percentage differs depending on the exclusiveness of the file that you upload. If you are a level 1, non-exclusive user and uploaded a non-exclusive file, you receive 25% revenue share. However, if you are in the same condition but upload an exclusive file, you receive 27.5%. The percentage increases every time your level upgrades.
If you are an exclusive user, you receive 60% revenue share no matter what level you are on. Also, you get paid an additional bonus for each approved submission. Of course, you don’t get a bonus every time you get an approved submission. It happens only two times; the first 100 approved files in all circumstances, and only for the first 10,000 approved files if your download rate is higher than 0.1.
In iStock, it is the opposite of Dreamstime. They offer fixed commission rates to non-exclusive users. Non-exclusive contributors can receive 15% share for their photos, and 20% for illustrations or videos. For exclusive contributors, the rates differ depending on the reached downloads. They have 5 levels in total, and the rates are from 25% minimum to 45% max. The download target number for the final level is more than 41,400, so shout out to those who have managed to reach that level. However, unfortunately, iStock resets every contributor’s download total to zero on January 1st just like Shutterstock.
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