July 2019 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

We’ve passed the half-way point of the year and I’m back with another detailed monthly report on my earnings + overall thoughts on what’s happening in my stock business.

Read on towards the end to “congratulate” the Turd of the Month Agency July 2019!

Click here to see the June 2019 Brutally Honest Earnings report

Detailed Earnings Breakdown

Agency Number of Images / Clips in port (added July) Net Revenue for July (US$) Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF 4,228 (35) 11 0.32
Alamy 10,905 (39) 77 9
Arcangel 720 (7) 2 sales just came in to update August Report
Adobe Stock 3,374 (30) 65 0.69
Bigstock 3,591 (4) 6 0.3
Canva* 2,901 (0) 3 0.9
Creative Market 1,066 (9) 17 8
DepositPhotos 5,706 (69) 10 0.33
Dreamstime 6,027 (44) 13 0.57
iStock 5,694 (20) 169 0.44
Rex Features 721 (24) 0 0
Robert Harding 383 (0) 55** N/A
Shutterstock 9,714 (22) / Clips 848 (98) 445 0.87
Pond5 1,002 (142) 0 0
Picfair 4,856 (31) 20 20
Storyblocks 1,070 (192) 28 28
SignElements 1,033 (5) 11 N/A
Total 890


*Shut down account as of late-July

** Q2 report should be out early-August. To update on next month’s report

I’ve included $15 above for a Fine Art America print sale.

Overall thoughts on July results

After a frustrating June, where I went on a bit of a rant, July came in slightly better ($890 vs $769) in part thanks to some spread out of earnings at other agencies other than the “usual suspects” of SS, iStock and Alamy. As you can see above, some turds came alive…notably Picfair and Creative Market. I’ve happily bid Canva goodbye and so should you! Wemark also went busto…so much promise and no delivery…disappointing.

So as of August 1st, I only upload to 17 agencies of which 15 are non-exclusive.


To be honest, haven’t really uploaded that many stills (only 22 at SS, for instance) this month as I’ve been focused predominately on videos, which I’ll come onto soon.


Some decent individual stills sales this month, including the following of the Naviglio Grande in Milan, Italy during the winter, which earned me $28.50.

Bella Italia!

Closer to home, this facade of a vineyard in Azeitao near Lisbon sold as an enhanced license earning me $21.54. Love using my ultra-wide angle 10-20mm lens for these types of shots and buyers seem to appreciate the unique perspective.



Coveted Golden Turd of the Month Winner for May 2019, Picfair, surprised in July with one sale for a decent amount of £16 (about $20). Nice to see a struggling Turd agency finally delivering some results.

The shot that sold is simply a facade of a well-known private hospital in West London with a nice light hitting the facade…

cromwell hospital


Over at Alamy, a relatively disappointing month at only $77 net, but the good news (always the optimist I am), have spotted a few images that are yet to be show on the sales report (buyers have 3 months to pay up after usage), including the following from my time capturing a PartyPoker Millions Poker Tournament in Rio. The image was featured on the article “No limit: AI poker bot is first to beat professionals at multiplayer game”.

PartyPoker Millions Poker Tournament in Rio – March 2019

As for actual reported sales: a colourful mural in Porto Maravilha, Rio de Janeiro was picked up. Shooting wall-art is something that many agencies, including Alamy, are reluctant to accept due to legal risks. Nevertheless, this one went through earning me a decent $21 net (Rights-Managed exclusive).

Entitled “We Are All One”, Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra presents a colorful mural in the port area of Rio de Janeiro

Problems at Alamy

Continuing on with Alamy, even though they’re one of my favourite agencies, they’ve disappointed me recently. I publicly complained about them via Twitter, midway through the month when I spotted one of my images of Venice licensed via the Financial Times refunded. A few days later, the sale was re-instated minus 5 cents earning me net $13, so maybe I was a bit premature to call them out – my apologies!

alamy refund

Always look out for your best interests

In any case, we must keep the agencies and not be naive to think they’re always acting in our best interests (more soon on this re: Canva). As for the Personal Usage suspicious findings that I blogged about some months ago, I keep getting the same old useless responses to my queries on the suspicious uses:

“We haven’t had a response from the customer, and our team cannot find the image being used anywhere online outside the terms of the license.

