August 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to the August 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly strange and desperate times. Hope you’re summer has not been a wash-out in terms of sales and travel plans.

Praia da Ursa, Sintra, Portugal

If you’re interested to see how I did in my July 2021 earnings, click here. In fact, you can see all my earnings going as far 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!

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Now for the results you voted in July…

The people have voted and Shutterstock is the official Turd of the Month agency for July 2021!

This month we’ll take a small break from the Turd of the Month as August is quiet and not reflective of anything.

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 – No rest in August!

The Brutally Honest Guy takes not breaks whatsoever with many articles published in August, including:

Also, would like to congratulate Elijah on his first blog-post over at Xpiks on creating Smartphone footage that sells!

Now, onto the meat of this report, my detailed earnings…but let’s keep in mind that August is the slowest month of the year so we need to manage expectations accordingly.

First for stills….

Detailed Earnings

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added August)Net Revenue for August (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)100.58
Alamy12,848 (7)444
Arcangel1,032 (0)00
Adobe Stock3,552 (0)3685.4
Bigstock3,870 (0)10.25
Creative Market1,519 (0)77
DepositPhotos6,623 (0)90.3
Dreamstime6,867 (0)100.87
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America69000
iStock (July)6,928 (0)860.51
Robert Harding (Q2 2021 monthly average)384 (0)51
Shutterstock Editorial857 (3)00
Shutterstock10,722 (0) 1310.70
Pond51,741 (0)00
Picfair5,632 (0)800
Photo4Me327 (0)00
SignElements1,214 (0)2N/A
Wirestock1,178 (115)53
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 766 

Moving swiftly onto clips…

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added August)
Net Revenue for August (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)00
Pond51,490 (0)8844
iStock180 (0)31
Shutterstock1,144 (0)297
Total 120 

Totals: $886 for August vs $779 in July

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

AS’s upfront payment program’s results are clear for all to see

Now, as usual, lets break it down with results for the major agencies:

Poor month at Alamy

After a few great months over at Alamy, August was disappointing month with $44 net on 12 sales. Mainly small-time sales except for the following which earned me a cool $18 of a flooded Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Superb month at Adobe Stock!

Rounds 2 and Rounds 3 of Adobe Stock’s free-downloads selection yielded a cool further 39 images (on top of the already 16 from July) for an easy up-front payment of $195. Total results for AS were $368, thus easily crushing SS. Here are the ones selected so far for the free-collection:

Total images selected thus far

iStockPhoto – continued disappointment…

Another disappointing month, although there were some decently sized-sales ($10 and $7 respectfully – see below), the volumes just weren’t there as I ended up the month at only $89 with 51cents/download (both stills and footage). The trend is certainly heading the wrong way, both in terms of volumes and average download prices…

European Union and British Union Jack flag flying in front of Houses of Parliament at Westminster Palace, London – Brexit EU referendum theme
Symmetrical balcony with flowers with yellow paint façade.

Shutterstock – average month

New normal average month for me at Shutterstock at a total of $219 for stills at a decent 70cents/download and 4 clips sold for $29.02. Zero uploads for the month on both stills and clips.

Just one large sale to speak of ($88) of a favela in Rio de Janeiro.

Pond5 Pulls Through once again

Two nice sales over at Pond5 of the usual suspects:


Arcangel – 0 Images Accepted (56 uploads)!

Wow, 100% rejection rate at Arcangel…from 56 uploads. Need to start reassessing my submissions on there. Fortunately have some interviews coming up with Michael Mascaro, Arcangel Director, as well as Abigail Miles (5,555 accepted images), a successful book-cover artist with regular sales. They will shed us some light on keys to success so we may up my game.

Abigail’s latest works at Arcangel

Looking at the big picture – $$$$

I must keep reminding myself that even though my portfolio on there is just over 1,000, since starting to contributor to Arcangel about 4 years ago I’ve earned a total of $4,147 net on 16 sales for an average of $259/download, for the following titles:

Payment DateBook Title
Jul-18Mramor a Platno by Storey Stephanie – Czech Rep
Jul-18Quai des enfers by Ingrid Astier – France
Sep-18L’occhio dell’inferno by James Rollins – ITALY
Sep-18The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth Winthrop – US
Dec-18Sentieri 3e (Text Book) – US
Aug-19Bis zum Bitteren Ende by Nicci French – GERMANY
Aug-19Nero a Milano by Romano DeMarco – ITALY
Dec-19Les Sept sœurs by Lucinda Riley – FRANCE
Mar-20The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich (ARC) – US
Mar-20Angels Weep by Colin Falconer – UK
Jun-20Milano a Mano Armata by Romano De Marco (eBook Only) – ITAL
Jun-20The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich – US AUDIO
Jul-20The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich – WEL
Oct-20Nero a Milano by Romano DeMarco (Digital Audio) – ITALY
Oct-20Those Who Are Saved by Alexi Landau – NA
Jun-21Brèves de comptoir, Tournée générale by Jean-Marie Gourio – FR

All is not lost since the rejects (minus accepted similars) shall go to Wirestock to be distributed throughout the micros.

Speaking of Wirestock, many uploads

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 115 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.

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 AGAIN to Adobe Stock for having the vision to give contributors at least some $ up-front for customers to use our images.

Well done!

Pond5 were pretty good too, with back-to-back nice sales, hope they keep it up and next month will be awarded!

How did you do in August?

Until next time!

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, although happy to report that it’s coming to an end soon). 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. Thank you very much for your great information. Looking forward to the interviews with Michael Mascaro and Abigail Miles, I hope they help to avoid so many rejections, although I have ever thought that some algorithm must be doing something. I still do not see the meaning of the rejections, and the bad thing about it is that the reason is not known, to try to improve. I’m already investing in vintage -red- women’s dresses and talking to women to do photo shoots in the field …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alamy continue to allow customers to use without payment with no checking or punishment the uk newspaper scheme gives rock bottom prices that are not even paid or misreported as digital use instead of print, even the mighty times along with the usual miscreants the sun and daily mail.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, tried with Arcangel – colossal failure. To say I am baffled is putting it mildly. Very, very frustrating. I submitted many, many images that are all very much in the same style by present accepted contributors yet mine were ‘not what their clients are looking for.’


  4. Hi Alex thanks for article, i want to ask a question, i have exclusive account on pond5 , can i open another normal account on pond5 with same payoneer profile? thanks


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