After researching many agencies, I joined Dreamstime on December 31st, 2007. I started with Dreamstime because of the ease of navigation and the attention and support they seem to give to their contributors. My intention, at the time, was to get to know Dreamstime and then submit to other agencies when I learned the ropes. I thought that by contributing to a number of them, I would make the most of my efforts. I would be able to put the same image on many sites. By giving my image more exposure, my sales would increase and I would have income coming in from several places. But would I really make more money? Would this help me to become a better, more consistant photographer? The answer, for me, was "no". I would be spreading my efforts among many and probably doing a mediocre job for myself and the agencies. As soon as I reached my required 50 images for exclusivity consideration, I requested to become exclusive.
While similar in many ways, the agencies have different features and requirements for submission on their sites. These are the things that I considered when I decided to become exclusive with Dreamstime.
1. Some sites seem to accept anything, which to me, gives their sites a substandard look.
2. Others seem to want a photographer that is a "jack of all trades". They don't take into consideration a photographer's particular or specialty, which could actually be a benefit to an agency.
3. Some, while quite good, seem to prefer a particular look for all their images, which does not give the designer many options.
4. I found some sites difficult and confusing to navigate which, if frustrating for a submitter, must also be frustrating for a purchaser.
5. Some sites depend only on the quantity of sales for their contributors and provide little incentive to produce quality work.
6. All of the agencies represent many of the same contributors and images. Does an image lose it's impact when seen over and over again on many different sites? I think yes.
I felt that I would rather put my efforts into doing the best job possible with one agency. I chose Dreamstime. In the first month, I concentrated on becoming familiar with their expectations and requirements. By paying close attention to which images were accepted and regected, I was able to raise my acceptance percentage to 81%. By taking care to improve the appearance of my images in Photoshop and by uploading 139 images so far, I now have 90 downloads in my first two and a half months. By taking advantage of the marketing programs and becoming involved in the community, I hope to develop name recognition. By continuing to increase the uploads to this site, I can see a good income in my future. I am convinced that these things could not be accomplished if I were contributing to many agencies.
I am happy to be exclusive with Dreamstime. My images seem to do well here. For me, it was the best choice. I think by attracting exclusive contributors, with quality portfolios, Dreamstime would have more of an edge over other agencies. Perhaps as suggested and discussed in the Dreamstime Message Board > Day dreaming > Make Dreamstime number one - by Lorna (great suggestions and comments), we could come up with "an exclusive deal that can't be beaten" - benefiting Dreamstime and providing incentives for more contributors to become exclusive.