July 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to the July 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly strange and desperate times – Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma…we might run out of Greek letters soon, right Theo!?

If you’re interested to see how I did in my June 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…more frustration than joy to be honest but I have no choice but to keep going!

Must keep going to at least try to make a decent side-hustle living out of this business…

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Again, you will decide on the Turd of the Month Agency!

Now for the results you voted in June…

Congrats, Shutterstock!

Read until the end where YOU will decide who will be the coveted Turd of the Month agency for July!

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 – Many Articles Published in July!

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.

There is money to be made in writing

In fact, turns out that I can easily earn more from writing about earning stock than selling stock content, which is a bizarre paradox in itself. Perhaps it’s testament to my proficient writing skills compared to my perhaps otherwise mediocre photography/footage skills. Who knows!?

Anyway, here’s a summary of the published articles this month:

Alamy Buyers Love Museum / Exhibition Editorials (will pay handsomely for them)

Art installation on Lake Iseo, Italy

Shopping around Antique markets for props to create book covers

Some antiques I picked up at various flea markets – keep reading to find out which images were accepted!

Rising popularity of free downloads at microstock agencies (Xpiks guest-post)

The only way is down!

Many more articles and interviews coming in August! Also for combining travel and writing, here’s a fun article I put together a while back.

Now, onto the meat of this report, my detailed earnings…

First for stills….

Detailed Earnings

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added July)Net Revenue for July (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)30.33
Alamy12,841 (52)1008
Arcangel1,027 (6)00
Adobe Stock3,552 (0)1552.2
Bigstock3,870 (0)20.25
Creative Market1,519 (0)00
DepositPhotos6,623 (0)100.36
Dreamstime6,867 (0)150.73
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America69000
iStock (June)6,928 (7)530.39
Robert Harding
(Q2 2021 average)
384 (0)250
Shutterstock Editorial854 (25)52
Shutterstock10,722 (0) 2110.64
Pond51,741 (0)00
Picfair5,632 (0)00
Photo4Me327 (0)00
SignElements1,214 (0)2N/A
Wirestock1,063 (255)293.6
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 610 
Decent month!

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added July)
Net Revenue for July (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)00
Pond51,490 (3)12024
iStock180 (0)00
Shutterstock1,144 (1)4910
Total 169 
Decent month!

Totals: $779 in July vs $560 for June

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

Nice uptick from AS due to those 16 images given away for a year in return for $5/each

Decent month at Alamy

After two months of disappointing results, Alamy finally pulled through earning me a cool $100 net on 12 sales, aided by the following three decently priced sales:

$91 net of some youngsters snapping away on the smartphones at the famous The Birth of Venus
Painting by Sandro Botticelli at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery
$30 net earned for this cityscape view of Quito, Ecuador
$24 net of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

Decent month at Adobe Stock (taking full advantage of the upfront payment opportunity)

After a disappointing $62 in June, July was a bit more special at largely thanks to the upfront payment opportunity, discussed here, which earned me $80 (on top of $75) for the following 16 that were picked up ($5 each):

Hopefully there will be further rounds by Adobe Stock in the next months as there are still some 700 images left for them to choose from. They are probably analyzing data from the first batches selected, namely whether there may be conversions to the paid-downloads section of the site.

Adobe best-seller

Best-selling image for the month were the loungers and sun umbrellas captured at Juan les Pins, France earning me a cool $10.

iStockPhoto – Becoming huge turds…

After a disastrous May which earned me a lowly $63 (very lowly 36cents/download on average), I honestly thought that things couldn’t get any worse until on the 20th of this month I received my report for June, which showed a shocking $53.39 at only 39cents/download on average. Low royalties combined with low volumes is the worst of both worlds. As you can see in my detailed earnings, I’ve pretty much given up uploading to iStock.

No sales above $2.80 to speak of so no point highlighting anything. Turds…the trend is certainly heading the wrong way, both in terms of volumes and average download prices…

Results at iStock since January 2019

Shutterstock – strong month

New normal average month for me at Shutterstock at a total of $211 for stills at a pretty decent 64cents/download.

Three strong sales to speak of on the stills side.

$30, captured in Milan, Italy
$21 – politically speaking, probably the most important corner in England!
$38 in Gae Aulenti, Milan

Many uploads to Wirestock

As you can see from my above earnings breakdown, other than some Alamy exclusives, I’ve pretty much stopped uploading to the Microstock agencies and instead opting to upload all to Wirestock. In fact, this month managed 255 uploads and results there are finally starting to increase after a slow start, especially on their Instant Pay program which is similar to Adobe Stock’s upfront payment:

The fact that they do the keywording in-house for both commercial and editorial (in return for a modest 15% royalties) is all the better to save me time to do what I enjoy, namely bash Shutterstock et al for being greedy bastards.

If you haven’t yet signed up to Wirestock and you’re interested, kindly use my referral link.

Many sales at Pond5!

After some sluggish months, sales at Pond5 finally came thick and fast with 5 for a combined net of $120.

Sold for $24.80
Sold for $13.20

Two Brazilian jiu-jitsu clips sold

A while back before this Covid shit hit the fan I took my camera to one of the classes. I wrote a post about it which you can see here. Finally two of the clips have sold for a decent price.

Hey, that’s my arm!

The last one isn’t anything special, just a panning up on top of a tourist bus in Seville, Spain.

Link to clip which sold for $26

Friendly wager

Speaking of sales, I made a life-changing sum of a bet with Elijah worth of $20 on who would have the most sales for July and I beat him 8-5! Ha! 😀

Arcangel – 6 Images Accepted

No sales in July.

Arcangel website have been doing a revamp so they’ve been on the slow side to review images. Nevertheless, during the month the following 6 images were accepted, including three from my antique project and one from my recent day-trip to Toledo:

Many still pending, so let’s see whether they’ll be picked up and more importantly, eventually sell…

Hey, that’s my pic!

Spotted 7 of my pics here used in various publications…

Golden Nugget of the month

Undoubtedly the Golden Nugget of the Month agency goes to Adobe Stock for having the vision to give contributors at least some $ up-front for customers to use our images. This has resulted in a best-ever-month at Adobe Stock for $155.


Pond5 were pretty good too, hope they keep it up and next month will be awarded!

Golden Turd of the Month – You Decide, again!

Again, you’ll 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?

How did you do in July?

Please comment below! Also if you have any suggestions for topics that I would write about, please suggest below!

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. Is great that you begin to have a good month again. But I’m afraid this is only an exception, and the earnings from stock photography will continue to decline. Is good that you stop uploading to these greedy agencies. Is hard to make this decision, but it’s the best decision.


    • Absolutely! That’s why I’m all for the $5 upfront payment promoter by AS and Wirestock. In a few years the same images will be worth even less and maybe even worthless!

      I don’t have high hopes for august as it’s a vacation month but if I can match my results of July in sept/oct I’ll be happy!


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