The original list of 5 stock agencies had been reduced to 4. (The latest update to this page made in 2017).
This is my list of the top Microstock sites that I would recommend to a new contributor.
Here are short comments about each of the above.
They are best known for their highly successful subscription based model. Shutterstock is frequently the highest earner for many contributors. At time of this writing Shutterstock is one of the largest in the business with millions of images and other content, as vectors and video clips.
Getting into Shutterstock requires you to submit 10 of your best images, and be prepared that new contributors often get 1 or 2 rounds of rejections. They set the bar high (I think especially at entry) and then, once accepted, you are likely to find that they sell your content and may even be your highest earner. Here is a link for contributors.
Dreamstime has been a good company to contribute to because they seemed to have some smart strategies in place. Such as the image ranking system, which rewards images that get more downloads by moving them up the price rank. That ensures higher return per image on the best selling images.
Dreamstime also have activities to try to engage contributors positively. However more recently sales on Dreamstime have slackened, at least by my experience. They are however quite fair on reviews and usually not hard to get into for many photographers. Here is a general link for contributors information.
Now Fotolia by Adobe, the agency is large and well established with millions of images, vectors and graphics at this time. It is another agency that is definitely a strong player in the microstock industry.
I think it’s worth getting into Fotolia because they are reasonably fair on reviews and able to generate sales. Here is general link for contributors information.
More known for stock Videos, Pond5 nevertheless offers various types of content including Stock images. The agency allows contributors to set their own price and earn 50% of the sale. Their review standards are also usually fair. And while the agency is not in my top list for sales of stock images, however their terms are more positive than many other stock agencies.
In my experience Pond5 does not have the smoothest of upload systems, which I hope will improve in future. Here’s a link for contributors information.
Through my company my stock images are placed on other agencies also, such as 123RF, iStock by Getty, Canstockphoto, Bigstock, GLimages and Alamy. I am sure that every agency has their individual strengths and is worth looking into for new contributors over time.
Opinions expressed in this article come from my personal assessment. I suggest find more information, including terms and conditions of different stock agencies, to decide which agencies might suit you best as a contributor.
Update 15 January 2013
A 5th stock agency recommendation for a new Contributor is unfilled at this time. I plan to add back a 5th recommendation at a future time when a viable company in my opinion will emerge.