February 2020 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back! Happy to share with you my comprehensive February 2020 report on my stock photography and footage earnings. Read on towards the end to “congratulate” the Turd of the Month Agency.

Click here to see the January 2020 Brutally Honest Earnings report.

But first, 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 damn coffee (not as Starbucks though), by clicking on the following link below:

Donate Now!

You can also support me by purchasing one or more of my images as a wall-hanger for a friend / relative.

Alex’s Fine Art Prints!

February uploads (not many)

I haven’t uploaded so much this month owing to bad weather and being stuck at the office in my day job, but I did manage to obtain some interesting super wide-angle perspectives which I trust will sell, such as the following captured on Passeo de la Castellana in Madrid, Spain:

Light and weather is improving and I’ll be much more active in March!

February Detailed Summary (Stills)

Quite mediocre month all-round as you can see from below.

Agency Number of Images in port (added Feb) Net Revenue for Feb (US$) Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF 4,457 (12) 7 0.29
Alamy 11,557 (33) 64 8
Arcangel 779 (0) 0 0
Adobe Stock 3,361 (7) 85 1.02
Bigstock 3,798 (2) 8 0.36
Creative Market 1,368 (9) 8 4
DepositPhotos 5,846 (6) 22 0.92
Dreamstime 6,714 (27) 9 0.35
EyeEm 859 (25) 0 0
Fine Art America 690 0 0
iStock 6,206 (24) 115 0.52
Robert Harding* 383 (0) 19* 9
Rex Features 725 (0) 27 5
Shutterstock 10,206 (16) 265 0.56
Pond5 1,508 (26) 0 0
Picfair 5,524 (26) 0 0
Photo4Me 235 0 0
SignElements 1,174 (8) 14 N/A
Wirestock 62 0 0
Direct Sales N/A 0 0
Total 631

*RH reported 2019 Q4 earnings at $54 in total

February Detailed Summary (Footage)

Agency Number of clips in port (added Feb) Net Revenue for Feb (US$) Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock 332 (2) 28 28
Dreamstime Lots 0 0
Pond5 1,325 (6) 52 26
iStock 148 (0) 7 7
Shutterstock 1,056 (4) 49 16
Total 136

Total = $767 vs $806 (January)

Long-term Results

No change in the pecking order of the major agencies
average rpi
Worrying downtrend at SS due to an abundance of subscription sales

Measuring Stills vs Footage

As seen in my 2020 goals for the year, by the end of the year I would like my total earnings from footage to correspond at least 25% of my total earnings.

Therefore, to track my progress, I’ve introduced the following metric which I’ll update every month onwards:

footage vs stills

As above, perhaps also indicating that average prices for stills is falling, I’m heading nicely towards my 25% goal. Maybe I was even too pessimistic and my results will be 40% by the end of the year!!

Brutally Honest Reports is celebrating one year!

Exactly one year ago I (hesitantly) disclosed my first-ever earnings report. How do results compare one year on?? It’s not pretty reading.

One year ago, in February 2019, I earned $985 vs February 2020 where I earned considerably less at $767. This is despite currently adding more than 1,500 stills and 500 clips over the past year to the major agencies….this is evidence that this business (as a full-time gig) is probably unsustainable for most contributors. I’ll make more detailed month-on-month comparisons from next month.

With this negative tone in mind, let’s move onto the next depressing concept…

Coronavirus concepts are going viral

Pun intended.

One of the beauties of this business model is that we can take past content to adapt to present circumstances. One example is the current coronavirus crisis occurring in Italy. Owing to my time there, I have plenty of backgrounds I could use.

milan corona
Milan, Italy background, a hot-spot for the viral outbreak

Suffice to say they have sold well, for instance:


It’s frustrating though as SS come up with all sorts of silly rejections these days. They usually accept in the end but do test our patience:


Shutterstock standout results

As mentioned above, I’ve noticed a worrying lack of Extended License sales from SS in the past two months. Only one for $10 to report:


One the footage side, things are looking up. Managed to sell three clips for a total of $49, including:

Link to clip
Link to clip

The third was the usual NYE fireworks in Rio which sells almost every month.

