MicrostockGroup Sponsors


Author Topic: Can I really earn a full time income from microstock?  (Read 45294 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2010, 12:16 »
0
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.

From my own earnings, which aren't a million miles from that figure, and in conjunction with the IS Contributor Chart I'd say there's probably fewer than 250 making $50K+. You'd need to be averaging about 1400 standard photo sales per month on IS to do so, either as an exclusive or an independent. Of course there are some contributors currently below the radar and rising rapidly on the Chart but there are also plenty of others that are slipping backwards too.


lisafx

« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2010, 12:19 »
0
Really good article.  Most realistic thing I have read on the subject.  

It will be interesting over the next few years to see if the number of people able to make a living at micro grows or shrinks.  

« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2010, 12:27 »
0
It will be interesting over the next few years to see if the number of people able to make a living at micro grows or shrinks.  

It will. Of course 6 years ago virtually nobody was earning 'a living' from microstock.

When you consider how many photographers there are worldwide earning a living from weddings, portraits, schools, commercial, journalism, etc it really is a tiny number in comparison.

« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2010, 12:34 »
0
i'll be going fulltime on stock in a few months time ,although my income is not as great. and yes, i'm from asia everything i earned is 3.5 times better.the reasons ?  im being paid merely 1500 usd monthly but i'm working weekends and till early in the morning ,once a while they will cancel my leave and ask me work.  we have no rights here. but we have no choice

graficallyminded

« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2010, 13:09 »
0
I just want to thank everyone for checking out my article, and for all the kind words.  I'm a little surprised I haven't started getting bashed, because usually when you post anything opinionated like this, there is at least one guy in the bunch that disagrees  ;D 

I originally was responding to a post in a Microstock discussion group on facebook, but my rant got so long that I figured I would turn it into a blog post :)  Thanks again for all your responses.  I'll link back to this thread in the post's comments section.

« Reply #30 on: March 10, 2010, 13:39 »
0
If your counting vector artists on microstock, the numbers jump substantially imo. I believe there are quite a number of vector contributors that make over 50k a year just on istock.

« Reply #31 on: March 10, 2010, 13:39 »
0
I just want to thank everyone for checking out my article, and for all the kind words.  I'm a little surprised I haven't started getting bashed, because usually when you post anything opinionated like this, there is at least one guy in the bunch that disagrees  ;D 

I originally was responding to a post in a Microstock discussion group on facebook, but my rant got so long that I figured I would turn it into a blog post :)  Thanks again for all your responses.  I'll link back to this thread in the post's comments section.

It is indeed a well written blog post. And it cannot be emphasized enough that a certain amount of work is involved if it becomes your main business.

I have no life and do this 10 hrs/day 7 days a week but I hope that I can retire before you do  ;D
Hopefully I'm not going to be burnt out by then...  :P

lisafx

« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2010, 14:00 »
0

Hopefully I'm not going to be burnt out by then...  :P

^^ That's the tough part.  Doing this FT for 5+ years can be exhausting.  It's hard to keep the creative juices going.

I had originally thought when I started this that in a couple of years, with a portfolio of a couple thousand images I could relax and ease up on production.  Instead the competition just got fiercer and I have to work harder than ever.

Burn out is a definite possibility.

« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2010, 14:06 »
0
I just want to thank everyone for checking out my article, and for all the kind words.  I'm a little surprised I haven't started getting bashed, because usually when you post anything opinionated like this, there is at least one guy in the bunch that disagrees  ;D 

Well, it isn't really that opinionated.  Or at least it's mostly factual and reasonable, and not silly woo-yay, quit your job or plunge off a cliff stuff. :)

« Reply #34 on: March 10, 2010, 14:19 »
0
If your counting vector artists on microstock, the numbers jump substantially imo. I believe there are quite a number of vector contributors that make over 50k a year just on istock.

