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Author Topic: Give up my day job and live from stock  (Read 6291 times)

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« on: August 25, 2008, 15:48 »
0
Hi all,

here is a thing and I want to hear your opinions about.

I want to give up my day job and I want to live from microstock. Currently I'm earning the same money from the stock as from my day job. I like my day job but I like stock photography too... I'm a graphic designer/engineer at an advertising material company, I have a good position but stress is my biggest problem.

I started to make stock from 2006, I feel what the stock needs, but somehow I feel I don't have much time to provide this. I want to change and do this full-time.

Any thoughts...
Thanks!


« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2008, 16:12 »
0
I think it would be a fun job, eh?

I hope I can do stock full time some day. I also work in advertising and the stress is so bad sometimes I just want to walk out . . . and it can't be healthy. Maybe you could supplement the stock work with some design and other freelance work where you could work from home? :)
« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 16:17 by epantha »

« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2008, 16:20 »
0
Don't forget taxes, health insurance, retirement, disability, life insurance, overhead, equipment costs, etc... etc...  It can all add up if you don't have a "real" paycheck and benefits.

« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2008, 16:20 »
0
The easiest way to make this happen would be to move to a country with cheaper prices. There are some places in the world where you can live like a king with $2000/month.

If the RPI (return per image) would have stayed at the year 2005 level I would propably already live from my stock photography.

My dream is also to live only from stock, but that would require really hard work for a few years time. And with falling returns all the time, it would be a struggle. I'm already struggling with my 2000'ish images to get more revenue, I have to upload all the time just to keep my income at the same level. With three times more images I would have to upload three times more to keep up the earnings... :(


RT


« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2008, 18:34 »
0
I want to give up my day job and I want to live from microstock.

Why just microstock?

Microstock is just a part of the industry be it either photography or illustrations, if you want to give up your day job it will be well worth your time looking into other sides of whatever industry you're considering.

There's lots of avenues you can consider, it's going to be hard work and unless you're really lucky you will take a massive drop in living standards for at least the first couple of years and even when you do start to make money you'll want to invest it back into the business to expand.

I'm not trying to put you off but there's lots to consider, then again as the old saying goes  'nobody ever got rich working for someone else'

A couple of things I'll comment on based on your original post:

- If you think you're stressed now wait until you're working for yourself.
- You may be making the same money from stock as your day job now, but remember stock doesn't have any monthly guarantee, along with the other things you'll need to consider financially.
- You mentioned time, I once read an article that polled twenty pro photographers and asked them how much time they spent doing photography, the average was between 10-20%, based on my own experiences I'd say it's a pretty optimistic poll.

Like I said I don't want to paint a gloomy future but do your sums first, and my advice would be to go part time initially if that's an option you have.

Good luck whatever you decide.

« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2008, 19:14 »
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Well, on the bright side, about 75% of my income is from microstock. The rest are photography contracts. I was a school director and when they closed the school and offered me a job in another school I refused. It was scary but I took the leap of faith. Faith in my skills and the future of microstock. At that time I was earing roughly $2000/month from stock so I had to work hard and build up my portfolio with quality images.

It took me 1 year and now I make as much now as a school director. The rest of my contracts are bonuses. I wouldn't change my job for anything. Yes, roughly 15% of my job is shooting. The rest is post processing, keywording, uploading, yadda yadda yadda. That's the job of a stock photographer. I now have enough images that I can take a few months off and barely see an impact in sales (even in summer).

And the stress? What stress? I now work from home in my PJs (aka work clothes). I only work 10-15 hours a week on average on microstock now to maintain my current income. I don't need to increase my microstock revenue for now. I don't want to be the next Yuri and manage a whole staff. Not anymore. Been there, done that. Microstock allowed me to buy a house deep in the country cuz I don't need to commute anymore (the only way to get high speed is by satellite!). My property is on a small river that leads to a lake and when I take some breaks (which is often!) I either rest in my hammock or jump in my canoe with my 80-400mm to shoot herons and loons.  The best part is that my mortgage pmts are less than what I was paying in town of a small apartment. Now I have a basement with a permanent studio to boot! :)

I thank Mr. Microstock every day for giving the this wonderful lifestyle. I feel semi-retired! So much so that I needed to occupy more of my time (the workaholic in me ;)) so I started Yanik's Photo School. I'm now giving back to the photo community because I'm so grateful.

Who knows what the future holds. None of us do so why worry about it. ;)

People who worry about what could happen never make it happen! You just need to be smart and stay in touch with what's going on (liek coming here everyday). That's also part of a microstocker's job.

Hope this helps. We dream for a reason!
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 08:46 by kosmikkreeper »

helix7

« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 20:58 »
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...Currently I'm earning the same money from the stock as from my day job. I like my day job but I like stock photography too... I'm a graphic designer...

