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Author Topic: How to Earn $500/Month with Stock Photography - blog post  (Read 4909 times)

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Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« on: November 04, 2018, 06:33 »
+5

Check out my new guest post at MyStockPhoto.org on "how to earn $500/month with stock photo".

My intention was to be as realistic as possible, using my own port and fellow contributors' as examples since we've been doing this already for a number of years. This is a tough game and increasingly difficult, so those want are starting out now or have just started recently should be aware of the challenges ahead...as well as potential rewards:

https://www.mystockphoto.org/earn-500usd-month-microstock/

Best of luck


« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2018, 07:32 »
+4
Decent read mostly but as I often say on my soapbox return per image on its own is not a good of measure of success. What if your image takes 1 day to process or costs $500 for the model etc?

Return on investment is the key indicator.

nobody

« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2018, 07:40 »
+3
A lot of the stuff stated in his article  happen to me back in 2011. By my third year I made $7,800 thus pretty close on taking three good years to reach the $6,000 level.  I wonder what percentage of newbies come in thinking they will be the next Yuri only to quit in less than six months? My guess would be at least 50% or higher!

Good read... 8)




« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2018, 08:16 »
+4
Good article overall. At least once a week, someone will post on one of the agency Facebook sites "I posted 28 photos last month. How come I haven't had any sales yet?" (and yes, those are the actual numbers from a post last week!).  It seems that too many people are hawking micro stock as a get-rich-quick-with-your-phone-camera scheme.

When I bother to respond at all, I note the need for the long haul view with 1000's of photos.  If they give a link to their existing portfolio, you can usually see it is one topic shot 28 times. In the post mentioned above, they were all snapshots of a pet chameleon.

(long route to the point... sorry...) I then suggest they go to Shutterstock and type in the type of photo they want to take. "Chameleon" is this case.  Look at the images that come up.  Now, how do yours (referring to the person wondering why no sales in a month) compare to those?  Can you honestly say someone would pay money to buy your image when they have those others as alternatives?

Most times, when people ask "why no sales on x images in a month?" the answer is a pretty clear "not a chance in this lifetime"...

You do mention (and repeat) the need for quality.  I would suggest adding that test as a well to see if what the newbie is shooting has a chance of sales.

Shelma1

« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 08:20 »
+1
Proofread.

« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 08:24 »
+1
I think there is one critical issue that you give only passing notice to -- keywording.  You mention that it is important, but personally I think it is every bit as important (and maybe even more so) than the photo itself.

A point I often make in FB discussions is along the lines of:

Which will sell better?  A decent mousetrap that is so well known that everyone thinks of it as soon as a mouse is seen, or the very best mousetrap in the world that nobody has ever heard of?

When a buyer wants to buy an image of xxx, he uses words that he thinks of to reflect the topic.  If the keywords you have on your image match what he typed, then the odds are reasonable that your image will show up for him.  If your keywords do not match what he typed, then you may have the best image ever shot since the invention of the camera, but he will not see it, and thus will not buy it.

IOW, shooting a good quality image of a highly needed topic is only the start of the process, not the end.  You need to spend a lot of effort on making sure that your keywords will include whatever the buyer is thinking of when he enters the search engine.  Since different people will think of the same topic using different descriptors, you need to cover all those bases -- in 50 words of less...

If I were writing your article (or a follow-on to it), I would then describe the various strategies and tools for coming up with keywords that will hit that magic button.

« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2018, 08:31 »
+1
A lot of the stuff stated in his article  happen to me back in 2011. By my third year I made $7,800 thus pretty close on taking three good years to reach the $6,000 level.  I wonder what percentage of newbies come in thinking they will be the next Yuri only to quit in less than six months? My guess would be at least 50% or higher!

Good read... 8)
I would be very surprised if it was less than 80% and of the remainder very few put in more than a token effort.

« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2018, 08:37 »
+3
One last comment (well, until I think of something else anyway...) -- I like your description of the lifetime of a portfolio, and how it will deteriorate over time.  Too many people do not understand that, and wonder why when they stopped adding new material, the sales started dropping off.

