Earnings from stock photos March 2014

I miss being able to present the complex graphs I used to do, but the edict from Shutterstock that you should not provide detailed information on your earnings has put a damper on that for me. I think the line they are taking is not necessary (I’m sure it is to do with analysts trying to estimate their earnings), but they are the ones with the power and I can’t afford to annoy them!

$115 Single on Demand

Anyway, my Shutterstock earnings are continuing along at the same level as before (which is slightly disappointing as I have continued to upload), and I seem to get solid downloads each day, but it is the occasional Enhanced Licenses and especially the large Single on Demand images that either make or break a month. I got one $115 download last month for this image from Germany. You never can tell when these things are going to pop up!

That said, March was my “Best Month Ever” with total earnings of at least $2750. I estimate what I will get from the iStock Partner Program, which is why this is an “at least” figure. My estimate of $155 in partner earnings last month turned into a real figure of $255 after some large partner downloads, and so it is always a nice surprise to see what comes along from iStock. I’ve continued uploading images there now that they allow up to 990 images at once, and so I’m gradually building up my portfolio – now at 3600. Here is my file count at the end of March:

Files per agency

Files per agency

What was pleasing to see in March? Well, I had a single sale of an image for $210 from a commission I sought. Then, I had $207 from three sales on Zoonar – one from their site and a couple from the partners. This is a site that seems to take a long time to show results, but it does get there in the end. If you choose to check it out, here is my affiliate link for Zoonar. I also made $188 from Alamy, $135 from 123RF, $260 from iStock, $106 from Big Stock, $101 from DepositPhotos and $90 from Dreamstime. The rest fell below that cut off. You can reach any of these sites via the links over in the left hand column!

I’m definitely changing my approach these days though. I take more editorial shots (ie pictures with unreleased people or property) and submit those to Alamy and to Corbis (via a partnership arrangement I have) and they also go on my own BackyardStockPhotos website. I’ve been building up images there and am now approaching 2800 or so. More to go, obviously. I mark any editorial shots to make sure it is clear to the buyer that I don’t have releases. An example can be seen by clicking through to my agency through this image that is full of unreleased property!

Cruise Ship in Sydney Harbour

All I send to the microstock agencies now is simple released “microstock” imagery. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but I think I am now trying to optimize my earnings – get some larger amounts from scarcer photos and continue to feed the machine to get my 50 or 60 downloads a day from Shutterstock.

Finally, I reworked my graph which shows the percentage of my income that comes from different sites. It may be hard to see the smaller sites, but it shows how Shutterstock has maintained its position as my largest contributor of earnings, followed by iStock. The other ones fill in the remaining 40% or so each month:

Percent of Earnings

Percent of Earnings


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Hi Steve, this is fantastic to see, very well played! Great and inspiring!!

Hi, what program do you use to upload your photos to so many sites?
Ps: great post, thank you!

Hi, thank you for sharing all the info, really useful!

One question, what software do you use to upload your content to so many websites? I upload to 3 stock agencies and it’s really time consuming, definitely I’m doing something wrong…:)

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