I wish I was feeling better about this business – but January was another disappointing month for me. Perhaps I need to reset my expectations and be happy with getting a regular stream of income – which is considerable, I understand, but the effort of putting new images online and not see any benefit is a bit disheartening. It is a bit hard to see what iStock earnings are going to be as they have delayed the reporting of the partner program results for December (which I use to estimate January) until some time later in February (if that makes sense…), but with a lowish estimate of what that is going to be, I ended the month with $2162.
Of course, Shutterstock was the biggest contributor to earnings, but those earnings are shrinking over time, regardless of the new images I upload. I managed to get a couple of old video sales in the last few days of the month, otherwise my earnings would be even lower. It isn’t that unusual to see weekdays now where I simply sell subscriptions – the 31 January was such a day – 34 sales for $12.92. I can’t remember when I didn’t expect weekday sales to be at least $25 to $30. One brighter note with Shutterstock is that newer images seem to be selling again. I made some chalkboard images:
that are selling quite nicely and I also found some 20 year old Oxycodone tablets (since destroyed) that are meeting a need for illustrations of the current opioid epidemic hitting parts of the USA at present:
Both of these images were a struggle to get approved though – I had to write to Shutterstock support for each set – firstly because they thought ObamaCare was a trademarked word, and the because Oxycodone was not understood by their reviewers to be the generic name of the drug, not a trade marked name. So it is worth writing to them when you think you have a case to over-rule a rejection. I don’t do this often, but if I think an image will sell, it is definitely worthwhile.
Alamy didn’t do that well in January – they seem to have been making major changes to the way their system ranks images and so that hit my sales over there. Adobe Stock did OK, with $239 – a nice amount of earnings, but they seem to have leveled off recently. Canva was also good with $220 but they are roiling the world of contributors with a decision to withhold tax from all contributors and make you claim the tax back when you file taxes in your own country. I’m not all that bothered about it, but I suspect a lot of the people complaining bitterly are those that don’t declare these earnings to their local tax authorities and hence see it as a big cut in their income. The rest of my earnings in January were pretty much as in previous months.
This was partly from a whole series of shots I took in my “home studio” plus some travel shots from a quick trip to Tucson in Arizona. It is not everyone that goes from the mountains of West Virginia (where it was a balmy 60 degrees F) to a southern desert where the temperatures seemed to hover around 40 degrees or so and raining! However, that cloudy overcast sky did break for a pretty spectacular sunset with a nice saguaro cactus that I had selected to be my subject for the shot.
I’m often surprised when people stand taking sunset shots and all they take is the sky – that’s nice, but an interesting shot needs to have a subject (in my mind) to really rise above the average. I guess I keep doing this stock photography because I like photography! I like the challenge of getting a really well taken studio shot or a distinctive image from a trip somewhere. Earning money from that hobby is a real bonus and perhaps help explain my approach to this challenging industry. I hope you are able to keep up your spirits and continue to gain enjoyment from this!