Stock Photo Earnings Review for 2016
It is that time of year again for an analysis and report of Stock Photography economics for 2016. What a year….and I’m not talking about stock photography yet! Overall, I didn’t do as well as 2015, which itself was not as good as 2014 so it looks like the best is perhaps behind us! There are some real downers for the year in terms of performance (and yes, Shutterstock, I’m talking about you), but Adobe Stock has really turned Fotolia round as far as I’m concerned and I’m hoping for even better things next year. I continue to work on making my keywords on that site non-alphabetic and am maybe 70% of the way through my portfolio – I hope that will pay some dividends in 2017. Here are the top level numbers:
This was achieved with a continuing addition of new images, both travel and studio shots.
My growth of files on the sites is best illustrated by looking at what happened on Shutterstock, iStock (which is behind because of their complex keyword system) and Zoonar, which gets both my commercial and well as my editorial shots and probably best represents my overall portfolio of images:
As you can see, a pretty solid increase in files, but the earnings are not showing much impact of that. Looking at the sites I have images with, this is what I earned in 2016:
And the performance of the main sites in terms of earnings per online file:
Shutterstock has continued to fall off from its glory days in 2013. The month of December was an outlier (which I will come on to), but generally it has been a very poor performance for me that usually shows itself in few enhanced licenses and even fewer expensive single downloads. However, iStock did even worse:
Unremitting gloom over on that site. I think that exclusives are doing OK (but not great), but ordinary contributors seem to be losing ground very quickly and steadily.
Where is the happy news? Well Adobe Stock is making very good progress for me:
At last, a site that is showing a remarkable upward progress!
Overall, if I had about 5500 images on average in the middle of 2016, then I have made $0.42 per online image per month from all sites combined. For most of 2012 and 2013, this was more than $0.60 per image per month, which shows how much harder you have to work to keep the same income.
What did December bring? Overall I earned $2550, helped by a big set of sales from Shutterstock including multiple expensive (greater than $70) single sales and three enhanced sales in the upper $20 range. That brought my earnings to $869, which is the best for many months on that site. Alamy did pretty well in December. I submit partly on my own and partly through an agent who also got me onto Getty (via their purchase of Corbis) and my total earnings from Alamy/Getty were $421 in December. Adobe gave me $259, iStock probably around $230 or so. Canva wasn’t great for me this month, ending with $150. However, being over $2500 is a nice feeling, the last time I achieved that was back in May 2016. Who knows if this will continue into 2017 – keep our fingers crossed!
I think that pretty much rounds things out. The message is that this isn’t getting any easier, but if you like photography, which I do, then it is still a nice way to earn a pretty reasonable extra stream of income. Good luck with your own efforts in 2017!