Microstock Photographers to Earn for Approved Images

Image courtesy: Veer

Veer Marketplace, a microstock element within stock site Veer, is currently paying photographers for every contribution that they approve. The rates vary according to the number of images accepted, whether the photographer is a new member or an existing contributor, and the size of their current portfolio, but can be 35 cents, 70 cents or as much $1.40 per photo for photographers who manage to place 400 or more new images.

Veer is part of Corbis’s stable of stock offerings and is targeted primarily at graphic designers working in advertising, marketing and Web design. The service launched in 2002 but began offering microstock images from Veer Marketplace in addition to its rights managed products in early 2009. Currently, searchers on Veer are offered photos at price points that range from a dollar (or as the site calls them, “way cheap”) to $655 (“worth it”). Three checkbox filters let buyers choose to search by RF, RM or microstock — an RF category that appears to need its own filter. By default, all filters are checked and the microstock images are offered in a separate single column on the right of the page, with the more expensive images dominating the viewing area. Checkouts for microstock and traditional imagery are also separate.

Veer Will Place Microstock “Front and Center”

Designers, it seems, weren’t fooled by the design. In the summer of this year, Veer will be revamped making it easier for buyers to load up on the “way cheap” offerings. Writing on the Veer Marketplace forum, Veer Community Team member Brian O’Shea has explained that the new site will be “simpler to use and more affordable to customers.” Veer will be more like Veer Marketplace whose microstock content will be placed front and center in search results together with the traditional imagery. The aim of “Dash for Cash,” the promotion paying contributors for approved images, is to refresh and enlarge Veer Marketplace’s inventory, already more than a million pictures strong, before the big launch.

“Veer is a few months away from launching a refreshed website, and we’d like to offer an even wider selection of quality content to our customers when we do,” explains Aaron Booth, Senior Director, Creative Content.“We hope to generate a significant amount of new imagery for our refreshed website.”

Veer’s approval rate tends to be about 60 percent so the odds for photographers hoping to make a few easy cents aren’t bad. The most common reasons for rejections include the usual legal issues: visible trademarks which the site doesn’t have the right to sell, and other copyrighted material included in the images. Veer’s editors also screen and reject photos from the same shoot that appear too similar. The site’s guidelines describe what it sees as the difference between “similar” photos and a “series” of photos. While the first show the same image with only “slight variations,” the second “depicts an idea in a variety of different ways.” In practice, the line between the two is likely to be a lot more subjective and leave many photographers scratching their heads over rejected images.

The number of rejections can also be reduced by shooting the kinds of photos that Veer knows buyers want. These include particular kinds of models and a number of niche subjects.

“We are especially in need of imagery focusing on diverse ethnicities and age ranges across important verticals like lifestyle, medical and travel,” says Aaron Booth.

In a neat use of Twitter, Veer Marketplace’s @veermarketplace timeline also includes specific
“wishlist” tweets based on requests from buyers, alongside its “staff picks” and networking news.  One recent request, for example, was for more images of adult education classes. (Residents of Canada and the US can also join a bonus $500 Twitter sweepstake by following Veer Marketplace’s timeline and tweeting a message promoting the Dash for Cash.)

From Microstock to Corbis

All of this is good news for photographers hoping to earn at least a little income from their images. For a few weeks at least, they no longer have to impress buyers or get lucky in search results in order to pick up a few dollars. It’s enough to produce pictures that have the potential to sell to receive their first commissions. (Veer Marketplace’s royalty rates start at 20 cents for a subscription download and 35 cents for a single download, making the Dash for Cash payments comparable to an initial sale.)

It’s also possible that the connection between Veer, Veer Marketplace, and Corbis may allow microstock photographers to move up the stock hierarchy. Veer operates as a separate entity from the rest of Corbis “and focuses on a different type of customer and photographer,” but there are channels linking the different elements.

“While submitting content to Corbis is a separate process, Veer editors do take note of high-quality imagery and contributors that might be a good fit with Corbis’ more premium position,” explains Aaron Booth. “When possible, we also try to steer very high quality content that has potential legal issues which make it problematic for RF towards licensing models that may be a better fit.”

In theory then, a particularly good photographer may find that they submit a number of particularly good images in the hope of receiving the maximum royalty of seven dollars for a single download of an XXLarge image, but find that they’re asked to become a Corbis contributor with the option of making hundreds of dollars per sale.

The question that Veer’s promotion raises though is whether they’d want to. Veer’s original design emphasized its most expensive RM images. Its redesign will focus on microstock presumably because those are the photos it has found that its buyers want most. Those buyers though aren’t small-scale bloggers and occasional buyers. They’re creative designers, professionals who use large numbers of images and buy the 9,000 typefaces that Veer also offers. That Corbis is willing to pay for microstock images even before they’ve sold but is offering nothing attract quality RM imagery isn’t just a reflection of the difference between traditional stock and the microstock markets. It’s also an indication of the way the stock industry is continuing to develop.

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