December 2021 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome to the December 2021 detailed monthly report during these increasingly dystopian times. Anyway, let’s try to be optimistic.

This will be a quick post since I’ve published a more comprehensive year-end review packed with stats and goals for the new year for your viewing pleasure. Let’s get started!

Are you ready to delete 2021?

December Highlights

The Brutally Honest Guy had a relatively quiet month and highlights include just one blog post, albeit a very useful one:

Recap of previous Earnings Reports

If you’re interested to see how I did in my November 2021 earnings,. In fact, you can see all my earnings going as far back to February 2019!

Golden Turd Nomination – November 2021

For the third month in a row, congrats to Shutterstock for “winning” the coveted Golden Turd of the Month Award, as voted by you, my dear public. Adobe Stock was voted a distant second…interesting:

No Turd of the Month award for December but better yet, you’ll soon be able to nominate the MEGA-Golden Turd of the YEAR Agency at the year-end report.

61 Accepted Images in Arcangel in December!

No sales to report in December but as mentioned many times before this is a long-term game and I’m in not in a huge hurry. Rather to keep focusing on uploading quality content.

Happy to report the following 61 images accepted this month (just 2 shy of a record):

Detailed Earnings

As always, starting first with stills:

AgencyNumber of Images in portNet Revenue for Dec (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy12,994 332.06
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)1,129 (61) 00
Adobe Stock3,554 551.20
Creative Market1,524 33
DepositPhotos6,656 140.38
Dreamstime6,898 50.42
EyeEm281 (Partner Program)00
Fine Art America69000
iStock (November)7,008 720.50
Robert Harding (Q3 2021 monthly average) – exclusive385 202
Shutterstock Editorial
(formally REX Features)
857 00
Shutterstock10,618 1170.58
Pond51,759 00
Photo4Me336 1414
SignElements1,215 7N/A
Total 310 

Moving swiftly onto clips…

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Dec)
Net Revenue for Dec (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock395 (0)9231
Pond51,528 (0)00
iStock202 (5)99
Shutterstock1,162 (4)4910
Wirestock49 (2)00
Total 169 
Welcome to the report, Dreamstime!

Totals: $480 in December vs $647 in November

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

Alamy: Another Poor month

Once again, unpredictable Alamy was predictably underwhelming in December (seems to be a trend) with only $33 net on 16 relatively small downloads, including many that were for only 4cents?!

Apparently you can opt out of these altogether by clicking on the “Novel Use” and disabling:

There’s a thread on the subject on the MSG Forum.

One only “large” sale

Only one significant sale to speak of earning me just over $21 for a model kitchen at a design show in Milan.

Adobe Stock: Strong month for clips, at least

After a few disappointing months at Adobe Stock, December was pretty decent mainly in terms of clips with three decently sized clips earning me $92, including one of my fat belly induced from years of corporate-slavehood! The rest were of regular sellers, especially this time of the year, of fireworks at Copacabana Beach in Rio (cancelled this year, again).

iStockPhoto: – continued disappointment…

Another quiet month at iStock with only $81 and again 50cents/download on average for images. Not much to discuss other than two assets.

Has taken just under a year but clips from the huge snowstorm to hit Spain in January 2021 have started to sell.

Earned me $9 – link to clip
Munich, Germany – July 28, 2018: Surfer on the Eisbach in the English Garden with many spectators. This river flows through the Englischer Garden and is a popular river surf spot – earned me $6

Shutterstock: Poor/Average new normal month

After a strong start to the month, sales at Shutterstock fizzled towards the mid and end of the month, especially on the image side with a somewhat disappointing $117 on an average of 58cents per download.

Starting with this shot of a very cute ice-cream stand in London, which earned me just over $20 (shot in 2017). These days I would probably clone out the person and logos, change the filters and upload as a book cover.

However, the month was pretty good for clips with the following of quite regular sellers:

Pond5: Where’s the Dancing Bear?!

Missing in the forest…

Dreamstime clip sale!

Last and certainly not least, the leading Microstock agency in 2031 stepped up to the game with an impressive $19 clip sale of lambada dancers in front of the Lapa Aqueduct in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Finally sold after almost 4 years!

Link to full clip

Hey, that’s my pic !

Spotted 7 of my pics here used in various publications…

Golden Nugget – December 2021

Congrats on the first clip sale!

Until next time…

How did you do in December, please comment 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 my current corporate job ends (soon!). I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. 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. Love your new images with Arcangel Alex.
    You have very successfully changed your style for them.
    I particularly like the very atmospheric shots in Alhambra.
    Lovely colour red.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have really developed a great style for the book covers. Much more creative than doing stock images! Some that I really could see on a book in that set. Hope this all pays off for you!


  3. Hi Alex have a nice creative and profitable year. Not big sales in December, generally poor month for me.
    A surprise from Alamy zero money for a sale. Why?


  4. The demise of editorial fees highlights the death of photography as a living, now the province of celebrity children dabblers, book covers offering little return due to the sporadic appearance of the sales and decreasing demand from publishers.


  5. Congrats on all of the Archangel approvals! My December is looking pretty dull as well. I still have to wait until the 15th to find out what Ii earned from Twenty20.


  6. Thank you for these reports! I wouldn’t get my hopes up when it comes to Arcangel though…I have a little over 2000 photos with them and I still get very few sales (statements every few months with 1 or 2 sales)…


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