Making money from stock photography – Aug 19

Another month in the doldrums of summer with earnings to match! Everyone must have been on vacation this past month as my total earnings just managed to creep up to $2424. Although I expect a drop in the summer, this was well below 2018 and 2017 for the same month. To be fair, though, it would be hard to get another massive sale on Society6 similar to the one last month. Incidentally, that big sale cleared without any issues and I received the payment from them yesterday.

Here is my usual chart of earnings each month for the past 6 or 7 years:

Earnings from selling my photos and videos online at stock photo agencies such as Shutterstock and Getty
Earnings from stock photography in August 2019

As you can see, September has usually shown the start of higher earnings – we must all keep our fingers crossed that this will be the case again this year!

Number of images that you need to have online to earn a reasonable income from stock photography
Number of files online at the main stock agencies in August 2019

The number of files online didn’t change much in August – perhaps 100 additional files. I’m still in the middle of editing and keywording the files from my recent trip to Portugal where I was very pleased to meet up with Brutally Honest Alex! He gave us a nice tour of Lisbon and we ended up in a small local restaurant that was well off the tourist trail – great! Alex is very open at sharing his best sellers. He mentioned a glass of wine with a background of wine country in his last blog. He is going to face some heavy competition now:

Wine glass overlooking the crowded vineyards of the Port grape growing region of Portugal around the Douro river
Wine tasting over the crowded vineyards around the Douro river in Portugal

Videos were a bit of a disappointment for me in August with sales of only $223. I have quite a number of videos from Portugal to upload – I better get some more clips online soon to keep this part of my portfolio growing!

Sales of online videos via stock agencies in August 2019
Video sales in August 2019

The drop in video sales was a big factor in my poor results from iStock this month (strictly from July but reported in August). Just $324 from iStock after $488 the previous month. When I checked the details, I saw that I had just $10 in video sales from 6 clip sales (the lowest being $0.11!!!), compared to $174 from 15 downloads in the previous month. My iStock earnings are heavily influenced by just a few higher value downloads – whether stills or video – and this month those were very scarce. In fact, I had just three asset sales (2 photos, 1 video) that made more than $5 in the results.

Shutterstock was lower than normal as well, with just short of $800. Last month $900, June was $1000. Again, the lack of higher priced sales seemed to be a big factor, although I had some OK video sales there – cruise ship shots, opioids, back to college shots at WVU etc. I do track the download numbers from Shutterstock and they don’t actually vary a lot from month to month. 886 in August, 899 in July, 835 in June – which again reinforces the occasional high value sale as driving the monthly income totals.

Adobe Stock was consistent – $394 compared to $416 last month. I was very pleased to see that they are going to accept editorial stock from some contributors. Not me at the moment (I applied but was turned down), although I am very close to reaching the 25000 download level. That should happen this coming month so I will let you know how sales there develop. Hopefully they will increase the range of contributors able to submit in the near future.

Canva is showing a few signs of life. After dropping from $100 to $25 in June, it picked up to $34 in July and then $41 in August. Not great by any means and I have stopped submitting to them as almost every image was being rejected, but perhaps they will get back to a steady, if low, return.

EyeEM bounced back a little from $40 in July to $97 in August. I’ve written at length about the issues of keywording at EyeEM. I did write to support about it and making some suggestions. As usual, a less than helpful reply although I was told that they are aware of some issues and are working on improvements!

Finally, some good news in the month. A new sale on Fine Art America! This one was for a canvas print of Kalalau valley in Kauai:

Kalalau Valley in Kauai

A very pleasant lady from Oahu contacted me as she had seen this image on Shutterstock and asked if I could offer a print of it. I quickly uploaded this version to FAA and pointed her to the site. After she bought the 24 x 12 inch canvas print, I asked her about the pricing she saw there – her view was that it was much as she expected, although she would have preferred to have bought a larger size, but the prices of those put her off. Interesting feedback. Incidentally, my profit on this was $97. I’m always in two minds as to whether to bring down my margin and perhaps sell more. So difficult to work out if it would make that much difference!

I also just sold a second print on FAA this week (not in the August results). This one was Woodburn Hall at West Virginia University – presumably to a new student at the college:

Woodburn Hall at West Virginia University in Morgantown

Profit on this one was $60 for a 16 x 11 inch canvas print. Well, back to work for me on all my backlog of images and videos (after a quick round of golf!). Keep shooting – it is the only way to keep your income coming in!

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2 Responses

  1. AlessandraRC says:

    Thanks for sharing, Steve. Things have been slow for me lately. In part it is that I have travelled quite some this year – three international trips – leaving little time to invest in uploading to stock. I’m still behind uploading and those travel images may not sell all that well. I finally sold something on Eyem. .40 cents.

    • Steven Heap says:

      Travel is good! Hope you came back with some good images (although submitting to EyeEM may not be a great plan!)

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