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When photographers and graphic designers think of microstock, three agencies typically come to mind: iStock, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime. Dreamstime opened for business in 2004 and quickly became a powerhouse in the microstock world, thanks to their friendly staff, an easy-to-use uploading process, and for providing an overall great service. For a while Dreamstime was known as the bottom achiever when compared to iStock and Shutterstock. The past year has changed this dramatically. Dreamstime is now easily considered on par with its two main competitors, and may soon surpass one, or both in popularity. Dreamstime continues to improve and explore new markets, they currently accept royalty-free microstock photography, graphics and editorial photos. They are also the only microstock agency to offer photos in RAW and, most recently, TIFF format to their buyers.
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Dreamstime employs both a 'credit' method and a subscription method of sales. This means there are multiple ways for a photographer to make money on Dreamstime. Every year Dreamstime updates their price model. This essentially gives photographers an annual raise as commission with Dreamstime is percentage based.
Dreamstime has a chart that you can use to determine the amount of money you can make per sale. The amount you make is based on multiple factors: the number of downloads the photo has had in the past, whether the photo is exclusive to Dreamstime, if the photographer is exclusive, and if the photo buyer used 'credits' or a subscription plan to purchase the photo. Dreamstime also pays a varying amounts for RAW and TIFF formats. This is dependant on the maximum resolution of the photo, the larger the file size, the larger the commission.
The most lucrative sales for photographers are the RAW and TIFF sales and any of Dreamstime's five extended license sales. Dreamstime pays some of the highest commission rates in the microstock industry.
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Tools, Contests and CommunityRating
With a host of tools, great advertising and an extremely active community, it is no wonder that Dreamstime has been gaining ground on its competitors. Dreamstime features a full management page where you can manage any uploaded files, FTP, model and property releases, any referral earnings, and much more.
To help advertise contributors and their uploads, Dreamstime does more than any other microstock agency. They have a monthly contest called the “Dreamstime Assignment", in which each contributor with at least 50 files on Dreamstime can enter up to three files. The files can either be bought outright by Dreamstime for $25, or the contributor can choose to retain the rights to their upload. If the contributor retains the rights, then the file is automatically bumped to level five, meaning the contributor is making top dollar for every sale. Once the assignment is closed for submissions, anyone, contributor or buyer, can vote on the submissions and the top three win prizes. These prizes can range from an iPod to cash. The Assignment has proven to be a great way to boost a contributors portfolio each month.
Dreamstime has many other ways to help feature a contributor's work, like the “Editors Choice" section on the main page. Every week an accomplished contributor also gets his or her work showcased across the main page banner for the week. They show off any new files uploaded and the latest files downloaded in the “Latest" tab, just off the main page. There are also special sections for “undiscovered" and “popular" files.
Like Shutterstock and iStock, the biggest contributor to Dreamstime's success is its community. With a very active message board and active blog section, the sense of community on Dreamstime keeps getting stronger. The strength of the community has been a great benefit to both Dreamstime and its members.