March 2022 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome to the March 2022 detailed monthly report during these increasingly dystopian times as war continues to rage in eastern Europe with the constant threat of escalation from all sides.

Pablo Picasso‘s Guernica (anti-war theme)

However, personally speaking, there is some good news this month, so keep reading until the end for a special announcement!

Supporting the blog!

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 pastel de nata, by clicking on the following link below:

-> Support the Brutally Honest Blog! <-

March Highlights

Three highlights to discuss in March with first being the exclusive interview with Shawn Rubel, Founder & CEO of Vecteezy, an online collection of both paid and free-to-download stock photos, videos, and vector images.

Secondly, check out Master Steve Heap’s recently published a super useful and up-to-date free seminar which he has kindly published on YouTube:

Lastly and certainly not least, Theo is on a roll and has just published a “Best Microstock Keywording Tools” post over at the Xpiks blog, which is worth checking out!

3-year anniversary of Earnings Reports!

If you’re interested to see how I did in my February 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. Difficult times nowadays!

30 Accepted Images in Arcangel in March!

No sales to report in March but as I keep mentioning, this is a long-term game and I’m in not in a huge hurry (although my patience does have limits since I’m putting in a lot of efforts). Rather to keep focusing on uploading quality content.

Happy to report the following 30 accepted!

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 March)Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy13,339 (92)335.5
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)1,364 (30) 00
Adobe Stock3,618 (8)510.68
Creative Market1,548 (9)77
DepositPhotos6,852 (32)120.39
Dreamstime7,070 (23)50.38
EyeEm304 (4) – Partner Program only00
Fine Art America690 (0)2020
iStock (Feb 2022)7,209 (42) 590.31
Robert Harding (Q4 2022 monthly average) – exclusive385 (0)121
Shutterstock Editorial
(formally REX Features)
898 (0)00
Shutterstock10,697 (11)1070.36
Pond51,772 (0)00
Photo4Me349 (1)00
SignElements1,243 (9)1N/A
Wirestock1,656 (33)50.30
Total 312 


AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Mar)
Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock404 (0)00
Pond51,589 (0)00
iStock213 (0)00
Shutterstock1,173 (0)227
Wirestock62 (0)00
Total 22 

Totals: $334 in March vs $363 in February

Thoughts on earning just $334 this month

Considering that I earned less in March than I did in February (which is shorter month), the result is clearly a disaster with the Patient (being my Microstock business) in a deep coma with little sign of recovery. I’m not a big fan of hoping for miracles…

The fact that I’m even remotely considering trying out Vecteezy – see the latest interview (at first on the “Pro” standard licensing level) but who knows maybe even putting some old images out for free speaks volume of how much faith I have left in this dying industry.

If you see me submitting to those Unsplash turds in a years’ time then please force me to shut down the blog indefinitely to save face. Lol OK, even considering uploading to Unsplash is just going wayyyy too far!

I wish I could say that April would be better in Microstock-land but I’d just be fooling my dear readers and most importantly, myself. At this stage in the game, anything less than $800/month is a bad month.

Two things stood out for me this month and difficult to dismiss them as an anomaly as I’ve been following the trends for a while.

1. Worst month that I can remember on SS for Average Return Per Downloads

Firstly, since I’ve begun reporting I have never seen an average return per downloads at Shutterstock below 40cents, with March at just 36cents. To have an idea for about 5 years, my average return on SS was in the low 70c. This free-fall is is now close to iStock’s 31cents/average/download for the month which is quite low compared to the historical average for me for about 45cents/download.

2. Worst month that I can remember for clip sales

Adding insult to injury, March was one of the worst months that I can remember for clip sales with just 3 sales for $22…all on SS. The Pond5 drought is still going strong with my last sale on there in November 2021.

Others are doing well, though!

Not everything is doom and gloom though, my fellow contributor Elijah, who has a similar port size to mine, has managed to slightly increase his earnings month-over-month consistently earned above $1K in the last four months. He’s happy to report that in March, his earnings toppled $1,200 for first time. Congrats, Elijah!

Link to Elijah’s port on SS

Steve Heap is also threading water at least with his earnings maintaining more or less the same year-on-year even if he’s uploading new content every month.

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 March (seems to be a trend) with only $33 net on 6 small downloads, including two sales for 3cents each, WTF?

Only one “significant” sale to report of a zebra crossing in Sloane Square, London that earned me $18 net.

Adobe Stock: continued continued continued disappointment…

Small uptick in sales from March but still disappointing overall with just $51 with an average of 61cents/download (which is quite low for AS).

iStockPhoto: continued continued continued disappointment…

Another quiet month at iStock with only $59. No major sales to report.

Shutterstock: Disappointing

As mentioned earlier, disappointing month at Shutterstock with the lowest Return Per Download that I have ever seen at 37cents/average/download. I suppose the only small bright side were the 3 clips sold earning me a pittance worth $22.

Only three small repeat-sales to report:

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

Still missing in the forest…

Hey, that’s my pic !

Spotted the following 7 pics this month in use!

Surprise for the month!

It’s not all bad news this month…

The surprise positive news for the month is that I’m finally going aerial with the purchase of a new DJI Mavic Air 2S Drone!!!

Time to put on my study glasses

Buying a professional drone these days in Europe is no picnic, legally-speaking, even before the first flight I’ll have to pass some compliance tests and receive certifications, as well as register the drone with the national aviation authority! Something I’ll be busy doing in April/May.

Then after, at least in theory, I’d have to request certain authorizations days before I may fly if I wish to fly in certain areas of Portugal. One step at a time though…

Excited about this new step in my career, stay tuned!

Until next time…

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

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. 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. I am convinced that we all need other jobs, particularly after Alamy started licensing images for cents. Although I keep uploading to some degree, I am aware that the industry is pretty much toast. Thanks for the report. And by the way, I read but don’t copy. I do me ( probably a reason for my low success 😉).


  2. Hi Alex, sounds like disaster everywhere, about same total like you. Wish You good luck with drone, I was thinking about that long time, but not yet ready for study 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vous semblez avoir un bon taux d’acceptation à Arcangel, je n’ai pas connu beaucoup de succès avec ce site en termes d’acceptation, au mieux 25%, et aucune vente à ce jour. En fait, au vu de ce qu’ils acceptent de vous, je suis surprise. Bien hâte de trouver le truc pour augmenter mon taux de réussite! Merci pour le blogue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well at least you had a few sales on FAA. Can’t wait to see more drone stuff. I have a Mini2 but cannot sell my images in the states until i pass the licensing exam. So far I have not had the time to take the course.
    Interesting about europe, do you need to take the course before selling images if your drone is under 250g?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Me neither but I’ve taken the drone up anyway. I know it’s a risk but it’s OK, as long as I stay far from people / buildings. Even after taking the A1 / A3 test would still need to ask authorization from authorities prior to all flights, ouch!

      In Europe, even drones that are under 250grams (as long as not considered a “toy”), one needs to pass at least the A1/A3 exam, but no need to register the drone with the national authority. My drone weights 600 grams so I’ve duly registered it, both as pilot and operator with the Portuguese Aviation Authority.


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