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Author Topic: Can I really earn a full time income from microstock?  (Read 45937 times)

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« on: March 10, 2010, 04:11 »
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I thought Arena Creative had a realistic view of the microstock industry in this blog post - so thought I would give it a link from here.

http://www.arenacreative.com/blog/microstock-related/can-you-really-make-a-living-selling-microstock-photography/

My opinion is that for dabblers and hobbyists - I still think they can make a few bucks a month and have fun, if that's all they want.  For those who want to have it as a profession - it is an uphill battle.  Yes, I do think it is possible as there is never enough of the best of anything in any field - but even then it won't be easy.


« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 05:34 »
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I thought Arena Creative had a realistic view of the microstock industry in this blog post - so thought I would give it a link from here.

http://www.arenacreative.com/blog/microstock-related/can-you-really-make-a-living-selling-microstock-photography/

My opinion is that for dabblers and hobbyists - I still think they can make a few bucks a month and have fun, if that's all they want.  For those who want to have it as a profession - it is an uphill battle.  Yes, I do think it is possible as there is never enough of the best of anything in any field - but even then it won't be easy.


Thanks for the link Leaf....excellent reading. I totally agree.  500 microstockers making it full time is about what I though too.  I am not there yet, although I made $19,000 in 2009 it is my best year yet with 1200 images. Maybe if I had quitted my full time job I would have made much more but I did not like the risk.  Denis 

« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2010, 05:43 »
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I think even 500 is a pretty high estimate.  Once I review the 2009 poll results perhaps we can make a more educated guess.

« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2010, 06:01 »
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I think even 500 is a pretty high estimate.  Once I review the 2009 poll results perhaps we can make a more educated guess.
the definition of "full time" hugely depends on the place of living. In many places making $300/month is a normal full-time income...

« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2010, 06:24 »
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However worldwide... my guess is that there is no more then 100 making more then 50K a year.

Microbius

« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 06:54 »
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That was a really insightful blog post. I agree with almost everything he's said.

« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 07:25 »
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And my name to the chorus... fantastic article.  I especially like how he summarizes the challenges a new microstocker faces, while still acknowledges that it's possible for someone to earn a living if they do everything right.  This is the article I want every rookie to read, rather than the ones that say, "No way! Forget it! You're too late!"  There are certainly MANY obstacles to success for someone just starting today, but for someone with unique creative vision and business/marketing sense in substantial and equal doses, there's still money to be made here.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2010, 07:28 »
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I'd say this is a pretty realistic look at microstock.

« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2010, 07:46 »
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Thanks, leaf!!

vlad_the_imp

« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2010, 09:19 »
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Quote
However worldwide... my guess is that there is no more then 100 making more then 50K a year.

I make a good living. I live in Western Europe and although I'm reluctant to divulge my income, which is all earned from microstock, I was not a million miles from a 6 figure dollar income last year. There are plenty of microstockers pulling in good money, and I'm nearer the bottom of the top 150 sellers at my agency of choice.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 09:24 by vlad_the_imp »

« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2010, 09:40 »
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Count me in as making a fulltime income from microstock all be it on the video side. I have put a ton of effort and put  alot of money into equipment to handle HD at the bulk level. I still hold my current fulltime job in the medical field but it sure is nice to have stock income to fall back on if anything goes wrong. The article is dead on as far as work practices go. Nothing has come easy to me, I do have a niche in the medical field but I shoot all kinds of stuff every week. Between both jobs I work 60 plus hours a week. I might one day pull the plug on the day job and just work 40hrs a week on the stock job. Going fulltime is not for the faint of heart but working for one's self has a whole positive side to itself!
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 09:43 by jjneff »

« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 09:53 »
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Quote
However worldwide... my guess is that there is no more then 100 making more then 50K a year.

I make a good living. I live in Western Europe and although I'm reluctant to divulge my income, which is all earned from microstock, I was not a million miles from a 6 figure dollar income last year. There are plenty of microstockers pulling in good money, and I'm nearer the bottom of the top 150 sellers at my agency of choice.

 In my case, if it is the agency I think you are talking about,  I am at the bottom of the top 440 sellers. Thank you for your insight.

Count me in as making a fulltime income from microstock all be it on the video side. I have put a ton of effort and put  alot of money into equipment to handle HD at the bulk level. I still hold my current fulltime job in the medical field but it sure is nice to have stock income to fall back on if anything goes wrong. The article is dead on as far as work practices go. Nothing has come easy to me, I do have a niche in the medical field but I shoot all kinds of stuff every week. Between both jobs I work 60 plus hours a week. I might one day pull the plug on the day job and just work 40hrs a week on the stock job. Going fulltime is not for the faint of heart but working for one's self has a whole positive side to itself!

  

We have lots of financial information about the number one seller, however not too many of the top 200 sellers that will come forward like yourselves to divulge such information. Your little bits of information certainly give us a better perspective of what can be accomplished. Thank you vlad_the_imp  and jjneff. Denis
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 09:59 by cybernesco »

« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2010, 10:21 »
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Nice article. I like the sentence about some people getting it and others not. For me, it was like a light bulb went on after I uploaded my first 10 images. It seemed so obvious, but I've had a few friends that I went to college with that seemed to have no interest in it.

« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2010, 10:27 »
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Nice article. I like the sentence about some people getting it and others not. For me, it was like a light bulb went on after I uploaded my first 10 images. It seemed so obvious, but I've had a few friends that I went to college with that seemed to have no interest in it.

I think the turn-off for may "artistic" types is that the images that you're most proud of from a creative standpoint don't often sell. 

Many times, I've been proud of a new pic, spending many hours getting it just right, only to see it fail miserably in downloads.  Meanwhile, pics that I think are very uninspired, and require just minutes of my time, sell like gangbusters.  This encourages me to submit more of those, and less of the artistically fulfilling ones.  For people who think of themselves as artists, this could be soul-crushing.  The trick is finding a balance... what type of pics give you a jolt of creative passion while also serve the needs of buyers.

« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2010, 10:49 »
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However worldwide... my guess is that there is no more then 100 making more then 50K a year.

No more than 100 making $50k+? You are way, way off with this guess - arenacreative is much closer to the mark at 500, but I think even he's a little low.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 11:00 by sharply_done »

« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2010, 11:04 »
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Great article. So far best I have seen on this subject. Not trying to just lure more people and earn money out of newbies :-) I guess realistic for most of the parts.

100,500 or 1000 it's still very low number in comparison to number of contributors worldwide.

« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2010, 11:26 »
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...
100,500 or 1000 it's still very low number in comparison to number of contributors worldwide.

True enough.


« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2010, 11:30 »
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Great article. So far best I have seen on this subject. Not trying to just lure more people and earn money out of newbies :-) I guess realistic for most of the parts.

100,500 or 1000 it's still very low number in comparison to number of contributors worldwide.
My feeling as well. Even 5,000 full time >$50k would make it a real crapshoot of a career choice.

« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2010, 11:36 »
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However worldwide... my guess is that there is no more then 100 making more then 50K a year.

No more than 100 making $50k+? You are way, way off with this guess - arenacreative is much closer to the mark at 500, but I think even he's a little low.

Good to know Thanks

« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2010, 11:47 »
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Great article. So far best I have seen on this subject. Not trying to just lure more people and earn money out of newbies :-) I guess realistic for most of the parts.

100,500 or 1000 it's still very low number in comparison to number of contributors worldwide.
My feeling as well. Even 5,000 full time >$50k would make it a real crapshoot of a career choice.

Doesn't really matter what the number is.  Yes, it's a small minority.

What matters to the rest of us: is it possible to join the ranks of top-earners?

I think yes, if someone does ALL the following things:
- Carefully study the market to learn what sells
- Develop a unique style that isn't easily copied
- Target not just one underserved niche, but multiple (otherwise you will end up cannibalizing yourself and growth will stop)
- Upload regularly (not "feed the beast" approach, but focus on quality over quantity)

Those are the steps I follow every day, and if my data trend lines hold, I should be in that top earners club in a few months.  I've been in microstock for about a year and a half, so success IS still within reach for rookies, but they should still start by reading the article referenced in this thread to keep realistic expectations and understand the work it will take.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 11:50 by PowerDroid »

« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2010, 11:52 »
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Thanks for the link Leaf, great reading. It's fun to hear people say it like it is really.

« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2010, 11:59 »
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Forgot to mention this thought...

Leaf's ranking system for members of this forum is an invaluable tool to tell you if you're on the right track to financial success in microstock.

It clearly tells you if you are meeting the market's needs for images in relation to other microstockers.  If you have a low number of images in relation to the group, but a high number of sales in relation to the group, this is evidence that your approach is working.  If the reverse is true, some research may be required to help you better target the needs of buyers.

« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2010, 11:59 »
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Do people still fall for the "get rich quick"-theme?

What a big surprise that someone said (again) that you can only succeed by working hard for it.

Haven't met (or heard) of anyone just being successful "by accident"...

« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2010, 12:05 »
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What a big surprise that someone said (again) that you can only succeed by working hard for it.

"Working hard for it" will get you nowhere if you're doing the wrong things.  That's called banging your head against the wall.

You could do much LESS work, but work smarter, and get much further than those toiling away in the wrong direction.

« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2010, 12:12 »
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What a big surprise that someone said (again) that you can only succeed by working hard for it.

"Working hard for it" will get you nowhere if you're doing the wrong things.  That's called banging your head against the wall.

You could do much LESS work, but work smarter, and get much further than those toiling away in the wrong direction.

There are very, very, very few contributors that have a portfolio of less than 400 images over the course of 5 or 6 years that make a living off of it - that's how I understand you statement about
Quote
You could do much LESS work, but work smarter, and get much further than those toiling away in the wrong direction.
.

I'm talking about the common sense of doing what you love to do and doing it RIGHT (as in: knowing what you do)!

Additionally, you will have to invest a lot of time to get off the ground.

Just because somebody "works smarter" doesn't mean that they do this 3 hours a week.


 

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