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02/26/2015 11:20:15 AM · #1
This may not be of interest to many of you but when I was trying to decide if stock was worth giving a try I found 31.gif oboy statistics helpful, so I decided to post. I recently crunched the numbers for my taxes this year and decided to make some pie charts and graphs just to see how things stacked up. I won't give you the exact number of my yearly earnings except to say that it has been enough for me not to have to find a part time job and has allowed me to be a stay at home mom to my three girls. I have made enough this year to fund my girls 529 college saving plans, pay for Christmas, some new camera equipment, and a fun vacation for the family this year.

Stock is not for everyone, there are very specific rules that must be followed and sometimes it feels like it can stifle your creativity. But I have found it to be very rewarding. At first I had to spend around 20-30 hours a week taking and submitting photos, which was fine because I was very enthusiastic for the first year and it was easy to spend the time. Now 3 years later I only spend around 10-20 hours a month on it and as you can see my sales still continue to grow. At this point I feel like I am more in maintenance mode as long as I keep submitting a few photos a month I can continue to see sales.

As far as the future of stock, I think it is getting harder and harder to make money as it is becoming saturated with hobbyists and semi professionals. But if you can find a way to make your photos stand out you still have a shot at making some good money. I feel my own sales have started to decline. Which doesn't show in this graph since the decline started towards the end of this years and seems to be continuing into this year. I still have hopes that my sales will continue to increase.

Now my thoughts on these statistics. As you can see shutterstock is by far the biggest earner for me. Anyone doing stock that doesn't have a portfolio with them is really short changing themselves. At the same time I would never just submit to shutterstock, you never can tell what the future brings and I would hate to have all my eggs in one basket. Plus even though the other sites I submit to only make up roughly 30% of my overall income it is a few hundred a month and worth the extra effort.

The other category on my pie graphs represent the money I make from Alamy, Fine Art America and miscellaneous sales I have made by selling my images independently. I don't make a significant income from either of those sites and have not submitted any new photos to them for about a year. I will keep my images on those sites because you just never know when you might get a decent sale from them. Istock has not been a significant form of income either but I only have around 200 images(compared to more than 2000 on the other sites) because they have such ridiculous uploading procedures and reject things for silly reasons. However they have recently eased up on their submission process and I am in the process of slowly getting most of my 2000 up on their site. We will see if they make a big jump on my pie chart next year. I have heard they can be good from those who have had the patience to submit there.

Overall while I have been a bit nervous about my growth on shutterstock the other sites I submit to really seem to be picking up. I have been really excited about my sales on 123rf lately and fotolia has been doing really well lately. I was surprised to see that the percentages seemed to stay the same year to year, in my head it seemed they were gaining a little bit on shutterstock. But my pie chart seems to stay fairly consistent so shutterstock must be growing at the same rate.

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1142876.jpg

Anyway those are my thoughts, I would love to hear you thoughts on stock whether you submit or not. Also I would love to answer any questions you may have about it.
02/26/2015 11:41:06 AM · #2
Thanks Jennifer. Really interesting to see your stats and get a bit of background information about them.

I have never submitted a single stock photo however I do work for myself (creating apps and websites) and I am constantly on the look out for extra revenue streams. I make a very small amount from selling greetings cards in local retailers and have sold a few images for book covers.

I see you have quite a large number of stock photos. I am curious if there are a select few of these photos that do better than others or do you generate the revenue right across the board?

I have always been put off trying to submit to stock sites as I assumed the requirements were too strict but perhaps I should take a look at one such as Shutterstock and give it a go. Surely someone must want some sheep photos:)
02/26/2015 11:43:49 AM · #3
Congrats, Jenn!! You sure have made a go of it in a highly competitive segment of our industry.

I'm wondering about acceptable processing for stock. What are the constraints/allowable processes? What about composites, etc.

02/26/2015 12:14:11 PM · #4
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:


I see you have quite a large number of stock photos. I am curious if there are a select few of these photos that do better than others or do you generate the revenue right across the board?