Between 1995 and 1999, my wife and I produced 54 instructional videos, all between 60 and 90 minutes in length. At the time, they were sold on VHS tape cassettes. Later converted to DVD.  Initially, we mailed out catalogs 3 times a year to 20K-50K people per mailing, and later moved to email.  Initially we sold and shipped all videos ourselves, and then Amazon took over and now produces each DVD upon being ordered, and ships to the customer, with my only current interaction being to see the royalty payment at the end of each month.

When Amazon first took over (circa 2005), we were getting around $10,000 per month.  I felt I was set for life!

We never produced another video after 1999.  Of course, sales declined.  We still sell some every single month, but our Amazon payment is now around $100/month instead.  20 years later still getting sales, but now so small that I'm not sure I'd bother with cashing the check if it came that way (as is, goes directly into my PayPal account).

Sales of micro stock drop off for more reasons that you mention though.  As you say, keywording algorithms change.  And there is the issue of "those that want that type of image now already have it" after a while.

However, also, it appears that the agencies will give you a bump in the search ratings if you are a consistent supplier of salable images.  They want to encourage those that produce images that actually sell, and if your past images sold well, there is a better chance that your new ones will too. 

If you are a consistent supplier of salable images, then you have an edge in the search engines and all your images (both old and new) will get a boost and be more likely to show up in a search.  If you stop submitting, then you lose that extra boost, and all your images (oldest and "just old") will become less likely to show up to a buyer -- and thus less likely to sell.

« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2018, 08:42 »
+1
I would be very surprised if it was less than 80% and of the remainder very few put in more than a token effort.

I don't remember if I read this here or on a Facebook forum, but...

The group leader of some forum I follow said that he talked to the heads of Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe at a conference earlier this year.  One of the facts that he heard repeatedly is that 85% of the images on their servers NEVER sell.  Only 15% of the images comprise 100% of their sales. 

Their problem, of course, is that they have no way to determine which 15% those will be.  If they could figure that out, they could save a ton of money on servers (hardware and electricity and the manpower to keep them all going).

They also said (and my memory is a little more foggy here) that a similar ratio exists for the submitters, where only xxx (I think also around 15%) of the photo submitters make enough sales to reach the payout levels at least once a year.

« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2018, 09:08 »
+2
I would be very surprised if it was less than 80% and of the remainder very few put in more than a token effort.

I don't remember if I read this here or on a Facebook forum, but...

The group leader of some forum I follow said that he talked to the heads of Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe at a conference earlier this year.  One of the facts that he heard repeatedly is that 85% of the images on their servers NEVER sell.  Only 15% of the images comprise 100% of their sales. 

Their problem, of course, is that they have no way to determine which 15% those will be.  If they could figure that out, they could save a ton of money on servers (hardware and electricity and the manpower to keep them all going).

They also said (and my memory is a little more foggy here) that a similar ratio exists for the submitters, where only xxx (I think also around 15%) of the photo submitters make enough sales to reach the payout levels at least once a year.
I reckon its even more than 85% given the recent rate of new images. I'm surprised how my sales have held up relatively well and I have no illusions that my images are much more than "OK for stock". Pareto would expect 80% of sales to be made by 20% of all images.


nobody

« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2018, 10:52 »
0
I would be very surprised if it was less than 80% and of the remainder very few put in more than a token effort.

I don't remember if I read this here or on a Facebook forum, but...

The group leader of some forum I follow said that he talked to the heads of Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe at a conference earlier this year.  One of the facts that he heard repeatedly is that 85% of the images on their servers NEVER sell.  Only 15% of the images comprise 100% of their sales. 

Their problem, of course, is that they have no way to determine which 15% those will be.  If they could figure that out, they could save a ton of money on servers (hardware and electricity and the manpower to keep them all going).

They also said (and my memory is a little more foggy here) that a similar ratio exists for the submitters, where only xxx (I think also around 15%) of the photo submitters make enough sales to reach the payout levels at least once a year.
I reckon its even more than 85% given the recent rate of new images. I'm surprised how my sales have held up relatively well and I have no illusions that my images are much more than "OK for stock". Pareto would expect 80% of sales to be made by 20% of all images.

