01 Jun 2008 Microstock Earnings Report May 2008

Last month I said that I expected to break my total earnings record in May. That didn’t happen. Earnings were just a few dollars lower than April. The month started slowly with holidays occurring in different parts of the world. Towards the end of the month sales grew and so did earnings thanks to the Shutterstock raise. I only uploaded in the last few days of the month. Perhaps doing so earlier would have seen me break my record given this month was only $19 under.

Agency Earnings US$ Portfolio Size Return per Image
Sell-through Rate %
iStockphoto 252.91 734 0.34 73
Shutterstock 170.74 799 0.21 91
Dreamstime 129.60 693 0.19 63
Fotolia 39.70 579 0.07 50
StockXpert 46.00 251 0.18 28
BigStockPhoto 23.00 370 0.06 28
123rf 9.48 269 0.04 15
Crestock 3.00 288 0.01 17
Total: 674.43 Avg: 0.14 Avg: 46

Microstock Earnings Chart - May 2008


  • I had Extended License sales at iStockphoto (1) Dreamstime (1) this month
  • It’s only been a few days, but I haven’t had any subscription sales at iStockphoto yet
  • Total earnings for the past three months have been extremely stable with only $4 difference
  • The Shutterstock raise offset a slight decrease in download quantity which could have been totally or partially due to a lack of new uploads
  • Despite the dips at Fotolia and StockXpert, I’m still happy with the performance of these two agencies
  • Historically, June has been lower than May, but I’ve learned not to use history as a guide in this metric – I have no expectation for June earnings
  • MikLav
    Posted at 11:04h, 01 June Reply

    For me May was notably better than April, but I kept uploading during all month (although not as many pictures as I wanted to).

  • Han Cheng
    Posted at 12:17h, 01 June Reply

    For me, my earnings this month are not that great. Surprisingly, my istock photo generates the highest earnings as compared to dreamstime and fotolia.

  • Marek
    Posted at 15:51h, 01 June Reply

    May was my 6th month in microstock photography and the second month with dropping down earnings despite of the growing porftolio. Only IS showed some growth.

    My monthly earning report:

  • Matt Antonino
    Posted at 17:29h, 01 June Reply

    Yeah, May wasn’t AS strong as I wanted, but I blame that on me. I didn’t upload much until the last week of the month so it took me a minute to get some sales. I think June will be a great month but what do I know? From what I’ve seen in the past, earnings seem to be tailing off for a lot of people on a lot of sites – you’d think the people had to still be getting images somewhere? I dunno.


  • rod
    Posted at 06:26h, 02 June Reply

    For me,May was better than April. Same as Lee said, earning thanks to the ‘shutterstock raise’, shutterstock grew more than before,and the sales in the most of other agencies grew except istockphoto. In the Istcokphoto,My sales and acception ratio all down in May, 🙁 🙁

  • James
    Posted at 11:30h, 02 June Reply

    More or less the same for me 🙁 Second straight month of lower earnings, particularly at IS and SS. Results here: http://jrtb.com/blog/?p=298

  • Photonomikon
    Posted at 13:27h, 02 June Reply

    Mine are going down as well but that was expected since I didn’t upload anything for a few months.

  • Alex
    Posted at 03:36h, 03 June Reply

    123RF says: Send us more of your images Lee, images if not continually upload will lose its timeliness and well, earnings would attrition through time. So send us more, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! It’s disheartening to see that you’re sending us so little and yet, compare us with sites where you uploaded 3x more 🙂

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:21h, 04 June Reply

      I’m trying Alex! 🙂 I send you everything that I send to the others, but less photos pass your reviewers than at other sites.


  • Photonomikon
    Posted at 11:35h, 03 June Reply

    Wait so what you’re saying is that if you stop submitting, your images will sift to the bottom in searches?
    I’ve stopped submitting to 123 for a year. And in that time I made about $2.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:31h, 04 June Reply

      Yeah, that’s what he’s saying. This is common – most agencies use contributor activity as one of the metrics to determine the search result order. It obviously has some benefit for contributor or agency or both, as many are doing it.

      For us, it means that microstock is not as passive as we might prefer, but that’s how the market is working at the moment, so we deal with it, or not. Our choice. 🙂


  • Lucid Exposure
    Posted at 11:48h, 03 June Reply

    Lee, it seems that Dreamstime, SS, and IS are the only real moneymakers for you. Is it worth the time to submit to the other sites on your chart?

    I just can’t be bothered to submit to sites which ask me to provide 2-3 categories unless they start bringing in the cash right away.
    SS is good about bringing in the cash. I wouldn’t mind sites switching over to something like what Crestock or Albumo has. Fotolia’s site, which
    has no mass delete options, is just downright user-unfriendly.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 17:51h, 04 June Reply

      Yes, with a refined workflow it’s not too much extra work to upload to additional agencies, particularly if they make it as easy as Crestock and 123rf do.

      I agree, those agencies that require categories are more work, but as the IPTC data is already there and they are just another tickbox in my upload process, the categories are the only extra work I do. Some of them make it worthwhile by providing a little extra income and some show promise for the future.

      And I also agree that some agencies could make their websites easier from a contributor perspective. But if they’re the ones producing the sales, they don’t need to compete for competitors so they can improve profits by spending the time and money elsewhere. It’s their business, so they succeed or fail by their own decisions.


  • Laurent
    Posted at 15:33h, 04 June Reply


    I posted my results for this month : http://microstockexperiment.blogspot.com/2008/05/may-earnings.html
    A nice growth compared to last month partly due to 123RF (got two EL there last month)
    I agree with Alex you should send them more pics


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