Brutally Honest March 2019 Earnings Results

I’m back with my second-ever brutally honest monthly report, this time for the month of March 2019. Click here to see how I did in February, as well as which agencies I upload to.

Month-end overview

Overall, it’s been a good month in terms of number of total downloads and about average in terms of $. Still a day left (Sunday), but I don’t expect many sales on Sundays…

MARCH NET RESULT: $956 (vs Feb $985) 

*No data for month available

– Robert Harding earnings taken from average from last Quarterly report

Lowlights of the month

  • Starting off with the bad news, I only managed a $17 HD clip sale at SS at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 for the whole month, which is hugely disappointing considering I’m uploading dozens of 4K clips every month. Last I checked I had over 600 clips at SS, Pond5 and Storyblocks. Here’s the clip that sold:


  • Dry spell on Piss on Demand continues, both at Photo4Me and FAA. In fact, my yearly subscription worth $30 expired and I haven’t worked up the motivation to renew….not sure if I will (it’s reverted back to the max of 20 images on the free package)
  • Wemark, Picfair, Canva, Colourbox, SignElements and Storyblocks are dead to me. I expect nothing from them going forward but will still keep uploading since it’s no extra effort.
  • Adobe Stock came in at a relatively disappointing $45 on 60 downloads. Total port = 3200 images

Highlights of the month

  • Best-month-ever at Shutterstock with 564 downloads, which gives a return per download of 65 cents. Total port = 9352 images
$27 for this cappuccino overlooking Piazza del Duomo, Milan
  • Best-month-ever at Istock with 288 downloads, which gives me a return per download of 50 cents. Total port = 5,362 images
$35.91 for this Rotterdam Central station and skyscrapers
  • Decent overall month at Alamy with 9 downloads for total of $364 gross.
Hit the bulls-eye with this image which sold for $151.25 gross

Most Poker images went to Zuma Press

As mentioned in my last report, one of the reasons for visting Rio was to both participate and photograph the PartyMillions Live poker tournament. No luck on cashing in the tournament but very happy with the pics I managed to capture. Hope to receive a report soon from Zuma Press on licenses – here’s a sample of my uploads:

zuma press
Zuma Press received the bulk of my poker images as they cater more to the US market

Can’t just rely on stock sales…trying to get myself some poker work!


Pushing for 4K sales

I’m really slowing down my microstock uploads to focus on higher-earning / lower-volume sales as both 4K clips and book covers at Arcangel. I’ve been pushing my Panasonic Lumix to its limit and quite impressed with its capabilities. Happy to show you some of my timelapse clips I’ve uploaded from my recent trip to Rio (always helps to get a high perspective view):


Don’t forget that I take advantage to pull stills out of timelapses, as per this tutorial.

Capturing the reality of the 3rd world

It’s not all pretty post-card scenes though as Rio has serious social problems, highlighted by this short clip I captured and available for license at Pond5, perhaps to be used in a documentary about social inequality. The expressions on the passers-by are what makes this clip most dynamic from an anthropological pov – notice how some are completely indifferent to the suffering of this destitute young man:

Praying for book cover sales at Arcangel

I’m literally and perhaps blasphemously praying for a stronger than average April. Here’s some of my latest book covers over at book-cover-land, Arcangel.

Recently accepted into the collection, minus the text obviously

Not much more to report, unfortunately

It’s been steady and quiet…wish there was more to report – until next month, where at the very least I’ll have more than one clip sale – speak soon!

I’ll be adding more metrics to the reports in the coming months, such as number of images per agency / downloads, as well as average downloads per agency (I suspect that value per downloads is falling year-on-year).

This should help to see more clearly which agencies are performing better/worse and make intelligent decisions using the available info. Stay tuned!


  1. It is to bad iStock pays such low commissions, they consistently sell lots of photos and for me a wide and diverse set of photos. That 15% commission just sucks. Interesting that your RPD on SS and IS are fairly close however.

    Glad to see you had a relatively strong month Alex, I’m sure the effort into video will pay dividends in a few months!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, SS RPD is dropping like a stone! Was consistently at around 74cents for a while and last month was at 65 cents. iStock for me is the opposite, was at around 35/40cents RPD for a while and nice jump to 50cents RPD.

      I think Steve Heap is experiencing similar drops. In practical terms, it’s more sales for the same amount of $.

