January 2022 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Another year, another dollar…or is it dime? Welcome to the January 2022 detailed monthly report during these increasingly dystopian times.

“Three weeks to flatten the curve”, right….

January Highlights

The Brutally Honest Guy had a quiet month, mainly hibernating until the start of spring. Nevertheless, still produced some useful content:

Review of Top Shelf Camera Bag by Bevisgear
Burning old pics for book covers at Arcangel

Recap of previous Earnings Reports

If you’re interested to see how I did in my December 2021 earnings. In fact, you can see all my earnings going as far back to February 2019, when ironically I earned more on fewer assets.

Or take a trip to the future and see where the future takes us with a earnings report 9 years from now…

Read all about Jon Oringer being hit by a Shutterstock subscription dime thrown from the top of the Empire State Building

MEGA GOLDEN TURD Nomination for 2021

As voted by you, the MEGA GOLDEN TURD for 2021 was:

Congrats ShutterTurds!

Let’s try to focus on the positive this year!

This year I’ve chosen to take a more optimistic approach and will include a poll, at the end of the post, on the GOLDEN CASH-COW agency of the month.

Record 78 Accepted Images in Arcangel in January!

No sales to report in January 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 a new record month with 78 accepted!

7 Years of Bad Luck on the way

Quickly getting away from microstock monotomy, I’ve invested on some fake blood (EUR 6.50) and a mirror purchased in Ikea (EUR 1.00)…

Behind the scenes…

Here is the final result, which is still under review by Arcangel and super confident that it will be accepted….at this stage I’ve (almost) figured out what they’re looking for…

Final accepted version

Let’s move swiftly onto detailed earnings for all agencies I submit images to…

Detailed Earnings

As always, starting first with stills:

AgencyNumber of Images in port (images added Jan)Net Revenue for Jan (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy13,170 (176)394
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)1,261 (78) 00
Adobe Stock3,595 (41)430.86
Creative Market1,534 (10)33
DepositPhotos6,769 (123)70.35
Dreamstime7,002 (104)80.44
EyeEm299 (17 – Partner Program only)00
Fine Art America690 (0)00
iStock (December 2021)7,139 (131) 600.40
Robert Harding (Q3 2021 monthly average) – exclusive385 (0)202
Shutterstock Editorial
(formally REX Features)
867 (10)00
Shutterstock10,680 (42)1320.41
Pond51,759 (0)00
Photo4Me345 (9)00
SignElements1,215 (0)2N/A
Wirestock1,747 (170)141.6
Total 328 


AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Jan)
Net Revenue for Jan (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock402 (7)00
Pond51,587 (49)00
iStock211 (9)168
Shutterstock1,172 (10)539
Wirestock77 (28)00
Total 69 

Totals: $397 in January 2022 vs $480 in December

Thoughts on earning $397 this month

Just glad I still have a day-job…at least for the time being…

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

Alamy: Another Another Another Poor month

Once again, unpredictable Alamy was predictably underwhelming in January (seems to be a trend) with only $39 net on 10 relatively small downloads.

One of the better sales was captured at Dubai Mall a few years ago, which in hindsight was probably a stupid decision due to privacy issues in an Islamic country that could have landed me in hot water.

Adobe Stock: continued disappointment…

Don’t know what is going on as past few months have been absolutely terrible at Adobe Stock, both in volumes in average net earnings. In January, no sales were above $3. Result is the lowest that I can remember at only $43 and no clip sales. Strange!

No major sales to report.

iStockPhoto: continued disappointment…

Another quiet month at iStock with only $76 and again 40cents/download on average for images.

Only meaningful sale was a steady gimbal footage that I shot a few years ago on a nice sunny day in Portugal which earned me $14.

Link to clip

Shutterstock: Poor start to the year

It was such a pitiful month that the only real highlight earnings-wise was Shutterstock at a very new normal average of $132 / 41cents/download for images and $54 earned on 6 clips, including a Christmas-themed one which is strange for this time of the year.

Pond5: Where’s the fking Dancing Bear, again?!

Missing in the forest…

Hey, that’s my pic !

Spotted 8 of my pics here used in various publications…

Golden Cash Cow – January 2022

Taking a more positive approach this year, please vote below on your Golden Cash Cow agency for January!

