The stock photo business in 2015 – end of year review
Another year ends, and time to review where I am against my plans to continue to grow my stock photo business. Well, the results are in and it turned out to be an OK year – solid, but no growth over 2014 even though I continued to add images to my portfolio:
What this is showing is that
there was no slowing of my efforts to add images to my various agency portfolios. Zoonar represents all my images – both commercial and editorial and so is the best measure of my total portfolio – almost 8400 images. I’ve tended to focus more on editorial shots (ones without model or property releases) and I have exclusively put those on the better paying agencies such as Alamy, Corbis and Zoonar plus my own site. As a result, the growth in images on the microstock sites has slowed down a bit over the past 2 years. How has that translated into earnings? Overall, I earned $2210 in December, a traditionally slow month with the holidays, and earned $28,700 through the whole of 2015. 2014 was $29,980 and so I experienced a drop, but still a reasonable amount for the effort I put into stock photography. My “niche” of travel and landscape photography has the advantage that I have no direct costs (in terms of paying models) for my images as I would probably have visited most of the places I went to anyway. I’m sure I did more miles in rental cars taking my various shots, but I enjoyed it as well!
In terms of individual agencies, here is a graph of earnings per site during 2015:
The lion’s share of the earnings was again Shutterstock, although that is probably decreasing as a percentage of earnings over time – which is actually a good thing as it avoids me having all my eggs in one basket. iStock is still pretty good, and Alamy/Corbis has risen to 3rd place in total earnings. The big newcomer this year is undoubtedly Canva which earned just $199 in 2014 and $1517 in 2015. Fotolia (now Adobe Stock) is showing some strong growth as well in the past few months. The more they integrate those images into the various Adobe software products, the more that is likely to continue.
Will I change anything for 2016? I ought to do more video, certainly, and unless some new site comes along with a real competitive difference (as Canva did), I can’t see myself joining more agencies. I will continue to focus on my own stock site, Backyard Stock Photos, and also on Symzio – the collaborative agency which allows users of images, illustrations and videos to in effect buy direct from the artists themselves. I’m spending more time on social media to try to build up the importance of those sites in image searches. I’m also having a go at trying to build a more artistic portfolio at Fine Art America – I’ll report back on how that works out!
Here’s to 2016- and, if you want to follow in my footsteps, don’t forget my eBook is still available at a bargain price!