April 2020 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to another detailed monthly report during these strange times! Even if it all seems kinda of hopeless, I’ve written extensively about finding profitable stock opportunities and trust me there are many within this paradigm shift.

I discuss at length some profitable opportunities in a three-part series – you may access Part I here and Part II here. I’ll be publishing Part III in the next few weeks and already quite excited about some of the more futuristic concepts I’m exploring.

Back to earnings…for a recap, click here to check out the March 2020 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 coffee (not as Starbucks though), by clicking on the following link below:

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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!

April uploads

Lockdown in Portugal is relatively easy-going compared to other countries, such as Spain and Italy. Therefore, in April, I’ve taken full advantage, in between working remotely, to capture some beauty. I enjoy shooting this time of the year as the weather is changing, which produces some spectacular results.

Shooting in April is one of my favourite months. This image has been accepted within the Arcangel collection to be licensed as a book cover

Micros in the dumps

I have to be brutally honest, as always, that since I’ve been following the news on all stock sites with their management’s decisions to lower contributor commissions that I’ve lost much of my motivation to upload to micros. I’ve written about some of the price-lowering, at the expense of contributors, in this blog post. 

Worse of all has been Shutterstock management’s decision to lower prices on their HD/4K packs where contributors will start earning as little as $3 for the sale of a 4K clip and $1.88 for HD! Disgusting!


To add insult to injury, Shutterstock seem to be rejecting more than usual stills for silly reasons, such as noise and focus. Eventually they do get accepted but boy does it take numerous attempts.

Eventually accepted on my third attempt

Arcangel is awesome

Therefore, my motivation lately has been in the form of capturing book covers.  Arcangel, strict as they are, have loved my recent material, which includes the following (they aren’t yet reflected in this report since they are still being keyworded):

AA Acepted
Latest accepted images at Arcangel

Some footage as well, of course

This month has been quiet on the footage side but I was keen to capture those fishing boats and flocking seagulls (among other similar clips) and I think I did a quite good job. All have been accepted at various agencies.

April Detailed Summary (Stills)

Well, in the month that many businesses, especially travel, are facing uncertain future, it’s not hugely surprising that sales were much lower than previous months, in fact half of March. I do hope that it will pick up in May but that’s probably wishful thinking (for another discussion).

Here are my detailed results per agencies for stills (in alphabetical order):

Agency Number of Images in port (added April) Net Revenue for April  (US$) Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF 4,939 (75) 13 0.26
Alamy 11,715 (64) 91 9
Arcangel 780 (1) 0 0
Adobe Stock 3,385 (21) 63 0.88
Bigstock 3,829 (12) 17 0.3
Creative Market 1,419 (21) 13 7
DepositPhotos 6054 (13) 19 0.46
Dreamstime 6,841 (18) 10 0.42
EyeEm 951 (30) 0 0
Fine Art America 690 0 0
iStock 6,301 (56) 135 0.41
Robert Harding 383 (0) 19* 9
Shutterstock Editorial 725 (0) 0 0
Shutterstock 10,299 (32) 168 0.55
Pond5 1,617 20) 0 0
Picfair 5,632 (19) 0 0
Photo4Me 237 (0) 0 0
SignElements 1,196 (26) 7 N/A
Wirestock 62 0 0
Direct Sales N/A 0 0
Total 539

*Q4 2019 results

April Detailed Summary (Footage)

Footage was poor as well with only 4 real sales at SS, thankfully for respectful prices. iStock also produced sales but they were all under $1 each, ugh:

Agency Number of clips in port (added April) Net Revenue for April (US$) Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock 351 (8) 0 0
Pond5 1,350 (0) 0 0
iStock 148 (0) 3 0.75
Shutterstock 1,076 (10) 77 19
Total 80

Total earned: $619 net in April vs March $1255

Long-term clip results

I’m hoping that even if overall sales do drop, that at least footage may pick up some of the slack, but so far this month that didn’t happen with only 19% of my earnings coming from footage. If you recall, one of my 2020 goals was that footage sales would account for at least 25% of earnings. There’s still time…

footage sales

Long-term Results per major agencies


Average returns per download are steady but you can see huge drops in net earnings at the major agencies in April.

Now let’s look at the significant sales at each of the major agencies, in alphabetical order.


Warning signs

A somewhat respectful 10 sales for $91 net at Alamy on a problematic month. However, since buyers may pay 3 months after usage, we’ll see just how bad things get in the coming months. There’s already warning signs that sales will be dropping come May as the number of views and zooms (Click-through rate) has fallen off a cliff.

Warning signs at Alamy’s Measures dashboard


$23 net. Captured in Seville, Spain
$18 net. Captured in Milan, Italy
$19 net. Also captured in Milan, Italy

$17 net, captured in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Adobe Stock

Pretty poor month at AS with $63 in earnings, including these best-sellers:



Decent month at iStock at $135, but keep in mind that they report one month behind, so these would be March results. I fully expect that April results to be significantly lower.

