Earnings from Stock Photography in July 2018

I think this is the 83rd posting on earnings – I hope you still find them interesting! July (and August) tend to be the lowest period of the year for sales and this year was no different. Watching the earnings in Microstockr Pro was pretty painful and the more agencies they add, the less the surprise when I finally put all the results into my spreadsheets. However, I just managed to maintain my steady progress of beating the previous year’s results with a total of $2510 in July. Last year I earned $2267 so I guess it was not a bad result!

Growth in earnings from stock photography and online video in July 2018

I think that now makes 14 consecutive months where I have increased earnings over the same month in the previous year. A friend asked me for my secret – in fact he suggested I write a new book about it, but to be honest it boils down to just one concept – keep working hard at taking the best images (and videos) that you can and uploading them regularly to as many sites as you can support. Sometimes (like these past months) it seems like new images are just not selling at all, but that can change as soon as the major agencies change their algorithms again. A bit like the stock market, you can’t guess the correct time to upload your images so I just keep plodding on adding more every month.

Growth in online files on stock photography and online video in July 2018

As you can see, there has not really been any time since early 2011 when I didn’t add more files to the agencies and recently the slope for Shutterstock is increasing as I put more editorial work on the sites that take that content. I also continually look at what images are being used to illustrate articles and stories and challenge myself to create new versions of what I see. I like to scan through the Flipboard App at least daily as that gives an easy way to see images illustrating all sorts of stories without much effort. I sometimes see my own images there (which is great), but it is a good source of inspiration for me.

I’ve been tracking my video sales each month as well. I must admit I find video to be much harder to do well than photographs, but it can make a difference in the results and it is also a less saturated market so I must force myself to get better! The sales in July were fireworks and opioids – which seem to be my popular videos this year, but overall July was not that good to be honest:

Growth in earnings from stock photography and online video in July 2018

But I don’t tend to get worried by one month’s results.

Nothing much stood out in the agency totals this month – all of them were down compared to last month and some (yes, I’m talking about you, Alamy) were abysmal! With 8000 images on Alamy, I sold just three for a total net earning of $9.  Another friend told me that the very hot summer in the UK is slowing everything down – lets hope that it rains soon!

However, I did have a nice surprise on my own site, BackyardStockPhotos, which I created a couple of years back using Symbiostock. Someone bought an extended license for one of my Equatorial Guinea images that he plans to print for an exhibition in the country:

Not the greatest picture in the world, but it just goes to show that if an image meets someone’s needs, they will buy it!

I also had someone contact me for an image that he had seen on other agencies, but couldn’t find on my own site. He wanted it to print for his grandmother in Puerto Rico:

Painted Puerto Rico state flag on uprooted tree from Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In this case I did some improvements to my original image to make it moodier and better suited to a piece of wall art, but he was happy to also pay $35 for the license. It is actually things like this that are more satisfying than seeing more subscription sales on Shutterstock!  Funnily enough, my highest sale on Shutterstock this month happened to be a Single Sale for $66 also of a scene in Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico panorama

Let’s hope that the summer doldrums end soon and we get back to some higher returns for all the effort we put into this business!

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9 Responses

  1. Roman says:

    Good month for summer time. Does Zoonar sell something? I have about 1000 images and no sales during the year.

    • admin says:

      Yes – I have over 10K files there and I get sales each month from Alamy and Getty mainly. I no longer use Zoonar to submit to Alamy, but I did for several years at the time that the keywording process on Alamy was very complex. I think I got about $150 from them in July, although that was well outside the norm.


  2. I currently contribute to 13 sites but only have a little over 1,000 images on Shutterstock, less on the others. Canstock is so picky about releases for images that get through on other sites, and Alamy and istock have been hopeless in sales so far. Istock drives me nuts with its keywording.
    Am working on increasing my stock levels but it sure does take a lot of work. I find XPiks excellent for keywording.
    I am sure you have been asked this question a thousand times, but do you review portfolios?

    • admin says:

      Hi Michelle
      Keep up the good work! I never bother with Canstock and their silly rules. I think you need to have an image of the person in the release submitted with it, or something like that, so my released images never even go there. They also seem to reject stuff for one reason or another. I’m finding that StockSubmitter still works for iStock, although it doesn’t remember choices like it once did. You might find that easier than using the iStock website or their systems. The trick with Alamy is to just keep going. Eventually images will be picked up, although I must admit July was the worst month there for a long time. I currently use the keywording tool built into StockSubmitter – you select similar images as usual, but it gives you the 30 most common keywords in priority order and it is easy to copy and paste them.

      Not sure I know what you mean about reviewing portfolios? Do you mean, do I look at what is rejected from the various sites and do something about them? The answer is that I only really do that for Shutterstock – I don’t look at the other sites very often.

      Edit: Now that I think about your question – I have done some reviewing of other people’s portfolios, but really I need to make a small charge for that: Edit


  3. christiano says:

    Hi Steve, great job and i like read your blog! I am on stock for about 1 year, and I see a steady progresssion in the number of sales and amounts. I have about 1000 photos on IS, SS, DT, 123RF. About 500 on Alamy and AS. Do you have statistics on which sites earn you the most? Also, which tool is best for the keywords / uplod the photos on the sites? IS is a nightmare with keywords and Alamy also with the option to choose 10 super “key words” …
    Thanks in advance!

    • admin says:

      Hi Christiano
      I use StockSubmitter for both keywording and uploading now. I like the way you can select images that look like yours and then get the top 30 keywords in an easy to copy form. It also allows you to order keywords in their editor (which is necessary for Adobe Stock) and also it then uses that for the Alamy super keywords. Finally, as I said in a response to Michele, it does still work with iStock as well, although it is more work than it used to be. If you search the blog for “workflow” you will find posts about how I do that.

      Regarding earnings per agency, I do this from time to time – the last time was April 2018 in my blog post about March earnings.

  4. Another solid month, Steve!

  5. Amlan says:

    Love your posts on microstock.

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