March 2023 Brutally Honest Earnings Report

Welcome back to my detailed March monthly report where, as usual, I’ll be focusing on my overall earnings for the month. Sometimes it just feels like I’m just going ’round in circles. Let’s get started!

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March 2023 Highlights

After a relatively calm February where it was unseasonably cold in Portugal and rainy, March was quite busy with the following highlights including two published guides:

Canva is fantastic

I must say that I’m really enjoying using Canva and have signed up to their premium account. Even though I don’t have much experience in design, it’s something that I’m improving and will be putting together more of these guides.

The book-cover one has been downloaded 1,370 times to date. Really has exceeded all expectations. Also thanks for all your donations and words of support.

DepositPhotos is also fantastic but for other reasons

Definitely not earnings. Turns out that they let you download high-resolution copies of your own images in the portfolio, which has proved handy for me lately.

Wandering around the Algarve with RandomHartz

Had the pleasure of meeting up with Joel and Michelle Hartz in the Algarve for the day where we talked about all things stock and travel. They’re a cool couple who sold their house in 2019 and decided to travel the world pretty much full-time and earn their living as digital nomads – courageous couple!

Joel exploring Olhao!

Now let’s move onto my detailed earnings for the month…

Detailed Earnings Breakdown

Image Earnings

AgencyNumber of Images in port
(images added Mar)
Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Alamy14,786 (51)724.5
Arcangel (RM-exclusive)2,356 (108) TBD 1st week AprTBD 1st week Apr
Adobe Stock4,168 (20)760.70
Creative Market1.644 (0)00
DepositPhotos8,114 (44)130.32
Dreamstime8,207 (56)70.44
EyeEm392 (0) – Partner Program only00
Freekpik725 (7)100.07
Fine Art America373 (0)00
Gallerist2,551 (63)00
iStock (Feb 2023)8,090 (23) 800.45
Robert Harding (Q4 2022 monthly average) – exclusive427 (12)152
Shutterstock Editorial 923 (0)55
Shutterstock11,353 (32)1820.54
Pond51,816 (0)00
Photo4Me393 (0)00
SignElements1,348 (10)2N/A
Wirestock1,960 (0)6N/A
Total 468 

Clip Earnings

AgencyNumber of clips in port
(added Mar)
Net Revenue for Mar (US$)Avg Return Per Download (US$)
Adobe Stock838 (38)44
Pond52,162 (47)5728
iStock (Feb 2023)622 (34)123
OverflightStock – exclusive92 (0)00
Shutterstock1,603 (28)738
Wirestock104 (2)00
Total 146 

Totals: $614

All things considered, I suppose $614 is an OK month.

Anyhow, now, let’s go through the results for some of the individual agencies.

Dropping EyeEm and Creative Market in April (most probably)

So, I’ve pretty much had enough of these turdy agencies. If they don’t produce anything next month, which I highly doubt they will, I’ll be dropping them.

EyeEm, as you’ve been following, is going through financial issues yet again and delaying paying out their contributors, perhaps even heading for closure. I have little patience for these agencies that produce nothing.

Giving away my images for free like an idiot update

Two months into this experiment, here’s a short update:

AgencyNumber of Images UploadedFree Downloads

Most downloaded image

If you’re wondering, my most popular pic downloaded is close up of some kale downloaded 336 times:

Any donations?

Predictably, no donations as of yet. My goal is to upload some 100 images on each and see what happens. I’ll throw in one or two more quality images like this one…of a man who waited too long for those donations…

Just kidding, it’s on Arcangel exclusively! They would kill me!

Salamis (Shutterstock + Alamy + iStock)


Starting with the meatiest part of the Salamis sandwich, Shutterstock produced an average month at a combined $255. The bad news, most worrying though are those dreaded $1 clip sales, I’m sure you’ve had a few of those.

The good news though is that one of my super recent drone clips from Rio sold (for not much though), which helps it rise the keywording ranking.

Link to clip

However, the best-selling clip of the month was taken at Hotel Palacio’s Spies Bar in Estoril, famous for hosting some top-secret discussions in WWII, earning me a cool $27.

Link to clip

Best-selling image

As for the best-selling image from SS (and the whole month), came in the form of an image I captured almost five years ago while living in Milan, earning me a cool $66. Patience is a virtue in this industry.


Alamy, usually the fattiest and most useless part of the Salamis sandwich produced a pretty decent $72 net month aided by two decent sales.

$26 net – one of my most fun shoots ever
At least it paid for my ticket entrance to the museum and some pasteis de nata – $19 net

Adobe Stock

Not much to report from Adobe Stock, producing an average month of combined of $80. I’m always looking for sales patterns and one of my aerial images taken at super early morning at Copacabana Beach is starting to sell regularly. In the past month it has already sold 8 times although for small amounts.


Pretty average month at iStock with a combined $92 and just one highlight from the clip department of the aerial kind which earned me $8.

Link to clip

Pond5 (Finally) Comes Alive

After many many months, the sleeping bear has woken up from a deep winter hibernation producing two sales.

$42 earned – link to clip
$16 earned – link to clip

Total Earned from Drone Clips alone this month?

So, I’m quite encouraged at the number of downloads for drone clips this month…finally sales are starting to pick up.

Out of the $146 net earned this month, $58 were captured with my drone – not bad! I’m confident that this trend and will continue and dare I predict that by the end of the year I’ll have more drone clip sales than non-drone sales??!!

Now sticking with the theme of drones…

Love my Air 2s Drone, but it does has some limitations

By now you’re probably quite aware that I’m in love with my Mavic Air 2s drone, as it has been a game-changer opening up a whole new world of opportunities for me. Within a year it has easily paid for itself just in stock but also with commissioned work for clients outside of stock.

