in Best-Of Articles, Interviews

Interview Series: Brianna Wettlaufer, Co-Founder and CEO of Stocksy

This week we talk to Brianna Wettlaufer, Co-founder and CEO of Stocksy and somebody who has been involved in and influenced the general stock community for a very long time.

Brianna Wettlaufer StocksyBrianna, thanks for joining us! How old is Stocksy and how are things going? Do you have any figures you would like to share on the current status of the business?

Thanks Luis, it’s great to have a moment to speak with you.

Stocksy is in it’s third year of business now. To date, we have paid out roughly $4 million to our artists in royalties. Proudly, this number is over 50% of our revenue because of our 75% payout on our extended licenses ($100-$500) and exclusive licenses (starting at $1,250 for six months) which have received increasing popularity because of the calibre of our client base.

It’s been an explosive start for us, last year we grew 580% and expect to surpass our projections for 2015.

We see new agencies come and go all the time. The stock media business is a difficult one, too many photos chasing for a volatile bunch of customers. Yet despite the challenges, Stocksy is the most successful newcomer agency in recent times and has become a reference to many agencies which have been around for much longer. How have you achieved such success?

We entered the market with a clear vision, to create a library of beautiful images that make us truly excited about photography and that’s made other people excited as well.

Brianna Wettlaufer Stocksy CEO

Photo: Rob Campbell

It seemed in 2012, when we launched, the top agencies were focused on numbers and were doing nothing to solve the issue that stock had become stuck in a moment. The communities of photographers were disgruntled, disenfranchised and ready for change and that was Stocksy.

Being a co-op we’ve attracted artists who’ve never before sold stock but wanted to give it a try because of what we stand for. Creative integrity, fair profit sharing and co-ownership where every voice is heard and valued goes a long way.

Likewise, we’ve developed an impressive client base of high end agencies and industry leading companies. Including over 100 clients from the Fortune 500 companies.

We love what we do and that energy is infectious. We’re currently in New York at the moment meeting our clients and one of the most common comments we receive is, “we love working with you!”

Stocksy has clearly done many things differently from day one . For example, many agencies, old and new, do not value offering their contributors decent sales reports. Stocksy however partnered with Stock Performer from the very beginning to ensure contributors get high quality sales reports. Why was this important to Stocksy? And how do you value the results of this decision?

Giving our photographers the tools they need to track and measure themselves as a business felt imperative to supporting careers within Stocksy. By partnering with Stock Performer we were able to strengthen that ability for our members in a capacity we couldn’t have done ourselves. Thank you Stock Performer!

Stocksy United Office

Photo: Rob Campbell

Being able to say “I am a Stocksy contributor” has become a sign of pride and creativity. How many contributors are you planning to accept in 2016? What do you recommend applicants to increase their chances of success in joining your ranks?

We love seeing that Stocksy is something photographers can be proud of and we’ll continue to ensure we move forward building that momentum.

On average we receive about 5,000 applicants every year and of that accept anywhere from 250-500.

We’re always looking for photographers who can bring something different to expand our collection. We actively avoid saturating any particular subject, genre or style. Every new member that joins should support the growth of the collection, expanding the experience for client needs.

During our Call To Artists (June-Dec) we receive a large amount of applications produced for us in what they perceive to be “Stocksy’s-style”. This inevitably comes across inauthentic.

In terms of who we’re looking for, we want photographers who have developed a distinct style and can consistently contribute a specific tone or theme. Portfolios that have no consistent processing style, are overly trendy, or don’t tell a story between subjects will likely not make it past the first round.

Immerse yourself in art blogs, pinterest boards or anywhere else that challenges and inspires you. When you find your unique voice and love what you do, we will notice.

Stocksy United Office and Logo

Photo: Rob Campbell

Stocksy has a very unique style of imagery: very authentic, spontaneous and intimate. How do you balance the act of satisfying customer’s different demands while maintaining your signature style?

When Stocksy launched we had a very clear vision for where we wanted the collection to go. That came from years of experience in the stock industry but also being passionate photographers with a background in art curation (from my years at Saatchi Art).

It was our goal to bring the photos that we loved and inspired us into stock, as a place for agencies to find photos they could feel good about using. Achieving this at Stocksy came down to perseverance in believing in the calibre we could expand the collection to, in the face of many of the people in the early days thinking we were just a little bit crazy where we were setting the bar.

The balance between what we love and meeting client needs has been a seamless one for us. They come to us for new ideas and photo that don’t feel like stock, which is unique to Stocksy.

What are your plans for other media types and licensing models? Are you looking at video, illustration or other? Are you committed to royalty free? Or are you planning to introduce Rights Managed or Editorial?

Last year our members passed a resolution to bring video to Stocksy and we’ll have some exciting news to announce very soon.

Brianna, it was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much for this interview!


You enjoyed this interview? Then read more here: Interview Series

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