Site Review: iStockphoto
iStockphoto is the most difficult of the five sites I recommend to review. Its low payout to contributors, high technical acceptance standards, frequency of rejection of submitted clips and long review times (three months!) discourage many potential contributors.
Communication with contributors is poor, contradictory and confusing (if at all). Technical foul-ups infect the site on the contributor end making you want to pull your hair out. Once clips are submitted, they pass through a tedious and repetitive key-wording backend – all this before they are even accepted. Your wait time for acceptance as a submitter is often months. Wait time for clip review has been up to 4 months. Rejections are high for legal, technical and "artistic" reasons. Yet, they are the market leader and my sales are constant and financially rewarding.
I would not recommend you start with iStockphoto, but rather begin with some easy sites such as Pond5, or ClipCanvas. Sign-up as a contributor to get the lengthy ball rolling and then come back and work with iStockphoto after some experience in submission and sales on other sites.
Click for large image.
Istockphoto seems designed to frustrate and consume vast amounts of contributor time - often for nothing as your submission is rejected.
But don't be discouraged, iStock pays off! Despite these problems, I highly recommend you contribute to iStockphoto. iStockphoto is definitely worth your time and effort. Only recently, has my monthly payout from iStock been surpassed by Pond5. iStockphoto gets a lot of bad press these days, having changed its royalty percentage from 20% for non-exclusive contributors to a new graduated scale with percentages ranging from 15% upwards. Many other agencies have touted royalty payouts from 75% to 40%. But, it's downloads that count, not hypothetical percentages and iStockphoto delivers lots of downloads and a sizable monthly payout.
Why does iStockphoto dominate a key segment the stock video footage market? Istockphoto works hard for its contributors in ways other sites don't:
- Clips are intensely screened for brand logos, copyright, privacy & property legalities.
- Technical standards for submitted clips are high. Compression artifacts are not permitted. Clips sold are uniform in technical requirements. (See formats)
- Istockphoto understands its corporate customer base.
Detailed technical & legal critiques of submissions
High technical and artistic standards for submissions
Professional level forum
Long sign-up application process (up to 6 weeks)
Long review times (up to 6 weeks)
Limited or no communication with staff
Technical problems on submission, keywording pages
Time consuming tagging and key-wording process
Royalty: 15% - 20% to seller
Exclusivity: Offered (don't be a sucker!)
Ease of submission: FTP and HTTP
Editorial footage: Currently not accepted
Pricing: Agency sets the price
Multiple formats: Web formats created by agency - NTSC & PAL can be uploaded by contributor, but don't waste your time doing it.