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Author Topic: Living from Stockphotography  (Read 11788 times)

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« on: April 03, 2014, 04:25 »
0
Hello to all,

I have about 800 - 1000 stock photos on all major agencies. My earnings is about of >100 $ / month. The time that I spend for photos is very short because, unfortunately, I must go to a "classic" job that I don't like it to much but the salary is more consistent (600 $). In March, on SS with my 800 images I sold more than 100.
Do you think that it deserve to make only stock pictures and, let say, in 4 -5 month, if I will produce more and more similar images like I did till now, I'll rich my actual incoming from job?

Thank you  :)


stocked

« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 04:29 »
+3
Hello to all,

I have about 800 - 1000 stock photos on all major agencies. My earnings is about of >100 $ / month. The time that I spend for photos is very short because, unfortunately, I must go to a "classic" job that I don't like it to much but the salary is more consistent (600 $). In March, on SS with my 800 images I sold more than 100.
Do you think that it deserve to make only stock pictures and, let say, in 4 -5 month, if I will produce more and more similar images like I did till now, I'll rich my actual incoming from job?

Thank you  :)
I don't thinks so, but it depends how much you  need for a living. Competition is already very fierce and it will be becoming a lot harder in the coming months and years and your results with 1000 images are not very good.

« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 04:38 »
0
For 800 images what will be a reasonable amount/motnh ?

« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 04:48 »
+2
looking at your average you will need to create more 5000 pictures to reach 600$ but in fact looking at other contributors skills and changes in the industry I would say you need more like 9k pictures, it depends on the content you will shoot as well, anyway creating that amount of files will take you years and you need the money now to pay bills, etc

the reasonable would be 1$ per file per month, some will say it is very low but I would say it would be a good average thinking of cheap stock photos (not hiring models or buying props)

I am far from that average ;D

Ron

« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 04:52 »
+1
I am making around 600$ month with 1500 LCV images on Shutterstock. I would at least add another 1000-1200 images and see where it gets you.

« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014, 05:00 »
+3
I would suggest giving it another year and see where you are then don't give up the day job just yet!

I think 1$ per image per month is very high - look at your own stats and estimate from there. To replace your income of $600 you would need about 6000 images BUT there is a risk on income going down (or up) also you need to take into account any production costs


« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2014, 05:16 »
+3
Although it of course depends where you live and how much money you need, most people I know have at least 6000 -9000 files to be able to make a "living wage".

The agencies receive 200 000 new files every week. So you need to have a good quality portfolio with many files in good search positions to have a reliable income stream. With a few hundred images your income is extremely vulnerable to changes in the agency search engines. Your bestsellers might drop dead very abruptly and then how will you live?

shudderstok

« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2014, 06:20 »
+3
it all depends on what you shoot. all of the answers above are accurate and none of the answers above are correct. there are so many variables that there is no correct answer. the theory of having thousands of images online on every site is a good one, if that is your flavor, and it is also the worst idea in the world if it is not your flavor. there is an amazingly naive view in the last few years that anyone can make a living at stock so there is an amazing sense of entitlement floating around. all i can say is if you are good and you work your butt off then you might make a full time go of it. good luck with it.

« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2014, 06:25 »
0
It all depends on:

1) How good and productive photographer you are
2) Where you live

I make about $3000 per month, but that is not enough for comfortable living in my country when all the costs (equipment) are deducted. So I'm doing also commissioned work, and that sucks (makes it difficult for me to plan and schedule my stock work)

In many, many parts of the world I could live very comfortably with $3000 per month and even save a part of it. Thinking of this makes me very sad.

If your images are good (subject matter, artistic and technical qualities, keywording and descriptions) you could make the $600 month already with 1000 images. So try to ramp up the quality and production and you will see results.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 06:33 by Perry »

« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2014, 06:34 »
+1
It all depends on:

1) How good and productive photographer you are
2) Where you live

I make about $3000 per month, but that is not enough for comfortable living in my country when all the costs (equipment) are deducted. So I'm doing also commissioned work, and that sucks.

In many, many parts of the world I could live very comfortably with $3000 per month and even save a part of it. Thinking of this makes me very sad.

If your images are good (subject matter, artistic and technical qualities, keywording and descriptions) you could make the $600 month already with 1000 images. So try to ramp up the quality and production and you will see results.

The high cost of living where you are probably reflects a lifestyle you are buying into. In places where living is cheap the facilities probably wouldn't fit with your expectations.

« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 06:39 »
+1
I live in Romania.. In this country a medium salary is about 500 - 600$/month but, in time (I hope not to much time) I want at least 600 x 2 / month.

« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2014, 07:06 »
+2
Then probably the costs for cameras,software, computer will be a major part of your production costs. But you can probably book models and stylists at very affordable prices.

Maybe for you 3-4000 images would be enough, I dont know. But the main problem with stock is the risk of having very drastic income drops because of best match changes. So even if 2000 files might be enough to cover basic cost I would still try to have significantly more files online before you quit your day job.

On istock I have 3600 images and sometimes I earn less than 200 dollars with them. The lowest so far was 132 dollars. And many of my files have very good positions in the search engines, because they are older files with thousands of downloads.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 07:12 by cobalt »

« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2014, 07:20 »
+5
I think the biggest problem of all is that earnings tend to erode over time, and sooner or later earnings will start to fall faster than you can possibly upload to keep your income as it is.

What that means is that unless you are able to earn much more than the minimum you need to live on, you will need to find other ways to add to your income. If you don't, you will gradually become poorer and poorer as time goes by.

Also, the time it takes to build a portfolio is also time that reduces the value of images. If you are making 10c per picture per month now, by the time you have 6,000 pictures online you will probably only be making 7.5c per picture. Six or seven years from now, when you have 12,000 online, they will probably only be making 5c per file - and another five years on it may only be 3c.


« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2014, 07:28 »
+1
But may be with more images on portfolio the more buyer will find it and, let say some buyer find a pictures with some wine and see other nice pictures, hi will buy another from me, and so on. I think that I will upload more pictures I will attract more buyers... Or may be I'm wrong  :-\

« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2014, 07:36 »
+2
You can only try it and see what happens. But remember that every day tens of thousands of new pictures are uploaded, so the competition just gets harder and harder. A lot will depend on your subject matter and your quality and in general the more you shoot the better you get. So there are pluses and minuses, but most people seem to find that can make their earnings go up to a certain point (it differs from person to person) then they stay flat for a year or two, then they start to go down.

EmberMike

« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2014, 08:08 »
+6
But may be with more images on portfolio the more buyer will find it and, let say some buyer find a pictures with some wine and see other nice pictures, hi will buy another from me, and so on. I think that I will upload more pictures I will attract more buyers... Or may be I'm wrong  :-\

It's not too hard to maintain earnings in this business. Growing earnings is hard. Read through various discussions in this forum and you'll find lots of people who upload new work regularly and just maintain (or sometimes lose) income. Simply uploading more images isn't the key to growth.

You can upload tons of images and just hope for some growth by putting as much work out there as possible. But you may need to put up 10,000 images to make $700 if those images aren't very good or are all mostly similar to previous uploads. The trick is experimenting with different concepts, themes, styles, etc., and finding what works best for you. I'd say in your case, based on current portfolio performance, you're not on that right track yet. 1,000 images should be doing better than $100/month for you.

Try some new things, look at expanding your skills and style more so than just your quantity of images.

« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2014, 08:46 »
-4
I think the biggest problem of all is that earnings tend to erode over time, and sooner or later earnings will start to fall faster than you can possibly upload to keep your income as it is.

What that means is that unless you are able to earn much more than the minimum you need to live on, you will need to find other ways to add to your income. If you don't, you will gradually become poorer and poorer as time goes by.

Also, the time it takes to build a portfolio is also time that reduces the value of images. If you are making 10c per picture per month now, by the time you have 6,000 pictures online you will probably only be making 7.5c per picture. Six or seven years from now, when you have 12,000 online, they will probably only be making 5c per file - and another five years on it may only be 3c.

In the past I had a positive outlook for the industry as a whole. Unfortunately it has become apparent that many of the leading stock companies never intended on making this model sustainable for contributors. BaldricksTrousers makes a good point regarding diminishing returns. The favorable search placement that new contributors receive in the beginning conceals the challenges new microstock contributors will experience in the years to come. The dangling carrot contributes to the millions of images the sites take in every year via new contributors and makes it harder for existing contributors to compete every month.

Over the last year many older contributors have seen as much as a 70% drop in annual earnings as the sites give their files less exposure in the search. Some of them have seen 30% to 70% overnight drops in earnings as the sites make search changes that no longer give their files exposure in the searches.

Shutterstock has publicly stated that "they have not raised prices to buyers for many years and do not intend to raise prices in the future as a long term strategy to gain market share". This is sustainable for them because their volume is far higher than any producer can ever achieve and they use the new contributor boost carrot to bring in higher numbers of new contributors who earn lower royalties. 

The sad tactics they use to gain market share has been profitable for them but has reduced our earnings potential by diminishing the value of our files while inflation and the need to increase quality and file numbers increases our annual production expenses.

