07 Nov 2009 Microstock Earnings Report October 2009

Not a great deal of excitement in October’s earnings report. My earnings were slightly down on the previous month, but still surprisingly high given my upload drought continues. Jack’s results reflect his uploading performance quite closely with a noticeable increase in earnings.

Jack’s Results

The earnings boost from uploading is clear in Jack’s results this month, primarily due to an increase in downloads at Shutterstock. Most agencies approved around 100 of Jack’s photos in October.

Agency Earnings US$ Sales Portfolio Size Return per Image
iStockphoto 31.48 34 107 0.29 44
Shutterstock 106.99 273 955 0.11 63
Dreamstime 53.19 51 1001 0.05 19
Fotolia 18.35 22 1032 0.02 10
StockXpert 18.20 48 1066 0.02 18
BigStockPhoto 15.50 15 1059 0.01 6
123rf 9.34 9 1274 0.01 2
Totals: 253.05 452
Avg: 23

Jack's Microstock Earnings Chart - October 2009

My Results

Earnings we slightly down, though total earnings are back above where they were a year ago (the black line is back up above the red line in the second chart). I expected a bigger drop this month, so I’m happy with how my results are holding up.

Agency Earnings US$ Sales Portfolio Size Return per Image
iStockphoto 289.51 231 770 0.38 77
Shutterstock 167.59 259 874 0.19 95
Dreamstime 97.11 59 762 0.13 72
Fotolia 125.92 149 650 0.19 56
StockXpert 30.30 51 345 0.09 61
CanStockPhoto 61.40 8 482 0.13 28
BigStockPhoto 10.87 15 465 0.02 37
123rf 20.76 23 374 0.06 23
Crestock 3.00 7 372 0.01
Totals: 806.46 802
Avg: 54

Microstock Earnings Chart - October 2009

Total Microstock Earnings Chart - October 2009

  • Marek
    Posted at 20:48h, 09 November Reply

    Well, October was great. November is less promising so far.

    I am trying to include expenses and labor into my happy earnings reports to make these numbers more realistic.

    First part of my post is online: Am I Really Making Money from Microstock Photography ?
    2nd part with some answers is coming.

  • Holger Mette
    Posted at 00:45h, 10 November Reply

    Nice to see your earnings report again Lee! November is off to a good start also – much stronger than expected.

    Was just crunching my RPI figures on my portfolio – curious thing is that my numbers are remarkably close to yours on most sites – a little higher in IS and SS, the exception however is Fotolia, where yours are about 2.5 times higher.

    I wonder if FT’s high rejection rate for travel related images also results in losing buyers who are looking for travel images?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 02:16h, 10 November Reply

      Hey Holgs,

      I’ve heard a few people say that Fotolia is a stand-out when they compare their earnings with other contributors. As they do relatively well for me, I haven’t looked into what is the secret to success for Fotolia. I presume you’re doing the obvious things and setting the top 7 keywords to the top of the list. Your theory about travel images in particular might apply to a few other niches too.


  • Ed
    Posted at 18:36h, 12 November Reply


    How about CutCaster ? is it doing well for you ?

    sorry for asking, i’m just curious how they perform given their pricing algorithm


    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 20:34h, 12 November Reply

      Ed, Cutcaster are doing ok for a relatively new agency. I get 1 – 3 sales each month, earning an average $8.35 over the past seven months.

  • kolik
    Posted at 21:37h, 15 November Reply

    Nice results!

  • elias
    Posted at 02:00h, 16 November Reply

    Many thanks for continuing to post these.
    I have a slightly less related question – Do you actually make money via your referrals? I figure since you have a website about microstock you drive some traffic to the sites and get referrals now and then…


    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:56h, 17 November Reply

      Hi elias, yes, I make money via referral programs though it’s less than why I earn with my photos. Only a few of the agency referral programs are worthwhile for me.


  • Stock photo blog
    Posted at 07:55h, 17 November Reply

    Lee, I think you should be very pleased with how your earnings are holding up to date despite your fairly lengthy pause in uploading. This shows it is possible to achieve a passive residual income from a solid microstock portfolio which is very encouraging for the many contributors who don’t want to be constantly upoading to maintain returns.


  • Microstock Graphics
    Posted at 15:46h, 17 November Reply

    Very intersting figures. My portfolio is a mix of 3D graphics and some photographs, so it’s not really comparable. But Fotolia has always been my best source of income, most of it due to a few well selling travel pictures. Istock with its very picky reviewers was underperforming for a long time, but it has just started to gain momentum with 3D pictures. At Shutterstock I had a strong start but don’t earn too much currently.

  • Anton Prado
    Posted at 08:40h, 18 November Reply

    Hi Lee, haw are you?
    Are you including your referral earnings in these charts?
    Which part of your total earnings do they represent?
    Thank you!

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 14:26h, 18 November Reply

      Hey Nacho, no, those charts are only my photo earnings. My referral earnings are in addition to this income.

      (about time we caught up again!)


  • Luis Alvarez
    Posted at 04:05h, 02 December Reply

    Never Posted on your blog but have been reading it for a while. I believe we met in the Che’lypse Buenos Aires. Great job with the blog!
    I especially look forward to your monthly reports. I see that for since July things have been going up too. Interestingly not has strong as the previous years. Its been the case for me too but I have yet to check with previous years, to see if it should have grown more

    take care!

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 01:02h, 05 December Reply

      Hey Luis, yes, we did meet at the Che’lypse. I’ve been keeping an eye on your portfolio and you’re often mentioned by other iStockers here in BS AS (you know who they are) 😉

      Indeed things have been going surprisingly well for me in spite of my having not uploaded anything new all year. I don’t expect that will continue much longer, so I plan to get back into shooting seriously. I find it useful to compare year on year results to see growth. I expect most microstockers would find the charts interesting at least, and maybe inspirational or motivating, depending on what they see.

      I’ll respond to you by email too.


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