In my case 10% of my images ( about 700) have made 90% of my revenue  8)

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2018, 12:20 »
+4
Keep writing and trying to make sense of Microstock.  8)

About the join or get discouraged or whatever:



That data is no longer available. But was interesting. I wish I had saved more screen shots. Reading this, under 10% of the registered contributors had at least one image accepted or still in their account.

Also maybe this is a sign of less interest or maybe just less earnings?



Deposit Photos is erratic, can change tomorrow, Pond 5 has grown, Adobe has really improved FT and solidly passed IS. If you are counting, there are ten left, Evanto dropped off the poll.

nobody

« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2018, 12:39 »
+4
based the stats the contributors were an elite group until a few years ago - tons of us now. We are no longer special...

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2018, 13:05 »
+3
based the stats the contributors were an elite group until a few years ago - tons of us now. We are no longer special...

That too, but I'll stick with the near absence of reviews or anything resembling quality standards. 1 million new files a week is just absurd. Quality, like cream, will still rise to the top. Just that getting there is more difficult than in the past.

I like the theory that some of us get special search treatment because of what we upload, or how often. Always good to hear a new conspiracy, especially since I'm one of the beneficiaries as I don't upload spammed keywords or image sets.  ;D No I don't believe I get better search placement, but I wouldn't be against that if it was true? Stick the trash further in the back and that would benefit all of us.


Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2018, 13:25 »
+2
Thanks everybody for your comments

« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2018, 17:11 »
+1
Thanks for writing/sharing the post!

« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2018, 09:59 »
0
Good reading. I was just wondering is it 2018/2019 related or written years before? If it's current it really sparks hope, which is good.
I was wondering what would happen if one sets to upload 100 images a day (back catalog and new shootings, all of excellent quality and decent commercial value)?
If persistent, it would take 3 months to reach about 9000 images online. How would that compare to 6000 in three years in your opinion? 


« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2018, 13:07 »
0
500$ are about 430 at the moment.
I assume you dont live in a tent and begging for food, so
i wonder:

how is it possible to pay with that amount:

-roof over ones head
-heating, water, electicity, internet conection etc
-all the wear parts like computer monitor software etc
-equipment and saving for broken gear and replacement
-clothing
-transport
-insurance
-food

(and cmon, travelling like accommodation food transport and so on is ridiculous expensive)


To be honest, it looks like you pay AND work very hard
for donating images to the industry (which earns millions)




« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2018, 13:40 »
+2
Depends where you live, here in Serbia a middle class man has around 300euros (outside Belgrade where cost and wages are higher), now if you are alone without yourown place it is a problem but still doable, but if you have your place and are living with a partner that also has 300euros it's actually very decent and no we are not living in the tent, we have modern cars (thou buying used ones), computers (not the latest and greatest), phones, fast internet, we go on holidays to seaside etc etc.
Also, I don't think anyone in South-east or just generally Europe would write off 500$ a month, that's one nice lens every month or 10 day all-inclussive holiday in hotel in Egypt or used Ford Fiesta in 5-6 months, especially if all your dayjob money is going to things you mentioned.

If you managed here to somehow pull out about $1000 monthly from stock, you'd be the king of the world all while doing what you love the most. 

« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2018, 15:22 »
+1
Depends where you live, here in Serbia a middle class man has around 300euros
If you managed here to somehow pull out about $1000 monthly from stock, you'd be the king of the world all while doing what you love the most.
I guess its the same at Russia, Ukraine, etc,. If you hit $500 a month. You can make a living from shooting full-time stock photos.
If you have done the step shooting full-time Stock-photography its possible to produce enough stock photos doing the next step to $ 1000 a month, $1500 a month, etc.


« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2018, 15:42 »
0
No doubt to what you all say.
But you have to admit, if you are living with a partner with 300, or have a dayjob, or place with extreme cheap living costs,
this subsidizes the possibility to produce images in a way.

