Category Archives: Stock Photo Examples

How many files do I upload per month

There was a question in one of the comments about how many files I upload in a typical month. Of course, there is no such thing as a typical month as two things tend to drive my uploads – either I have been somewhere and come back with a lot of images to process and upload, or I have a spurt of image production in my “studio” when I think of something interesting or topical to photograph!

I decided to keep this simple by choosing Shutterstock as the example agency. They accept both editorial and commercial images and videos and so that represents the best view of my efforts. They tend to accept most images and so it also reflects, reasonably, what I am uploading. Here are the numbers for the past 3 years:

This represents an average of 93 files per month over the past three years. Overall, my numbers look like this: Continue Reading

Microstockr Pro – I missed it!

I’ve written about Microstockr Pro before, but it is always difficult to justify spending money on applications for microstock. It seems like we are so conditioned to accepting pennies for our images that we absolutely hate spending money (especially recurring money) on services that might make our lives easier! I know someone who earns more from me from stock photography who will not pay for applications like StockSubmitter and Microstockr Pro even though it is clear that she can easily afford it.

I accidentally let my subscription to Microstockr lapse at the end of December and initially thought – “oh, so what! I can see how my earnings are doing from time to time by visiting the main sites – I don’t need to spend my money on this.” So I didn’t renew. The result was pretty amazing – I really missed the program! Continue Reading

Review of 2017 earnings from Stock Photography

It is that time again – a review of the year’s earnings from stock photography. First the good news – I ended the year with a record total earnings of $32,732 after a decreasing trend over the past three years ending in 2016 with $28,368.

Looking at this on a monthly basis, almost every month this year has been higher than I earned in the same month in previous years, which I think is a very good sign. The last two months in particular were significantly higher than I received in November and December in any of the earlier years. If I can somehow maintain that into the coming year, then I should be in good shape for perhaps reaching $40,000 in 2018. Who knows! But that would be a great objective for the year.

Now what has caused this success? Continue Reading

How to maximize your earnings from your photos

We all spend a lot of money on our hobby, so how can you maximize the amount of money you earn from licensing your images via stock agencies? Well, the obvious immediate answer is to take great commercial images that are better than all the ones already out there, but, to be honest, that is easier said than done. There is another way though – maximize your income by making your photos available to as many potential buyers as possible.

We are all aware of the main agencies, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and so on. Some people have decided that the rewards are greater by choosing one agency and making yourself exclusive to them. Often their commission rates are higher for an exclusive contributor and you save the effort involved in uploading and submitting images to other agencies. I can understand the logic, but you are really making yourself dependent on the success of one agency for your entire income stream. If that agency annoys its buyers, fails to market correctly, or is simply taken over by another company that doesn’t have the same objectives you could be in trouble!

So how do we reach the most potential buyers – by submitting to the maximum number of agencies! I am sure there are some buyers who have an idea for an image they need and they search the internet using Google Images and they find that image on a particular agency and sign up to license it. But then with the next image they find a different agency and sign up again to buy that one. Even as you are reading this, I’m sure the complexity of the task becomes apparent. Setting up multiple accounts and using your credit card to buy images on a one by one basis is a lot of work and you are unlikely to get any discounts from buying more than one image.

Much more likely is the buyer who either personally, or their company has, an account with that agency. Perhaps they have a subscription type agreement, or a plan where they can buy a certain number of images over time – but the majority of people who are willing to pay for licenses will sign up to no more than a couple of agencies in my view.

Some of those agencies charge more for licenses – Getty and Alamy have significantly higher license fees that Shutterstock for example, and yet their buyers continue to buy images at those prices. I’ve studied the images that have been looked at in detail on Alamy and have never found a case where someone has “zoomed” into one of my images there and then gone elsewhere to buy the same image for less on another site.

So if the buyers tend to have a favorite agency, then the only way that buyer will license your image is if you have uploaded it to their agency – it is as simple as that. If you don’t upload there, then they will buy an alternative image from someone else that meets their needs.

But what about the risks of supporting an unknown agency that may decide to go belly up and simply sell your images for next to nothing? Yes, there is a risk that the more you support smaller agencies, that one of them may close down – it has happened a couple of times to me, but I’ve never had the situation there they have done anything more than close down the agency and delete the files. It would be an unusual CEO who would be willing to risk fraud charges by illegally selling off images in their database.

Is there a limit on the number of agencies to support? Yes, they must meet both of these criteria – be easy to upload to and have at least a few sales a month! As I explained in this post, I have a structured approach to managing my files such that it takes very little time to upload to 16 agencies compared to the effort in supporting one. Yes, technology helps, and the earnings from these smaller sites more than covers the cost of using software to help in the process.