Adobe Stock standout results

Decent month at Adobe Stock for a total of $113. On the stills side, my best sellers were:

best results

On the footage side, only one sale and it’s a repeat sale from the previous month, which sold for $28:

Link to clip

iStock standout results

Average month at iStock at a total of $122 with one clip sale.

Looks like buyers were hungry in February…


As for the clip, a timelapse of a wooden cross sold for $7.

Link to clip

Alamy Standout Results

Alamy disappointed as usual with 8 sales for a net of $64. Standout results included:

Image captured at Vancouver International Airport in 2016 which sold for $18 gross
$40 gross
$40 gross

Can’t be too hard on Alamy though as I’ve spotted some sold images which are yet to register on my dashboard, including:


Pond 5 Update

Pond5 finally came back to life with two sales ($26 net each) where I expertly used my gimbal. Both captured in Cascais, Portugal and presumably purchased by the same buyer.

cascais gimbal
Link to clip
cascais fish
Link to clip

Robert Harding 2019 Q4 Report it Out

RH reported and it was an anti-climax. $54 in 3 months for 383 premium images is extremely turdy (46cents per image/per month). Only two “standout” results:

Harbour at Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
$18 net – Cinque Terre, Italy
Hang Gliding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
$16 net – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
View of Neve Tzedek district skyline and Mediterranean at evening, Tel Aviv, Israel
44cents for this one…….Tel Aviv, Israel

I’ve stopped uploading to RH. I wouldn’t recommend uploading to them.

Microstock Minnows

The combined efforts of the laggard Microstock Minnows produced a mediocre results of $59 with DepositPhotos leading this pathetic pack with $22. PicFair drew a blank for the third month in a row, wtf?

Funny that a picture of myself practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sold on DP for $1.62:

Two young men practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparring, a grappling type martial arts with a kimono gi - NOT STAGED CONTENT OR AT CLOSED EVENT

Turd of the Month

Without a doubt, following another disappointing earnings report, I nominate Robert Harding Travel Agency for the reasons outlined above.


Until next month, folks…stay safe!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Madrid, 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 (however, had recently go back into full-time office work to make ends meet!). 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



  1. I’m glad I resisted a temptation to submit to RH. There’s a lot do dislike about RH besides poor sales. The clause in their contract that prohibits the usage of the images for 5 years anywhere else after you stop submitting to them is absolutely appalling imho.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve also stopped submitting to RH. Sales mostly disappointing with one surprisingly good sales report once a year. No direct sales, most are distributor with RH and getty getting the lions share of revenue, leaving very little for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Alex! I am following your blog for quite a while now. Thanks for the good content!
    I think whether it’s still possible to increase one’s earnings may have to do with what one shoots and produces. And with a good portion of luck. I’ve noticed a couple of times that after having a single image selling exceptionally well at an agency I see a general boost in downloads after a while, probably because of better search ratings. Had that with istock a while ago, and now with Adobe for a period of more than six months.
    Generally speaking most of the stuff I sell is on the conceptual side. Mostly pretty simple things. Never sold a lot of travel and landscape pictures. Maybe I just don’t have enough of those. But my earnings increased from around 650 bucks in 02/19 to around 1200 in 02/20. A good part of that increase came from Adobe, where I made less than a hundred Euros a month at the beginning of last year. Now it’s up to more than 300 for the last two or three months after a steady upward trend starting in early summer after really slow growth during the years before. So for me personally the business still looks somewhat promising at the moment while I’m of course aware of all the problems out there. At Shutterstock eg I’m pretty much stuck at the same low income level for more than a year now. Never really took off, and I don’t see that that will happen in the future.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.