March 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to the March 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly strange and desperate times! Finally there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, as the vaccines are (slowly) being rolled out.

Seems like most of us will be able to travel relatively freely from summertime, I’m already making plans! But some prayer is in order as nothing is certain these days…

Selective focus on notes to God in the cracks between the bricks of the Western Wall, also known as Kotel, in the old city of Jerusalem, Israel – Covid cure message

Busy Brutally Honest Guy – Many Articles & Interviews Published in March!

March was a very busy month for me, not so much in terms of photography / video but article publishing, as well as interviews with Stock Industry Wizards. This blog, through sheer hard work and determination, has become an important source on the pulse of this dying industry.

Being brutally honest as always, turns out that there’s considerably much more money to be made writing about stock photography and travel (on guest posts*) than actually selling stock photography. Perhaps it’s my destiny to be a writer as I watch my stock earnings gradually collapse over time as seen in my January and February earnings reports. Anyway…

The following are some of pieces published in March, starting with interviews:

Stock Market Wizards indeed!

As for Articles:

Many more articles and exclusive interviews on the way…including with Mat Hayward, Adobe Stock Artist Evangelist.

Seattle Photographer, Mat Hayward

Buy me a Coffee (or better yet, an European Union Passport)!

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). In addition to the risk of those corporate clowns at Shutterstock shutting down my account for disclosing my sales on there.

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:

Support the Brutally Honest Blog!

Fuck you, Brexiteers!

Detailed Earnings Breakdown

First for stills….

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added Mar)Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)30.3
Alamy12,585 (43)949.4
Arcangel996 (8)00
Adobe Stock3,549 (9)490.71
Bigstock3,870 (0)10.27
Creative Market1,519 (2)55
DepositPhotos6,623 (23)170.44
Dreamstime6,867 (25)130.65
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America69022
iStock (Feb)6,909 (23)660.3
Robert Harding384 (0)192
Shutterstock Editorial829 (0)00
Shutterstock10,723 (10) 1840.54
Pond51,738 (2)00
Picfair5,632 (0)00
Photo4Me325 (1)1919
SignElements1,213 (0)22
Wirestock559 (87)31
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 434 

As for clips…

AgencyNumber of clips in port (added Mar)Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)00
Pond51,485 (1)00
iStock180 (3)22
Shutterstock1,143 (2)3910
Total 41 

Total: $518 (vs $540 in February)

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

Another New Normal Average month at Shutterstock

All things considered, I can’t complain, at least this month, on $223 earned at Shutterstock (combined stills and clips), which was somewhat bountiful.

Sold for just over $10

A late month-sale earned me a sweet $41.28

Richmond Park, London

Better news on videos

Slightly happier days on the video side with 5 sales for a combined $39.44, with the following three as best-sellers:

Link to clip
Link to clip
Link to clip

Average month at Alamy

Some late-month sales produced an average month at Alamy with net $94 from 10 sales. Some of the best-sellers were…

$16 net for the Floating Piers, Italy
$15 for this pre-Covid scene in Seville, Spain
$36 net for Aerial view of Dasht-e-Lut, a large salt desert located in the provinces of Kerman, Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran captured by a friend who went to visit Iran in 2018 and brought back some pics – wrote about licensing on his behalf here – Travel Photographers Helping Each Other Out

Adobe Stock continues to struggle

Another disappointing month at Adobe Stock at $49 from 69 downloads, so a disappointing (for AS’s standards) RPI of 71cents/download. No sales above $3 as you can see from my top 3 earners. They are starting to enter the dangerous Turd-Zone…

Very poor month at iStock

After a few respectful months at iStock, bucking the general downward trend, February (they report one month behind) was a real stinker deep in the Turd-Zone in the at only $66 on 230 photos sold, which comes to a pathetic average return per download of 30cents. No single image sold for more than $2.50 (one-off) as you can see below:


Print-On-Demand – Photo4Me

One sale for $19 on Photo4Me for the historic central square of Cascais, Portugal. Will look great in someone’s wall.

Empty Central square 5th October in Cascais with statue of Dom Pedro I. Cascais is famous and popular summer vacation spot for Portuguese and foreign tourists.

Keep telling myself that I need to dedicate more time/energy into POD….

Total of 8 Arcangel accepted images

No book cover sales to report for March.

As for new uploads, frustrating whole batches consisting of dozens of images, including the below (on a recent day-trip to Torrelodones), have been rejected by Arcangel, which means back to the drawing board.

All rejected!

Those 8 that were accepted:

As well as a pic of yours truly…

Thanks for the compliment, Arcangel!

Hey, that’s my pic!

As usual, I’ve spotted the following 6 images. Always an interesting exercise to know the end-usage of my images to create more sellable work (or challenge infringements). I often get asked how I find these…well it’s simple…go to Google and type in your name and within last 24 hours / week / month. I happen to have a quite unique name so it’s easy…not so lucky for the John Smiths out there.

Golden Nugget of the month

None deserve any praise whatsoever.

Golden Turd of the month

Golden Turd of the month this month goes to Pond5 for giving me 0 in sales on 1,485 clips.

Time to explore the region on two wheels!

Friend of mine recently lent me his bike and I’m excited to explore some of Spain + burn some excess lockdown calories.

Good news is that my time in Madrid, working full-time in a relatively dull corporate office job, has been extended for a few more months and just in time for better weather conditions. Technically I can’t leave the greater Madrid region due to Covid regulations but there’s enough to explore within Madrid itself…

Time to explore!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Madrid, Spain, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage, when things go back to normal (mid-2021??). I’ve devoted eight 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


    • Agreed! These days if I can get a return on just the accommodation from stock photos / videos during their lifetime it’s enough for me. What like 60-80 euros a day? Shouldn’t be so difficult but with the way things are going it is!


      • I meant to say that one can take photos within 1 1/2 hours from home and make the same as someone who travels about for photos, for a fraction of the costs. My best selling photos are local. Actually my best selling photo is a hole in my roof. No matter how good of a photographer one is and how many photos are taken on a trip, it’s not possible to get the return for the costs of traveling. A simple setup at home for stills and local trips to nearby attractions is all it takes to guarantee those 10 cents from SS.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Alex, Great as always, maybe when I return back to EU I will made some trip with You. Thank You for sharing and I can not wait for your talk with Mat, funny I meat him couple times on NY photo show show but never really talk with him,but I am sure he is nice guy he is very helpful Thumbs Up

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hi Alex , if i can buy just one which one is more useful for creating stock photos and videos , dji mini 2 or gopro hero 9 ? thanks


    • by Theo:

      GoPro Hero 9 will be used more vs the flight restrictions that apply for DJI mini 2 (depending on country) but the drone has a potential of earning more.
      Both devices have a standard 1/2.3” sensor but GoPro has almost double the resolution.
      (20 vs 12 MP) and if you know how to post process, gives a 5K video to then scale down to 4K, which gives room for editing zoom and crisper video result.
      There is a difference in use though.
      The drone is like a gimbal and works so in stabilization, while GoPro uses software tricks to achieve that.
      I could go on arguing about the for and against, but if it is you just buy one, go for the GoPro.
      It will be used in more scenarios.
      You can even fly it somehow with that and create unique videos for stock! (GoPro 9 compatible)


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