I have always been put off trying to submit to stock sites as I assumed the requirements were too strict but perhaps I should take a look at one such as Shutterstock and give it a go. Surely someone must want some sheep photos:)


No there are many of those 2000 photos that have never sold. But I look at it this way you just never know. And you have to submit around 20 to get 1 or 2 of those to sell consistently. Just part of the game. However out of those that never sell I will all of a sudden get a large sale from one of them and then it was worth the effort. So even though only 10-20% of my images get regular sales, I would never delete the rest of them. Just the other day I made $70 on a picture that I thought would never sell.

To answer both yours and Johanna's question shutterstock requires you to submit 10 images for initial review those images should be strait forward (nothing arty) after that skies the limit. The worst you can do is get a rejection and move on. Composites, overlays and filters are always acceptable as long as they don't compromise the image quality too much.

Here are some guidelines as what you need to look for:
#1 sharp image they need to be tack sharp at 100% magnification or they will get an automatic rejection. This is the first thing they will look for, if it is not sharp they won't even look at it.
#2 No noise, stock is a little bit limiting because if you shoot at high ISO you will get an unacceptable amount of noise and noise reducing filters are not allowed because they create artifacts (artifacts from sharpening filters and noise reduction filters are not allowed) Sometimes you can get away with using the blur tool if the noise is in the background and not on a part of the image that needs to be sharp.
#3 Lighting need to be nice and even for the first 10. After that I wouldn't worry about it do all the artsy uneven lighting you want. As long as it is a good photo they won't care.
#4 composition and this is really not a huge thing I never get rejections from this but you should always be thinking about the right composition for stock because even if the reviewers let it through the buyers won't buy it if the composition doesn't fit their needs. For instance many buyers want to add writing on top of the image, if there isn't a good spot for text they won't buy it.

Filters that compromise any of the above rules will get a rejection. But instagram like photos (cross processed) are getting very popular on stock. So if you can figure out a way to do those type of photos and still meet all the requirements listed above you will have some good sellers.

Message edited by author 2015-02-26 12:16:16.
02/26/2015 01:10:15 PM · #5
Thanks, Jenn. Don't know that I'd ever go down this road, but you never know ;)
02/26/2015 01:55:05 PM · #6
Originally posted by tanguera:

Thanks, Jenn. Don't know that I'd ever go down this road, but you never know ;)


ha ha! I don't think I would even consider doing stock if I was able to do the things you get to do. But for me it is perfect...not a lot of hours and extremely flexible. Which is all my life can handle these days. Someday when my kids don't need so much of my attention I will branch out :)
03/04/2015 12:56:24 PM · #7
Congratulations Jennifer to your success! I started in 2008 with microstock and it has been so far a fun and rewording journey for me too. Not to put all my eggs in the same basket it the same for me too. You are right, you never know what happen in the future. I have taking a dive with Shutterstock starting last October, and so far I don't know why I sell less and less there. Hope this will change in the near future.
As for POD's I still do well. But your right, it is more and more difficult as there are more and more contributors. That is one reason I try to push both - microstock and POD's. I wish you good luck for the future - do well and have many sales!

BTW I love your statistic.


03/04/2015 03:39:16 PM · #8
I am glad to hear things have been successful for you. I would think to be successful in this area you not only have to be good with a camera, but you need to be able to think of good ideas for marketable images. With your creativity and photography skill you are better suited than most of us here for this field. It also can't hurt to have some adorable models living under your roof. I wish you continued success.
03/04/2015 04:48:15 PM · #9
What does "artifacts from sharpening filters and noise reduction filters are not allowed" mean? No use of I sharp mask? Pretty much straight from the camera images for your first ten?

I've tryed years ago when I first got into photography and could never get 10 to pass.
03/05/2015 02:18:50 AM · #10
Originally posted by SEG:

What does "artifacts from sharpening filters and noise reduction filters are not allowed" mean? No use of I sharp mask? Pretty much straight from the camera images for your first ten?

I've tryed years ago when I first got into photography and could never get 10 to pass.


You just have to be very careful with sharpening and noise reduction. But you need to have a sharp image from the beginning. If you look at an image ins 100% zoom and it is not sharp, you wont get there with a sharpening filter. But if you work with an already sharp image, then a sharpening can give it a crisper look. Often the vibrance slider can give you a better result.

Same for the noise reduction filter. You got to be careful. To much and your image looks like out of focus. Often you have to use layer to apply the noise reduction in some areas of on image.

