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How Does Flickr Make Money?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/15/2010

How does Flickr make money? It's a good question. Here's the answer.

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    How Does Flickr Make Money?

    Flickr is a popular photo sharing site. In fact, it’s estimated that Flickr has over 200 million photos on its site, which were uploaded by over 4 million users. While it is popular, how does Flickr make money? It’s a good question, and the simple answer at the moment is…that it doesn’t.

    Flickr is in the same boat as many popular social networking sites. They didn’t come up with a money making plan before launching the site. So, everything was free, including creating an account and uploading information. Creators simply launched the sites, and then they tried to think of ways to make money.

    So, Flickr hasn’t been making money at all. In fact, despite having been bought by Yahoo, it’s losing money and lots of it. Yet, Flickr isn’t the only one in this boat. YouTube, which is one of the most popular sites on the web, is also losing money. And, they were bought by Google! But, no one is sure exactly how to make money with these sites.

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    Do Ads Work on Flickr?

    You see, unlike search engines, social networking can’t sell search ads. No one does web searches on these sites. There are banner Flickr ads, but these are pay-per-click. That means that someone has to click on the ad for the site to get some money back from the listing company. But, they don’t make much money from these ads, maybe a few cents per ad.

    Flickr did try to do contextual ads for a while. Basically, you would search for a photo. Based on your search terms, an ad would appear. The problem with this, however, was that the ads weren’t targeted enough. If you searched for a chicken, you may get an ad for Tyson Chicken. But, what if you’re a vegan? You can see the conflict.

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    Premium Subscriptions

    So, how is Flickr trying to make money? Well, it has started selling premium subscriptions. These are generally targeted to businesses who want to be able to upload an unlimited number of photos per month. For a small yearly fee, users get to create as many sets and collections as they want, and there are also no ads listed on their pages.

    But, again, the amount per year is very small, usually around $25. And, most people don’t mind being limited on the number of photos that they upload per month. They just like it being free.

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    Money-making Options

    There are other options, however, that Flickr owners are considering. For example, Flickr could sell certain photos like iStock and other stock photography sites do. They could also do brand advertising for companies that want more exposure to the site.

    The other option, of course, is to charge everyone a subscription fee. But, this could get tricky. There are a lot of other free photo sharing sites on the web, including Photobucket and Zoomr. This means that people may just migrate as opposed to buying.