Stock Photography Earnings March 2017

It is that time of the month again, but Spring is in the air! Last month was good for me in earnings, this month actually surpassed that, so I’m definitely walking with a spring in my step! I decided to change the way I report iStock earnings this year and instead of estimating and then correcting the results later in the month, I’m simply going to consider the amount I am paid in the month as the earnings for that month. So my iStock earnings for March are what was reported on 20 March and paid out. Much easier to understand I think. So that made February earnings $2871 and now March comes in with $3036. This is the first time my earnings have passed that $3000 threshold (apart from one month a couple of years back when I got $1050 from ImageBrief). Here is the comparison of months this year by agency:


As you can see, 

Shutterstock did really well this month, getting to $979 – I’ve got to go back to October 2015 to get a higher monthly amount on Shutterstock. What helped were 3 enhanced licenses plus $246 in Single sales. A couple were high value including this for $82:

$82 single sale on Shutterstock

This is a shot of a pressure cooker releasing steam – just goes to show that you never know what is going to sell! iStock (amount paid-out) was $450, again with some pretty good sales via Getty mixed in with the lower value sales. As I mentioned a week or so back, Microstockr Pro now shows you the images that sold day by day on iStock once they have released the sales stats on the 20th of each month, so it is great for seeing what sold in detail.

Next up with Adobe Stock with $349 – that site is growing month by month for me and was the highest sales total I have reached there. They seem very fair on reviews as well. Then we drop to $265 on Alamy/Getty, which I mostly get via a distributor I use in the UK. Canva has not been great for me this year – perhaps it is my images, or perhaps they have many more contributors, but I only got $135 this month (and $138 last month) after a run of $200+ months through much of last year. Finally, 123RF seems to have come to life with steady sales each day, particularly towards the end of the month. I earned $186 in March compared to $79 in February. Nothing large – just steady reasonable sales, so I’m hoping that continues!

I continued to add images in March, including videos as I mentioned over the weekend. I’ll write more about that in the coming weeks. I added around 160 files in the month, so my growth in files in maintaining a steady pace month by month:


Zoonar gets all my files, editorial (which I tend to keep as RM on Alamy) as well as commercial so it shows my portfolio in total is approaching 10,000 images.

I can’t end this post being too optimistic though after a couple of good months. I decided to test my Excel skills by calculating the quarterly earnings per online image to see what that is showing:


I calculate this by dividing the average monthly income in a quarter by the average number of files online on that site in the quarter to give me the earnings (in US cents) per image per month on that agency. I have only been keeping stats on files online for some agencies, not all, so I lump quite a number of agencies in the other category. What this is showing is that 2011 was the “good times” for me, with over 70c per online image in that year. Since then, it has been a steady decline down to 42c per image this past quarter. This is only showing what everyone knows – microstock is becoming highly competitive, there are lots more great photographers and images out there (including some “factories” churning out images by the 1000s) and so you need to keep submitting to keep your revenue growing. It could be that things are leveling out, but it is too soon to really say that. At the moment, though, a portfolio like mine, which is part travel and landscape and part studio still-life (and now part video) will earn around 40c per image per month. It is perhaps obvious to say that if I edited down my uploads, I could improve this number, but, as the pressure cooker shot shows – you never know what is going to sell.

I will end with what might turn out to be my shortest lived stock photo ever. I uploaded three of this type of image 10 days ago:

For my non-US readers, this is the new healthcare replacement for Obamacare and I thought it was going to get a good few downloads as debates went backwards and forwards in Congress. Of course, two days after it got online, the bill was withdrawn….

(Visited 288 times, 1 visits today)

11 Responses

  1. Linda McKie says:

    Well done Steve!

  2. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the insights and the positive vibe! I’ve seen an increase too in March, hope it gets even better in April.

  3. Paul says:

    Great info Steve. Wondered if you have any thoughts on Dreamstime. I noticed your sales have dropped on Dreamstime for the last 3 months. I have been seeing the same drop-off as well.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Paul. I don’t know what is going wrong with Dreamstime – the sales have definitely slowed down although nothing much seems to have changed on the site. I wonder if Adobe Stock is eating its way into the other agencies as it gets integrated more and more into Adobe’s other products. Shutterstock has the subscription market but perhaps Adobe is picking up the buy as you need market where Dreamstime perhaps had some traction. I still submit because it is so easy now with StockSubmitter and so I keep going with all these sites because you never know what is going to happen in the future. Fotolia used to be rubbish for me, but as Adobe it is going from strength to strength. I know a lot of people pulled out of Fotolia because of the dollar photos, but in retrospect, those people are missing out on the resurgence of the site under Adobe’s management.

    • Bjorn says:

      I’ve seen the same btw, 3 month steep decrease on Dreamstime. This is the first month (april) where it seems to be picking up again, although it is still too early to tell…

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Bjorn! I enjoy what I do, which makes it easier to take the down months! The up months just make it more enjoyable still!

  5. Paul says:

    Good points on Dreamstime – next few months willbeinteresting. Funny you mention increases in Adobe/Fotolia. I am seeing a similar surge. I am in the time consuming process this week of reordering keywords on existing portfolio from alpha to relevance (a recommendation that I saw on your site). I am interested to see if this provides an additional boost.

  6. admin says:

    I think the re-ordering worked, although I ran out of steam about 70% of the way through! It is hard, hard work! I’m certainly making sure that new images are ordered with the main ones at the beginning of the list, which is important for Alamy as well, these days!

  7. Akos Horvath says:

    Hello Steve !

    I have some important question for you,

    I sell my works at the best 2 microstock sites(RF) at Shutterstock and Adobe Stock/Fotolia.

    Can I sell my works as RF at Imagebrief?

    Also can I put my works to Imagebrief’s Portfolio, (if I buy the premium membership) and my works I also offering for selling at Shutterstock and Adobe Stock/Fotolia as RoyalityFree right now ?

    Must I give the high resoultion works to the portfolio?

    What is protecting my Images from thiefes?

    Also I don’t want to take assigments just sell my works as rf at Imagebrief is it possible?

    Waiting for your anwser,

    King Regard,

    Akos Horvath

    My Portoflios at microstock sites:

    • admin says:

      The question about rf on image brief is a tough one. They say you can’t, but then they don’t pay very much for many briefs, so make your own mind up!

      I do upload full resolution images. I think they do protect them.

      I’ve got no experience selling there without an assignment. My guess is the results would be poor.


I'm always interested in what you think - please let me know!