Welcome-back to September’s action-packed edition of the Brutally Honest Earnings Report. Read on until the end to see which content has performed well and at which agencies and alternatively to find out which agencies are turding, as to avoid them altogether!
For a recap on my August Brutally Honest Earnings Report. Before getting started…
Would appreciate if you could help me out!
Throughout my 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 but suffice to say that copycat thieves may be lurking).
If you feel that the information below and throughout the blog is useful I kindly ask you to donate as much as you feel is reasonable, such a price of a coffee, by clicking on the following link below:
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Now let’s get started on the Sept earnings report…
Summer is over, time to earn some (serious) money!
On one hand, I’m a bit sad that summer is over and days in the northern hemisphere are getting shorter and colder. On the other hand, the period between September and Mid-December should traditionally be the “business-end” of the year with stronger sales. In addition, Oct 31st, is the Brexit deadline so I predict that many of my Brexit-related concepts should keep selling regularly…what a mess that country has become….
Time-lag in earnings
So, given that I’ve uploaded some 1,000 images and 100s of clips over the past 6 months, especially since investing in a gimbal, such content should start maturing / selling in this busier period. I’m sure you’ve kept busy as well and have noticed an uptick on some agencies.
Detailed Earnings Breakdown
To make it easier to digest, going forward, I’ve split earnings from stills and clips. I’ve decided to publish it two days early as I’ll be busy preparing for my move to Madrid early next week.
|Agency||Number of Images in port (added Sept)||Net Revenue for Sept (US$)||Avg Return Per Download (US$)|
|Adobe Stock||3,711 (171)||75||0.85|
|Creative Market||1,230 (57)||24||8|
|Robert Harding||383 (0)||14*||2.31|
*Up to July 2019 (Q2 Report), average of three months
|Agency||Number of clips in port (added Sept)||Net Revenue for Sept (US$)||Avg Return Per Download (US$)|
|Adobe Stock||315 (21)||0||0|
Combined total net earned: $1,051 vs August $1,075
Overall thoughts on Sept results
Shutterstock (def not Doom & Gloom)
I came into Sept with high expectations, which is dangerous in this industry since results are so unpredictable (usually on the low-side). Right off the bat, the standout result, which I’m sure you’ve noticed, was a huge result over at SS, easily smashing a Best-Month-Ever status at $678. My previous Best-Month-Ever was $462.
Agencies are constantly tweaking their algos, so whatever SS must have done is very much welcome! I did notice that some never-before-sold images started selling for the first time, so that’s certainly great news. If things keep going this way I’ll have to rename these earnings reports as “Shutterstock and Others Brutally Honest Earnings Report”…
Over at other agencies, it’s been a more balanced and on many occasions, a disappointing picture. Adobe Stock produced an average month at $75. However, Alamy disappointed at net $89, although I’ve spotted at least three sales which are yet to be reported (buyers have 3 months to pay up) – more on this later.
Pond5 continues to disappoint and only managed a pitiful $4 worth of still sales and one lousy $12 clip sale on over 1,000 assets. Other contributors have painted a similarly depressing picture in the appropriately entitled “What’s Up with Pond5” thread over on the MSG forum. Pond5 seem active to address such concerns and have arranged to host a Youtube Town Hall meeting scheduled for October 8th.
Average from CreativeMarket with only $24 (three sales) and a big fat zero from PicUnfair. Sigh.
iStock huge huge disappointment
After an encouraging Best-month-Ever in April, where I earned $189, it’s been going downhill ever since. In comparison, August was pitiful at $73 with some $8 in Canva refunds (more on this later). Normally one would expect to earn more with more images uploaded but this game seems to defies logic at times! To give you an idea, since April I’ve uploaded to iStock 482 stills, bringing my port size to 5,907. WTF?!
Footage earnings were average with four clips sold at SS for a total of $79 vs August six sales for $87. Not too bothered about this blip (other than the Pond5 drought) since I know that I’ve uploaded loads of quality clips from my recent Iberian adventure, including working with a beautiful young model, so fingers crossed they will be picked up soon and in 4K – blog post on my latest trip here
Some highlights of the clips sold:
Seems like some businesses are already gearing up for Xmas, since a buyer purchased the following Milan Xmas scene for $23.81.
Pleasantly surprised to see one of my airport clips sold for $19.50. Not the best quality with the reflection from the glass and quite wobbly (before my gimbal days). Anyway, a good sale, nevertheless!
The remaining clip was the NYE fireworks in Rio, sold for $18.95 that is so far my best-seller by far! I believe that one has sold 10 times in total at all agencies.
Looking at the long-term (majors)
Highlights from individual agencies
Mediocre Adobe Stock
I find my results on Adobe Stock to be mediocre at best (Sept was $75). Although the individual return per image is decent at around the 70cents per image mark for the past few months, volumes are relatively low. With 3,711 images and 315 clips I’m expecting a considerable uptick in earnings.
Only two decently priced sales to report, likely from the same buyer since it was for the same price (around $6 each) and within the same geographical region (Catalonia, Spain). More specifically, Girona on the left and Tarragona on the right respectively.
Hit the ball out of the park with SS, earning me $1.22 per download. 53 ODDs at $2.85 (top-tier) earned me $151, although the cherry on top came through as Extended / Enhanced Licenses totaling $284. Subscriptions sales, for the first time in a long time, were a minority of total earned at just $161 (thank fuck for that).
