September 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to the September 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly strange and desperate times. Hope your stock business isn’t proving to be too much of a tough climb…

If you’re interested to see how I did in my August 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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Golden Turd Normination is back!

Read until the end as you’ll have a chance to nominate the Golden Turd of the Month Agency! But before we get started….

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. You may also notice that I REFUSE to run annoying ads!

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!

Check out the Interview with Abigail Miles, Veteran Book Cover Photographer at Arcangel Images!

Now, onto the meat of this report, my detailed earnings…with the slower summer period over and dusted, I fully hope that sales will pick up but in this business nothing is certain…

First for stills….

Detailed Earnings

AgencyNumber of Images in port (added September)Net Revenue for September (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
123RF5,021 (0)50.28
Alamy12,862 (14)22022
Arcangel1,040 (8)158158
Adobe Stock3,560 (8)560.88
Bigstock3,870 (0)30.25
Creative Market1,519 (0)00
DepositPhotos6,623 (0)160.42
Dreamstime6,867 (0)90.65
EyeEm277 – (Partner)00
Fine Art America69000
iStock (August)6,928 (0)980.85
Robert Harding (Q2 2021 monthly average)384 (0)51
Shutterstock Editorial857 (0)00
Shutterstock10,726 (4) 1700.62
Pond51,746 (5)22
Picfair5,632 (0)00
Photo4Me327 (0)00
SignElements1,214 (0)2N/A
Wirestock1,207 (29)31
Direct SalesN/A00
Total 751 

Moving swiftly onto clips…

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added September)
Net Revenue for September (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock385 (0)00
Pond51,497 (7)6666
iStock180 (0)22
Shutterstock1,143 (-1)206
Total 88 

Totals: $839 in September vs $886 in August

Looking at the long-term (major agencies):

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

Alamy took the lead for the first time ever!
No freebies from Adobe Stock this month, hence the back to normal drop in average RPD

Second to Best-Month-Ever at Alamy!

Patience has finally paid off and September over at unpredictable Alamy produced a spectacular second to best-month-ever at $220/net on a surprisingly few number of downloads – only ten! Nevertheless, I fully expect Alamy to produce a sub $50 month in October lol

It’s really nice to report that Alamy was my best-selling agency and has beaten Shutterstock. In fact, it’s the second month in a row that Shutterstock wasn’t the top agency (Adobe Stock won in August).

Here were some of the best-sellers:

$100/net for this beautiful Mediterranean view of Tarragona, Spain
$51/net for this image of the courtyard of the Jewish Museum in Girona, Spain. I wrote a little while back about shooting stock at museums can be highly profitable…and this proves my point!
$52/net for this entrance to Carcassonne castle in France

Adobe Stock, predictably back to its average

After Round 3 of Adobe Stock’s free-downloads selection, sales predictably tumbled towards the yearly average at $56. No worries about that, just hope there is a Round 4 on the freebie giveaway. Nevertheless, my month’s best-sellers were the following.

Cool to spot the top image being used as the background in the following site. I wrote about this rare model-released lifestyle shoot I did in Milan a few years back here.

iStockPhoto – continued disappointment…

Another disappointing month at only $98 with half the month’s earnings coming from just one image.

Beach deck chair against a backdrop of Two Brothers Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at sunset

Shutterstock – average month

Continued new normal average month for me at Shutterstock at a total of $170 for stills at a 62cents/download and 4 clips sold for $20. Best-sellers included:

$32 – captured in Juan les Pins, France
Where the Great Fire of London in 1666 began, earned me $7.25

Just one nice sale at Pond5

Although volumes at Pond5 are usually low, the average earned prices are quite interesting. In September, just one sold earning me $66, and guess which one….

The holy-grail night sky timelapse, which is quickly becoming my best-seller. I checked over at Shutterstock and it’s never sold…so as you can see from breakdown table (-1) I removed it and uploaded it via Wirestock for perhaps better luck…

Testing my GoPro

On my back and forths between Lisbon and Madrid, I’ve been testing my GoPro on the dashboard of my friend’s car. One clip in particular, once accepted (SS giving grief about “noise”), should result in some sales.

