01 Mar 2008 Microstock Earnings Report February 2008

February started off extremely poorly for me, but the latter half picked up and brought my total back up to a respectable level, but still nowhere near reaching my next milestone.

Agency Earnings US$ Portfolio Size Return per Image
iStockphoto 190.77
722 0.26
Shutterstock 179.95 752 0.24
Dreamstime 96.25 664 0.14
Fotolia 41.71 556 0.08
StockXpert 29.80 221 0.13
BigStockPhoto 29.09 314 0.09
123rf 15.84 242 0.07
6.60 276 0.02
2.75 241 0.01
Total: 592.76 Avg: 0.12

Microstock Earnings Chart - February 2008


  • Dreamstime were the only agency where I earned any Extended License sales in February (2)
  • In response to some insightful comments, I’m now reporting my average Return Per Image (RPI) rather than the total
  • I uploaded around 50 new files during the second half of February, which helped the earnings recover from the slow start to the month
  • Best month ever at BigStockPhoto and 123rf
  • I initially reported LuckyOliver as having achieved no sales in February, but on the last day (after I wrote this post) I sold seven photos of the one series
  • I purchased my first prime lens in February, taking my lowest possible aperture from f3.6 to f1.8 – a whole new world of light and depth-of-field!
  • Photonomikon
    Posted at 13:24h, 01 March Reply

    I’m excited about my results for Feb. It’s the BME for all time.
    It’s also the BME for several top agencies: SS, BSP, FT, SXP and IS.

    Sales on DT are sadly plummeting. Even IS where my portfolio is minuscule compared to DT has almost caught up with being my 2nd earner after SS.

  • Marek
    Posted at 15:07h, 01 March Reply

    I have posted my numbers for February which was my third month in microstock with a ~100 picture portfolio:

    My iStock portfolio is doing quite well, FT is starting to move, others – no comments …


  • L. F. File
    Posted at 06:33h, 02 March Reply

    Well Lee, It seems I forgot to put up my January earnings so I will start with those.

    January Earnings:

    Agency Earnings US$ Portfolio Size Return per Image
    ShutterStock $40.25 46 $0.88 – 1 EL
    iStockphoto $15.74 69 $0.23
    Fotolia $ 2.64 53 $0.05
    BigStock $ 2.00 72 $0.03
    DreamsTime $ 1.80 59 $0.03
    LuckOliver $ 0.30 188 $0.001
    Total Per Photo $1.21
    Average $0.0025

    February Earnings:

    Agency Earnings US$ Portfolio Size Return per Image
    iStockphoto $30.55 72 $0.42
    ShutterStock $28.75 78 $0.37
    Fotolia $11.22 56 $0.20 1 EL
    DreamsTime $ 2.80 63 $0.04
    BigStock $ 1.50 72 $0.02
    LuckOliver $ 0.00 205 $0.00
    Total Per Photo $1.06
    Average $0.002

    I learned a hard lesson about Fotolia this month. I only get $6.60 for each EL until I get 100 DLs! ELs I sold on LO and SS always pay $20.00. Only 1/4 of the way to Bronze on FT so I guess I just have to step up the contributions.

    I find it interesting that on LO you sell a few every month yet have so few comments on images. Lends credence to my theory that comments have a lot less to do with how many downloads you get than many are saying on some of the forums.

    I was also wondering if as a journalist you take any precautions against site owners/operators downloading your images in order for them to show better stats on your blog. Would be pretty cheap and effective advertising to entice contributors I would think. I guess all you could do is request they give you information on who downloads from your portfolio – Fotolia already does this for everyone so it should be possible.

    Really enjoy your blog. Please keep it up.

    c h e e r s

    • Marek
      Posted at 16:01h, 02 March Reply

      Fred, your iStock numbers look interesting. You added just a few new files last month, but doubled your earnings.

      • L. F. File
        Posted at 03:09h, 03 March Reply

        Yes iStock is quite good to me. I have a rather poor acceptance rate – hope to fix that with a new Nikon D300 – but a few I have there sell pretty regularly.

        I really enjoy Pixels Away also. I see you are moving pretty quickly everywhere and submitting pretty aggresively – compared to me at least.

        Best of luck and

        c h e e r s

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 11:52h, 03 March Reply

      Hey Fred,

      Fotolia and Dreamstime earnings are low at the start, but if you can make it ‘over the hump’ the earnings really start increasing rapidly. Or so I’m told. 😉

      Many people underestimate Bryan and the LuckyOliver team. They would certainly have allowed for commenting/rating campaigns when they set their algorithm.

      No, I don’t do anything to ensure site operators don’t download my images. I don’t think they’d bother. It’s much more difficult to attract buyers than contributors. But good question!


  • John
    Posted at 12:54h, 02 March Reply

    How are you calculating the average now?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 11:54h, 03 March Reply

      Hi John,

      It’s simply an average of all the RPI figures above, rounded to the nearest integer.


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