February 2022 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome to the February 2022 detailed monthly report during these increasingly dystopian times, this time war-time in the heart of Europe once again. Other than my usual earnings, in this post I’ll be discussing how inflation has begun negatively impacting our stock business.

February 25, 2022 – Madrid, Spain – Anti-Russian government protests in front of the Russian Embassy in Madrid, Spain

February Highlights

Practical Guide to Creating and Selling Microstock video

Check out Theo’s latest guest-post at Xpiks on creating and selling microstock video!

Laptop issues for me

Unfortunately, I had laptop issues halfway through the month and was two weeks without furthering this business. I do have a draft article on the way for early-March related to thinking like a designer for book covers.

Recap of previous Earnings Reports

If you’re interested to see how I did in my January 2022 earnings. In fact, you can see all my earnings going as far back to February 2019, when ironically I earned more on fewer assets.

Cash-cow Agency for January 2022

Here’s who you voted for as the best-performing agency for Jan 2022.

Congrats, Alamy! I really mean it this time… 🙂

73 Accepted Images in Arcangel in February!

No sales to report in February 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 73 accepted! I would have managed more if not for my laptop crashing. You may have spotted that I’ve started using myself as a model more often!

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 Feb)Net Revenue for Feb (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy13,247 (74)273
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)1,334 (73) 00
Adobe Stock3,610 (15)410.64
Creative Market1,539 (5)00
DepositPhotos6,820 (49)110.39
Dreamstime7,047 (45)120.71
EyeEm300 (1) – Partner Program only00
Fine Art America690 (0)00
iStock (Jan 2022)7,177 (38) 520.70
Robert Harding (Q4 2022 monthly average) – exclusive385 (0)121
Shutterstock Editorial
(formally REX Features)
898 (31)00
Shutterstock10,686 (6)1800.68
Pond51,772 (23)00
Photo4Me348 (3)00
SignElements1,234 (19)7N/A
Wirestock1,633 (34)30.30
Total 342 


AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Feb)
Net Revenue for Feb (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock404 (2)00
Pond51,589 (2)00
iStock213 (0)126
Shutterstock1,173 (1)91
Wirestock62 (2)00
Total 21 

Totals: $363 in February vs $397 in January 2022

Thoughts on earning $363 this month

This is a disaster. Nothing more to say. Giant waste of time (other than the book covers I’m investing). Not only are my earnings dropping but inflation is becoming an important factor in this business…

Let’s talk about inflation – Comparing February 2022 with February 2018

In February 2018, I earned about $500 (this was before I started tracking seriously) and comparing to $363 this month is not a like-to-like comparison…since we need to talk about something which is rarely discussed – INFLATION.

Inflation wasn’t so much a factor a long time but in the past year and economics predict for the next foreseeable future, it’s going to be quite considerable for most countries. The main reason for inflation are rising price of commodities as economies open up post-Covid and most recently, the war in Ukraine leading to further production and logistics issues.

Russian embassy, Madrid facade
Inflation is on the rise…

Therefore, being conservative and taking the average inflation rate of 1.5%/yearly in the Eurozone from February 2018 – February 2022, that’s 6%. Which means that my spending power on those puny $363 is in fact 6% lower than it was in 2018 (roughly $21 lower).

Steve’s Backyardsilver earnings analysis

Steve Heap has been publishing his earnings for a lot longer than I…in fact, back to 2011. Supposing we take his February 2013 earnings results of a decent $1580 and factor in inflation at an average of 2% yearly…this means that in February 2023 terms, if he earned exactly the same (fortunately he earns quite a bit more), it would be equal in spending power at only $1296 (2% x 9 years / 1580 = $284).

