Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My first 3 month in microstock photography

Well, maybe not exactly the first 3 month... as i already have an approved shutterstock account since 2008, but never really try to upload something sale-able until now... since 2008 i had about 25 picture but only a bunch of it generate sale... most probabily because the subject lack commercial value (that time i upload bird photos,insect macro photos,etc) .. at that time i didn't try microstock seriously because in my perception.. only those talented with lots of good creative idea will excel in stock photography .. and i'm far from those description..  (it is true, but you can slowly nurture the stock perspective into your head, and effort count more than talent in microstock) .. as you can see my portfolio size graph below where it had only 25 pictures in September (which is the numbers for 2 years!) before it start to increase steadily since late october 2011

Its all started in late September with an arabic calligraphy vector (i'm taking arabic calligraphy class since February 2011.. until now) which i draw to learn vector tracing and since its a vector i try to upload to Shutterstock and it surprise me when it is sold a few times ... the curiousity encourage me upload few more vectors... with most of them sold immediately after approval... and since then i started to upload regularly and by end of 2011 my gallery portfolio grew to 269 pictures from 25 pictures before September..

and here is my montly performance chart after 3 month

As you can see from the chart.... total of download follow closely the total number of pictures available for sale in my portfolio .. which totally make perfect sense...i read somewhere in microstock forum that a good quality portfolio should have at least USD1.00/picture monthly average.. the average one should be around USD0.50/picture per month average... mine is lagged behind at a mere USD0.40/picture and that figure if minus the single extended license download (USD28) i got in Dec would push my average to only USD0.30/picture per month ... so there is a lot of work need to be done to push the quality and also the quantity at the same time to get some decent income from microstock

Type of download also affect the income considerably... the major income for my portfolio is the USD 0.25/download at 63% followed by the On Demand download (USD 1.88 or USD0.81/download ) at 23%. Of course you will feel better reward with the higher pay per picture like On Demand download or even the Extended License at USD28/picture but the major contributor with more consistent pattern would still be the normal USD0.25/download

My first ever Extended License/Enhanced License download at USD28/download.. is the following buah tunjuk langit (alternative herbal medicine for diabetes patient). Extended License/Enhanced License is required when the advertiser/user intent to use the picture in their product or maybe in advertising campaign exceeding 250,000 copies etc..

3 month in microstock is like newborn baby... too many things to learn.. the lingo.. buyer preference.. reviewer hurdle... quality control... type & style of images that sell.. etc... luckily i had so many friends and mentors with similar passion in this field .. breaking your ego would be the first step as rejection is the middle name in this industry.. the faster you overcame the rejection phase.. the better stock photographer you would be...

Among my best seller at the moment

if you haven't started... its better late than never.. Shutterstock is a good place to start as it is among the major earner for most microstocker... the others would be istockphoto, fotolia,123rf and dreamstime. If you like, you can have a peek at my humble portfolio but i wouldn't say its a good portfolio for reference... but i hope it will be soon... :D

Average income per picture... what does it mean
Someone asked me to clarify the monthly average income per picture.. what i meant is

the total monthly income divided by the number of images in porfolio=average income per picture

So if the monthly income is USD100.. and the number of images is 200 .. then
USD 100/200 pictures = USD 0.50 monthly average

microstock is purely numbers game... good quality will push the average numbers higher.. the world most profitable microstocker Yuri for example had over 50,000 pictures and because of the high quality he should also has very good picture average (nobody knows.. maybe USD10/picture?).. his monthly income few years back is already more than USD50k per month.. now it is definitely higher

so what is the point of discussing the montly average? it will go back to you on how much you want to earn from this field.. if your target is USD 100 per month and you average is USD0.33 per picture then having 300 picture with similar quality and commercial value in your portfolio might be just enough for your target.. of course there are some picture that will outsell other picture 10x more but there will be picture that rarely see any sales.. and there is also seasonal sales pattern trend..  average income per picture is just to simplify it

in short

higher quality or higher commercial value = higher income per picture
higher numbers of picture available for sale = higher overall income

how much you want? just do your own calculation :P

Share Click to share this article in your Facebook!


  1. Hi,

    My name is Joseph. I would like to invite you to join www.TheArtofBusinessCards.com (ABC). On this site you earn $5 to $20 on every sale. Many artists say they make more on this site than all of their other sites.

    There is a video that explains more about the opportunity on the site.

    You may sign up at this link:

    Please email me if you have any questions at ABCArtists1@Gmail.com.




Popular Posts (30 days)

Latest post from my other blog