Making money from stock photos – Feb 2019

Another month zooms by, and time for the February earnings details. February has always been a pretty consistent month for me and this year is no exception. That sounds good, but of course I have many more images and videos online each year and the ideal performance would be a steady increase. But these days, we take what we can get from stock photography!

Earnings from selling stock photos and videos online at microstock agencies. How much can you earn from selling your photos.

Total earnings were down a bit from the previous two years, but not by much, and I ended the month with $2763. I always take the earnings I receive from iStock as my earnings in that month – not completely accurate, but it is better than having to go back each month and correct the figures.

Here are my files online at the various agencies:

Digital photos and videos on sale at the various stock photography agencies in February 2019

This graph is for both videos and still photos. I haven’t really kept good records of the numbers of each over the years. Just for background, I have 445 videos and 11186 photos on sale at Shutterstock.

Video sales were pretty good this month with a total of $250 or so. Most of the video sales were my usual opioid macro shots – the zooms and pans around a prescription bottle and some tablets. Most of them used the Edelkrone Dolly One. Although there are cheaper versions of this sort of device, I’m always impressed how they keep adding new features into the software of the device and its app. I wrote about using this back in December

This month I thought it would be interesting to see how my overall numbers are impacted by video sales and so here is a graph showing the contribution of photos and videos to my overall earnings:

Contribution of video sales to overall earnings from selling digital photos online

And my normal video sales graph:

Sales and earnings from selling videos online at stock agencies

Notable photo sales in the month included this one from the beach overlooking the Sunshine Skyway bridge near St Petersburg in Florida. This sold on Shutterstock for $80:

Sunrise over Sunshine Skyway bridge near St Petersburg in Florida
Panorama of bright sunrise lighting up the sky behind Sunshine Skyway Bridge from St Petersburg Florida across Tampa Bay

Then this one (one of my best sellers with total sales of $506) sold for $36 on Shutterstock:

Cherry blossoms surround the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC
Sun rising illuminates the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin with bright pink cherry blossoms framing the monument

Landscapes seem to have done well this month with another sale of Shutterstock of this panoramic shot of a North Wales meadow for $37.50. This particular shot (some with replaced sky) has probably earned about $1500 or so since I uploaded it in 2012.

Wide panorama of the countryside on the Borders between England and Wales
Broad panorama of the countryside in North Wales with green field in foreground

Finally, this pretty horrible shot sold on Shutterstock for $27. I’ve always thought this was a bit amateurish, but it keeps selling!

Concept of the cost of medications and drugs
Multiple white tablets of drugs or vitamins on reflective grey surface spelling dollar sign to indicate high cost of medication or drugs

In terms of the agencies. There were not many real surprises. I still don’t know what I am doing wrong with Alamy. With over 10,000 images there I earned just $25 net! Terrible performance! Creative Market made a recovery after nothing in December and a very dry 2 weeks in February to give me $70 net. EyeEM was great after a very poor January ($9!) to give me $145, including some nice big sales from their own agency as well as the sales via Getty. I’m now looking forward for some big earnings in March – the month started well with an $87.50 4K sale (of opioid bottle again!) on Pond5 in the first few hours of March 1st. Hope that is a good sign for the rest of the month!

To close – I was very pleased to see an excellent summary of progress in stock photography from Alex Rotenberg over on his Brutally Honest site. Well worth a read! And, if you have a spare moment, please check out my blog post about shooting Fireworks over on the Dreamstime site and click the Useful button (if you are a member over there) if you like it! It all helps!

(Visited 1,915 times, 1 visits today)

6 Responses

  1. khellon says:

    Great sales again Steve! I see you mention EyeEm. Do you have many images with them? Do you also upload to 500PX? I have had a few sales at both but they are not regular. EyeEm is difficult to upload to so I dont have many images there myself.


    • Steven Heap says:

      hi Kevin
      I have about 1200 images with EyeEM, of which 1000 are in their market and 650 or so are in their partner collection. Some of those are relatively new and I think it takes some time to get into the other libraries. I did upload about 2000 or so to 500px during the time I had a free Pro account, but the sales are relatively few and far between. I don’t submit any new ones there. EyeEm is a bit complex, but I understand they will add their own keywords to images for their market and partners if you submit images with no, or few keywords. Not sure I trust them though!

  2. Ramana says:

    Hi Steve,

    As you shoot with the A7R3, with 40 odd megapixels the file sizes should be huge.
    So when you upload them to EyeEM do you reduce the resolution specifically for them alone?
    Or in general do you reduce the resolution and save a common file for all agencies? if yes, to what resolution do you reduce it to?


    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Ramana
      For a long time I downsized my images to 4500 pixels on the longest side. More recently, I’ve been making them 5000 or so. Not entirely sure it makes a difference. I submit the same files to EyeEM – so I don’t do anything special for them. I only create larger sizes for Fine Art America and Society6 as you need the maximum size to create the largest print sizes.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing, I found it all very interesting and nice to see others like spreadsheets and graphs.

    I am working on building up my portfolio as a long term plan to supplement my retirement when I get there or at least to offset the cost of my expensive photography hobby. I am on Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and Getty Images (iStock) as well as my own website and Fine Art America.
    I did try Dreamstime and Alamy (which drove me crazy with the time it took to submit only to get them all declined if one image wasn’t accepted).

    I currently have around 3000 nature images but do intend to branch out with more stock type images like people and technology eventually 🙂



    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Merrillie
      Thanks for your kind comments! I would investigate the use of Stock Submitter – it makes it a lot easier to submit to multiple sites including Alamy and Dreamstime. You never know which site will start to grow in the future, which is why I support as many as I do!

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