My Microstock Sales
I have and friends and photographers ask me what is microstock? What kind of images do you sell? How much money can you make? And then they don’t ask but always want to know how much money have I made? So I thought I would write a blog posting about My Microstock Sales. So this is for people who are newly interested in Microstock or just starting or for microstockers just curious about what the lower 50% of microstockers are doing.
The first question about what is Microstock I answered in an earlier post here.
I have been selling microstock for about 3-4 years now. I am not a top microstock photographer. There are at least 10s of thousands of microstock photographers out there. They make anywhere from many hundreds of thousands of dollars per year down to earning nearly nothing per year. I have read that 20% of microstockers make 80% of the money.
I have about 1300 images on about 10 different sites. After 3 years I have made about $8000 total. Each year my sales have increased by 50-100%. So I am confident, that as long as I can keep submitting more images, that yearly sales will get to about $14000 in the next few years. I pick that number because above that it will affect the social security that I get ( God… that makes me feel old to say that). I submit 10-12 photos per weeks, sometimes more. I have many hundreds more ready to submit but I have found that every now and then you run across a reviewer who either does not like your style or just had a bad day and can reject most if not all of the images you submit. So with this method my worst loss is 12 images rejected.
So while I am not a real professional, I am making enough to buy most of the photo and computer equipment that I use. In a few years it will pay for photo seminars and trips. And the best part…. it never feels like work. I probably spend about 2-3 hrs a day taking photographs, or processing, or submitting them. Submitting is a little like work but the other two areas are pure fun for me.
So what microstock agencies do I work with and how have each of them paid?
So take $8000 times the approx. percentage and you can see roughly what each has paid me so far. Most of these agencies have between 800-1700 of my images. Shutterstock is the big winner for me. I get a minimum of $.36 per image. The most I have received from them is $42 for an image. I have sold 5700 images with them since I started. Most are $.36 but I also get a fair about of $2.48 and a few $28.00.
What kind of images sell best with Shutterstock?
So for example I have sold tons of the power meters and have made about $160, total, just at Shutterstock. The paddle wheel, lots of those and about $90. The others $30-$70 total. So how does that add up to thousands of dollars? Well its the other several hundred images that have sold $.36- $30. So with Shutterstock its lots and lots of images that make $10’s of dollars.
Interestingly enough istockphoto, dreamstime, veer, 123rf are similar to shutterstock in that its volume that makes total sales. But the big selling images on these sites tend to be different than the high sellers on Shutterstock. So I believe that they have a different set of customers with differing needs than Shutterstock.
I sold a few of these at Shutterstock but many more, and they are a big earner at Veer as an example.
Then there is Alamy. I think I get about 1 sale every several months. Its like Macrostock but I do sell them with a RF license. But…. when they do sell. I get a lot of money (by my standards).
I did not think that is was that great of a photo. I rate my images 1-5 stars and only submit the 3-5 stars. This was a 3 star. I got $365 for a single sale of this image?
Same situation with this 3 star image.
I got $222 for that one. Alamy is also a little frustrating in that the allow their customers to return the image for a refund many weeks after the purchase. Alamy won’t pay you till everything is cleared. So you don’t get paid for months or sometimes you will see a sale, get excited, and then weeks later its cancelled. ;-(
I submit to all of these placed because they all have different acceptance standards, different customers, and different commission. And once you process your images it is not that much work to submit them.
Can you make a good living at this? Yes…. but it would be a lot of work and commitment. In addition I think you would need a studio and some good lighting equipment and probably an assistant. I don’t do many people shots if at all. It takes my full attention doing the shots that I do. When I get people involved it just seems to complicated stuff. And its more cost. You can do general public shots but if they are recognizable you need to get a release from them. Lots of photographers do that but I would have a hard time doing that without looking like a strange old weird man.
So there you have it. If you want more info about anything let me know and I will add to this post or answer your questions.