June 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

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

So you don’t miss any of the monthly earnings reports and blog posts, register for the email news alerts!

You will decide on the Turd of the Month Agency!

This is a special report and would highly recommend to read until the end where YOU will decide who will be the coveted Turd of the Month agency.

Although it’s summer, we’re not back to normal by any means…

Brutally Honest Blog now in dozens of languages! Thanks Elijah for the head’s up!

Now you can translate “Shutterstock is a giant turd” to Swahili!

Check out the feature on the right ———->

Buy me a Beer!

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 beer, by clicking on the following link below:

-> Support the Brutally Honest Blog! <-

Beer time!

Busy Brutally Honest Guy – So many Articles & Interviews Published in June!

Although my day-job is taking up most of my time/energy/will to live (honestly, who makes a living purely off stock these days?! If you do, please come forward as I want to interview you!), 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 Paul Hardy, Concept Still and Motion

Top keywording tips in 2021 for the major stock agencies, featuring a Keywording Expert – Part II (Guest-post at StockStudio*) – Part I is here

Ultimate Guide to Model and Property Release (Guest-post at Xpiks*)

Many more articles and interviews coming in July!

Before we get to the earnings, I’m Looking to finally invest in a Drone!

A friend who also lives in Madrid recently invested a Mavic Mini from DJI. We met up and headed to a relatively remote spot overlooking Madrid to test some footage. I duly instructed him to capture the following footage. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Before you get triggered and throw the book at me, I was not operating this drone as I don’t have a license

This “toy” is great for capturing stills as well

Captured the following still, which may perhaps make for an interesting book cover of which I’ve uploaded to Arcangel:

Overlooking Madrid, Spain from the north

Compliance: obtaining the pilot’s license and training to become a drone operator

I’ve certainly caught the drone bug and as soon as I’m back in Portugal once my current soul-destroying legal job is done and dusted I’ll look into purchasing one of these “toys” and obtaining the necessary licenses. Stay tuned! In the meantime, my friend and I have agreed on a split for earnings from footage he captures. Win/win!

As for which drone to get, a good idea to purchase a “classified” one, which will be on the shelves soon once the regulatory situation is clearer. Thanks, Martin for your tip!

Exchange with Martin on FB

Usual SS rejections for noise *sigh*

Due to the Mavic Mini’s small sensor, Snowflake Shutterstock (SSS) duly rejected the clip for noise even after multiple re-submissions. Their silly rejections are something I’ve written about in the past. I’ll need to run some post-processing tests when I have some motivation.

Pond5 accepted with no issues, as usual and I’ve decided to price it relatively high at $80 for HD because the clip is quite unique.

Well-done, Adam on your drone success!

In the meantime, Adam is doing really well with his drone sales, including the crypto-currency concepts he captured – see blog post.

Must have been in March/April because the past 6 weeks in Cryptos has been very bearish!

Proud of Theo for his first blog post at Xpiks!

Give Theocharis Charitonidis some props for his excellent article over at the Xpiks blog on Shutterstock vs Getty smartphone apps!

Now, onto the detailed earnings…

Detailed Earnings

First for stills….

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added June)Net Revenue for June(US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)30.33
Alamy12,789 (20)465
Arcangel1,022 (3)00
Adobe Stock3,552 (1)620.85
Bigstock3,870 (0)10.27
Creative Market1,519 (0)66
DepositPhotos6,623 (0)120.3
Dreamstime6,867 (0)90.56
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America69000
iStock (May)6,921 (14)550.36
Robert Harding384 (0)250
Shutterstock Editorial829 (0)00
Shutterstock10,722 (0) 1400.38
Pond51,741 (3)00
Picfair5,632 (0)00
Photo4Me327 (2)00
SignElements1,214 (1)11
Wirestock808 (144)863.6
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 451 
Nothing special…

As for clips…

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added June)
Net Revenue for June (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)00
Pond51,487 (2)8181
iStock180 (0)88
Shutterstock1,143 (0)216
Total 110 
Awesome sale at P5!

Totals: $560 vs $814 for May. Almost exactly what I earned in June 2020 at $578.

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

Frustrating downtick at the major agencies

Alamy sales lose steam

After a quite decent April and May earning me $172 and $108 net respectfully, June produced results deep in the turd-zone with only $46 net with 10 sales.

Only one OK sale of the front façade of the High Court in London which earned me $20 net.

Making money from your photography with Alamy

To have a better idea on improving sales, I’ll be attending the talk on on how to make money from Alamy, featuring James Allsworth – I’ll be there!

Link for details, including how to register!

Adobe Stock is disappointing but opportunities await…

Adobe Stock produced a quite impressive $78 in May but this was followed by a disappointing $62 in June.

