May 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to the May 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly strange and desperate times! If you’re interested to see how I did in my April 2021 earnings, click here.

In fact, you can see all my earnings going back to February 2019! Blood, sweat and tears spilled over these digital pages.

Cascais, Portugal

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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:

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

Although my day-job is taking up most of my time/energy/will to live, I’ve managed to squeeze a few extra hours towards publishing the following useful content, which is also a nice way to earn some extra cash on the guest posts:

Interview with Doug Jensen, Stock Footage Expert

Creating Trending Cryptocurrency Trading Concepts that Sell (Guest-Post at Xpiks)

Top keywording tips in 2021 for the major Microstock agencies – Part I (Guest-post at Stockstudio)

More interviews and blog posts coming up in May…stay tuned! Now let’s get started with the earnings report.

Detailed Earnings Breakdown

First for stills….

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added May)Net Revenue for Apr (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)40.75
Alamy12,769 (63)1085
Arcangel1,010 (13)5151
Adobe Stock3,551 (2)781.14
Bigstock3,870 (0)10.27
Creative Market1,519 (0)196
DepositPhotos6,623 (0)160.3
Dreamstime6,867 (0)91.78
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America6902525
iStock (Apr)6,907 (0)1180.59
Robert Harding384 (0)250
Shutterstock Editorial829 (0)00
Shutterstock10,722 (0) 2600.87
Pond51,741 (3)00
Picfair5,632 (0)00
Photo4Me327 (2)00
SignElements1,214 (1)32
Wirestock808 (160)213.50
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 738 

As for clips, very disappointing…

AgencyNumber of clips in port (added May)Net Revenue for Apr (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)2020
Pond51,485 (0)3030
iStock180 (0)11
Shutterstock1,143 (0)189
Total 76 

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

Nice uptick for the major agencies

Another strong month at Alamy

Alamy is going from strength to strength with another strong performance bringing in $108 net from 21 sales.

Combined for $30…captured in beautiful Varenna overlooking Lake Como, Italy
$40 net for Main courtyard inside the Jewish Museum in Girona, Catalonia, Spain

and of course one that sold for Personal Usage license which would make for a beautiful wall-hanger or calendar…

Sold for $5 net

I pressed Alamy Contributor Relations on what it means to be a wall-hanger and this is their reply:

“Our personal use licences would allow for personal prints, cards and gifts, or reference for the artist, for non-commercial use and not for resale.”

Go figure, it must have been a “reference for the artist”. I give up.

Adobe Stock – Good month

Next, we have a strong month at Adobe Stock with $98, starting off with a clip sale (haven’t had one there for a while) earning me $20. This was captured during my Iberic adventures in Sept 2019.

Link to clip

As for stills, this fine artsy pic of tables outside a restaurant in Lucca, Italy earned me $14.

Creative Market – Surprised

One agency that I rarely ever mention is Creative Market, which produced a somewhat respectful 3 sales earning me $19 net.

iStockPhoto – Respectful month

I often speak about Alamy as an unpredictable agency but iStock isn’t far off. For instance, in March I only earned $68 yet this month (with no new uploads), I managed to earn $118. What gives?!

Half my monthly earnings came from just two of the following images:

Madrid, Spain – November 21, 2020: Crowded pedestrian street in Madrid, Spain. People wear obligatory face covering during the Covid-19 pandemic. Captured at 300mm. Bokeh selective focus
Beach deck chair against a backdrop of Two Brothers Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at sunset

Shutterstock – feels like the old times

Shutterstock finally produced a decent month, reminiscent of the old times earning me a total of $278 (fantastic 87cents per download on average for stills). Some highlights include:

$66 for New desert cycle track at Al Qudra in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It’s length is nearly 100km
$14 for The large public square in front of City Hall has been named after Prime Minister Rabin, who was assassinated

On the clip side, the following two clips sold for $10 and $8 respectfully:

Link to clip
Link to clip

Arcangel – 13 Images Accepted

Despite the usual huge-batch rejections, still managed to have 13 images accepted.

The sale I reported last month (without values), in the end was relatively small at $51 net, well below the average.

Hey, that’s my pic!

Spotted 5 of my pics here…

Golden Nugget of the month

This month’s Golden Nugget goes to Adobe Stock for a strong performance which I hope will be able to capitalize for the many months to come!

Golden Turd of the Month

On the other hand, the Golden Turd of the Month award goes to BigStock for pulling in a huge huge performance of $1 on 4,000+ images! wow, that’s ultra-turdy.

Congrats, BigTurds!

All the best and speak soon!

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


  1. Good to hear you are afloat and doing fine!

    For us Shutterstock stopped selling images. An odd situation and totally discouraging. I have given up on them and only upload to Shutterstock after all other agencies get our images.


  2. I think the turd this month was Arcangel. You only earned about 50 $ last month from them, and that is very low since October. You can earn very good here, but this month they were the turd.


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