Even the very high volume HCV microstock factories who receive more exposure in the search via extreme file numbers are seeing eroding returns per image over time. Yuri and other factories talk about this quite often and as a result Yuri built his own site and made other strategic changes to limit his exposure to the model long term.

The common perception that producing high number of images to gain search exposure is misguided and false. Large numbers of good quality very HCV files might bring you increased exposure. However the search most certainly penalizes ports with large numbers of LCV images.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 09:04 by gbalex »


EmberMike

« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2014, 09:04 »
+6
...Over the last year many older contributors have seen as much as a 70% drop in annual earnings as the sites give their files less exposure in the search. Some of them have seen 30% to 70% overnight drops in earnings as the sites make search changes that no longer give their files exposure in the searches...

Many, but not all contributors are seeing this effect. Anyone know why that is or how that could be? If companies were systematically pushing down files in searches on the basis of offering images from newer (and thus cheaper) contributors ahead of older contributors, wouldn't it be an across-the-board effect then?

I'd also be curious to know if this is a trend among photographers, illustrators, everyone, just one type of image, etc. For what it's worth, I'm a vector artist, been at SS since 2007 and I have seen zero negative impact on my search placements or on my earnings. 

« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2014, 09:10 »
0
The common perception that producing high number of images to gain search exposure is misguided and false. Large numbers of good quality very HCV files might bring you increased exposure. However the search most certainly penalizes ports with large numbers of LCV images.

high number of HCV images = + search exposure = false (it might get you increased exposure)

most certainly = search penalizes ports with large number of LCV images

man I am confused, that doesn't make any sense, so why are you having drops in earnings?

« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2014, 09:30 »
-1
.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 22:11 by tickstock »

Goofy

« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2014, 09:32 »
+1
Hello to all,

I have about 800 - 1000 stock photos on all major agencies. My earnings is about of >100 $ / month. The time that I spend for photos is very short because, unfortunately, I must go to a "classic" job that I don't like it to much but the salary is more consistent (600 $). In March, on SS with my 800 images I sold more than 100.
Do you think that it deserve to make only stock pictures and, let say, in 4 -5 month, if I will produce more and more similar images like I did till now, I'll rich my actual incoming from job?

Thank you  :)

Strictly looking at the min requirement you stated that $600 per month would get you by thus it is very possible to make a 'living' on microstock at that salary range. Mostly likely 2,000 image or more will start to generate your min salary requirement.

« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2014, 09:40 »
+4
Hello to all,

I have about 800 - 1000 stock photos on all major agencies. My earnings is about of >100 $ / month. The time that I spend for photos is very short because, unfortunately, I must go to a "classic" job that I don't like it to much but the salary is more consistent (600 $). In March, on SS with my 800 images I sold more than 100.
Do you think that it deserve to make only stock pictures and, let say, in 4 -5 month, if I will produce more and more similar images like I did till now, I'll rich my actual incoming from job?

Thank you  :)

Strictly looking at the min requirement you stated that $600 per month would get you by thus it is very possible to make a 'living' on microstock at that salary range. Mostly likely 2,000 image or more will start to generate your min salary requirement.

how will they (2000) earn the 600$ if the 1000 he has are only doing 100$?

« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2014, 09:46 »
+5
It does not have much to do with numbers.
But more with who you are.
Can you improve your shooting qualities 10 times next year, and can you improve the postprocessing 10 times.'
not to mention and most important, can you narrow in on the concept 10 times more efficiently.
Can you?
Can you grow that much. Not many can, because in this world there is supercompetition, you are being crowdsourced and you have to be better than the crowd both in guality and quantity.
Can you?

« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2014, 09:52 »
+5
It does not have much to do with numbers. in this world there is supercompetition, you are being crowdsourced and you have to be better than the crowd both in guality and quantity.

Unfortunately, everybody else is busy trying to be head and shoulders above the crowd, too. That's how we all ended up investing so heavily in something that delivers such an uncertain return.

« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2014, 10:04 »
+3
It does not have much to do with numbers. in this world there is supercompetition, you are being crowdsourced and you have to be better than the crowd both in guality and quantity.

Unfortunately, everybody else is busy trying to be head and shoulders above the crowd, too. That's how we all ended up investing so heavily in something that delivers such an uncertain return.
ja, thasts called the "rat race" and all the rats are racing around in the bucket, trying to step on eachother to see the sun rising.
Fine, one does. He is happy.
But  on the bottum of the bucket lies many dead rats.
It is a question if you choose super competition and darwinism or if you choose to live in some sort of human friendly civilisation.



 

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