Some highlights of the month include:
More good news from Portugal…
Nostalgia from Milan…
Alamy (11,195 pics) is a hell of a frustrating agency to work with due to their sheer lack of consistency. I’m sure you feel the same way.
August produced a relatively stellar month at $165 net, followed immediately by very mediocre $89 in Sept. It’s very possible that in Oct I’ll earn either $300 net or $50 net – who wants to make some bets!? Probably somewhere in between…
Notable sales at Alamy
Only two notable sale to speak of, firstly one from my Climate Change series (including other controversial themes), where in this case I flooded Porto, Portugal:
Continuing on the trending theme of Climate Change, I’ve spotted the following image where I flooded the already Lowlands, which I’m pending a payment.
Secondly, this image I captured in 2018 in front of the Bloomberg HQ in the City of London sold for $49 gross. Thanks Joas Souza, London-based Architectural photographer, for the tip on capturing street scenes with with upside V shape of the legs for a more natural look!
Spotted images (pending payment)
Here’s another one I spotted (payment pending but should be around $20 gross since Elijah was featured in the same article – ha):
How to find your own images?
This is something I do on most days and if you’ve been following me on Instagram @brutallyhonest_alex, I often publish my stories with images that I find.
Simply search “your name + Agency” on Google + past week or so. Helps if you have a unique name…for instance:
Often a buyer will use an image and not give credit, which can be frustrating to find the image. In these cases, you can simply use the Google Reverse tool to find, for instance, using my Ginja de Obidos example:
Suspicious Personal Use Licenses Strike Again
Frustratingly, two highly suspicious Personal Use licenses (I’ve discussed this at length on another blog post) of the following same image popped up earning me just $12 gross each:
Immediately, I’ve requested the excellent Alamy Contributor Relations Team to investigate (still pending a response), since it seems highly unlikely that someone would want to use this image to frame a print on their wall at home, for instance…or a greeting card to send to friends (4756 x 3150 pixels). To be continued…
Perhaps the biggest frustration of the month were my August 2019 results for iStock for two reasons, firstly the sheer number of refunds, which I’m sure you also noticed. Many contributors were up in arms, with some even threatening to quit over at the MSG forum.
To calm the mood, iStock kindly sent out a memo justifying the adjustments:
“There were a number of licenses from one of our distribution partners, Canva, that were refunded on the August 2019 royalty statements and then re‑reported at a corrected amount.There were two reasons for this:
Some Canva licenses of Essentials images were reported using the incorrect currency (USD instead of AUD). These were initially reported on the June 2019 statement, and corrected on the August 2019 statement.
- Throughout 2018 to July 2019, a number of other Canva licenses were reported incorrectly to us at double the actual revenue. This resulted in an over‑payment of royalties to contributors. These were corrected on the August 2019 statement.In both examples, contributors impacted by this would see the original license removed and the correct re‑license amount reported, which will be lower than the original license. All refunds appear in red on the royalty statement.If you are seeing a number of refunds associated to Canva, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and for not notifying you in advance. We’re looking at our processes to try to ensure we can avoid this kind of issue in the future.iStock by Getty ImagesContributor Relations”
To give you a comparison, in Sept, SS gave an average return per download in stills of $1.24 and AS gave 85cents FOR THE SAME FKING IMAGES!
In fact, here’s a comparison of the majors in terms of average return per download over the past few months.
Small agencies (combined) are pulling in their small weight
I often get asked, even by veteran contributors, whether it’s worth uploading to the smaller agencies. Which are the small agencies you may ask, well I would say the following fit the bill: 123RF, Bigstock, CreativeMarket, DepositPhotos, Dreamstime, SignElements.
Looking purely objectively at my results, I’ve had a great September with them combined. In fact, DepositPhotos and 123RF brought in Best-Month-Evers at $24 and $21 respectively. Chump change still. However, in total, these 5 small agencies outlined above brought in $90+, which isn’t much considering they each have at least 5,000 images….but over a year that is approx $1,000, which is a tidy sum that can be put towards a nice fast lens, for instance or to pay off some holiday expenses.
So my answer is that, YES, submit to these small agencies unless they’re turdy enough to start messing around as in the case of Canva and Colourbox (won’t get into this here but my rants are available in previous earnings reports). So always be on the lookout for your best interests and collect the small change which does add up.
I’ve been asked whether I upload to EyeEm and the answer is no but may change in the future. How’s been your experience there? I have heard mixed messages from that agency…
Turd of the Month / Century – September 2019
Unsurprisingly, this month’s Turd of the Month Award goes to without a doubt to iStock. In fact, I’ve extended the award to them for the next 82 years! I would also mention Canva for their accounting mishap but I don’t even submit to them anymore…
Hasta Lluego, Amigos
I’m moving to Madrid so next update will be from there after I stop living from my suitcase and settle down…It’s a place I’ve never been so should be exciting to capture some new content from there…looking forward! Change of scenery is always welcome, both from a personal and professional point of view…as the brutally honest guy hates routine!
I’ve preemptively started researching on what I could possibly shoot in Madrid. To benchmark the best images out there, I’ve searched on Robert Harding’s Madrid collection. Fortunately, I already have a good start from the results of my 2018 Spanish adventures.
Since I may not upload even one single image in the next few weeks, will be interesting to see if not uploading fresh content will have any impact. Perhaps a few weeks isn’t long enough…in any case, I’ll be back with the comprehensive October Earnings Report. Hasta lluego, amigos!
I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’ve devoted six years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.
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