Get ready for “hyper”-inflation

Well, not hyper such as the likes Venezuela is currently experiencing at some 400% yearly (or the crazy inflation I experienced in the late 80s when I was growing up in Brazil), but there are estimates that there will be 5% inflation for the foreseeable future in the Eurozone (and about the same in the US). You have already probably started to notice on your basic shopping and when you fill up your vehicle. I certainly have…

Rising fuel prices…

So let’s say that I somehow manage to keep my average earnings at around $500/monthly…this means that in February 2027, those $500 will be worth (in actual spending power) as only $375 (5%/annum vs 5 years).

When agencies reduce our earnings we are dealt a double-blow

Most employment contracts have a clause that specifies that employees will receive a 2% yearly increase to offset inflation. This isn’t a raise by any means, just enough so that your not losing out! However, what we’re experiencing, as stock contributors, are reduced earnings while inflation is starting to run rampant, a huge double-whammy. When Shutterstock cuts our commission, as they did by some 30% and Alamy by 20% it’s really much more than that in real-world terms.

Something to think about in your business….

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

Alamy: Another Another Another Another Poor month

Once again, unpredictable Alamy was predictably underwhelming in February (seems to be a trend) with only $27 net on 8 small downloads, which aren’t even worth sharing.

Adobe Stock: continued continued disappointment…

No major sales to report.

iStockPhoto: continued continued disappointment…

Another quiet month at iStock with only $63 combined images/clips.

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 $10.83. This cheerful clip is selling once a month on there.

Shutterstock: Small uptick

Shutterstock were relatively strong compared to the other agencies at $180 and 68cents/download for images and only 1 clip worth $9.

$54.46 of this pic of an old canal in Milan, Italy
$33.89 for this pic of an empty cycling track near Dubai, UAE (Al Qudra)

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

Missing in the forest…

Hey, that’s my pic !

Spotted this pic I uploaded to Rex Features (Shutterstock Editorial) that I captured at an anti-Russian government protest in Madrid.

Golden Cash Cow – February 2022

No cash cow poll this month as I’m in a bad mood.

Until next time…

How did you do in January, please comment below! Hope it wasn’t as disastrous as mine!

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. Thank you for your report. Unfortunately I have to agree with your pessimistic view. If you take into account time invested and equipment there are 1000s of better ways to make money. Reselling on ebay, etsy fiver etc. Micros are something that will be only like a Flickr where some amateurs will upload with hopes to make something out of their expensive hobby. Free sites are getting a lot of good content this days and the prices are surely not going up whatever the inflation. It is what it is and it doesn’t look very good. Arcangel, Stocksies and the likes are a partial solution but the business is basically broken.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have calculated the costs of getting microstock full-time at stockperformer – https://www.stockperformer.com/calculator/?
    If i want to earn monthly $3000 and uploading 1000 images a month and getting $0,03 per image /month at istock, Adobe and Shuterstock together. It will take 104 months and an investment of $154.000. But if i invest 154.000 at financial market with 4% profit a year – this is about 53.000 profit i would lose this amount also when investing money in microstock.
    There is no inflation included in the calculation (except investing in financial market, 4% av is above inflation)wich also costs money, since inflation is not compensated at microstock.
    It doesn’t make sense investing time and money in micrstock full-time, maybe even not as a hobby.. Not to forget, things get worse every year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, February is traditionally a crappy month. Cheer up, should be better in March, I’m really rooting for you to have these book cover sales. It could be great if you are paid good money for the work you’re having fun doing!


  4. I’d like to clear up a few things about inflation and Micro-stock.(I am a retired economist). First, the cause of the inflation we are suffering is that (1) Central Banks have kept interest rates too low for an extended period of time and (2) they have bought huge amounts of sovereign debt thereby accommodating spending blow outs and relaxing fiscal discipline on governments. As far as Microstock is concerned, it is quite possible that prices of stock photos will rise (or not go down as fast as they otherwise might have). That increases the cash flow potential of existing portfolios which increases the present value of those portfolios.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another low for alamy as a star page image used by the daily star is reported as a digital website usage while the mighty times continues its shenanigans learned by its sister rag the sun, only the telegraph behave like gentlemen


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