Vector art? What's that?  ;)

« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2010, 16:30 »
0
It will be interesting over the next few years to see if the number of people able to make a living at micro grows or shrinks.  

It will. Of course 6 years ago virtually nobody was earning 'a living' from microstock.


True, and just a few years before that no one was earning anything at all. It's been quite amazing to watch this evolve over the years, as things changed from simple image sharing to an increasing number of 4-6 figure incomes.

« Reply #36 on: March 10, 2010, 16:58 »
0
...I'd say there's probably fewer than 250 making $50K+. You'd need to be averaging about 1400 standard photo sales per month on IS to do so...
But what about all the other sites?  I can tell you I fall well under 1400 image sales a month at IS (should be around 1000 for March), but sales are strong at SS, DT and FT, which puts me within striking distance of the magic number.

« Reply #37 on: March 10, 2010, 17:13 »
0
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 



Don't quit your full time job Denis

Kone

« Reply #38 on: March 10, 2010, 17:34 »
0
It seems like a classic 'bubble' to me except that rather than investing money, we're investing time.  

We're just passing the peak, and new 'investors' are still piling on -  and in doing so, steadily devaluing  each other's investements.  This bubble will end with a slow, drawn-out crash as - one by one - contributors decide they're not making enough to justify the time spent and cease production, but without pulling their portfolios.

In the end, at the conclusion of the cycle, the agencies will be in posession of huge archives of images no longer having much value -  completely amortized assets - with the contributors no longer expecting anything but token payment for future sales or uses.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 18:10 by stockastic »

RacePhoto

« Reply #39 on: March 10, 2010, 18:09 »
0
I just want to thank everyone for checking out my article, and for all the kind words.  I'm a little surprised I haven't started getting bashed, because usually when you post anything opinionated like this, there is at least one guy in the bunch that disagrees  ;D 

I originally was responding to a post in a Microstock discussion group on facebook, but my rant got so long that I figured I would turn it into a blog post :)  Thanks again for all your responses.  I'll link back to this thread in the post's comments section.


I disagree (there I wanted to make you happy) I don't really... :)

Would you trust this man to blog about the future of Microstock and getting started? Hmmm?



I remember when Todd went full time. Keep in mind that he does a have a BA in design. This is a jump start for someone to have training and a good eye. Nothing beats a sense of humor and a big 50 pound bag of creativity sitting in the corner, to cook up something. Also having a spouse with a full time job, energy, dedication and more hard work, it is possible to build a good solid portfolio with residual income for a long time.

Yes, full time in the USA or Europe may not pay the rent until you have a few thousand images accepted. Some people started as a hobby and worked hard (there's that phrase again?) and built something. Others have made it a hobby and maybe upload 10-20 photos a month. Maybe living someplace else, where the economy allows, making $300 a month, is "making a good living". Don't forget, that this is some of the competition and getting 25c subs for a person in that position, is a good sale.

I think that's important to consider when people speak of making a living, that yes, there are different playing fields. Considering Todd's assessment of under 500 worldwide, I would agree if that includes the industrialized higher economic areas. When someone in Indonesia can feed a family on $2 a week, it's not a fair to compare impoverished economic areas as "making a living" with some cost of living index and all kinds of complicated adjustments.

Full time and making a living are not necessarily bonded together for success. I'm sure there are some who work part time and make a good income. Some may work full time and it's just not enough. Something else that Todd writes but doesn't exactly say, in short, is Working Smarter is more important than working harder. Time does not always equal income. Producing marketable images is the key to the whole process, not producing just a high volume of images. It may have been a good plan five years ago, but now the goal is good images that sell.

There are people on IS if you look at the survey, who had well under 400 images and make more sales year after year, than people with 2-3000 images. They are probably making higher priced sales as well. The numbers game is history.

Maybe someone needs to come up with something that designates the different areas of stock better, because all micro isn't the same "Micro" anymore. There are sites that are called Microstock that don't have subs, sell for higher prices, pay higher commissions. There are some that are only subs and pay a flat rate per download. Then there's the large middle with various types of licenses. Yet if one is honest with them self, there are only two sites that make sales and pay back on a consistent basis for the biggest portion of artists.

