Earnings from selling photos and videos online

The September results are in and the big question is whether I managed to maintain my record of beating the earnings in the same month in the previous year? The answer is yes – for the 16th consecutive month I have increased earnings over that same month. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up, but it is a worthwhile goal! To be honest, there is not much that you can do to impact sales in any particular month – the only real action we can take is to continue to upload good saleable images and videos on a regular basis. If there is a secret to success, it is that.

What made this month so good – with total earnings at $3315 – was the great video performance. Fully $564 from videos in September.

As you can see from the graph, that is way above any previous month. Why so good? First of all, I had a great month on Shutterstock with total video earnings of $255, including $102 for this simple shot off the back of a cruise ship going across the Atlantic:

Adobe Stock was great as well with $220 of earnings including $85 for this one of a local coal power station:

The cruise ship did pretty well with two other sales from that trip on Adobe including a simple sunset over the side of the ship for $70:

My macro shots of opioids did well again – most of them taken with the Edelkrone Surface One. Definitely a good investment! So videos do take a lot more time, have a steeper learning curve, but definitely are an interesting adventure that is paying dividends.

Overall, I continued to add new images – on average I have over 10,000 images on most of the sites:

In terms of earnings on the different sites, Shutterstock was good with these video sales to end just over $900. Similarly Adobe really benefited from the videos to reach a new record of $576 – way above any previous total. It is interesting to think how that site has changed from the old Fotolia days – when I even stopped uploading for quite a time because they were just rejecting so many of my images back in those days. iStock was pretty good (I report August earnings for September) with $453. Pond5 picked up with a few videos to end up with $209.

I didn’t really have any really high still photo sales in the month although Pond5 came through with a sale of one of my “artificial sea” images of Miami for $49:

I did have a sale of this small church on Maui on Shutterstock for $30. It is the burial place of Charles Lindbergh, the pilot, and it just goes to show that these photos of out of the way places may not sell very often (13 total downloads!), but they can still make a reasonable amount from time to time:

It also shows the importance of properly and carefully describing these scenes so that they come up with the likely searches.

Finally, a quick look at the quarter totals:

This shows quite graphically the drop in the summer months – lets hope the wave shape now continues into Q4 and onwards!

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9 Responses

  1. Vlad Savin says:


  2. JoeMeth says:

    Congrats for another good month. I’m just about to buy your book. Maybe today itself I buy it. Regards! By the way, I’m a big fan of your work. Keep on it!

  3. christiano says:

    good! do you upload videos to Istock? i have a couple, but the commission rate for them are really bad! If yes, what is the highest commission you received for a video (istock)?

    • admin says:

      I’ve got a few there, but not very many, and they don’t take editorial video either which further reduces the volume. Since they dropped Stock Submitter I haven’t sent anything to them. The highest sales price has been $12, but I have a couple for $0.16 each… Not good!

  4. AlessandraRC says:

    Thanks for reporting. I had a nice September also, and October is promising with a few RM sales from Alamy….

  5. PaulHardy says:

    Hi Steve, one thing I am interested in finding out, and I know is a bit of a how long is a piece of string answer. And no one else has been able to answer for me; But, if you submit stock footage to an agency in Year 1, when do you think you really start to see sales kick in, Year 3 onwards? I am thinking. Especially taking in to account if clips are of a particular season, ie summer. Currently most of my footage sales are from clips I shot last year. I think this year has been my most creative year, I’ve shot about 6oo clips this year, but I am really thinking about when sales will start from the work I’ve done this year.
    Just wondered what are your thoughts.

    • admin says:

      I think it does depend on the subject, the amount of competition for that subject and obviously the quality of the clip. Some of my opioid videos started to sell quite quickly, especially on Shutterstock, because I was lucky to get in front of a big news cycle. But generic travel shots are much more dependent on someone seeing your clip and deciding that is exactly the one they need. If there is little choice and someone needs something, then your video could sell almost immediately. So I think it is more about getting good videos of less well covered subjects (that are still of interest to someone) and getting excellent videos of more commonly requested shots.

      I think there is probably some gain from “similar videos from the same contributor” which probably does take some time to really start working in your favor – you need to get some sales under your belt before others start to see the rest of your work.

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