There are more and more questions coming up if EyeEm is worth trying if you are already selling licenses for your images on other platforms like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. Since I keep repeating my answers in groups, I just found it was time to put the most important information in a single blog post.
EyeEm is not an agency
Yes, you can license your images through EyeEm. Yes, they have a market place selling images. Yes, they distribute images through partners like Getty Images. So you can upload your images to EyeEm just like you would to Adobe Stock or Shutterstock to make money.
However, their main purpose is not selling licenses. They are a community platform for photographers, more like Instagram than Shutterstock. They were “born” in the mobile photography environment, as an app on smart phones. All the rest basically came later, and licensing images with them started slow and small about three years ago.
So it is important to note that their platform is not built to make your images available easily. They don’t read out IPTC data, so your predefined image titles and keywords will not work and you have to invest manual effort. Also their tagging system is built for photographers to discover images of other photographers or for their “missions”. So while you can use typical stock photography keywords like “group of people”, their system is built to handle the 90% of images that don’t come from people knowing the secrets of stock photo keywording.
Luckily at least they added a new model release system just a few weeks ago and now they will accept electronic or paper releases you have already signed with your models, and you can add them to multiple images at once.
So you have to be willing to upload probably smaller batches of images and not the masses you can easily get online with microstock sites. And you have to spend some additional time with them than with others.
So do I need to get likes and followers at EyeEm mean I can sell more
No. Make friends on EyeEm if you want. But don’t worry about them or getting likes if your main goal is to make money from your images. Likes don’t make a difference if your image will be selected for the Premium collection nor if buyers will buy them.
Slightly different issue would be their “missions” they run with commercial partners. Read those offers if you feel like you have to offer images that fit into their needs. As part of missions, sometimes buyers will license your images if you win. However, there are often 10,000 or more submissions to missions and your image getting selected is rather unlikely. It can’t harm, though. Submitted images can still be licensed by other buyers later.
EyeEm prefers authentic, natural looks over staged, clean images
Now “authentic” can mean a lot. The most important parts are that the images should not look too staged. As the image above shows, they can be a bit dirty, have technical issues, all is fine. “Taxes” as anything related to business or finance is a classic stock theme but EyeEm actually prefers to have images like this scribbled note over a clean staged desk.
Won’t they accept stocky looking images? Yes, they will. However, probably not in the numbers that microstock agencies do. Be selective if you upload series, maybe split them across many months. They also set a focus on pure photography, so they mostly reject images that are Photoshop composings, renderings or illustrations. The more your images look like they are taken “from real life”, the better your chances to get them accepted.
EyeEm: Market, Selected for Premium, Premium – what does that mean?
When being reviewed, images can either be not selected at all or get one of three results: On Market, Selected for Premium or Premium.
There is no actual difference between “selected for Premium” and “Premium” except that the latter means those images are already available on partner sites while the “selected for Premium” images still need to be processed and sent to partners. The change between those is not instant, though, so an image can show up on Getty months before EyeEm changes the status to “Premium”.
There is a difference between those selected for Premium and those selected for Market. The latter kind of images will not be sent to partner sites. Unfortunately that also means their chances of ever selling are rather slim. So it’s more or less a pat on the back saying “okay, this one doesn’t have major issues but it’s also not really great, please try again.” 😉
Those “not selected for market” are the ones that have issues prohibiting licensing to image buyers, like frames, watermarks, text effects, over just over processed images with too many technical issues.
EyeEm is the better iStock for stock photographers
At this point, the EyeEm collection on Getty Images contains 3.4 million images. By my assessment, this is by far the largest collection of images available on Getty. Those images are available for all customers of the Getty Images sales outlets. They can sell at rather low prices through Getty’s special offers for large customers but there are also still quite a lot of buyers who will license images at $100 or more. In 2017, the average royalty per license for me was well above $10.
On the other hand, uploading to iStock, your images will only be available on their microstock and subscription offers like iStock itself and Thinkstock. On those platforms, there rarely are any big sales, on the other hand, there are lots of subscription buyers paying very low prices. As you only get a 15% royalty share on iStock as a non-exclusive, there are royalties paid out as low as 2 cents, and very rarely royalties of $2 or more. The average royalty per sale for me this year was about $0.60
So all in all if you consider the choice, uploading images through EyeEm looks far more attractive to reach the range of customers that relies on the Getty family as their preferred source of stock images.
How much can I earn at EyeEm? How does it compare to other agencies?
Yes, you can earn good money. I have written a blog post early this year about my sales in the first few months of 2017:
The comparison with other agencies is difficult. I am making more money from EyeEm than from most microstock agencies. However, I also have at least partly totally different images on EyeEm than on Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. I sell lots of licenses through EyeEm for images that no microstock agency would accept because they are not technically perfect. Then again, most of my sales on Shutterstock and Adobe Stock comes from images that EyeEm wouldn’t accept because they are too serialized, too stocky stock, too clean.
I sometimes mix and match and put some stocky stock images up at EyeEm and get some of them accepted. But I don’t upload most of the typical “isolated on white” kind of images on there. Then again, I also upload “more natural looking” images to Shutterstock and Fotolia/Adobe Stock. However, I find that they rarely generate the number of sales that I need to get from microstock images to make them worth my time. A microstock image needs to generate 100 download to make $50 for me, while I get random sales reaching $50 or more for several of my images every month through EyeEm, and usually the images making that amount in a single sale are the ones that would rarely sell in microstock.
By the way, all the images in this article have sold through EyeEm more than once and for quite some good money each.