The sales return for a site needs to come into the picture at some time. You can put 3000 images on "Crapstock" the latest 2 year wonder site and never make $100, or you can put the same images on the top four to six sites and forget about the little ones. Or go exclusive somewhere. Back to, time is not always money. If a site makes $2 a month, what's the reasoning behind wasting time with them. "Oh they might pick up some day." More likely, they will shut down some day soon. :D

Directing energy and effort towards places that have good returns makes more sense than spending time throwing your work down a bottomless dry well of mediocrity.

Good article Todd, it's fair and honest. Time that people understand that there's no free lunch and creating a big collection of shots that don't sell, won't make anyone any money.

I won't bring this down by arguing the issue of real profit when it takes a few thousand dollars to get serious, and a few years to make that investment back. I'll concede that most of us would have had a camera, editing software and flash anyway, the equipment costs are not a point of contention. Kind of like saying if you start delivering pizza, the car is an expense and it's $6000. Maybe? But if I already have a car, it's not a specific new expense, that was necessary to work that job. Same for microstock. Many people already have a camera and everything they need, except what the market is looking for. If someone is thinking of going out and buying the equipment needed to make it rich in Micro, they need to stop and reconsider.

Nice going Pickle Boy! ;)

« Reply #40 on: March 10, 2010, 18:46 »
0
This bubble will end with a slow, drawn-out crash ...

Wow __ love all those mixed metaphors.

graficallyminded

« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2010, 14:18 »
0
Nice points Pete - I know I personally "used what I had" when I started, as well.  I had decent (now considered crappy) point and shoot camera, an older pc full of the software I needed, and a little bit of time.  You just had to go and bring up the pickle billboard again though - Hahhahah!  The joke about that billboard is that I probably made .38-.50 cents off the sale of that silly photo of my face.

Stockastic paints a nice picture about what might be to come with his 'bubble' comment.  I hope that if it does happen, it happens later (not sooner) so that we can all ride this little wave a bit longer.


graficallyminded

« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2010, 14:35 »
0
Quote from: RacePhoto
I remember when Todd went full time. Keep in mind that he does a have a BA in design. This is a jump start for someone to have training and a good eye. Nothing beats a sense of humor and a big 50 pound bag of creativity sitting in the corner, to cook up something. Also having a spouse with a full time job, energy, dedication and more hard work, it is possible to build a good solid portfolio with residual income for a long time.

Hah!  Prior to last fall she didn't work more than a few hours a week and didn't pay for anything at all.  Don't think I had it easy financially during my transition, Petey.  I Wish I did... sometimes I'd rather she just stayed home to be a housewife / shoot assistant ;)  School systems don't pay well at all, plus she only gets paid for about 9 months out of the year.  I wish I could afford to take off all the time she has off :) What motivated me the most to do stock full time was the desire to exit the stressful corporate world, and wanting to work from home.

That's another good point, though.  Are you a spender, or a saver?  Many microstockers only request payments once or twice a month, so if you normally live week to week or piss your money away at the bar as soon as you earn it, this probably isn't the business you want to be in.  You also can't forget about paying your quarterly taxes.

Quote from: RacePhoto
Yes, full time in the USA or Europe may not pay the rent until you have a few thousand images accepted. Some people started as a hobby and worked hard (there's that phrase again?) and built something. Others have made it a hobby and maybe upload 10-20 photos a month. Maybe living someplace else, where the economy allows, making $300 a month, is "making a good living". Don't forget, that this is some of the competition and getting 25c subs for a person in that position, is a good sale.

