01 Aug 2009 Microstock Earnings Report July 2009

This month’s earning report demonstrates the need to feed the microstock beast in both Jack’s results and my own. That, or it demonstrates the ‘summer slowdown’, thought by many to be the second most pronounced seasonal trend (after end of year) but thought by others to be a self-fulfilling prophecy or simply false. In my opinion it’s a combination, though I see how different portfolios have different susceptibilities to seasonal trends.

Jack’s Results

Jack‘s supply of images only resumed in the last week of the month, too late to see any positive effect on his earnings. So his portfolio growth and RPI are misleading but the effect will be offset with the results of next month. That is, assuming supply of new images continues.

Agency Earnings US$ Sales Portfolio Size Return per Image
iStockphoto 19.17 15 80 0.24 36
Shutterstock 68.43 256 731 0.09 57
Dreamstime 39.61 55 756 0.05 13
Fotolia 11.08 19 751 0.01 8
StockXpert 14.12 44 773 0.02 10
BigStockPhoto 14.03 17 780 0.02 4
123rf 8.92 13 989 0.01 2
Totals: 175.36 419

Jack's Microstock Earnings Chart - July 2009


  • The only things going up in Jack’s portfolio this month were portfolio size and sell-through rate
  • Total RPI calculated on 809 photos uploaded (123rf has extra 200) and total earnings of $175.36 is $0.22 per photo per month
  • Jack is still contributing the simple studio shots from a week-long studio session last year

My Results

The axe dropped. In this my seventh month without any real addition to my portfolios, all top agencies were down on last month. Many by considerable margins.

Agency Earnings US$ Sales Portfolio Size Return per Image
iStockphoto 256.67 212 780 0.33 76
Shutterstock 120.96 272 875 0.14 94
Dreamstime 80.75 54 762 0.11 71
Fotolia 103.69 136 650 0.16 54
StockXpert 33.60 58 345 0.10 55
CanStockPhoto 68.10 20 466 0.15 29
BigStockPhoto 17.00 20 465 0.04 36
123rf 9.10 15 367 0.02 21
Crestock 11.00 18 370 0.03
Totals: 700.87 886

Microstock Earnings Chart - July 2009

Total Microstock Earnings Chart - July 2009


  • Total earnings are only slightly higher than the same month last year and breaking the trend by falling rather than rising which I attribute to the lack of new additions
  • CanStockPhoto produced an unusually high number of sales that weren’t from FotoSearch, showing that the agency itself has been rejuvenated by the deal
  • Cutcaster earned $16.47, more than two other agencies for the second consecutive month
  • No Extended License sales at all this month
    Posted at 12:43h, 01 August Reply

    This was my best month, even though it’s only my third month in microstock. I’ve grown 65% from last month and had 1 EL.

    I think it’s really amazing that you keep making good money even with no new uploads. By me downloads I see that if I stop uploading I’ll soon drop to zero earnings.

    I’ll post my earnings on my blog later today.

  • Marek
    Posted at 13:17h, 01 August Reply

    It feels like summertime! My total earnings went down about 9%, but IS and DT was up, and all others down with a leading looser – SS. My portfolio is still growing , so I cannot really compare my results with earnings a year ago (well, it was 5 times less).

  • Orson
    Posted at 17:42h, 01 August Reply

    Well for me the July was same as June. Only on iStock i have BME (and I didnt put there new images since May!). You can check detailed report on my site.

  • steve weinik
    Posted at 23:48h, 01 August Reply

    Although I’ve been at it less than a year, this was my best month ever in terms of sales and royalties. Total downloads beat my previous “bme” by about 85%.

  • Laurent
    Posted at 19:13h, 02 August Reply

    Still not bad considering that you did not upload for so long, you must have some strong best seller images. I am still far away working on my $ 500 target 🙂

  • mystockphoto
    Posted at 04:33h, 03 August Reply

    Feed the beast and summer slowdown… Feeding the animal with some snaps and a very good Fotolia end of the month, let me stay in my average earning level.
    Just a few photos sold at Canstockphoto but I’m seeing that it’s rising up (look at alexa rank
    7 day avg 25,764 – 1 month avg 38,170 – 3 month avg 45,567)


  • Richard Cote
    Posted at 13:41h, 04 August Reply

    I have my doubts about the lack of uploads fading. My sales were down rather sharply for July, but it fits with the time of year. I sense that Shutterstock’s subscription model has the strongest business type of customer (PowerPoint presentations, etc.), and the instant July comes around, vacations are in full swing, and Shutterstock was hit hardest.

    iStockPhoto sales do seem to be picking up where StockXpert dropped off, so the Photos.com and Jupiterimages Unlimited switchover seems to be complete. It’s not just sales at iStockPhoto that tell me this; there has been an increase in small size sales — whereas iStockPhoto’s “direct” sales tend to be larger for print and/or graphic designer reworking. Sales at StockXpert are barely a fraction of what they were a month and a half ago.

    The upload issue I don’t see being too large a concern; a good image is still a good image, even years later (provided the image is not fashion- or artistic style-dependent).

    I’m sure the agencies have an algorithm for revolving search results, but it’s in everybody’s interest that the stuff that sells get fronted, whether it’s new or not. That said, I’ve noticed that ANYTHING fresh & decent on Shutterstock gets a flurry of downloads; there is a small contingent of people “hoarding”, apparently filling out their download quotas — and let’s thank them for it 😉

    A customer rarely needs to look for the same type of image over and over (e.g. “two young adults hosting a beer while wearing Tyrolian suspenders”), so what’s tired to a contributor is not so to a customer:

    “There’s no such thing as an old joke. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s new.” — Ted Healy, as told to Milton Bearle, who went on to catalog one of the largest joke collections in the world…

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