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DPChallenge Forums >> Stock Photography >> How many photos to upload (average) to get min $ ?
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03/24/2009 05:24:49 PM · #1
On the second attempt, I've recently uploaded my fisrt 10 photos to Shutterstock, with 7 approved, I'm in. I tried already uploading some of my old photos, but as I expected, they are not good quality. I'm learning from the rejections, so I'm going to take more pictures...

I'm already selling, since 03-18 until now (03-24), with only the initial 7 photos, I sold 11 times and my balance is now $2.75

I'd like to hear from some of more experienced guys, what would be a good number of photos to get the minimum payout every month... Of course this depends on the quality of the photos, efficient keywording, etc... But I'd like to know an average number of photos so I can put an average target for myself...


03/24/2009 05:38:05 PM · #2
Hi, I have thought about doing that for quite some time now... how does it work? do yuo give them the rights to that photo, or just the use of it?

ALSO, is there a minimum amount of money you have to earn before they will cut you a cheque???

and how do they cut you a cheque? pay pal transfer? bank account? cheque in the mail?

let me know thanks
03/24/2009 05:46:22 PM · #3
You can go to this link to sign up for Shutterstock (and make me a tiny commission).

Yes, all stock sites license the photos for use, not "sell" them. Usually the minimum to get a payout is $75-100 USD; SS uses both PayPal and checks.

I have *only* about 150 pictures at Shutterstock -- from those (and photographer referrals/commissions) I make between $10-15/month -- so far I've made a total of something over $450 there ...

Message edited by author 2009-03-24 17:47:58.
03/24/2009 05:46:51 PM · #4
I think it's a numbers game-- for instance you made $0.39/week for each photo uploaded. Assuming the same sales volume continues, 100 pictures = $39.00 week, 1000 pictures = $390/week, and so on. More than likely you will become more proficient at producing salable pictures so hopefully your avg earning per photo/per week would improve. Who wouldn't want to earn $390/week just because someone want to buy your pictures! :)

I would say you have reason to be encouraged in your new venture!

Message edited by author 2009-03-24 17:47:38.
03/24/2009 05:49:38 PM · #5
If you don't keep regularly uploading at Shutterstock, you disappear out of the search - or end up way back down the list. SS's minimum on checks is $300. Good luck, you will need it there...
03/24/2009 06:01:57 PM · #6
I have been with Shutterstock for a few years and have just over 250 images. Considering my images are primarily "incidental" byproducts of my daily adventures, I'm doing pretty good. Average $50 per month and sometimes as high as $150. If you are considering going the route of stock photography, you'll best submit to several sites as it is just a numbers game.

On Shutterstock, I get paid every time my account reaches $75 USD. It supports my eBay fix and for the time being, that is enough. On the other hand, there certainly is money to be had going the route of microstock but you'll need to take it seriously and be selective with what you submit. If you're good with computer rendering, you can make a whole heap of money with vectors and other graphically cool submissions.

An excellent resource for this is our own ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Kosmikkreeper. Yanik takes it very seriously and has a terrific Blog offering a wealth of resources. Check it out.

Now if you really want to wet your pants, throw on your diapers and check out this example of microstock momentum: Yuri Arcurs
03/24/2009 06:10:50 PM · #7
So Ivo, you earn .30/image/month. (Assuming an average month is $75.00) It's a nice way to support your ebay habit!

The example from my earlier post is crude and $.39/photo/week is likely not a realistic target. Or is it?

And if you are uploading to several agencies, your results should improve...
03/24/2009 06:14:39 PM · #8
Originally posted by mpeters:

I think it's a numbers game-- for instance you made $0.39/week for each photo uploaded. Assuming the same sales volume continues, 100 pictures = $39.00 week, 1000 pictures = $390/week, and so on. More than likely you will become more proficient at producing salable pictures so hopefully your avg earning per photo/per week would improve. Who wouldn't want to earn $390/week just because someone want to buy your pictures! :)

I would say you have reason to be encouraged in your new venture!


Hmm I can think also another theory, I have currently 7 photos there at SS, made $2.75 in 6 days... With the sales being regular, I'd get an average of $13.75/month... To get at least $75/month, I'd need then ~38 photos... With 100 photos I'd get ~$229/month, not bad huh?

I'd like to hear from some of the experienced photographers here if this is a reasonable number...


