Open topic: Do you have any questions/comments?

We’re close to the end of the year and will soon be putting together a new-end review of the good, bad and ugly as I did last year. Should be interesting, so stay tuned.

Thanks for all the help

Meanwhile, I would like to throw this unusual post out there and simply thank everybody that has followed and supported me in this journey. I’ve chosen a difficult path in creating this business during an increasingly challenging time and as I’ve mentioned many times, it can be lonely working and traveling alone…so great it is to be surrounded by “long-distance colleagues”. No competitors…only collaborators!

Brutally Honest Community

I really would like to encourage a more active Brutally Honest Community, where the ultimate aim is to help each other out. I have great plans for this community in 2019 which I’ll share soon.

Therefore, in this spirit, does anybody here have any questions, comments, rants, stories they would like to share below? I’ll do my best to answer any and perhaps we get a nice discussion going! Please don’t be shy!

Ok, I’ll start with a general question…are you happy with your 2018 stock photography/footage progress?

Looking forward to your inputs!


  1. Best of the season, Alex! I don’t have any specific questions but I enjoy following you along your journey.

    To answer your question, I am not satisfied with my 2018 stock progress. I haven’t submitted nearly enough.

    That being said, the true “passive income” of past submissions has kept trickling in. That’s one of the benefits of this business is that the large front end of work you put into it pays off for years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Steve.

      That’s the beauty of this business model…can always take a long break and still earn from those images that have a long shelf-life. Hope you’ll be back with a vengeance in 2019. Really liked your shots and stories from your train rides in Belgium. You were probably in a great mood from all the beer haha. Few people have such knowledge of trains!

      Have you had any luck on submitting stock videos of trains?

      All the best


  2. Hi Alex, first of all, thank you very much for all your generosity helping with this amazing blog.

    I have two questions:

    Robert Harding or Westend61? any advice on how to get accepted?

    Second, do you think is it worthy exclusivity on stock vs microstock. My experience in Cavan Images, since I started with then about 6 months ago is that the ratio earnings per photograph is lower than in microstock

    Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pedro,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I have heard good things about Westend61 but have no experience with them, unfortunately. As for RH, loads of experience and my advice on getting accepted is outlined in detail on this blog post:

      In fact, if you have drone shots, even better. I have a friend who has recently been accepted there with drone shots:

      Really stunning work by Cicero, based in Madeira.

      As for your second question on exclusivity vs non-exclusivity, that’s a tough one and highly personal. I would say that if you do decide to go exclusive you have to have great faith in that agency’s business model. Loads of fellow contributors dropped the istock exclusivity as they lost faith in their business model and almost none of them regret doing so. I’m exclusive with RH for about 360 of my images and taking a bit of gamble with them…which is yet to pay off and I believe will pay off. Those same images would have probably earned me more at this stage if they were on micros than what they have at RH but I think that once they do mature (especially the Rights-Managed ones), they should really pick up and I’ll pick up some big licenses.

      I try to hedge my risk by going exclusive with Robert Harding and Arcangel with only a small portion of my port, 340 and 660 images respectively. The other portion, which are non-similar images to RH/Arcangel, consist of about 10,000 images and 400 videos. So far so good.

      Lastly, if you do decide to go/stay exclusive, you have to give it at least two years and then make a decision.

      Good luck


  3. “No competitors…only collaborators!” I really envy you on that. Even if I just want to make friends with other people in video or editing business there is usually “what gear”, “what NLE”, “how many time” “what customers” “how much” questions that rise a defensive wall in the initial conversation. So, don’t think that you follow a lonely path. You can feel alone even among other 10 people shooting on the same room or event. Maybe this is another “brutal” truth. As those are my first baby steps on stock, 2018 is a great year as long as I made a start. Hope to have some first earnings in one to one and a half year from now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi George,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Probably best to avoid such people! Collaboration is about creating win/win situations.

