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13 July 2014 Stock Photography

Referral Program

Almost all stock photo agencies offer a referral (or affiliate) program for their users (both contributors and photo buyers), under which you can receive financial compensation for referring new stock photo contributors and/or buyers. Most stock photographers may avail of the program, as long as they are registered contributors, and there are many different ways the program can be utilized to generate income.

This site is a good example of how you can do it, but you have to be very patient and do not expect huge money coming to your bank account in a short time. We would say that with a small website the program may cover your hosting cost for starters. There are many different referral programs out there, but if you already are registered as a stock photo contributor and run a website related to photography why not place a couple of referral banners/links on it and get a few extra bucks.

Terms and conditions of the program are different for each stock photo agency and we do recommend reading them very carefully so you are not surprised and disappointed at the end of the day. Below we describe the most important factors to consider and for your convenience we have prepared our Referral Program Comparison, to see what you can expect from each stock photo site.

Important factors to take into consideration when registering for referral programs are:

Who you can refer:
This is crucial because some agencies (such as Fotolia or Bigstock) do not offer compensation for referring stock photographers (but only for referring customers), which means that if your target group is focused on contributors only, you will not get any referral payments even if you refer any of them.

How much you receive for referring photographers (or other media makers):
Not much (;), but it varies from agency to agency. Usually compensation is different when your referred buyer purchases stock images or buys credit package to what you get when your referred photographer sells his/her stock photos, starting at around USD 0,03 for single image sold to 15-20% for single credit or package purchased. Check our Referral Program Comparison and Image Price Comparison to see how it works on different stock photo websites.

For how long you will be receiving referral earnings:
This one is tricky, as not always you know exactly for how long you are going to be paid for your referred users unless you study the small print. Depending on an agency, this may vary from 6 months to 2 years, so do not be surprised when your referral income suddenly stops when this time has passed. When your referred users get registered with a given agency, it also takes some time before they upload any stock photos, and then more time before some of them start selling. It also happens that people register with a stock photo site but do not upload any images or have difficulties being accepted as contributors so if they eventually manage to have any stock photo online it is too late for you to receive any referral earnings.
It is more instant when it comes to buyers, as usually when they register they buy stock images straight away or purchase credits or packages and you receive your referral earnings. Some stock photo agencies allow purchasing without registration, so it generates referral income straight away.

Are there any extras related to the referral program?
Yes. Referral program is usually understood as placing referral banners and links on your website in order to get users to click on them to be redirected to a stock photography site and register an account to start selling or buying stock images so you can earn extra money from it. Not only this is the case - there are other ways of being rewarded by the agencies - some of them, such as Dreamstime or DepositPhotos will pay you fixed amount just for placing their banner on your website (subject to their approval). Some other will reward you for sending e-mail inviting your friends to register an account. To increase your referral earnings you may also place referral links in your e-mails, blogs and social media profiles, and clicks from there will count as your referrals.

And finally, the last question you may ask: is it worth participating? Yes, but do not expect to receive average monthly wages from it from the very beginning. It may cover some costs related to running your blog or website, or even get you some extra cash to support your home expenditures. Look at it as a long term investment, and if your site or blog is growing regularly and you market referral links properly and constantly, it may bring some extra cash in the future.

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