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Are Pond5 and ShutterStock the Only Games in Town? March 6, 2014

These days, it appears that most of my stock footage sales are coming from just two places: Pond5 and ShutterStock. It seems that customers are migrating to these two agencies, leaving the others behind.

iStock, for example, has been slowly diminishing in performance since January of 2011, which was my best month there.  In that month, iStock alone accounted for 42% of my sales. By comparison, in January of this year, it has shrunk to 10%. But for every down there is an up, and in this case, the “ups” are Pond5 and ShutterStock.

So far this year, Pond5 sales make up 42% of my total income, and ShutterStock accounts for 35%. The remaining 23% are scattered across my other agencies. As a non-exclusive contributor, this is both good and bad. On one hand, I’m glad that Pond5 and ShutterStock have both flourished. Since these two agencies are performing the best, I primarily find myself submitting new content only to them. This dramatically lessens my workload. But on the other hand, having only two big players means if one goes down or away or hits a sales slump, I’m left with only the other to rely on.

What is happening in the world of stock media that is causing Pond5 and ShutterStock to rise to the top? I think that the total number of customers buying stock remains basically consistent, perhaps rising slowly. That group may just be “shifting” away from agencies like iStock over to ShutterStock and/or Pond5. Why? Probably due to site reliability and increased advertising by these agencies. iStock, for example, recently went through a major malfunction causing the entire site to be inaccessible for several hours. A site that can’t be reached can’t sell, which not only frustrates buyers, but also sellers. Problems like that forces people to look for alternatives. And those alternatives apparently are Pond5 and ShutterStock.

Only time will tell if this shifting of buyers will be temporary or permanent. I can tell you, however, that unless things change, my days of submitting the bulk of my new material across multiple agencies are over. I just can’t devote the energy submitting clips to agencies that do not perform.

James Orlowski

James Orlowski is the owner of Orlowski Designs, LLC. He is an accomplished videographer and producer with nearly 20 years of video production.

A graduate from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Multimedia from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, he has years of experience shooting and selling stock footage on many of the major Internet-based microstock footage agencies.

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