Therefore we have to assume they have purchased the correct license and are closing the case down.” – Alamy Contributor Relations

One such response from Alamy, for the following image, was that in one of the personal usage licenses:

“We’ve had a look and it seems the person who bought the image for personal use is the person depicted in the image so we wouldn’t see this as suspicious.” – Alamy Contributor Relations

This guy recognised himself and purchased a personal use license. Right!

Not happy…

Stock footage results

I’m on full-throttle mode uploading clips and in July uploaded a whopping  98 clips at SS and 142 at Pond5 (most 4K).

Clip results were steady with 7 sales spread out nicely across agencies (iStock, AdobeStock, Shutterstock and Storyblocks) for a total of $94 (vs $75 for June).

Gimbal Goodness

Looks like I’ll soon be able to pay off my recent investment on a Zhiyun Crane Plus gimbal, which greatly adds stability and motion to my clips – see blog post on it here. To see what I mean by stability…

Now onto some sellers…


Nice to see that Storyblocks finally joined the part with this clip of lobster Jiu-Jitsu earning me a cool $27.65 – link to clip here.

Why the buyer chose this, well I guess because it was quite a fight…but if I had to be the judge I’d say that the one on left won by a narrow margin


Over at SSland, one of my favourite clips from my March poker trip to the PartyMillions in Rio was the following timelapse of the Aterro do Flamengo, which sold earnings me $15.

flamengoIn a more pertinent theme, the following clip of passengers walking past an immigration at Heathrow Airport arrivals sold (again) earning me a cool $18 which will translate into £36 soon thanks to (no-deal) Brexit wrecking the UK economy.

brexitAdobe Stock

AS brought a nice surprise in July, ensuring that my investment in Porto wine was well-spent. You can see my blog post on this photo/video shoot here.

This simple clip earned me $25 – link to it here


Even iStock joined the party, with two sales of $8 each of Cascais, Portugal seascapes! Who would have thought…I stopped uploading to them ages ago due to their ridiculously low-priced sales but PERHAPS I’ll re-consider. In any case, I don’t have that many purely commercial clips, so the risk is low even if they do sell for peanuts.

Decent clip prices for iStock considering my past sales on there…


Unfortunately, nothing from Pond5 in July. Turds…

Piss on Demand

Over at Print-on-Demand land, a past earnings revenue that I have neglected dearly, I was surprised to receive a notification from Fine Art America of a sale. Since my premium account expired on there and I didn’t bother to fork out the yearly membership of $30, I missed out on extra earnings for a massive 72 x 40.50 inch print of a row of airplanes. Oh well.


I continue to upload to Photo4Me, a free to uploaded UK-based Print on Demand agency in the hope that someone will want to put one of my pics up on their wall. Here’s a new hopeful I re-worked this past week, which is available via this link:

Would appreciate if you help me out and look into my collection on either Fine Art America or Photo4me for any prints that you would like to give away as gifts or perhaps even for yourself!

Canva, what a sad sad story with a happy ending

I finally told Canva in polite terms to fuck off as they start making deals with the devil. Understandably, many contributors are angry to see their hard work going to waste with shady deals. I encourage others to do the same.

Enough for me, plus I was only earning like $5 a month with them on average.  One less turd to worry about as I flush this big one down the toilet…

Merry Christmas, Canva!

WeMark, what a disappointment

I optimistically published a blog post about crypto-stock agency, WeMark being a game-changer…but they proved to be crypto-turds having announced in July that they would shut-down. Here’s a link to their announcement with reasons as to why they didn’t succeed

Turd of the Month – July 2019

I hope I’m not jinxing myself here as I’m reluctantly giving the Turd of the Month Award to POND5. I’m sure many of you are doing well with them, especially if you’ve gone exclusive, but as for me I’ve only had one small sale ($20) with them in the past TWO MONTHS. Meanwhile, I can boast 1,002 clips…


Honourable mentions: Depositphotos, earning me only $10 from 5,706 images! Wow, you suck!