      Good to hear you’re happy with your 2018 performance and hope that translates into some nice earnings next year and the year after.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Despite making great efforts in uploading photos, I continue to be disappointed in the level of earnings. In 2017 I concentrated on Alamy and now have 6000+ images there. I have only made 37 sales this year for a gross income of $1011. This year, whilst continuing to upload to Alamy. I have uploaded much more to microstock sites too and now have over 2000 images at several of them. Sales here are also depressingly low. e,g, Shutterstock earnings are only $242. I am determined to pesevere and have started to cast my net wider in an attempt to discover subjects that do sell. Obviously the current crop of subject matter that I focus on is just not that saleable. I am not really in this for the money as it is a hobby, but it would be nice to achieve more success although I never expect to match Steve Heap and his prolific earnings. How happy are you with your progress this year?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Khellon,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Seems like you’re under-performing but without having a look at your images it’s impossible or me to speculate as to why. If you don’t mind, I can take a look at your port and give you some inputs.

      Master Steve Heap has superb results and without taking away his hard work/dedication, we must keep in mind that he started when it was easier and many of his early images are ranked very highly and continue to sell regularly until today. Such as the bag of ice and cat isolated he discussed in his course. At micros, many of my regular sales are 2+ years old, such as the refugees and caipirinha drink (See top 5 best sellers and why blog post).

      Nowadays, as you know, it can be challenging to have new images stand out from the crowd due to over-saturation caused by agencies letting everything in that would have otherwise been rejected not too long ago. One more reason why I’m focusing more on the logical transition to footage, which are apparently really showing promise (Master Theo says so, so it must be true!)

      As for my results, I’ll publish my year-end report in a few weeks, but I’ll give you a sneak peak: overall I’m quite satisfied. The earnings part hasn’t been outstanding but I’m seeing growth in all market segments I’m contributing: Microstock, Midstock, Breaking News, Print on Demand, Book Covers, perhaps each one of those by themselves isn’t significant but combined can be a tidy sum (also relative as it depends on where you live). Something like: 40% micros, 20% Midstock (Alamy + Robert Harding), 20% footage,10% Book covers, 5% Breaking News, 5% POD.

      Overall, I’m optimistic for 2019, much more than I was at the end of 2017 when I was looking towards 2018.

      All the best



      • Thanks for your reply Alex. I too am trying to diversify into POD and videos. I have just loaded my first half dozen videos which have been accepted but I feel it will be a long road before I start to see any sales, I actually live in Phuket which I dont feel is one of the best areas for taking photos unless all you want to do is take photos of beaches! I have, of course many photos of Phuket and, in particular Phuket Town. These images feature high in searches on Alamy but I dont recall many sales, Please feel free to have a look at my portfolio and I look forward to hearing your comments.



        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Kevin,

          I’ve taken a quick look at your port on Alamy and quite impressed. I think you have a good variety of subjects and look good on thumbnails. We seem to have a similar style…vibrant, wide shots. Also some breaking news and close ups of subjects, including people. I can see that you’ve also traveled to quite a few places: Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, SE Asia, Chester, Morocco, Sydney. Jealous! 😀

          In particular, I like your street photography and candid shots of market-workers…I can see you’re not shy to shoot strangers in public, like me (many people avoid such situations). What’s the worst that can happen, I always ask myself.

          Some can def be turned into fine art prints, such as: P94A29, M8DFNF, KR51RA. Time consuming but it’s all part of the game to diversify.

          So it’s a real head-scratcher as to why they’re not selling, but after I clicked on some random images and looked at the caption and keywords, therein lies the issues, in my opinion. From another quick glance, they seem to be insufficient, often inaccurate and generally just rushed through…which is a pity. To remedy this will take you a while but I would highly recommend to go through each one and improve them. I highly recommend tool. I also recommend the keywording tool built-in the StockSubmitter as a good starting point and then I add my own. On Alamy, 2 or 3 word phrases are important but this is also time-consuming especially if you’re duplicating content to all the micros.

          Keywording is also not one of my strengths, I much rather be out there shooting than doing this fucking tedious job and if I were earning enough I’d delegate it but the harsh true is that good keywords are almost as important as the image itself. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around does it make a sound?…is the same as if a good image is for sale but nobody sees, will it sell? The ultimate microstock riddle, but in this case the answer is a clear NO. Buyers don’t search past the 1st page in 95% of the time so our images really need to be competitive or just go to Flickr or whatever or instagram to get likes. No excuses in this business.

          All the best – you have skills…I enjoyed looking through your journey, keep going!

          Best of luck,



  5. Hi Alex

    Many thanks for your time and I certainly appreciate it. I must admit I did not realise my keywording was that bad but I will take on board your comments. It is indeed a chore and I resolve to take more care in the future and also try and go back and update existing photos.

