Earnings from Stock Photography in May 2018

No clickbait headlines from me this month! However, the earnings were probably worthy of a headline like that. Certainly not as good as April with its $3500 total, but certainly better than May 2017 with a total of $2954:

Earnings from selling photos online

What is very nice to see is the continuing trend (which started last August) of the current earnings being higher, in some cases much higher, than the trend had been in the same month in previous years. This month was no exception, with earnings coming in about $500 (or 20%) higher than any of the previous years. Yes, I have added more images and video, but I had also done that in previous years, so it is very nice to see some reward for my efforts.

I traveled to England for almost 3 weeks this month and so didn’t upload much that made any difference to the downloads, but it certainly gave me a lot of work on my return. The weather in England was very kind, with pleasant 20 degree (70 for US readers) sunny weather for much of the time. With a few days in Devon and then a longer period in the North Wales area, I was able to get out and about visiting old National Trust houses and interesting landscapes. National Trust properties in the UK are a problem for stock photographers and they don’t allow the commercial use of images of their properties, but there are always nice details of things – gates leading into dark forests for instance – that don’t indicate where they were taken. I came back with around 580 images or so, and ended up with 260 usable stock shots, which I think was a very good return on my time. Although you can take many different images of the same landscape or scene, I think I am getting much better at more quickly capturing the “right” shots that are worthy of keywording and uploading rather than taking many that are left on the darkroom floor! The split of images was 68 editorial and 198 commercial and just one video (which foolishly I took with the camera in a vertical position so I ended up with a 4K video of a waterfall that looks like it came from a smartphone with its vertical format! I just don’t seem to be able to “see” videos in the same way as I have trained myself with photos!

I don’t tend to search out places by looking to see if there is much competition on the stock agencies – I go to places where I think there are some nice photographic opportunities, but I was pleased to see that there are only about 20 images of Llanrhaeadr waterfall (the highest in Wales, although that is disputed!) and mine are the equal of the ones that are there:

Always take your tripod to slow down the water for shots like this!

Back to May. The number of files per agency reflects the upload that I have done in the past few days:


All the agencies were reasonable this month, although certainly not as good as April. Shutterstock came in just under $1000, iStock (for April) was down about $100 from the two previous months to end up with $461, Adobe was down about $150 to end with $405. But the rest pretty much matched their normal levels. My best selling photos for May were:

This one of Washington DC at sunrise on SS for $75, and then this on Alamy for $75 net:

However, the star earners for the month were videos. In total I made $318 from videos. I haven’t taken any new ones this month due to travel, but the ones I did over the winter with the close up shots of Opioid prescription bottles (with fake tablets!) are still my best sellers. This one sold twice on SS for $105 and $20:

And similar ones from the same series sold twice on StoryBlocks for $47 each time and then I had a Washington DC fireworks shot for $22 on Adobe. It is nice that my studio videos are selling, but disappointing that none of the ones I have taken on my travels seem to do very much. I will need to study more examples of successful stock videos I think and try to up my game! Here are my video earnings for the past months:


I only submit video to Pond5, Adobe, Shutterstock, iStock and StoryBlocks and iStock is relatively new. I do see some small value sales over there, but not enough to make much noise about. Shutterstock and Adobe are probably the most reliable, but StoryBlocks and Pond5 came to the fore nicely this month. The Pond5 ones were actually manipulated still shots of a foreclosure sign in front of a house and a picture of gold coins with a growing price line superimposed.

I hope you had some successes as well if you are following in my footsteps!



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10 Responses

  1. Juanjoc says:

    Hi Steve :

    I really read these lines and they are inspiring compared to what the forums say (all negative) really with you I come to the conclusion that this business relies on a lot of effort and work

    Keep it up …

    • admin says:

      Thanks! Yes, it isn’t easy and you need to both think about what you are doing and work hard especially on keywording. I always ask myself – can I see a use for this image? If you can’t think of at least one use case, then don’t bother with it!

  2. Taya Johnston says:

    It’s so good to see your growth, glad you are doing so well. I had a strange month in May. I’ve been working to really grow the portfolios and sales quantity were almost double my norm but my actual money was dismal. It was like the Stock gods were mocking me. 25 cents, 25 cents, 25 cents, lol. No large downloads or video’s for me in may. So a deep breath and on to June.

  3. Really impressed, Steve! Congrats on another impressive month.

    Nice to see that video sales are picking up, which is encouraging for me as well since I’m trying to diversify into video.

    Best of luck in June

  4. Vlad Savin says:

    Hello, Steve.

    It was a good month for you and for me too. It was the best month. I really like your photos of nature. Very beautiful Photoshop work.

    Best regards, Vlad Savin.

  5. AlessandraRC says:

    Good job! Sounds like your efforts are paying off.

    I also cannot resist dandelion puffballs. Neversold.


  6. Taya Johnston says:

    Ok so just yesterday I actually sold a dandelion puffball shot on bigstock. I had to laugh at myself because my reaction was…..But I’ve got so many better shots, heck i have better dandelion shots. Why that particular shot? Seriously I always wonder what makes someone choose what they do to buy. I have great shots that have never sold and mediocre ones that are getting more popular by the day. Lol.

    • alessandrarc says:


      • admin says:

        Yes, I’ve never seen so many perfect dandelion puffballs as I saw in that graveyard and couldn’t resist taking some close up shots. Haven’t sold – yet! However, a few of the latest ones are now starting to sell – sold this one of the maximum security prison on Dartmoor Dartmoor Prison on Pond5 for $10 today.

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