A common question on the Dreamstime forums concerns Exclusivity; many of us have struggled with the decision to become exclusive or to spread our efforts over different RF (royalty free) and RM (rights managed) agencies.
I joined the DT community February 2010; I also jointed 12 other RF agencies at the same time. After a couple months, I began to see the immense amount of work to keep all the agencies going and decided to go exclusive with Dreamstime. It was not until mid-August 2010 that I was able to cancel all the other contracts and become exclusive with DT.
Was exclusivity profitable? LetХs take a look at the raw numbers. I have slightly more than 700 images here on DT (100 of which were uploaded in the past month); I have sold slightly more than 400 images. My primary focus is wildlife photography which generally is not a super hot selling item. Of the 400 plus sales, over 200 images have sold at least one time; four images are level three (>10), about 10 images are level two (>5 sales). Nevertheless, I believe a look at the numbers is valid.
Between February and August 2010, I averaged $33.27 dollars in sales a month and $1.04 RPD (return per download). Between August 2010 and December 2010, I averaged $67.68 dollars per month and $1.53 RPD.
In addition to the increase of income for the months August-December 2010; I also received a $0.20 credit for images uploaded, approximately $150.00 total.
Again, was exclusivity profitable? Like all things in life, it depends on your goals and time commitments. Managing a portfolio on a stock agency is time consuming; sure, once it is uploaded it does not take much time but uploading, keywording, categorizing, etc is very time consuming as each different agency has different standards and procedures. Some agencies, wildlife photography does not sell well; for these it is a waste of time to do all the work for the meager returns. DT has been worth the work and effort; I have not gotten rich but I can see the potential. With a monthly commitment, I can build my portfolio and build my income. Looking at the numbers, I roughly doubled my average income per month and increased my RPD. I made enough on DT in the past 11 months to purchase a camera body.
Would I advise a friend to become exclusive? If you are a full-time working professional photographer and you want to make a good portion of your income with RF; I would say no. It would be better to load your portfolio on all profitable sites but this would entail a serious time commitment. If you are not a professional photographer and do not have lots of extra time; then I believe exclusivity with DT is a good option.
I wish all success!