Therefore, April will mark one year since I had my first timid flight on a fateful windy day in the Algarve – 58 hours later I haven’t crashed once nor have I been sued – success, but I shouldn’t get too complacent as it’s not a toy!

Some issues I have with my drone

Nevertheless, I have to admit that it does have its limitations, although can seem petty, of which I’ll list three right here in no particular order of severity:

  • Aperture is fixed at f2.8: This can be super annoying since there are only two ways (that I can think of, there may be more) of changing the shutter speed – adjusting the ISO and worse of all, having to keep changing the ND Filter. On a few occasions, I forgot to change the ND filter and only realized when the drone was far away and had to bring it back. Also, at such wide aperture, some people have reported that the images can be soft on the edges (I haven’t had this issue, fortunately). Certainly many benefits in having a variable aperture;
  • Battery could be better: DJI promises 31 minutes of battery life, but that’s under super ideal conditions and pretty much landing at 5%, which is not recommended. Under normal circumstances, with a little wind and flying at up to 80+metres, in my experience I’m flying at an average of just 15 minutes, ensuring that I’m not going far below 20% to avoid disasters; and
  • It’s a heavier drone: Weighing at 595grams, it’s way above the 250gram threshold for more liberal rules relating to where I’m legally able to fly. While this hasn’t been such an issue for me (I think the benefits of a heavier drone far outweigh the negatives) I’m sure there will be situations when I’ll have to think twice about flying, particularly when I travel again to the UK and take my drone with me this time.

Eyeing a more professional drone

The market is constantly changing and new drones are emerging all the time. To mitigate some of the above issues listed above one drone that I’m currently eyeing is the professional DJI Mavic 3 – here’s a review of this beast of a bird:

Some of what I like about the Mavic 3 vs Air 2s:

  • Slightly larger sensor (4/3 inch sensor vs 1inch sensor) resolution which would be handy for those top-down book covers to obtain more detail, especially in lower light conditions;
  • RC Pro Controller instead of having to use my smartphone;
  • 14x zoom vs 4x zoom (also the zoom is optical not digital)
  • Side sensors for full all-round protection
  • 50% more battery life
  • Variable aperture – F2.8 up to F11

Of course, all those cool features come at a price but nothing to break the bank. Therefore, it looks like I’ll be upgrading soon! What do you guys/gals think about the DJI Mavic 3, is it worth it?

108 images accepted Images at Arcangel!

No sales to report in February, unfortunately. When do come they should come like buses, all at once (I hope)!

Happy to showcase the accepted images this month below on the slideshow. Note that it’s over 7 minutes long so feel free to speed up if you wish!

Interview coming up!

Excited to announce that I’ll be publishing in April an interview with Ignacio (Nash) Mascaro, Arcangel Sales Director, where he’ll be providing tips on becoming a book cover photographer and insight into Arcangel.

Looking to soon start a Fine Art / Travel Print Business

Sticking to the theme of monetizing more artistic-type shots, I’ve recently had a productive meeting with Lucas Sancho, also Brazilian and based in Portugal. Lucas is a successful fine art / travel photographer who has a successful business printing/installation business. Many of his sales are in Brazil and you can see some of his impressive collection from Rio.

I showed Lucas some of my work, including aerial shots and my book cover portfolio at Arcangel and he’s given me some positive feedback that many may sell as prints. While I try to set something up on my own we’re discussing collaboration as he already has an established client-base and audience. Still have lots of work to do on this front, including curating some images that would suit this market, and don’t want to get too ahead of myself.

Stay tuned soon for much more news!

Until next time!

Hope you enjoyed reading this report. How did you do this month, please comment below!

Best of luck!

About Alex

I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal, 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. Oh and also recently purchased a DJI Mavic 2s drone and taking full advantage and perhaps a Mavic 3 soon.

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. As always, an interesting and informative report. It will be interesting to see what you choose about the drone. I have the mavic 2pro, and the variable aperture is useful. No zoom though.


  2. Great summary of last month and new projects. Your experiences with the drone inspire me, although in my case I have few flight hours. I still think that I am wasting my time with microstock, which I could use to generate more content for Arcangel, fine art and exhibitions. Waiting for the interview! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always love reading these! Not to tell you what to do or anything, but you might want to put more images on Adobe. Adobe Stock is just killing it for me! I’m earning between $15-$25 a DAY there (images only – hardly ever sell videos on AS), but I do have a larger portfolio than you do and I also do illustrative editorials – although, most of my stuff is travel stuff like yours. I was even able to get the full suite for a year for free from them for meeting the download threshold.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Say what you want, but 600 bucks a month for doing nothing is more than ok! It’s 2023 and this still not a dead industry as we predicted way back.


    • Hi Zoli,

      Not sure “it’s doing nothing”! 😀

      If I take all my hours put in and divide by my total all time income it will come to probably around $1. Anyway, it is what it is, at least I have some fun.


      • “it’s doing nothing” – i mean you are not providing a service for witch you are paid for. You are getting paid for what you have done in the past. If you stop, you will still make money. When you stop providing a service you will not get paid. That’s the difference and that’s the value of what we are doing.

        Don’t underestimate this. Every income is good. A loss is a loss.


  5. I stumbled across your blog and really enjoy your transparency and honesty. As one of my sons says, buying new equipment for stock is a bad business decision. However, I do enjoy the creative process and gives me a place to put all my work so that it can at least be seen. I have been shooting stock video exclusively since 2017. In January 2022 I started submitting stills as well and am quite surprised how well they have been selling. Since 2017, I’ve made $103k. My monthly sales currently are around $2k. It is a slow hard climb, and most of the time I feel like I’m just treading water, but the good months seem to outweigh the bad months most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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