Sales and Earnings from Microstock Photography October 2016

One month I’m going to be really excited about reporting earnings again, but this isn’t that month! Here is my overall graph:

Overall, I didn’t even make the $2000 benchmark, with sales ending the month at $1966.

And that was after I continued to add more and more images to the various agencies:


I keep this chart because Zoonar gets all my images, Editorial and Commercial, Shutterstock is indicative of the general level of commercial images, and iStock is a harder to use site!

What really continues to impact me is the lack of enhanced and single sales on Shutterstock. No sales above $12 in the Singles category and I was lucky to get three EDs this month otherwise it would have been a poorer performance than I am reporting. One of them was for $13.99 – which is a new record low for me. Overall, Shutterstock came in at $606. iStock’s partner program seems to have fallen victim to the same malaise, adding just $130 to September’s earnings, so I don’t expect much from October. Alamy improved for me, with four sales in October after a period where nothing seemed to be happening. Adobe Stock continues to perform nicely – not growing like it did, but solid at $235. Canva is down a bit (probably lots of new contributors), but still $185. The rest were all under $100 – which adds up, but not a very exciting performance.

On the positive side, I was approached by ImageBrief to extend the licensing of one of the shots that had been purchased in the past. The client was offering $250 (of which I get $125), which is probably low if they are really extending a successful advertizing campaign, but I didn’t feel like rejecting the offer. Perhaps that shows how beaten down we are as photographers!

On an even brighter note, I went on a photography trip with my local camera club to the New River Gorge area of West Virginia last weekend. Lovely fall weather and many photographs still to process, but as I said a couple of weeks back, photography is also about enjoyment and being out and about, and stock photography definitely enables that for me. Here is one shot from a sunrise shoot at GrandView:





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To me it’s like a .25c day average job, if I am lucky. For hour of work? It might be like a few cents or something. Also wishing for better times…

P.S. I had a good laugh looking at your latest SS pictures, the images of the man drinking whiskey and preparing to take a bunch of pills- please don’t get too depressed about stock Steve. It is not worth it.


I can understand that!

Hey Steve, thanks for this post, it’s really helpful to see the earning graph.

Can I ask why the rise and fall in sales seems to be reflected in all the microstock sites? Is this a seasonal thing across the industry? ie. it’s seems like when you sell more on Shutterstock you sell more on all the other sites too, which doesn’t necessarily follow?

Thanks again!

    Hi Dave
    Of course, there is my Stock Photographers Lament, but seriously, there are ups and downs depending on the number of holidays and also whether you have images for each season (Christmas ones are selling for me now). But I think the big thing this year has been changes in Shutterstock. I’m regularly losing $400 or $500 per month because of changes they made – although what those changes are is still unclear. Just got to suck it up and get on with other sites I guess!

Thanks Steve, I like the lament!

I’m an existing iStock contributor with just a few dozen images, but 2 years ago I joined ImageBrief to try and make higher value sales and submitted all my new shots to their marketplace. I’ve now got a back catalogue of a few hundred decent travel and landscape images that are not selling on ImageBrief and their T&C’s meant I couldn’t offer them for cheaper anywhere else.

I’m now thinking of taking them down from ImageBrief and uploading them all to iStock and Shuterstock. These are the type of image I have; they are not traditional ‘stock’, but do you have any advice on the type of images that sell best and whether you think doing this with these more travel/editorial shots would be worthwhile?

Many thanks

Hi Dave
Those pictures looks great to me – I wish I had some of those in my portfolio! Of course, some will have to be editorial from what I see (London Eye for instance), but that will be fine. I never bothered with Image Brief’s marketplace – I do submit to their briefs from time to time, but that is all. I am sure your images would do well on Adobe Stock in particular – they seem to have a shortage of good travel shots as Fotolio used to reject them left right and centre (english spelling!) in the past.
Good luck! And if you join a new site, please use my referral links on the right!

Thanks Steve, I appreciate your comments. I’ve certainly found making money from Photography very difficult and this blog is a really great resource to come across. I’m not a member of Fotolia / Adobe Stock so I will definitely use your affiliate link to sign up.


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