03/24/2009 06:14:45 PM · #9
You may want to check out this thread and the one on Alamy ("macrostock") as well ...
03/24/2009 06:18:19 PM · #10
Originally posted by marcusvdt:

Originally posted by mpeters:

I think it's a numbers game-- for instance you made $0.39/week for each photo uploaded. Assuming the same sales volume continues, 100 pictures = $39.00 week, 1000 pictures = $390/week, and so on. More than likely you will become more proficient at producing salable pictures so hopefully your avg earning per photo/per week would improve. Who wouldn't want to earn $390/week just because someone want to buy your pictures! :)

I would say you have reason to be encouraged in your new venture!


Hmm I can think also another theory, I have currently 7 photos there at SS, made $2.75 in 6 days... With the sales being regular, I'd get an average of $13.75/month... To get at least $75/month, I'd need then ~38 photos... With 100 photos I'd get ~$229/month, not bad huh?

I'd like to hear from some of the experienced photographers here if this is a reasonable number...


True, but I'm not sure it is that slick! :) Check out some of the other threads on the subject...
03/24/2009 06:25:30 PM · #11
I think all of the sites weill have a page showing the most common downloads over some period of time -- look at those to see what types of photos get action, and what kind of quality you're competing against.
03/24/2009 06:26:19 PM · #12
Originally posted by mpeters:

So Ivo, you earn .30/image/month. (Assuming an average month is $75.00) It's a nice way to support your ebay habit!

The example from my earlier post is crude and $.39/photo/week is likely not a realistic target. Or is it?

And if you are uploading to several agencies, your results should improve...


Well, my issue is that it is a cumbersome project uploading due to key wording etc. I'd say my numbers are also maybe on the soft side as 25% of my portfolio supports 98% of my income generated. On the occasion, twice this month so far, I get enhanced downloads at $28 per image. Those help and seem to getting more frequent.

The answer to your question is not that easy regarding an average price per photo as not all of my images get downloaded monthly. And truthfully, maybe 5% have never been downloaded.

Back full circle, its a numbers game which is significantly enhanced by focused and targeted images and powerful key wording.

Now if I had a decent home studio, I'd be going great guns as I'm certain I could generate $500 to $1000 per month easily if I had greater control over my images than environmental photography allows.

Couple that control with enhanced Photoshop skills and you have all the tools needed to create a helluva 2nd income.

The result? My eBay adventures would be far more enjoyable. ;-)

03/24/2009 06:33:07 PM · #13
Originally posted by Ivo:

On the occasion, twice this month so far, I get enhanced downloads at $28 per image. Those help and seem to getting more frequent.

I almost fell off my chair when I got my first of those a few days ago, since it basically quadrupled my income for the month! I was sure it was a mistake until I looked at the stats breakdown ... I could certainly live with more of those!
03/24/2009 06:40:24 PM · #14
Originally posted by marcusvdt:

Originally posted by mpeters:

I think it's a numbers game-- for instance you made $0.39/week for each photo uploaded. Assuming the same sales volume continues, 100 pictures = $39.00 week, 1000 pictures = $390/week, and so on. More than likely you will become more proficient at producing salable pictures so hopefully your avg earning per photo/per week would improve. Who wouldn't want to earn $390/week just because someone want to buy your pictures! :)

I would say you have reason to be encouraged in your new venture!


Hmm I can think also another theory, I have currently 7 photos there at SS, made $2.75 in 6 days... With the sales being regular, I'd get an average of $13.75/month... To get at least $75/month, I'd need then ~38 photos... With 100 photos I'd get ~$229/month, not bad huh?

I'd like to hear from some of the experienced photographers here if this is a reasonable number...


I wish it was that simple. As ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' pineapple says, you need to upload regularly. If you only ever have those 7 photos on SS, you are unlikely to continue to earn $2.75 every 6 days. Of course you could hit it lucky and come up with one photo which sells one or more times every day, and continues to sell over a long period, in which case your figures may not be that unrealistic. On the other hand, you may find that your photos sell well in the first few days on the site, but rarely sell again after that, in which case you may not earn a fraction of what you think.

Quality has more to do with it than quantity. My earnings are nowhere near what you suggest and I really need to improve my portfolio. I suggest you think more about making the best portfolio you can than about how many photos you need for a monthly payout, and the money will take care of itself.