Final Thoughts – Manage Your Expectations

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m focused on my higher-end sales with 4K clips (ideally using a gimbal), as well as Rights-Managed book covers. This micro stuff, which is fun and there are repeat sales, is becoming a tougher gamer, particularly for those who have just started out or are considering starting out. You’ll need to tap into a profitable niche almost ASAP!

Now that you see my earnings, do you think I do this full-time? Nope…In 2019, most contributors can only do this as a part-time gig (save for the Yuri superstars out there) as earnings have really dropped. You want proof? Check out Steve Heap’s Backyardsilver stats on earnings per file since 2014 on his blog post entitled, “Selling Photos – Quarter 2, 2019”

Where’t the bottom?

“What a depressing picture! Although the earnings per download might be flat, I am now getting 50% of the earnings from each file that I upload compared to 5 years ago, and the trend is unremittingly downwards with no end in sight. Well, to be honest – there is an end: when the earnings per image reaches zero. Mathematically speaking, that will occur in just over 3 years if the trend continues. It is hard to picture how that would happen, but I wish I could see a leveling off of the graph!” – Steve Heap

I’ll be back soon…from the Stock Terminator

Think about the above next time you’re devoting a huge amount of time (without a profitable niche) to earning as a stock contributor….although $890/month is nice coin (and I’m extremely bullish on my stock footage), it’s not quite enough to be able to rely solely on this avenue stream…so, it means having to grab my gear and work for private clients!

Stock Terminator: Booted and suited before heading out for a client shoot!

Expert photography tips by Alexandre Rotenberg

Last but certainly not least, Robert Harding, a premium travel stock agency has featured me again on their newsfeed…check out the blog post where I give some of my top tips to taking better photos. I trust these will help you with your own stock work…

tips better photos

Would appreciate if you could help me out!

Above and throughout the blog, as you can appreciate, I’ve given quite a bit of my time to help you make sense of this complicated stock industry and focus on making money. I’ve also given away earnings info on some of my best-sellers which will directly lead to those images reducing their value (how much is impossible to say).

If you feel that the information above and at other posts is useful and if you’re so included, kindly donate as much as you feel is reasonable by clicking on the following link below:

Donate Now!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted six years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.

I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography


  1. What markup do you have at photo4me? I find their pricing opaque and misleading as they don’t say what their cut is. I had my first sale with them for £34. I was pleased until I realised the print had sold for £300.


  2. Hi Alex,

    Good to hear that! Can I ask you whether some of the photos/videos are exclusive to iStock? It is because iStock commission rates are lower than the others…

    Many thx


  3. thanks for your quick reply. Just one question, do you think the stock “vector” industry is dying as the no. of new contributors & no. of new uploads/day are rising ?


  4. As you are focused on producing more videos, why not try selling on Envato?
    I’m giving up photos and producing more videos and I’ve been making some good sales over there. they improved approval time and file upload.


  5. I would really like to know more about Envato video uoloading, since I applied about 3 years ago but was not accepted. I mostly do travel videos, from which many are editorial. I remember something about creating previews in low resolution and a number of other details. Is this still the case, or you just upload and keyword the video? What is the uploading procedure? Could you share a price range one earns? Do you have these clips also available to other agencies? If yes, do they sell in other agencies or the times a clip sells in Envato returns you a greater amount than if it sold to Pond 5 or Shutterstock for example? If I have a clip that might sell only once, I personally prefer I at least get for example 60 $ once in Pond 5 than much less in Envato. I am trying to understand if such a clip of mine earns for example 6 or 10 dollars, then it would have to sell at least 3 times in Envato to earn me the amount it would do in other agencies and no I do not upload videos to iStock!


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