So what is the result? Taking earnings from 2017 to date, if I had only supported one agency (Shutterstock in my case), I would have earned $8.5K for the year. Adding in a second agency takes this to $13.5K. My top five agencies increase the take to $22.5K. Adding the remaining 20 agencies that have some (or all) of my images gives me the remaining $7.5K. I don’t submit currently to 25 agencies, as over time I drop agencies from my upload process if they don’t contribute more than $10 a month or more. But I don’t delete my existing files on those agencies as getting payout once a year for no effort is still OK in my eyes.

So start counting those pennies and maximize your chance of selling your images by supporting the agencies that the buyers are supporting!

How to create images for things in the news

It is always a good idea for stock contributors to be ahead of the game when it comes to illustrating subjects that are going to get a lot of coverage in the news and on blogs and sites. Of course some of those are obvious now in retrospect – buying some fake bitcoins to illustrate the seemingly endless rise in their price would have given you lots of opportunities for sales:

Since I first bought these “gold” coins back in March and I uploaded 48 different sorts of images and videos, I have earned over $1000 from the set. Total cost to me was about $40 (the ethereum coin was almost $20 for some reason). It is a bit late to get on this bandwagon, but how do I go about creating images for things that I think will be newsworthy? Continue Reading

A new record for a single sale on Shutterstock

Maybe not the highest I have ever got for a single sale, but certainly the highest in a long, long time. I saw that this image of Morgantown in West Virginia has just sold for $105:

It just goes to show that images of your own town (especially if they are quite nicely shot in good weather) can sell. In this case I think it might be because Morgantown has a big university (WVU) and it might be used for that, or perhaps a calendar? Who knows – I’m just glad they bought it!

Don’t assume you know everything!

What a strange title! But I realized over the past few days that what I have been doing with editorial shots was not only a lot of hard work – it was unnecessary as well! For the past year, I have been uploading editorial shots to the stock agencies using the guidance in this Shutterstock blog article, Creating the Perfect Editorial Caption. Basically, a perfect caption is like this:

GDANSK, POLAND – 16 SEPTEMBER: Hyundai cars on dockside on 16 September 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. Hyundai sold over 7.8M vehicles in 2016.

It has the date, location, then a description, then the location again and finally something that makes it newsworthy – a “qualifying newsworthy statement” as Shutterstock explains it. This same caption is accepted at all the other sites and so I have been dutifully Continue Reading

How to make the best of a day in a new city

As I think I mentioned, I went on a cruise in September around the Baltic Sea. 11 cities in 15 days! Apart from a cruise being a really relaxing way to spend your time, how does it match against a travel stock photographer’s needs? How do I approach a day in a new city? I thought I would illustrate this with one day’s shoot in Copenhagen – I just finished keywording and uploading this particular set yesterday. As I had to keyword a total of 65 images, it brought home to me just how much work this business can generate! Time will tell if it generates some income to match that effort…

We arrived around sunrise in the port, which is reasonably close to the city center of Copenhagen. Although you are completely at the mercy of the weather on a one day trip, I still try to get the best shots I can. Luckily, Copenhagen was dry and somewhat sunny! My first start is to see what I can see from the boat itself:

In this case, the new power station in the harbor built with a ski slope and climbing wall inside. Looking around I also see the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid: Continue Reading

Always be on the look for interesting images

One lesson you should take to heart – you never know when a chance shot will turn into a nice little earner and so you need to always be ready (with your camera) for those chance encounters. What do I mean by this? I was driving down a small road near my home when I saw a burned out cabin by the side of the road. I’d never really noticed it before, but now it was a burnt out wreck surrounded by yellow tape. I pulled off the road, got my camera out and took both wide and close shots of the damaged building. I removed a few company names on the yellow tape and submitted to all agencies in July this year. Well, early results were not great! One image sold for $0.22 on iStock in August and it looked like they were destined to sink into the “useless shots in my portfolio” collection! Then, early this week I saw two sales of the images on Shutterstock:

The two images sold for  Continue Reading

Focus on enjoying your photography

Life shouldn’t be all work and stock photographers need to take a break from the creation of “saleable” images sometimes! Yesterday I took a trip to Valley Falls State Park in “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia” with my local camera club – a place that is only 30 miles from my home, but I hadn’t known existed before this weekend! I’m not sure any of these shots are worth uploading to stock agencies, but I enjoyed a pleasant couple of hours in the fresh air trying to come up with interesting variations on the straight forward waterfall shots:

Heavily flooded Tygart Valley river flows in smooth slow motion image over waterfall in Valley Falls State Park West Virginia

This one was taken with the Singh-Ray Gold ‘n’ Blue filter plus a variable neutral density filter as well to give me a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds. I did some traditional shots as well, but I really liked the abstract colors that you can get using this filter.  Continue Reading

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