Earnings from Stock Photography in July 2017

Some months up, some months down – that seems to be the story of stock photo earnings these days. Overall the month was not bad with earnings so far of $2267. For some reason I am not seeing any sales on Zoonar (when I normally get some sales each month) and that could be a reporting issue on the site, but it is unlikely to shift the dial very much. As a summary chart this month I have included the monthly earnings organized by month over the past 4-5 years:

Apart from that one month in December 2014 (which was driven by a $1050 sale via Image Brief) what is interesting about this chart is how the months are relatively similar (ie I don’t really have a pronounced seasonality in my sales) and how the early months of the year seem to be showing a growth from year to year whereas the latter months are generally down! Perhaps I do have more “summery” images that people use for magazines and blog posts about vacations? What is worrying about the chart, as I have discussed before, is how the earnings per online image are going down. I’m adding more images, but the earnings are staying pretty static:

Whereas in the past you could have argued that your portfolio would continue to earn money year after year, and new images would add to that income, the new normal now seems to be that you work each year to add new images just to keep your income about the same. For the effort involved, it is still nice money – especially if you like photographing things and places – but the business model does seem to have changed along the way.

What were the highlights this month? Shutterstock was up a bit with $762, helped by a $75 single sale of sunrise over a residential area in Ventura, California:

Just one enhanced license this month on Shutterstock, of the courthouse in Leesburg, Virginia:

No idea of the planned use of that, but it goes to show that simple record shots of places do get sales from time to time. This particular image has sold 53 times for $83 (as Microstockr Pro tells me!)

iStock was down in June (the month I report). Instead of getting steady $450 earnings, it dropped to $372. Adobe Stock continues to grow – this is the bright spot in my set of agencies and it hit $345 in July. Alamy/Getty turned in $345. Canva used to be one of my “hot” sites, but has fallen away for me. I don’t think my sort of images are what their designers are looking for, but it still earned $92. As an exciting end to the month, I did sell one image from my own stock agency, BackyardStockPhotos.com, and earned a magnificent $0.99! This is the image that sold:

That rounds out my report on sales in July. Now on to process the images (and videos) from my recent trip to the UK! Mainly to see family and friends, but I’m always on the lookout for new stock photos!


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I do admire that you disclose all your earnings and have done so for some time. It’s also great that, as you mentioned, you don’t suffer from seasonality as most other contributors…it’s evidence that you have a strong / well-rounded portfolio.

Do you have any goals you set yourself…short/medium/long-term?

Keep up the good work!


Thanks Alex!
I don’t really set goals because it is so hard to link particular effort to a goal. So if I wanted to earn $3000 a month on average, what would I have to do to achieve it? In the past, I could have said, add 1000 images, but now it is much harder to see a direct link between new images and new income!
The only real goal is to enjoy yourself!

Steve nice to hear from your progress. Funny that I have already concluded that from a financial point of view this activity does not make any sense whatsoever, and yet I cannot muster the courage to give up. This month I made, overall, 40 bucks. One of my worst overall, the worst this year. Sometimes I wonder if my portfolio sucks so bad, or if I simply started at the wrong time. And just about when I am ready to throw the tower, six of my images sell at once at SS. Someone must be having a pretty bad leak problem from their ceiling since all images were about a whole in my ceiling. Thanks for all the effort you put into this blog. It has been pretty enlightening.

Thanks Alessandra. I think that getting images approved before something starts to take off in the public interest definitely helps. I’ve had a lot of sales of some images I made about the opioid epidemic in the US. I also took some bitcoin photos that are selling well. So part of the game is reading the news and trying to anticipate what is going to come up in the future. They never sell for lots of money per image, but the small sales add up over time.

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