Some best-sellers in March include:


Some joke prices for clips:

joke prices


Very very poor month at Shutterstock at $168 for stills and $77 for clips. In fact, last time that volumes were this low (309 downloads) was December 2017 when I had significantly less assets. In terms of earnings, last time I performed so poorly earnings-wise was also December 2017 and I wasn’t even doing videos then!

Unusually, no significant stills sales to share, just a bunch of subs and ODDs. As for clips:

$13.91. Busier days in Madrid – link to clip here

$20.53 for this one where I was using my gimbal in Seville’s Jewish Quarter – link to clip here

$22.20 for this clip. Nobody fucking cares about Brexit anymore!

Last one was the usual fireworks in Copacabana that sells every month.


I’ve taken a conservative decision to slow down my uploads to the Minnows during these more volatile times. I really don’t think many of these agencies will last another few months with fewer buyers! So I won’t risk my assets there.

Nevertheless, combined the minnows earned me a respectful $79 in April, with DepositPhotos leading the pack with $19 on over 6,000 assets!

Stylish Milan in pre-lockdown days sold for $2 on DepositPhotos

Turd of the Month Agency

Turd of the Month goes to Picfair which hasn’t given me a sale in over 7 months despite registering almost 200,000 views!


Well done you fucking manipulative turds! Don’t upload there, please.

Well done, Picfair!

What’s in store for April?

I want to try to be as positive as I can and look for opportunities instead of complaining about how difficult it is to make money in this business, so stay tuned for Part III of my post-coronavirus world futuristic concept piece.

Drone soon!

I’ll be purchasing a drone soon and have been researching with the Mavic Air 2 looking promising.

Featuring Theo’s home-office setup

I’ll also be featuring Theo from Bestravel on his plans for making the most of lockdown and capturing concepts at home, including his workflow and gear.

Theo hard at work. Stay tuned!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Portugal (fled Madrid to escape the brunt of this nasty Coronavirus), on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage, when thing sgo back to normal. I’ve devoted seven 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. Great report, Alex and sorry that things have dropped so much in the month! You really have the knack at both seeing and then selecting images for Archangel and that does seem to be paying off for you. It is also more pleasurable seeing one of your images being used prominently as well! I did see one of my Washington DC shots on my Alexa device yesterday which was very nice! My results are not as bad as these, but of course, I always wait until the end of the month….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steve!

      I remember looking over one of your batches for Arcangel, did you submit to them in the end? You have some great shots that would lead easily into the book cover market.

      Looking forward to seeing your results 😀 You do more home-stuff so should be more protected in this climate…not so easy for a purely travel guy like myself lol


  2. ALex, thanks for sharing another monthly report.

    About SS, as you said: Disgusting !!!!

    I have read some forums and I see many contributors disappointed. On the other hand, the sale of fooatge has given some signs (BlackBox Fb), will it be the motivational videos we have seen on the web + TV? Or some slowdown measures in some countries that return to “normal life”? Maybe you’ll cover that in Part III.

    Big Hug,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      Part III will look into more futuristic concepts. I particularly think that automation in terms of robotics will take a giant leap forward, particularly in hospitality and the care of children/elderly. This will free up time for most people to try to be useful somehow in this weird time we’re living in…stay tuned!

      Take care and hope you’re capturing some interesting content!



  3. Hey Alex,

    Thanks for sharing the numbers.

    Your comment re odd things happening at Alamy is spot on. I talked to two other photographers now, and it is clear Alamy stopped selling. New members there do not see any sales before their portfolio is 1000+ files and then again only after 10+ months, or even later …

    We still uploaded at Alamy in April, but I think we will stop doing so and ask them to close the account. There is no point, given that they have the most demanding keywording / tagging system of all the agencies we use. Plenty of effort, and only mediocre results. Move on.

    Our $ numbers at Shutterstock are comparably low, but at least there the number of sales is high (just they are nearly all subscription sales in April).

    Take care. Stay safe. Enjoy the new challenges!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Nick.

      Alamy is a frustrating agency to work with due to the unpredictable results but I’m glad I stuck with them and the hard work and perseverance is finally paying off. Keep in mind that it took me some 8 months and 2,000 images before I had my first sale on there….many people who have given up long before. They do cater to more editorial images so perhaps your port isn’t exactly what they need.

      All the best,



  4. Sorry to see your earnings drop so drastically. I had my best month in Stock in April since I started, almost matching your income with not even half the images and no footage at all and only 4 agencies I submit to. I think the Corona crisis is hitting you so hard, because your port’s main focus is on travel photography and this is one of the branches that is basically dead due to Corona. 😦 I hope things will pick up for you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words. Yes, travel is dead….how can travel media talk about travel locations if nobody is traveling, that’s the great irony.

      People at home doing studio work are doing well and business as usual. Will be discussing Theo soon who’s hard at work creating home concepts. As for me, I NEED to travel 😀


  5. I love my Mavic Air and I hope you enjoy your Air 2. It’s a significant improvement over an already great drone.


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