How’s it going lately with my AS port (sold for $4 this month)

Adobe Stock Upfront Royalty Payment Opportunity

One bright spot is that Adobe Stock have launched an interesting incentive. Mat Hayward, who was interviewed on this blog in May, outlined it as follows on the lively MSG forum thread:

“As many of you know, last year Adobe Stock launched a free collection to drive traffic to the marketplace. The initial collection was limited to participation from a very small number of Adobe Stock Contributors. We were pleased with the results: traffic did increase and many visitors who initially came for free content converted to paying customers, resulting in added revenue for the larger Contributor community.   It’s now time to refresh and expand the program. For a limited time starting on June 7, many of you will see a banner in the dashboard section of the Adobe Stock Contributor portal. The banner gives you the opportunity to nominate qualified photos from your portfolio. You can nominate all eligible files (photos only at this time), or you can go through the Dashboard and nominate individual files. Please note that your best-selling images are exempt from this program. We will not be accepting any images that received more than 4 downloads in the past 12 months.   

You have until June 23 to nominate any or all your eligible files. After that, the banner will go away, and our moderation team will quickly review the submissions.   A big difference between the Adobe Stock free collection and other sites offering content for free is that we are paying Contributors up front for participation. For every file approved for the free collection, we are paying a one-time rate of $5 (If paid in USD currently. Otherwise, 5 credits in your currency) . This payment is for 12 months of non-exclusive use in the free collection. After the 12 months are up, the files will automatically be returned into your paid collection. 

Please see the FAQ for more details, and let me know if you have any additional questions not covered there.”

– Mat Hayward

Am I taking advantage of this opportunity?

Hell yea! Everybody here knows my opinion that this industry is dying so we need to try to make as much as we can from our existing port because in a few years, who knows, they may be almost worthless…

Although I’m definitely not a fan of giving away images for free, I believe in this case it’s justified as the ones selected are by no means “best-sellers” and $5 is a fair price. In addition, as Mat has mentioned, it’s only for a year.

How many images have I selected?

Hope they will select a large proportion of the 704 images I’ve nominated!
Currently being assessed…

iStockPhoto – Something’s fishy…

It’s like I can’t get any consistency on iStock! What was a great May at $119 turns into an awful June at only $63 (very lowly 36cents/download on average).

Something’s certainly fishy at iStock, with this one earning me just 3cents:

Shutterstock – pretty average

New normal average month for me at Shutterstock at a total of $151 and very low 38cents per download average for stills.

No major sales to speak of with no stills being above $5 and for clips and the best-selling clip earned me just over $10.

Link to clip

One nice sale at Pond5

After a few dud months, Pond5 finally gave me a nice sale in the impressive amount of $80.57 (for an HD clip). I recall I captured this timelapse over some 3-4 hours.

Arcangel – only 3 Images Accepted

Quiet month with no sales at Arcangel and only 3 of the following images accepted (with loads pending):

Wirestock to the rescue!

Last but certainly not least, Wirestock came to the rescue in June with an impressive $86 on 35 sales for an average of $3.60, easily being the likes of Alamy, Adobe Stock and iStock!

Similar to what Adobe Stock has done with the upfront payment on the free-collection, Wirestock has something similar of which I’ve opted into, namely images that have not sold within 4 months. The images would then be given away to the Freepiks agency.

One-off payment to be given away on the free account…hell yes!

If you’re not familiar with Wirestock, here’s a comprehensive review that I’ve put together. More recently, they’ve just begun accepting “easy uploads” for editorials. In other words, all you do is upload the image with a caption and they will do the keywording in return for 15% of royalties.

Easy uploads for editorials, new at Wirestock!

Hey, that’s my pic!

Spotted 7 of my pics here…

Golden Nugget of the month

Wirestock, certainly….right up there in terms of earnings with the big boys! Good job! I’m certainly investing in them as you can see above I uploaded 144 images on them to be distributed everywhere.

Golden Turd of the Month – You Decide!

This month we’ll do things a little differently, you will select the Turd of the Month agency from the poll below! Which agency has disappointed you the most, not just in relation to poor earnings but bad customer service, silly rejections and contract changes for the worse?

I’ll be back in a few days to award the June 2021 Golden Turd of the Month!

Plans for the rest of the summer?

Simply to….travel! Next weekend I’m off to Toledo.

How about you, any plans? How did you do in June…please comment below!

Madrid’s Bajaras Airport

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 (Late-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. Well, i am in my first year and I wait for my first sale. I just upload to Alamy and Mostphotos. Surprisingly i made a 0.30 Euro sale at Most Photos in February. But i can’t wait to make a first sale on Alamy. I have 2000 photos and yet no sale, and got only one zoom. This period of time is really stressful for me


  2. I do admire your blog and your honesty, I have been doing stock since 2005 and uploaded to all the microstock sites but have trimmed it back to just a few. I suspended my video clips at Shutterstock after the commission plummeted. I think the Pond5 to Alamy is starting to work, I have had 2 sales reported from Pond5 of clips that had never sold before and were very obvious editorial.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alex, pls may i invite you to have a look a my page http://www.livepeaked.com .Thankful if you can provide a brief and brutally honest input.
    I wrote the comment in my instant , short and best possible means of writing, As the post material is all about REALITY. Cheers and thanks,Surjit


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