Comparing Average Earnings Between 20 Major Cities (Stats-Heavy Post)

In anticipation of hopefully getting back into major traveling soon, using my own data (as well as an anonymous contributor) I’ve compiled a detailed statistical analysis of the most and least profitable 20 major cities.

This valuable info may persuade you one way or another to visit a place or not. Let’s get started!

Disclaimer before diving deep into stats

If you’re also a travel photographer, would be interesting for your to run through your own set of data. The below is highly specific to my port and as it’s over a longish period of time (some 8 years), there’s bound to be huge fluctuations. Plus, I may have got lucky in one place with one shot that has done super well, which skews the results….so I’m taking the average.

My anonymous friend’s port is quite similar to mine, both in style and quantity (wide angles + vibrant). He has visited Copenhagen and Cartagena and has kindly contributed to this analysis.

Not all cities are built-alike

It almost goes without saying that visiting Prague will be, on average, less expensive for the average tourist than visiting let’s say, Paris. To keep things fair, I’ve consulted a travel site that offers an average daily cost for an average tourist. Subsequently, I awarded cities different ratings (from 1 being the least expensive, up to 5 being the most expensive)…with the average being US$132/day/person for the 20 cities.

Source of Avg. daily cost

As you can see above, the most expensive places to visit are Paris, Dubai, Copenhagen and Venice, with the least expensive, Belo Horizonte, Cartagena and Rio de Janeiro.

One relevant factor I didn’t include are the cost of travel to those places since it all depends where you live. Dubai is far away from many Westerners so something else to consider when thinking about ROI in this dying industry.

Breakdown of the 20 major cities

Click on the image is to view online or feel free to “right-click” and save on your desktop for better viewing

Note: Rotterdam, Milan, Lisbon and Madrid are places that I lived in for longer periods than one year so may technically not be a “tourist destination” for me.

Which cities are the most value for money for microstockers (according to my sample)?

Top 3

  1. Seville
  2. Jerusalem
  3. Rotterdam

You may be curious on which are my best-selling images for the above, so I’ll kindly share:

Torre de Oro, Seville, Spain
Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel
Rotterdam Centraal Station, Netherlands

The special case of Porto

Porto was a super interesting case-study since I was only there for a few hours and decided to get drunk and shoot! The fact that I didn’t spend the night there and only had drinks to consume made it a hugely profitable visit at just over an average $3/image/lifetime. I wrote about this binge on this blog post.

Which cities are the least value for money for microstockers (according to my sample)?

Bottom 3

  1. Venice
  2. Birmingham (results probably skewed since I shot dozens of pics of a far-right protest which didn’t sell)
  3. Cordoba
Overpriced Venice has been a scam when it comes to earnings from images

Keeping Costs Down is Key

While I’m earning a pitiful $2/image/lifetime (and dropping each year), a consideration I’ll definitely keep on making when thinking about where to travel next is which places are value for money and may not be widely offered. For the latter, I’ll have to report back soon with another analysis on places which may not be widely offered, so stay tuned!

Eastern Europe sounds interesting and plenty of places there I’ll like to explore once the dust settles, as well Southeast Asia. Would be great if you guys could share some of your stats about such places.

By far, my favourite way to keep costs down while traveling…

Shooting smaller towns/cities by Steve Heap’s BackyardSilver

Check out Steve Heap’s take on shooting smaller towns which have much less competition and potentially higher profits per image.

-> Link to the article <-

Please support the blog if you found the information above useful…

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! <-

Will be back soon for the year-end summaries…stay tuned!

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


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