Making money from photography January 2019
Making money as a photographer must be one of the harder professions out there. Everyone seems to think that they can do it, and some people are willing to give excellent work away for free. You only need to look at Unsplash to see great images being offered with full commercial and editorial licenses at full resolution and for what? A credit line if you are lucky. As my friend Alex has discovered with his excellent research work on fraudulent accounts over at Shutterstock, there is an active gang of thieves just waiting for new uploads to Unsplash and immediately submitting them as their own images for sale on Shutterstock. Talk about people shooting themselves in the foot!
But back to my efforts in stock photography. Well, the new year did improve a little, especially with video sales. Overall, I ended up with $2750 for January. Quite an improvement over December and in line with my results from January 2018. That itself isn’t great news as I added 2500 files during 2018! Still, it is nice to see an upward bounce:
The reason for the bounce is interesting. With just 2 days to go in January, I suddenly earned $212 on Shutterstock for that day alone. Shutterstock jumped from less than $800 to end the month with $1018. Why? A very large video sale for $180 paid to me. The video in question isn’t anything special. Not even 4K – just a normal static HD shot of Dulles airport near Washington DC:
That sale gave quite a boost to my other video sales in the month:
A total of almost $400. The sort of videos that sold were my usual opioid shots, although I had a nice sale for a video of the sea behind a cruise ship on Shutterstock for $54 and one of the sun setting behind the wake of a cruise ship on Adobe for $24.
On the photo side, I continued my hectic pace of uploads during the month. I found that you could temporarily increase your subscription on Stock Submitter by choosing one of the higher packages and you are charged the difference between your current level and the new level as you increase your submission limit. As long as you choose to move back to your normal level before the end of your monthly cycle, then you are only charged once for that month. So I made use of that to upload a lot of my China images during January:
Shutterstock and DepositPhotos both take editorial and commercial shots, Adobe takes commercial only, so you can see how the increase in editorial shots is driving my uploads recently. Someone asked me if I knew how well editorial shots sold compared to commercial ones – I don’t unfortunately. Not sure how I would measure that even though it would be interesting.
My file counts on the agencies (stills plus video) are:
I thought it would be interesting to look how the different agencies fared in January:
I removed Shutterstock so that the other spread our more evenly to show the differences of the smaller sites. Some sites did really badly – EyeEM had been around $50 in the past few months – this month $8! However, Creative Market was a flat zero in December and grew back to its normal $77. Alamy was shocking. 9600 images and I make $12 from two sales. I know some people did pretty well on Alamy – it is hard to know what I am doing wrong there, but there must be something. Perhaps I will investigate my zooms a bit more in the coming months.
Canva has also fallen off in recent months. Less than $100 in December, but an increase to $135 in January. Adobe maintains its record pace to end with $476. Not the best ever, but it is getting much more consistent. iStock was a pretty poor $317 – at least compared to earlier months. This was a December performance though.
One big mistake I made (and I’ll write about it more when I have closed my account and got my outstanding royalties (as little as they are)) was joining OnePixel. Comments on the MSG suggested that this was a dodgy site, but my early uploads of maybe 50 images seemed to quickly sell and so I uploaded 8800 images. Same earnings as when I had 50 there. Pretty strange…. So I have accepted this was a mistake and have given in my 30 days notice to close the account there. Moral of the story – bottom feeders are always bottom feeders….
I had a quick look to see if there were any really good still image sales – some in the $20 and $30 range, but nothing really striking this month. So I think that probably rounds out my sales report for January.