Exclusivity, another look at a popular subject

A common question on the Dreamstime forums concerns Exclusivity; many of us have struggled with the decision to become exclusive or to spread our efforts over different RF (royalty free) and RM (rights managed) agencies.

I joined the DT community February 2010; I also jointed 12 other RF agencies at the same time. After a couple months, I began to see the immense amount of work to keep all the agencies going and decided to go exclusive with Dreamstime. It was not until mid-August 2010 that I was able to cancel all the other contracts and become exclusive with DT.

Was exclusivity profitable? LetŠ„s take a look at the raw numbers. I have slightly more than 700 images here on DT (100 of which were uploaded in the past month); I have sold slightly more than 400 images. My primary focus is wildlife photography which generally is not a super hot selling item. Of the 400 plus sales, over 200 images have sold at least one time; four images are level three (>10), about 10 images are level two (>5 sales). Nevertheless, I believe a look at the numbers is valid.

Between February and August 2010, I averaged $33.27 dollars in sales a month and $1.04 RPD (return per download). Between August 2010 and December 2010, I averaged $67.68 dollars per month and $1.53 RPD.

In addition to the increase of income for the months August-December 2010; I also received a $0.20 credit for images uploaded, approximately $150.00 total.

Again, was exclusivity profitable? Like all things in life, it depends on your goals and time commitments. Managing a portfolio on a stock agency is time consuming; sure, once it is uploaded it does not take much time but uploading, keywording, categorizing, etc is very time consuming as each different agency has different standards and procedures. Some agencies, wildlife photography does not sell well; for these it is a waste of time to do all the work for the meager returns. DT has been worth the work and effort; I have not gotten rich but I can see the potential. With a monthly commitment, I can build my portfolio and build my income. Looking at the numbers, I roughly doubled my average income per month and increased my RPD. I made enough on DT in the past 11 months to purchase a camera body.

Would I advise a friend to become exclusive? If you are a full-time working professional photographer and you want to make a good portion of your income with RF; I would say no. It would be better to load your portfolio on all profitable sites but this would entail a serious time commitment. If you are not a professional photographer and do not have lots of extra time; then I believe exclusivity with DT is a good option.

I wish all success!

Photo credits: Moose Henderson.

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January 29, 2011


hey, good blog. something i have been wondering too ie. exclusive contributor, exclusive image,.
I am a working photographer with stock being a miniscule portion of my work schedule. ie. more active in winter months less active during summer when my work takes up almost 18 hours a day.
Going exclusive has been on my mind too. I don't have the time to subscribe to multiple sites that promise bigger commissions but no sales or worst no views.etc.
I made lots of good friends here in DT community and with another top site , whom I noticed are successful exclusives with that highly respectable agency. I asked them the same question too, re putting the eggs in one basket.
I noticed, at least in my case, different sites sell better specific concepts. I can safely say Dreamstime sells more or less a specific niche for me, so I am increasing those niche exclusively for DT.
I think if I were to look at my production and tailor make it to say one specific site , ie. the site that sells the most for me , naturally..
I could more or less pigeonhole my production to this niche.
Exclusivity would increase my commissions too, since exclusivity commands higher percentage. which I think would off set the scattering of forces, or spreading yourself too thinly... speaking pro-exclusivity.
Also, it certainly would save you a lot of time trying to second guess the reviewers since the site who wants your work will stop messing up your mind with silly rejection reasons, (not referring to Dreamstime).. as your approval ratio will remain consistently positive.
ok, I differ from your own final note as to be non exclusive ( if you want to make as much money with as many sites).
I know two of my top favourite super sellers are exclusive with that site, so exclusivity does not necessarily mean losing out . I am sure, if I were a top seller, that site I go exclusive will want to ensure I keep with them. I think I really wouldn't miss hoping to make money with as many sites as I can, if one site truly cater to my work as they do with these two supersellers.

After all, there is really only a handful of sites that truly make money for you... at least in my case.

naturally, I will want to see more money being made by my 3 choiced sites before I commit myself . so, for now, it's beyond that stage ;)
Just my two cents worth.

ps. sorry such a long comment. i really should have made this my new blog, lol

January 26, 2011


Hey..........i totally agree with u.
to become exclusive to DT is really profitable.....but dont u think so tht they shud increase the amount for exclusivity,it shud be more than 0.20$ because we r providing them exclusive images....!

January 10, 2011


good job and i'm exclusive here also.. good luck to all exclusive members here ..

January 07, 2011


Well written blog on an interesting subject John, thanks for sharing and good luck with your future sales.

January 06, 2011


good luck and more sales in new year 2011

January 05, 2011


Very friendly advice. Good luck and do good!

January 04, 2011


Thanks all!

Cednik; RPD is the average price paid for each downloaded image in your portfolio for that month. Say you had 10 images downloaded and your income was $10.00; your RPD download is $1.00 per image. Some images may have sold as subscriptions for $0.27 and some may have sold as individuals for a couple dollars each, but the overall average is $1.00 per image.

Best to all!

January 04, 2011


very interesting useful and helpful blog, thanks!

January 04, 2011


I agree John and thanks for sharing and beautiful port.,from an envious wannabe,Happy new year.

January 04, 2011


I agree with you. Interesting blog, thank you for sharing!

January 04, 2011


I'm glad you wrote this article and shed more light on the subject that I was interested in. Thank you!

January 04, 2011


I agree with your comments 100%. Well written!

January 04, 2011


Great insight!! Thanks a lot...

January 04, 2011


love those shots

January 04, 2011


Congratulations. BTW what does that RPD actually means?

January 04, 2011


I agree also.Being exclusive works great for me.I tried other sites ans this is less stress and more money at a great community.

January 04, 2011


Totally agree. It works well for me, especially the enhanced placement of your shots when buyers search.

Search "parked cars" and it returns over 1000 images, uner my preset of "relavancy- descending" at least 4 of my images appear on page 1 in position numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. I can't fault that and saw nothing like this before I was exclusive :-)

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