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27 July 2014 Stock Photography

Partner Program

Another question stock photographers ask is whether they should opt in Partner Programs offered by stock photo agencies or not and what benefits they can have from doing so.

Big players conclude agreements with smaller photo sellers to gain better exposure of their stock image database to wider audience (mostly international) than they could by marketing their own website only. This is also a good step for smaller stock photo sellers/resellers who are happy to have their stock photo collections grow rapidly with millions of photos offered through their website by the most recognized stock photo agencies. They both benefit from it, as long as there is a good relationship and business cooperation between them.

The most important question for us, photographers and designers, is whether we have any benefits from taking part in the partner program?
It is important to understand that some agencies sell their images through partner/affiliate websites and we are not even aware of it and royalties are added to our account without any information that a particular image was sold on a partner site. On one hand it may be acceptable, because our portfolio gets better exposure to potential buyers anyway, but on the other we should be allowed to make a decision on it, as very often images available for sale on partner sites are cheaper than on our agency’s main website, and not always we want our stock photos to be sold at very low rates. It is not the rule because some partner/affiliate sites sell our artwork for even more than we get from the main agency, and very often at fixed rates and through very simple pricing schemes that attract more customers.

Some microstock agencies, such as 123RF or CanStockPhoto will ask you to opt in and have your stock photos available for sale through other websites, such as Fotosearch, Thinkstock or Pixmac. They will be more likely subscription sites, so there are pros and cons of opting in: your portfolio gets better exposure to potential buyers but it also carries a risk that your stock images will sell at lower rates. If you have a choice to opt in you should check what compensation is offered or contact your agency to get more information. If the rates are low, the higher number of images sold via partner sites should compensate low price per image. iStock for example have Thinkstock and Fotomore (Photos.com closed as of the end of February 2014) as their partner and you receive anything from $0,25 to 0,28 per image (or more if your image gets purchased with the Extended License), but partner program sales here constitute usually between 60 to even 90% of your total revenue at iStock (as it is reported by many iStock contributors, and in our case it is around 80%).

Some agencies will let you opt in for individual images (Fotolia and Dreamstime), and some will require you to decide on your entire portfolio.

Considering what we said above, think about it as if you were given a chance to submit your stock portfolio to another subscription site, where customers buy subscription plans or image credits and volume of images sold matters. It is something similar to selling your stock photos on Shutterstock - difference is that you do not upload your images directly to a partner site but it is done for you automatically.

There is something even more interesting about partner programs: you may yourself become a partner or reseller of stock image collection offered by a stock photo agency.
For example, Fotolia and Depositphotos have the API (Application Protocol Interface) that allows you to integrate their search engine into your website and in this way benefit from their referral program. For more details visit Fotolia or Depositphotos websites and navigate to the bottom of the page to read about their API.

To see how it works on our website visit Depositphotos Intergrated Search. Potential customers can search for stock photos without leaving our site, and when they click on an image of their choice they will be redirected to Depositphotos website to purchase the image.

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