That's exactly the thing about "making a living" - it all depends on your area, and the cost of living there.  There are some I'm sure with portfolios of 500 that are making over $1000 a month, others with that size that can't even hit the monthly payout minimum.  There are many things to factor in.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 14:40 by arenacreative »

lisafx

« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2010, 17:31 »
0
... sometimes I'd rather she just stayed home to be a housewife / shoot assistant ;)  School systems don't pay well at all, plus she only gets paid for about 9 months out of the year.  I wish I could afford to take off all the time she has off :) What motivated me the most to do stock full time was the desire to exit the stressful corporate world, and wanting to work from home.


I assume your wife is a teacher then?  My husband is a teacher too.  True, he will never get rich doing it, but OTOH it is steady income and he will continue to make it long after this "bubble comes crashing down" (keeping those metaphors mixed for you Gostwyck ;) )

Not to mention that the school board provides a good retirement program and excellent medical insurance for our whole family, which here in the US would severely eat into my profits if I had to pay for it.  

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2010, 17:56 »
0
What motivated me the most to do stock full time was the desire to exit the stressful corporate world, and wanting to work from home.

So is life better without the stressfull corporate world? Or do you now just have a different kind of stress?

« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2010, 18:24 »
0
All I need to know is that it CAN BE DONE. I haven't done it, I'm not saying I will do it, but I'm going to have a crack at it......and I'll find a level, or not - at which point I'll look for something else. That's the way I live my life.
 
Think I've just written my epitath.

graficallyminded

« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2010, 20:50 »
0
 Kind of off topic but do you find yourself not being able to stay on task as much when your other half is home?  
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 10:44 by PhotoPhan »

lisafx

« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2010, 23:16 »
0
Yeah Lisa, she is a paraprofessional / teachers aide.  Kind of off topic but do you find yourself not being able to stay on task as much when your other half is home, like when they have school vacation?  hahahah I'm going to have to hamper down on myself and make sure I continue working diligently this upcoming summer.  Sometimes when she's on vacation, I feel like I'm on vacation too :) especially when there are "snow days" here in New England.

Absolutely!  I can't get anything done when my hubby's around.  I don't even try to edit or upload when he's off work ;)

Fortunately he teaches year 'round and only gets breaks in two week stretches between semesters.  But on those two week periods if we aren't gong on vacation I try to schedule photo shoots, which he helps with by doing lighting and/or modeling. 

I love when he's off but I am always happy to send him back to work again, LOL.

« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2010, 12:26 »
0
I think that's important to consider when people speak of making a living, that yes, there are different playing fields. Considering Todd's assessment of under 500 worldwide, I would agree if that includes the industrialized higher economic areas. When someone in Indonesia can feed a family on $2 a week, it's not a fair to compare impoverished economic areas as "making a living" with some cost of living index and all kinds of complicated adjustments.

Not to get too far off subject, but my wife is from Indonesia and I have been there numerous times.
You cannot live there on $2 a week. Cigarette factory workers who are uneducated villagers that can neither read nor write, make about $11US a day.
That is just a bit better than a subsistence living there.
Now, how would a person barely scratching by, make enough money to purchase the photography gear needed too start shooting quality stock?

No, the people living in the third world that can even begin to think about making a living from micro, are either expats using the impoverished country as home base or natives that were already doing OK at something else.

Having said that, I may one day join the ranks of these expats that are making a 'comfortable living' from stock, but I am hoping for more than a $300 per month subsistence income  ;D

« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2010, 13:33 »
0
In my country, $300 a month is full time salary for many people, so, it's very achievable. But if you live in western Europe or America.....


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
22 Replies
9690 Views
Last post March 05, 2007, 17:20
by madelaide
8 Replies
3813 Views
Last post August 30, 2007, 03:02
by leaf
49 Replies
8708 Views
Last post January 30, 2011, 09:15
by iahulbak
34 Replies
4177 Views
Last post July 04, 2013, 22:23
by tickstock
49 Replies
10455 Views
Last post March 01, 2016, 03:45
by sharpshot

Sponsors

Microstock Poll Results