This clip was captured literally crossing the border between Portugal and Spain. Not exciting but relevant for many themes related to free movement of goods / people in the Schengen area. In addition, as this stretch of border-crossing was practically closed off during the worst of the Covid pandemic, if/when a variant mutation does strike again I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s shut down again and the content may feature heavily…

Uploading Cell-Phone pics

While we’re on the topic of experimental content, I recently captured an interesting scene in central Madrid of a homeless couple sleeping at a doorway while diners enjoyed themselves next door. Since I didn’t have my wide angle lens (only a 70-300mm), I couldn’t capture it…but instead pulled out my iPhone10 and captured this shot.

Extremely noisy, etc but most agencies have surprisingly accepted it! I’ll try to go back to that scene soon…

Arcangel – 8 Images Accepted (100+ uploads)!

One sale to report at Arcangel for this image, which earned me $158. It’s a repeat sale, hence the beauty of the Rights-Managed model (one payment for each usage vs one payment of multiple usages under the Royalty-Free model).

Previous version in English (latest sold version will be in German)

Nevertheless, Arcangel continues to drive me crazy with the sheer number of rejections. Some encouraging advice from Abigail has helped though…particularly the need to use models.

Here were the 8 accepted in September:

Looking at the big picture – $$$$

Reiterating what I mentioned last month, 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
Sept-21The Paris Children by Gloria Goldreich – GERMANY

All is not lost since the rejects (minus accepted similars) shall go to Wirestock to be distributed throughout the micros. For instance, this one was rejected at Arcangel and spotted today that it sold to a Christianity blog.

Hey, that’s my pic!

Spotted 7 of my pics here used in various publications…

Golden Nugget of the month

How times have changed…a few months ago I was cussing at Alamy for producing such few sales (together with a few Golden Turd Nominations) and now I’m awarding them the Gold Nugget of the Month!


You Nominate the Golden Turd of the Month

We’re back and again you will nominate your Golden Turd of the Month Agency!

Until next month…

Hasta lluego, amigos!

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. Alamy has become a joke in newspaper circles, under the picture scheme they do not report usage or claim a cheaper media use, unfortunately the mighty times is following the example of the sun and daily mail, getty would hammer them, alamy bends over backwards for them, they tell a joke “punish with a 5 times fee for misuse”


  2. Regarding Arcangel, I think the 2 latest blogs from Dave Wall have been quite enlightening, especially on the technical side. The saturation and Gamut checkup are so important when it comes to printing, I was not really taking that into account that much.
    They should have made that informative post a long time ago IMO.

    The information in the new app is also very interesting and I am looking forward to the webinars they are preparing for us members.


  3. Great news about your sale in Arcangel.

    Interesting to hear that some do the opposite way I did that was to abandon Getty because they killed RM and their cent sales and went Arcangel.

    But I am still not a year in and no sales yet so I can not compare rpis rpd with Getty. I hope I did not make a mistake changing for this “premium” agency.


  4. Time and effort to shoot, upload and keyword to stock photo websites is no longer worth the hassle. Not to mention travel costs and equipment upkeep. I focus on other projects that earn me more money without these turds taking a huge slice of the pie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a terrible month at Shutterstock! First month below 100 in years…. You kicked my butt. As for archangel, still uploading but if I need models to make that work then its never going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Firstly thanks for information you share with us! Have you faced the situation when Arcangel rejects some photos from the set and accept anothers from the same set. Would you publish rejected photos on any microstock if other photos from the set are accepted by Arcangel?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Probably you are right and risk is not worth it. Thanks for advice. One more question. Usually how many days does it take to have photos verified according to your practice? I uploaded my first photos about a week ago and it is still processed. Cannot understand is it normal or not? And the last one:) Have you applied to Trevillion? What do you think of it as alternative to AA?


        • Takes about 3-4 days to review a batch in my case. Been rejected by Trevillion 2 times already. May try a third but need to have a beach model released batch ready to go. They are another premium agency’s

          All the best


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