Don't give up on Shutterstock. You are not the only one that has to try several times to try to get past the 10.
03/05/2015 02:22:44 AM · #11
Originally posted by markwiley:

I am glad to hear things have been successful for you. I would think to be successful in this area you not only have to be good with a camera, but you need to be able to think of good ideas for marketable images. With your creativity and photography skill you are better suited than most of us here for this field. It also can't hurt to have some adorable models living under your roof. I wish you continued success.


Just take a look at all the ads you see. Soon you get an eye for it to what to shoot.

Want to shoot more models? Checkup //www.meetup.com/ there is probably someone in your area that setup model shoots. Not always for stock photography, but it is at least a start.
03/05/2015 09:36:09 AM · #12
Originally posted by SEG:

What does "artifacts from sharpening filters and noise reduction filters are not allowed" mean? No use of I sharp mask? Pretty much straight from the camera images for your first ten?

I've tryed years ago when I first got into photography and could never get 10 to pass.


Not strait from the camera, I process mine quite a bit but you just have to know what is okay and what isn't. For the first 10 I think your are right it should be pretty near perfect strait from the camera as far as focus and noise go. Of course you can crop and clone things out even cut the main subject out and put it on a new background if you are good enough. You can adjust lighting contrast as long as it doesn't introduce noise. I often downsize my images a touch to get them to appear a little sharper when they aren't quite there at full size. I also have figured out how to reduce noise a bit and make things appear sharper without introducing artifacts. I will look through my photos and see if I can find one with artifacts so that I can show you what I mean.
03/05/2015 09:41:12 AM · #13
Originally posted by markwiley:

I am glad to hear things have been successful for you. I would think to be successful in this area you not only have to be good with a camera, but you need to be able to think of good ideas for marketable images. With your creativity and photography skill you are better suited than most of us here for this field. It also can't hurt to have some adorable models living under your roof. I wish you continued success.


Thanks Mark, yes it doesn't hurt to have my cute models around. Although it has gotten hard to get them to pose for me. Bribing them with candy doesn't seem to work anymore ;)

You could do it Mark. But for many it just simply isn't worth the time. And there is no guarantee that you will even make enough money to make that time worth it. For me it has worked out. But lately things have slowed down so I don't know what the future of stock is going to be. There is still money to be made if you have good ideas and the time to spend on it.
03/07/2015 01:32:48 AM · #14
Curious if you have to submit RAW files to stock companies?

Also what is generally the minimum dimensions required?
03/07/2015 09:42:42 AM · #15
Congratulations Jennifer! How exciting that you found your niche!

Seeing success in this is a great thing!
03/07/2015 10:09:32 AM · #16
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Curious if you have to submit RAW files to stock companies?

Also what is generally the minimum dimensions required?


Jpegs are what are normally desired, some will except tiffs. Size depends on the place. This is from the agency I am with, which is not microstock..." File size must be 300 dpi, 30-40mb, before being compressed as a JPEG."
03/07/2015 12:16:34 PM · #17
Originally posted by RKT:

Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Curious if you have to submit RAW files to stock companies?

Also what is generally the minimum dimensions required?


Jpegs are what are normally desired, some will except tiffs. Size depends on the place. This is from the agency I am with, which is not microstock..." File size must be 300 dpi, 30-40mb, before being compressed as a JPEG."


Crikey don't think any of my cameras produce files that size.

Thanks. That's a shame.
03/07/2015 12:22:37 PM · #18
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by RKT:

Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Curious if you have to submit RAW files to stock companies?

Also what is generally the minimum dimensions required?


Jpegs are what are normally desired, some will except tiffs. Size depends on the place. This is from the agency I am with, which is not microstock..." File size must be 300 dpi, 30-40mb, before being compressed as a JPEG."


Crikey don't think any of my cameras produce files that size.

Thanks. That's a shame.


Sure they do...I use a 60D and it's just fine.
03/07/2015 12:44:09 PM · #19
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Curious if you have to submit RAW files to stock companies?

Also what is generally the minimum dimensions required?


You need SRGB jpegs, 4mp (mega pixels) minimum. (may slightly vary from agency to agency).

Every file is reviewed for some aspects like composition, commercial value, focus, exposure, noise, artifacts, aberrations, etc.


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