Happy to be back in travel mode!

My day-job office in Madrid shut down because of the Covid cases so the first thing I did was go back to Portugal. Happy to be back on the road traveling again…this time in Algarve, known for its sunny mild winters…

Here’s a view to my new office….

Falesia Beach, Algarve, Portugal

Until next time…

How did you do in January, 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.

Most recently I’ve gone all in on submitting book cover images to Arcangel Images.

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. Thanks for sharing. Good numbers! I am interested in the information regarding Arcangel, since I am trying to create a portfolio as wide and varied as possible and the truth is that lately I have gone from having 5% of accepted images to 30%, which is very gratifying. I think it is a matter of improving and learning what they are looking for. I see that you have accepted images similar to some that I have been rejected (doors, buildings, fences, details…) Do you think there may be a greater number of accepted images as the number of submissions increases? As for microstock, here yes, increasingly discouraged! Greetings!


    • 30% accepted is excellent, well done!

      Doors, buildings, fences are quite easy to do but difficult to sell. They want first and foremost a narrative and plenty of copy space..

      I think they will become tougher in their quality control with time, so we have to up our game!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In January I got my first sale on Arcangel and also saw another picture I made on the cover of a book on Amazon. Good month! Thank you for the posts about book cover photography!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i have a very good month in adobe stock. I have opt out from shutterstock (until 10 february- a month) – i have many many 10 cents sells. i am thinking to delete my best sellers that is common with adobe. Difficult i upload new content to SS, except cut from adobe…Archagel is a challege but need a lot of efford without enough money reward.. Alex mayb is better to concentrate to lifestyle photos

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a very bad month for you. I couldn’t pick any cash cow agency for this month. Is good that you improved a lot on the images uploaded to Archangel. But I don’t understand how you didn’t made any sale there for a few months, but you had some good sales 1-2 years ago, with a much smaller portfolio.


  5. Curious about some of your Arcangel submissions Alex…. I thought I read that they prefer photos without filters. It appears your images are heavily filtered, dramatic-looking. Did you submit that way and they were accepted? If so, that could explain why my images were rejected.


  6. Any news about Age Fotostock? Photographers haven’t been paid the past six months. Are they bankrupt? They even refuse to reply to our messages. Maybe you picked up some news from blogs or forums?


  7. damn. bad for SS. i have 2.700 photos and 500 videos there and sell 150usd january. Maybe you need to update your portfolio.


    • Hi Antoine, yes my results are quite poor on SS considering the size of my assets but doesn’t help I’ve barely uploaded on there for the past 2 years.

      I’m also fully devoted to uploading book at Arcangel as I’ve written extensively.


    • I doubt your numbers, my friend. I took a look at your port (https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nantoine), I have been in Mexico City, multiple times, and my images from there (sorry) are much better executed and are much more commercial. The level of sales is not that great. The rest of the images in your port are just low-level street snapshots. But who knows, maybe SS started selling these like hot cakes, lol.


      • LOL. You “doubt” my numbers? This is ridiculous. And 150USD is a slow month, my average is 3x this amount. And i’m not a commercial photographer, even i don’t shoot pictures thinking/for SS. I’m a photojournalist. And, it’s all about DEMAND when you talk about editorials in SS, with a good execution on telling the story.


        • “with a good execution on telling the story.”

          Sorry, I don’t think your editorials provide a proper illustration of good execution, but if you are satisfied with the money you get from them as a side-hustle, sure, why not.


          • I just don’t lose time with crap photo manipulations. I just go out, shoot what i need to shoot, and send them what my experience know will sell, based on newsworthy, concepts or uniqueness (like a big variety of the 4 latest Brazilian presidents).


            • Anyway, without this turning into a dick size comparison discussion, have you had a chance to look at some of the specialist editorial agencies?

              I’ve had some success with Rex Features (now Shutterstock Editorial). However, Alamy live news has been disappointing.

              Saw your pics in Brazil, def newsworthy, and loads of relevant covid stuff.


              • I’m a Shutterstock Editorial contributor, but their prices are very very low to even think about a regular basis spot-news work with them. Besides that, AP/Rtrs/AFP/EFE exists.


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