While not having the same clout as the more established players, 123RF has done an excellent job of rising through the microstock ranks to currently be in the top 5 agencies for most contributors. Personally, they generally rank around my 5th highest earner each month and 2012 saw consistent growth over the whole year. They seem to do particularly well for vector artists, so if you can produce great illustrations then make sure you check them out. 123RF’s upload process is one of the easiest in the business, with no annoying categories or other things to worry about.
Sadly, as of January 1st 2013 123RF introduced a new royalty system for contributors which echoes the woeful system in place at iStockPhoto (although not quite as bad). Instead of a flat 50% commission that they used to pay, it now is based on how many sales you have had over the last 12 months. Suffice to say for most contributors this has meant a pay cut. Read on below to find out more.
Here’s a tip some forget about after uploading to 123RF – these guys allow you to ‘fave’ 5% of your portfolio. What does this do? The images you choose as your ‘faves’ get placed much higher in search rankings, so are far more likely to sell. In very rough terms I would say that ‘faved’ images currently account for about half my sales each month. Don’t forget this step!
The new royalty system has put people off 123RF, as many contributors are tired of getting pay cuts. In the end it’s up to each individual as to which agency to continue supporting. Don’t forget, 123RF still pay a minimum of 30%, which is still higher than the minimum offered by many other big players (iStock, Fotolia etc.) and they do make sales. To help with your decision, here are the current royalty rates and how many ‘credits’ you earn for each sale type. They have said that these levels will be in place for 3 years, as, in their words, “we feel stability and predictability are values that our Contributors would appreciate, and 123RF.com has grown to a level that we have a very mature and established Contributor community.“