    I do try to some fine art and have photos (including the ones you mention) on several sites. Photo4me, where I have had one sale from 147 images, Zazzle which has resulted in several sales of postcards, posters etc., Red Bubble, also several sales similar to Zazzle. I also tried Fine Art America but have only 25 photos. I am reluctant to spend money until I receive a sale as I have heard varying reports about sales levels.

    Thanks for your positive comments. I do enjoy street photography and it is relatively easy in Thailand as most Thais are only too happy to have their photo taken, I always enjoy my many trips to Bangkok for this reason,

    I will keep on trying and will see if my improved keywording (I have already started with some Photos of Barcelona which I will upload shortly and I am using keyword,io as you suggested).

    Wishing you lots of success in your endeavours.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Best of luck re-keywording…it’a a painful task and I re-keyworded about 5,000 of my images on Alamy over a 3-week period but then almost suddenly I started receiving more sales…whether this was a factor, I don’t know but most likely.

      You’re way ahead of most people in terms of the subject matter and technicals so just plug in this last crucial leak and you should start to see some sales. Let me know how you get on soon! POD is a bit of hit and miss, but once they’re up best to just forget they even exist and it’s nice to get an email notification of a sale or two.

      Would love to visit SE Asia, it’s in my plans for very soon! Back to Portugal tomorrow, it’s peak surfing season so hope to get some nice surfing shots at Carcavelos beach.

      All the best,


      Liked by 1 person

  6. HI Alex, really enjoying your blog and as i am slowly starting to play with Microstock many of the post are great insight so thank you. Currently working at finding niches with traveller photography and build up from there. Couple questions

    1) Do you have a suggested road map of where you start in relation to sites. Like many i started with SS, and as we see on many of the forum post of newbies i am starting to think there lax QC is not doing us any favour, as almost anything goes through. When i started AS i got a shock at first on the difference (though i then realise they also make editorial calls in there QC). I’m scared of pushing Alamy as reading there forum people seem really paranoid of the effect of running your quality score…

    2) In your blurred atmospheric type pictures (your London post), do you feel the Location is important, ie the London part? Do you see any value in blurry regular street Berat, Albania (or whatever other random place i find myself)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jean-Francois,

      Thanks for the nice words and getting in touch. Good you’re thinking about a niche…that means you’re probably ahead of 75% of other microstockers starting out!

      As for your questions:

      1) I’ve really changed my workflow over the past 18 months. If you’ve been following me for a while you would have seen earlier posts where I was advocating putting editorials only at Alamy as RM or RF, but these days I think it’s most profitable to give yourself the best possible chance for your work to be seen by buyers by putting it in ALL agencies. This means about 14 agencies at the moment where my work is duplicated. For my more premium stuff I’ll put it in Robert Harding as exclusive and Arcangel for book covers also as exclusive. The rest goes everywhere and RF…just makes it easier. Some of the agencies won’t give much return these days, such as Canstock, Dreamstime, 123RF, Canva but even small amounts of let’s say $5 each per month on 3,000 images does add up at the end of the year to something substantial. I wouldn’t be scared of Alamy, worst that can happen is that you can’t submit for 30 days while you sort out your QC issues. One way is to keep batches small as to avoid whole batches behing rejected. GL! I’m 3 stars there but I don’t know what difference it has made, perhaps quicker review times. In any case, sales on there, on average take a while, so unless it’s breaking news one or two more days it takes to review doesn’t really make much difference.

      2) Yes, I feel location is important because that’s what buyers are searching for in many cases…as well as the mood. Just gives you more chance to be found in the searches, as opposed to a generic moody shot. Difficult to answer your question if i “see any value in blurry regular street”, since I would need to see the image! Blurry images generally don’t do very well on stock but it also depends on what you’re trying to communicate.

      All the best!



      • thank you for the reply, really appreciated.

        OK on Alamy, i will relax.

        Actually followed some of your advice and did my first picture using my hand as a model. Again trying to have some fun with some shots, seeing what goes what doesn’t. Next step will be to get organised with more sites, now that i am getting comfortable with process.

        Thanks on the blur reply. I did a few lens zooming blur yesterday at a night xmas market (of course i totally missed one of the table on the side had a Coke menu card, but have enough shots with someone walking in front of it. ). Again that was a fun process making the photo shoot different,,.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.