      Thanks, Kaleb. I’m betting on videos. If stills can keep earning me about $1k a month and eventually I receive another $1k for clips, that’s not a bad result for living in a relatively low-cost country (Portugal). Then client work on the side and it’s a viable business. Always the optimist I am lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to read your results. It seems that there are quite a few agencies that are no longer really worth uploading to such as the ones you mention. Although not in the same league as you or Steve Heap I hit a milestone this month by achieving more than 100 SS downloads. 108 to be precise at an average of 62 cents. I have however increased my portfolio significantly recently. What surprises me is just how many editorial pics I am selling on SS. Previously most of these were reserved for Alamy which is not performing well for me so I am uploading whar were previously exclusive images to other sites with the emphasis being on SS.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Yes, most of the agencies on there are literally dead to me, but doesn’t mean I won’t keep uploading. Picfair and Wemark are new to the industry so need to give them time. Canva is more for backgrounds which I don’t have so many so fair enough.

      Storyblocks is a mystery to me.

      Signelements is another mystery.

      Colourbox gives me beer money.

      I believe that if an agency doesn’t give out much but they are harmless they might as well keep submitting. What do I mean by harmless? I mean that they’re generally not doing funny business by doing a “garage sale / car-boot sale” on your images, for example Colourbox selling 4K clips for 20 cents (I refuse to send them clips). Need to keep an eye and at the moment they change their rules we need to be aware and take action.


  3. Hey Alex,

    firts off, thanks for sharing all this invaluable stuff. I’m late to the party, only recently signed up for a few agencies and your blog is truly inspirational to me. Also, i purchased both your and Steve’s ebook.
    Two noob questions:
    1. What’s the story with grading? Pond5 explicitely says you shoudn’t grade your footage, they prefer a flat profile, so that the buyer can grade it to their liking. Yet i see that most uploaders crank up the contrast and saturation, as they do with still photos. Does it affect sales in any way?
    2. There seems to be a general agreement among contributors that istock/getty should be avoided like plague. Do you think it’s still worth doing business with them?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Victor,

      Thanks for getting in touch and for your compliment! I’ll try to answer your questions:

      1. I have to admit that I’m quite new to video and my skills aren’t such that I have much expertise in colour grading. Theo will be helping me soon and I’m very appreciative. I do some basic post-processing such as contrast, curves and white balance…also stabilization, cropping and of course trimming. I tend to agree that stock clips shouldn’t be a “finished product” in that you want to keep it as relatively unfinished as possible so buyers can insert the clips to transition well within their video products (they are rarely standalone clips). Perhaps Master Steve will have some inputs on this as he’s more experienced when it comes to clips. You see I only managed one puny clip sale in March!

      Strange that P5 mentioned this because Theo helped me colour-grade this one: and they subsequently priced it really high at $130 for 4K!

      2. I avoided them for some 2-3 years because they are indeed like the plague but now I regret because for some reason that scummy agency has a lot of buyers. I pulled in some $143 from there on 5,200 images so perhaps if I hadn’t gone on a boycott and had 10,000 images on there I may have been earning $300+, who knows. Anyway, I think we have to leave our egos at the door in this industry and just focus on making money, that is unless they change their rules to the point where it becomes impossible for us to continue.

      Hope this helps!



  4. I think you mean February?

    MARCH NET RESULT: $956 (vs April $985)

    Well done.

    My latest Robert Harding report was only $15, down from $185 the previous month 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. from 600 4k videos on SS P5 you eard 17 bucks? wow. I imagined you make way more money from videos than from photos. Thanks for the info. I bought your ebook, realy helps!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I saw your portfolio, looks great. I’m not an expert in videos, I’m just shocked how little did you earn from it.

        still.. 900$ per month from 9000 images I think it’s pretty good.

        Also, your ebook is amazing, and it’s exactly what you describe in the title: “Brutally honest”.

        … also I recommend exerimenting on a new business model for stock photographers: Start you own website and give out you images for free (under CC) … and earn money from advertising. Some people make more money from this than stock-bullshit. look at,,… me…

        Again, thanks, your information is valuable.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for your message and compliment, zolee.

          I suppose an RPI of just over $1 per year is decent this day in age of diminishing returns.

          Interesting business model. Pexels and Unsplash also do this. I would do this with my most useless of images but cannot do this with anything that has any commercial value.

          All the best and thanks for dropping by. Next time I should break through $1k. All I need is some 4K clips and one book cover and I’m there…sounds simple…


  6. very informative, thanks. I saw a couple of your timelapses on your Ig, nice job.

    christiano :microstocgroup forum : IG

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Alex ! following u closely, as just moved into Video myself and recently bought a 4k camera, so lots of work to do 😉 Keep it coming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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