Rising Popularity of Free Downloads at Microstock Agencies

During the past few years, many contributors have noticed that the average price of their images sold have decreased considerably. The reasons may be complex, but are mainly down to a combination of: market oversaturation, technological advances, and detrimental changes to contributor agreements.

More recently, earnings have come under further pressure as a result of the desire by buyers to acquire premium photography content for free, also widely known as “Free + Premium = Freemium”, with many agencies catering to this growing demand.

In this zeitgeist post, we’ll discuss the latest free-download trends at Microstock agencies in the following order:

  • How people just love free stuff
  • The rise of Unsplash (acquired by Getty in 2021)
  • How the Microstock agencies are now using the free-download concept to ideally attract paying buyers
  • What this all means for Microstock contributors, discussing both opportunities and threats
  • Philosophical discussion about adapting to change

Check out the full article over at the Xpiks Blog!

My apologies for not posting it in full here, it’s that Google punishes duplicate content – you know the drill by now 🙂 !

Rising Popularity of Free Downloads at Microstock Agencies

In any case, please feel free to post any comments below!

Will be back in a few days with the July Brutally Honest Earnings Report…

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Madrid, Spain, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage, when things go back to normal (Late-2021??). I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer (however, had recently go back into full-time office work to make ends meet). I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. Great post, as usual. I have a few free images on Adobe, but I don’t think free content will help us as photographers to get more visibility. That was proven when some time ago free photo shoots were requested with the same excuse. That idea only helps the end user of the photos. I do not think that microstock consumers are loyal to the same agency, they will always look for the best prices, not the same photographers


  2. Free downloads is bad, it’s similar to free (or streamed) music online where the artists make little or no money. Not so bad if agencies offer so many images for free to get them to sign up.


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