And -if all your dayjob money is going to cover the mentioned things-
-> you dont have many time left to produce enough high quality stuff

MY POINT: A fair royalty should finance production costs not a dayjob or partner etc

Anyway i doubt its possible to live and produce images in portugal with 430/month





Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2018, 15:53 »
+1
Quote
Anyway i doubt its possible to live and produce images in portugal with 430/month

430euros a month is close to the 676.67 EUR per month (Jul 2018) minimum wage for Portugal, which happens to be one of the lowest in Europe. Another benefit of a low-cost country which hasn't been mentioned is the lower cost of hiring models and some quite beautiful women in Russia and Ukraine that would be all-too-willing to be models for a fraction of the cost of models in London, Paris, Milan, etc. I've looked into how much a model would cost in Lisbon and 50 euros for a daily rate is quite reasonable, otherwise students willing to do it for less!

Beside the point anyway since this isn't meant to be a full-time gig (although it may turn into one since it can be quite addictive). To quote myself:

Quote
To earn a living from Microstock alone is the privilege of increasingly fewer and fewer contributors in late-2018, especially for those that live in developed economies where the cost of living can be high.

I keep stressing that this is just to earn enough to upgrade equipment + pay for trips only. The rest should come from working with clients in a photography-related basis or another job unrelated, such as a cozy public sector job with loads of vacation days.

Helps to be in a low-cost environment but most of us aren't in Laos or Malaysia. I've spoken with some contributors in Scandinavia and it seems that, from a business point of view, it doesn't make sense to be a full-time Microstocker.

« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2018, 16:30 »
+1
Excellent article Alex, it is very difficult to earn good money in this business, but maybe not as bad as your article suggests?

In my limited experience (I started selling stock early last year), I earned just over $500 in the last month with a portfolio of 1,500 images and 20 timelapse videos.

Id say if you are earning $500 a month from 6,000 images then youre doing something wrong.

My portfolio is fairly diverse, commercial and editorial, lots of travel, city, food, lifestyle etc. However I dont use models, I also dont really do conceptual stock stuff either.

Im hoping I can get to around $1,500 monthly income in the next couple of years, although I realise that will be very hard to achieve. Doing lots more 4k video will likely be the only way to possibly achieve this.

nobody

« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2018, 16:43 »
0
500$ are about 430 at the moment.
I assume you dont live in a tent and begging for food, so
i wonder:

how is it possible to pay with that amount:

-roof over ones head
-heating, water, electicity, internet conection etc
-all the wear parts like computer monitor software etc
-equipment and saving for broken gear and replacement
-clothing
-transport
-insurance
-food

(and cmon, travelling like accommodation food transport and so on is ridiculous expensive)


To be honest, it looks like you pay AND work very hard
for donating images to the industry (which earns millions)

Very simple -  I live in my parents home and use their car 8)

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2018, 18:44 »
+1
Quote
Excellent article Alex, it is very difficult to earn good money in this business, but maybe not as bad as your article suggests?

In my limited experience (I started selling stock early last year), I earned just over $500 in the last month with a portfolio of 1,500 images and 20 timelapse videos.

Id say if you are earning $500 a month from 6,000 images then youre doing something wrong.

Thanks! I painted a sort of bittersweet picture of how I see the industry going forward. Some hard-working and in-pulse contributors earning $3/4 RPI/year, such as yourself, and on the opposite end, plenty of those with a ridiculous amount of similars earning $0.3/0.4 RPI/year at best. The average and majority should be about $1 RPI/year (perhaps on the optimistic side), hence the 6,000 image-port. Speaking hypothetically can be tricky and it's become a bit academic, unfortunately. I've tried to use my port as an example but it's not the most "average", since few people travel internationally as much as I do! :D

RPI is only part of the equation and as mentioned above by Pauws99, need to look at the cost to produce such images. In my case, probably like yourself, not considerable since we're shooting locally or incidentally. I know some who do very well shooting from a home-studio. In my case, I use a lot of friends/relatives as models and even myself lately ha, that was fun.

The 4K stuff should get you to those nice monthly amounts. I've sold only 8 videos in my life and still have a long ways to go! 4K would be nice and currently eyeing the GoPro7 to capture some urban hyperlapses and perhaps a drone soon, let's see!
« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 18:54 by Brasilnut »


 

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