Another question stock photographers ask is whether they should opt in Partner Programs offered by stock photo agencies and what benefits they can have from doing so.

What are Partner Programs

Big players conclude agreements with smaller photo sites to gain better exposure of their stock image collections to wider audience. It is also a good step for smaller stock photo websites. They get an opportunity to have their stock photo collections grow rapidly with millions of photos uploaded through the most recognized stock agencies. As long as there is a good business relationship between them, they both benefit from it.

Partners are more likely subscription sites and 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.

Pros and cons

You should know that some agencies sell their images through partner websites and we are not even aware of it. Royalties are added to our account without any information that a particular image was sold on a partner site. It may be acceptable because our portfolio gets better exposure to potential buyers. On the other hand we should be allowed to make a decision on it. Very often images available for sale on partner sites are cheaper than on our agency’s website. It is not the rule because some partner sites may sell our artwork for more than we get from direct sales. Sometimes rates are fixed and pricing schemes very simple and it attracts more customers.

Some microstock agencies will let you opt in for individual images (Fotolia and Dreamstime), some will require you to decide on your entire portfolio (123RF or CanStockPhoto).

How much you can earn

If you have a choice to opt in you should check what compensation is offered. If the rates are low, the higher number of images sold via partner sites should compensate low price per image. For example, iStock have Thinkstock and Fotomore (Photos.com closed in February 2014) as their partners and you receive anything from $0,25 to $0,28 per image. If your image gets purchased with the Extended License you receive even more. It is reported by iStock contributors that partner program sales are usually between 60 to 90% of their total revenue.

Should I opt-in?

The most important question for authors is whether they have any benefits from taking part in partner programs. Think about it as if you were given a chance to submit your stock portfolio to another subscription site where (international) customers buy subscription plans or image credits. In this case sales volume matters. It is something similar to selling your stock photos on Shutterstock. The only difference is that you do not upload your images directly to a partner site. It is done for you automatically through the agency’s main website.

Become a partner or reseller

There is something even more interesting about partner programs. You may yourself become a partner or reseller of stock photo collections. For example, Fotolia and Depositphotos have the API (Application Protocol Interface) that allows you to integrate their search engine into your website. This is how you benefit from their referral programs. For more details visit Fotolia or Depositphotos websites and read about their API.

To see how it works on stockphotoadviser.com website check our Shutterstock Photo Search or Depositphotos Photo Search. Potential customers search for stock photos without leaving our site. When they click on an image of their choice they will be redirected to Depositphotos website to purchase the image.

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