April 1 Report on Earnings from Stock Photos

What a month – $9,650 earned from the sale of stock photos and videos in March 2019!

Earnings from stock photography in March 2019

OK – I did give the game away in the title this month…this bit was an April Fools joke (sort of…)

Back to earth with a bang, although not that much of one. March did turn out to be a great month for me in both photos and videos with a total of $3663. Easily my best month ever and beating April 2018 by around $170. The more eagle eyed among you will have noticed that this graph is subtly different from the one I published last month in that January and February results are actually higher than in previous years. I have some files through a small agency that managed to get them into Corbis and then they were absorbed into the main Getty library. The same files are under their account in Alamy back from the days when placement in their results could be managed if you knew how best to keyword them for best position. Anyway, cutting this history short, I now get quarterly reports of earnings and I just received the Q1 results – $599. So I added $200 to each of the three months in the quarter rather than try to work out in which months the sales actually occurred. I will have to do that going forward as well, so each quarter the previous months will show an increase.

Having said all that, the month was good. I will concentrate in this post on the results and then do another one on the best sellers and the agency highlights.

Just for new readers, here are my online file counts to compare the numbers against:

Files per stock agency

As this is the end of the quarter, I can also add the quarter results to show you how the different agencies have been growing over time:

Earnings per quarter from the main stock photo and video agencies

What is interesting in this graph is that the 2014 – 2016 years were very flat (or negative) for me. However, from the low point in Q3 2016, the growth has been steadily upwards. Yes, I have added more files, but it is still a nice trend to see. I do maintain a history of the earnings I get from each online file. I remove video from this and so this is earnings per online photo strictly. I also take an average of the files on Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe to work out the average number of files for this calculation. Not a pretty picture, but there are small signs of a leveling off of the slope!

Earnings per online photo file at main stock photo agenices

But what drove the earnings in March. There was good activity on all the sites, which I will talk about more in the next post. But a key driver was video:

Earnings from selling stock video

The March results reached almost $600 and surpassed the previous best in September last year. It would be nice if this was a little more consistent, but I will take each month as it comes!

Just as an alternative way of looking at this, here is a graph of video and photos on the same chart:

Selling photos and videos online

This does give a bit of scale to the results. Video is important, but generally not a massive part of each months results. That is perhaps not surprising given I have 11000 images and just less than 500 videos, but it does show how much some well focused (!) videos can make. Again, more in the next post!

That probably covers the highlights for the month. Lets hope that March is the start of a busy year in the stock photo and video world!

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18 Responses

  1. Vlad Savin says:

    My congratulations! Very good month.

  2. Sue Gresham says:

    Congratulations – your posts give us all incentive to do better – thank you very much for sharing and all the very best for the rest of the year! Sue

  3. Jason Sponseller says:

    Very interesting details, Steven. I’m actually very new to your site and the stock photo world, in general. I’ve been with shutterstock for a little over a year. I have about 500 images on file and bringing in about 40-50/month. Decided to go all in and focus the majority of my time on developing multiple sources of passive income, starting with shutterstock and then slowly increasing the number of stock sites I work with. What I want to do is master one platform before moving onto the next. Do you have any recommendations on how to further go about doing this? And I would love to get some examples on keywording strategies, phrases, and descriptions. These sites appear to be oversaturated and I am looking for ways to combat that and stand out. Many thanks for the response. Definitely looking forward to future posts.

    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Jason – welcome. Of course my book is a good starter in terms of how to manage multiple sites! And Alex (Brutally Honest Stock) and I are going to collaborate on more of an advanced course later in the summer. The big thing is to build a workflow that can support multiple sites – I don’t think there is any advantage on getting to know one site and then moving on – you might as well bite the bullet and submit to all of them as soon as you can.

  4. Andrea says:

    Thank you for the interesting informations you write about photo stock.
    I read your articles every time you publish one.

    I just wanted to point out to you that maybe there is an error in the sales figure in the first line: you write: What a month – $9,650 earned from the sale of stock photos and videos in March 2019!

    I suppose is $3,650 as you write later…

    Thank you again!

  5. khellon says:

    Hi Steve
    I note that you say you keep a history of sales of all you files. I was wondering how you do this. Does stock submitter give you this information. I dont currently use it because I dont consider my sales high enough to justify the outlay.



    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Kevin
      I don’t use the statistics section of stock submitter at all. I think it just brings back the earnings totals. I use Microstockr Pro – that is still a subscription, but it brings back the thumbnails of each sold file and then lets you look at the sales of that specific image on a stock agency, or it combines them all together to give you the sales of the image across all agencies to give you a best sellers list.

  6. PaulHardy says:

    Interesting reading. What’s your thoughts on Pond5 exclusive?

    • Steven Heap says:

      Hi Paul
      Great for Pond5 if they can get some traction – less clear what the benefit is for the contributor. I think many people mistake the word exclusive to mean that they can charge some higher price for the clip. However, it isn’t exclusive at all to the customer – it is more of a monopoly that Pond5 are looking for so that customers must visit their site to buy it. Unless your clip is really special, I’m not sure why someone would search outside their normal agency if they can find a clip that is reasonably close to their requirements. I also don’t want to tie myself to one agency and turn down the potential sales elsewhere, even for the higher commission. So I’m not going to do anything different at this stage – just watch what happens for a while.

      • PaulHardy says:

        I feel that I’m slightly in a dilemma.
        I think the idea is a noble one, to try and keep prices higher for the contributors and to stop clients shopping around for the same clip cheaper elsewhere. How much do they do that? But I think it could only work if prices were locked on their site too, as it doesn’t`t stop the race to the bottom with contributors on Pond5 itself willing to submit and price clips lower than everyone else. Also, RF exclusive is not the same as RM exclusive. Having content exclusive to Pond5 only, doesn’t`t stop a client buying a clip and then a similar competitor buying the same clips afterwards for instance, unlike RM where sales history is more visible for clients.

        Also, I’ve just terminated my contract with Getty Images, tired of being paid peanuts for exclusive content. I might as well have images everywhere selling for peanuts! One month left of my 3 month wind down. After that, I’m not sure if I want to lock my content to one agent once again just yet! (Stills or footage.)

        Also, I have 1300 odd clips on P5.
        With another 300 clips coming from my Getty Portfolio in a months time.
        I think I would rather my portfolio all under one umbrella, on Pond5, rather than 300 here and 1300 there.

        • Steven Heap says:

          I agree about the pricing on Pond5 – they don’t control that, it appears. I do also think there are uses where the user could pay less – an occasional web usage, say. But the key thing to my mind is that there is no exclusivity at all on Pond5 – and so the buyers are getting nothing apart from being forced to set up an account at Pond5 to buy it. I’ve been happy with my pricing on Adobe for instance, and so I think it doesn’t help if an Adobe user has to leave their account there to go to Pond5 to buy a specific clip. In my view, they are much more likely to just choose a similar one already on Adobe rather than search across all sites to find that Pond5 one. I’m sure there are really unique clips around, but not sure I have any! Good luck with the leaving of Getty!

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