Same here. Exactly the same. My day-job as a graphic designer is 50% of my income, stock is the other half. But my 9-to-5 is pretty low-stress, usually pretty fun, and I'm content to be a duel-job guy. That might change someday, but for now, it's the best move for me. I've been on the other side of the fence, working from home full-time and doing my own thing, and it was way harder than I thought it would be. That was also a different business, and I think I'd have a better chance going full-time in stock, but I am definitely a bit more cautious now about this stuff than I was before that experience. My advice would be to get as prepared as possible to take that leap. Have a nice stash of savings built up to sustain you for at least 6 months. Bust your butt now to build the portfolio and get your stock income up there. But don't over-prepare. Set a goal, and when you reach it, take the leap. Some people spend so much time preparing that they never pull the trigger.

Be smart, plan and prepare, but know when it's time to just go for it.



« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 22:21 »
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edit
« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 19:19 by cdwheatley »

« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2008, 00:23 »
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Awesome stories! Thank you for sharing! Here in Germany you have to consider to that half or more than half of your income will go away for taxes and insurance and I also heard the same advice helix gave to save as much that you can live 6 month from it.

DanP68

« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2008, 01:05 »
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Very inspirational stories everyone.  Thanks for sharing.  I too concur with Helix.  From a financial planning perspective, you want to have a cushion just in case. 

« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2008, 01:14 »
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just joining in here...  great thread...

I am living from microstock too, and am enjoying it very much.  Like Yanik I would say the stress level is around 0.  I work from home, shoot and work when i want to - i try to keep traditional hours, because I want to, and because it is nice to work the same hours as the wife.   I am making as much as any average job, but with expenses the 'wage' part of it is less, so I am still looking to increase the bottom line.  However I feel the security of it is as good as any other job.

ANY job can lay someone off in a day, no warning no forsight nothing!  And people call a regular day to day grind job secure.... well, it isn't.  Microstock on the other hand, isn't going to go anywhere tommorow.  One site might shut down, but not all 6 of the top sites.  If one site shuts down then the customers will go to the other sites so it won't actually be a loss, so it will be pretty hard for your income to go from normal to 0 in one month.  Also since you have been doing stock since 2006 you will have a pretty good idea what the seasonal swings are and what you can exepct each month.  Microstock earnings are pretty reliable (unlike macrostock where you can have $20,000 one month and $500 the next) and generally stay within 10% of the previous month.

Things can change however - over months or years and maybe microstock will not be viable in a year or 20, but that isn't a worry either.  You have photography skills and if you can change with the business things should be OK, if not well there is always some other type of job or go back to what you were doing.  It isn't any less secure than any other profession. 

michealo

« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2008, 03:18 »
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Some suggestions:

One build up a buffer at least 6 months of living expenses in the bank ideally 12
See can you switch to working part time for a year while you make the transition
Get a good accountant
And make a realistic budget both for you and your business

« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2008, 03:48 »
0
Hi all,

here is a thing and I want to hear your opinions about.

I want to give up my day job and I want to live from microstock. Currently I'm earning the same money from the stock as from my day job. I like my day job but I like stock photography too... I'm a graphic designer/engineer at an advertising material company, I have a good position but stress is my biggest problem.

I started to make stock from 2006, I feel what the stock needs, but somehow I feel I don't have much time to provide this. I want to change and do this full-time.

Any thoughts...
Thanks!

I'm in the same position and I have university diploma and my risk to left great and well payed job is much higher...

First step realy hard, but hope will left fulltime job trought couple of months and start with stock more agresive...

Regards,
.shock

« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2008, 03:52 »
0
Things can change however - over months or years and maybe microstock will not be viable in a year or 20, but that isn't a worry either.  You have photography skills and if you can change with the business things should be OK, if not well there is always some other type of job or go back to what you were doing.  It isn't any less secure than any other profession. 

The key to solve this problem in other fields is to diversify. In my case, for example, learning photography is a way to diversify my skills in the game programming business: if for any reason in few years they stop making games, I can move to program finance software (yuck) and if, I ever get good at this, have another income from what is now a hobby. I'll never quit my job if I can, cause it was my dream since I was a kid, but it's good to learn something new.
In my opinion who wants to live off stock, should consider using his photographic skills to also earn from macro maybe and from contracts. Don't put all eggs in one basket just in case.

Good luck everyone.

« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2008, 04:00 »
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I got booted out of a 'permanent and pensionable' job with no warning whatsoever ('structural adjustment' they called it).

Then I went through a succession of awful, or great but highly insecure jobs (working for the British Diplomatic corps ... vile! Working for a children's publishing company ... great, but very insecure) until I got too old to be of interest to anyone - though not too old to have a brain, experience, skills or want to work.

I decided to try and use some of the thousands of 35mm trannies I'd taken whilst living in Zambia. Sent them to an agency and was accepted. Then I found microstock!

Wish I'd done this earlier - a whole lot earlier. I could really have hit the jackpot whilst in Zambia, and I was only doing it for fun.   ::)

Now I'm beginning to get a reasonable and relatively steady income from doing something I love, and is creative. Ain't never gonna retire.






DanP68

« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2008, 06:36 »
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I haven't talked about this on a stock board up until now.  I will be using microstock earnings to go part time with my employer this coming winter.

