Stock photo earnings December 2019

I’ve been anxiously awaiting my earnings from EyeEM after their extended holiday break before I report the full December earnings and now they are in! $22… Perhaps forget that now and come back to the main story. The month was pretty quiet in the second half, as usual, and I ended with $2630, about the same as last year.

How much can you really earn from selling your photos online. Month by month analysis of the various stock photo agencies
Earnings through December 2019 from stock photography

Quite a drop from previous months, but, as you can see from the graph, this is pretty normal. Just to add my other normal graphs – number of assets online at the various agencies:

How many images do you need online to make reasonable money from stock photography?
Number of photos/videos online at the various agencies

And, finally, how busy I was in December with uploads:

Increase in the number of files online

A pretty normal month as you can see with uploads – I did manage finally to upload all the images from Portugal and am getting on top of the images I took in the final months of 2019. I never cease to be surprised about the amount of work it takes to accurately keyword each image – especially if you try to avoid lots of duplicate images and have varied subjects.

Even though the month was pretty average, video sales were a surprisingly bright spot. Every time I say this I also say to myself – you must take more videos! And every month I somehow fail to do it. It is just harder to do videos, especially in a studio setting where you need to think of ways to make the image move in some way. I had a cold last week and felt down, but decided that I looked rough enough to take some “depressed/lonely” type shots, which I think came out quite well, but I just couldn’t build up the enthusiasm to set this up as a video shoot rather than just stills. So my new year’s resolution must be – take more videos!!

Senior man feeling depressed and lonely stock photo image
Head and shoulders portrait of a senior caucasian man with head in hands and looking depressed

But back to the video sales:

Sales from stock videos through 2019
Sales from stock video clips showing steadily improving earnings

Sales were $589 in the month – almost my best ever, but showing a continuing growth month by month (with the normal variations). Bearing in mind the relatively poor overall number, videos gave me almost 23% of my total earnings this month compared with 15% last month.

So what caused this result? For some reason, I had a great result on Shutterstock with five sales of clips from the Terracotta warriors exhibition hall in China for $48 each:

Pan across the Terracotta Warriors in China

These were all hand held (the place was packed with tourists) and so I stabilized them in Premiere, which does a great job of smoothing out the hand wobbles that you can’t avoid when doing these sort of pan shots. I don’t know if there was something special going on with those warriors, but I hope it continues at some point!

The ferris wheel at dusk at National Harbor outside Washington DC

This one is much easier to take and perhaps does show that I am thinking more about videos. This was sold on Adobe for $28 and was a simple tripod shot of the moving ferris wheel at National Harbor outside DC. Nothing about the scene really had any intellectual property and so it was accepted as commercial without any issues.

Then Pond5 helped with a $60 sale of one of my Opioid clips:

Rotation around a prescription bottle of Oxycodone

The tablets are just calcium or something like that – but the buyers are just interested in the story, not the nature of the tablets themselves!

On the photo side there was a real dearth of well priced sales. Just five sales for more than $10 in the month. These were just routine shots – landscapes from England, one of a moth on a window screen that sold for $14:

Macro image of a large Regal Moth known as Citheronia Regalis

Note that I researched this and gave it a proper formal name – that might have been a reason for its sale – you never know!

In terms of the agencies, SS was on top as usual (thanks to those videos) with $840. It would have been very disappointing if those hadn’t turned up! iStock was very good with $514 (for November) and Adobe was a bit down with $435. Canva is showing some reasonable signs of life with the subscriptions – $110 this month.

I’ll work on some thoughts for the annual report shortly, but to end how I began:

Sales and earnings from EyeEM stock photo agency
Sales on EyeEM since I joined the agency in early 2018

I had high hopes for EyeEM, but they grew to really impressive heights and then fell away just as quickly. I hope my articles about them are not resulting in my images being downgraded! I haven’t been adding images recently, but something is not working for me on the Getty site which provides the vast majority of their sales. Still, easy come, easy go! That is the reason we upload to multiple agencies – we never know which one will be successful next year!

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4 Responses

  1. It’s not you. EyeEm spiked good for me, then became irrelevant.

    • Steven Heap says:

      Yes, it is strange. The images are still there on Getty and as usual I get the same images selling multiple times (ie the others might as well not be there), but no big sales at all and not that many either. A friend of mine had over $200 in December, but he has some great studio Christmas shots which I think made the difference in his case.

  2. Mohammed says:

    Thanks for this info as always. I read on Alex’s blog about Wirestock, and I was wondering what you thought about it. I uploaded a few images, but they seem to take time to be reviewed and accepted. Do you think it could be a good time-saver?

    • Steven Heap says:

      They sound intriguing – if you were sitting there with thousands of images and about to just start, it sounds an attractive way of moving forward. Certainly worth considering for 15% of revenue.

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