Good luck.
03/24/2009 06:51:31 PM · #15
Originally posted by GinaRothfels:

Originally posted by marcusvdt:

Originally posted by mpeters:

I think it's a numbers game-- for instance you made $0.39/week for each photo uploaded. Assuming the same sales volume continues, 100 pictures = $39.00 week, 1000 pictures = $390/week, and so on. More than likely you will become more proficient at producing salable pictures so hopefully your avg earning per photo/per week would improve. Who wouldn't want to earn $390/week just because someone want to buy your pictures! :)

I would say you have reason to be encouraged in your new venture!


Hmm I can think also another theory, I have currently 7 photos there at SS, made $2.75 in 6 days... With the sales being regular, I'd get an average of $13.75/month... To get at least $75/month, I'd need then ~38 photos... With 100 photos I'd get ~$229/month, not bad huh?

I'd like to hear from some of the experienced photographers here if this is a reasonable number...


I wish it was that simple. As ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' pineapple says, you need to upload regularly. If you only ever have those 7 photos on SS, you are unlikely to continue to earn $2.75 every 6 days. Of course you could hit it lucky and come up with one photo which sells one or more times every day, and continues to sell over a long period, in which case your figures may not be that unrealistic. On the other hand, you may find that your photos sell well in the first few days on the site, but rarely sell again after that, in which case you may not earn a fraction of what you think.

Quality has more to do with it than quantity. My earnings are nowhere near what you suggest and I really need to improve my portfolio. I suggest you think more about making the best portfolio you can than about how many photos you need for a monthly payout, and the money will take care of itself.

Good luck.


Ouch! that reality stick hurts! ;) Nothing comes easy, regardless of what the guy says on TV. :) I've yet to sell a stock picture but the idea always sounds intriguing. I'm just don't think my stuff is stock type imagery.
03/24/2009 11:33:22 PM · #16
I hope to upload more and more photos through the time... I'm going to shoot some pictures these days and upload them to see how they work... My pictures today are not so high quality, because I'm still learning, so I expect to improve with a DSLR camera and learn more about the editing techniques to enhance my workflow... Not an easy task having a full-time job not related to photography and being a father of 3 babies...

I just would like to know if photographers tipically upload large numbers of photos and keep their portfolio growing by large number of photos... The trick appears to be on what sells and what do not and at the same time uploading lots of good quality photos through the time... I keep learning...

Thanks for all your comments...
03/25/2009 03:23:18 AM · #17
Some of the photographers there have huge portfolios and if you can do it, it will certainly help your income. But some do very well with smaller portfolios too.
03/25/2009 03:54:54 AM · #18
Do they (ShutterStock) accept only 5MP and above images?
iStockphoto accepts photos taken with even a 2MP camera! And they price the images at 1$ onwards.
I think so.

Message edited by author 2009-03-25 03:55:19.
03/25/2009 08:22:04 AM · #19
Originally posted by marcusvdt:

On the second attempt, I've recently uploaded my fisrt 10 photos to Shutterstock, with 7 approved, I'm in. I tried already uploading some of my old photos, but as I expected, they are not good quality. I'm learning from the rejections, so I'm going to take more pictures...

I'm already selling, since 03-18 until now (03-24), with only the initial 7 photos, I sold 11 times and my balance is now $2.75

I'd like to hear from some of more experienced guys, what would be a good number of photos to get the minimum payout every month... Of course this depends on the quality of the photos, efficient keywording, etc... But I'd like to know an average number of photos so I can put an average target for myself...


This is hard to say! If you have awesome photos you may only need 20 images to make payout each month...or you may need 300 ok photos to make payout. The thing is you just need to try to do your best images and keep uploading and keep going forward....the more photos you upload the more money you will make.

Just keep going and keep building your portfolio!
03/25/2009 05:49:50 PM · #20
Originally posted by kbhatia1967:

Do they (ShutterStock) accept only 5MP and above images?
iStockphoto accepts photos taken with even a 2MP camera! And they price the images at 1$ onwards.
I think so.


As far as I know all microstock sites are still accepting 5MP. Of course that may change in the future, but no need to worry about that now.
03/25/2009 05:54:15 PM · #21
you should really get on the big 6 sites.

To get a payout on shutterstock each month you might need around 400 images. It will vary a lot though because new images are favored. At the beginning you might only need 100 images, later on you might need more than 400.
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