I work under the US Dept of Commerce, and the part time benefits are great.  I get to keep on my same retirement track.  I'm under my wife for health/life insurance, as her employer has better coverage than mine.

Microstock does not provide me with enough earnings to make up half my income, not even nearly, however I was able to budget a lot of worthless expense away.  Between that and microstock, and can definitely get by on half my income.  I love the idea of having microstock earnings, while at the same time still having a lot of stable income from my employer.  And I'll have 9 out of every 14 days off from work, which absolutely blows my mind whenever I think of it.  It will be easy to spin up additional microstock images if I so choose with that much time away from traditional work.  I'm just looking forward to the free time and not having to always be on someone's schedule.




« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2008, 06:50 »
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I haven't talked about this on a stock board up until now.  I will be using microstock earnings to go part time with my employer this coming winter.

Good luck with your plan! :)


« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2008, 06:56 »
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Right now i can't depend on microstcok or even macro .. i am working as graphic designer & photographer to a Kuwaiti magazine but i wish one day i can work only for stock photos.
Also i  realized  in the last 3 years that work with macro (RM) is much worth than micro.

« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2008, 07:00 »
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I live form microstock (plus some assigments) but then again I live with my husband and it helps a lot when you can split the expenses. It's not cheap to live in Finland either.

« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2008, 07:26 »
0
I am working towards the same goal, only with stock footage.  Having been self-employed for most of my adult life, it's easier to deal with the "stress" of not having a regular paycheck.

The nice thing is being able to pick up contract work when needed (I am setting aside most of my stock work at the moment to do a 3 month, $30,000 programming contract for a large insurance company).  By doing contract work for 4 to 6 months out of the year, I can keep enough money in the bank so that the rest of the time I can spend learning and working on what I enjoy.

« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2008, 09:46 »
0
Well, on the bright side, about 75% of my income is from microstock. The rest are photography contracts. I was a school director and when they closed the school and offered me a job in another school I refused. It was scary but I took the leap of faith. Faith in my skills and the future of microstock. At that time I was earing roughly $2000/month from stock so I had to work hard and build up my portfolio with quality images.

It took me 1 year and now I make as much now as a school director. The rest of my contracts are bonuses. I wouldn't change my job for anything. Yes, roughly 15% of my job is shooting. The rest is post processing, keywording, uploading, yadda yadda yadda. That's the job of a stock photographer. I now have enough images that I can take a few months off and barely see an impact in sales (even in summer).

And the stress? What stress? I now work from home in my PJs (aka work clothes). I only work 10-15 hours a week on average on microstock now to maintain my current income. I don't need to increase my microstock revenue for now. I don't want to be the next Yuri and manage a whole staff. Not anymore. Been there, done that. Microstock allowed me to buy a house deep in the country cuz I don't need to commute anymore (the only way to get high speed is by satellite!). My property is on a small river that leads to a lake and when I take some breaks (which is often!) I either rest in my hammock or jump in my canoe with my 80-400mm to shoot herons and loons.  The best part is that my mortgage pmts are less than what I was paying in town of a small apartment. Now I have a basement with a permanent studio to boot! :)

I thank Mr. Microstock every day for giving the this wonderful lifestyle. I feel semi-retired! So much so that I needed to occupy more of my time (the workaholic in me ;)) so I started Yanik's Photo School. I'm now giving back to the photo community because I'm so grateful.

Who knows what the future holds. None of us do so why worry about it. ;)

People who worry about what could happen never make it happen! You just need to be smart and stay in touch with what's going on (liek coming here everyday). That's also part of a microstocker's job.

Hope this helps. We dream for a reason!


Will you please adopt me????  :D  Just kidding.

I envy your courage.  I was ready yesterday to tell my job to f... off, but I don't have the nerve to follow through.  I did, however, decide to start putting more effort into my "exit strategy" from my stressful IT job. 

« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2008, 10:19 »
0
My day job is in IT company.. So it is quite stressful :). (project management and dealing with clients etc).

For me the microstock shooting is still the hobby even everything is done under my company at the moment. I set up the company because it make everything much easier to handle (like taxes, billing etc and it gives you some credibility). First thing was to to hire good accountist because they know how to get most of the every cent without paying too much taxes etc. My company is far from making profit at the moment. Every penny coming from stock will be re-invested in this year also. This means own garage-studio (finally got paperwork done with the officials), maybe new camera (waiting 5d successor), yearly computer upgrades, new lenses etc... 

But next year will show how things are going to be. Its quite expensive run a business here in Finland (due the high taxes and insurance payments)  as VikaValter mentioned earlier, but I think it will be worth of it when you have freedom to do what you want.

Maybe some day in the future I will be another full time microstocker...

br, MjP


« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2008, 10:44 »
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I hope mjp you will quit IT job so soon. Your portfolio is deserving full attention and waiting for new images.

I own small video postproduction company and I see microstock as part of my business. It is sill small part but every month it is taking more and more and I hope I will be sometime official full time microstocker. :)

« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2008, 11:53 »
0
Thank you for your inputs!

At least, stock photography is a better job because of colleagues...  ;)


 

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