It's realize that trying to make money selling images through microstock agencies isn't easy these days. It's even harder for me because I have so few images of people. Many of the best selling photographs employ models performing activities that might be in demand for business customers. In contrast, I never go out shooting with microstock in mind. I simply submit photographs that I take for my own enjoyment.
A few years ago, I decided to submit a few photographs to some stock agencies just for fun. The process has been a valuable learning experience for me.
The first step was submitting some images as part of the approval process by an agency. I submitted three sample images--which I thought were my very best--and was shocked to learn that all three were rejected! But, the good news is that iStock told me exactly why these photos were rejected. The rejections were related to my post processing treatments. So, I went back and reprocessed the raw files and those same three pictures were then accepted.
The stock agencies review each photo that is submitted before accepting the image into its portfolio. This ongoing feedback and the learning process surrounding my post processing techniques has made my time invested in working with the agencies worthwhile--even if I never sold a single image.
When I started this process, I was hoping to generate $50 or $60 a month in revenues. I was pleasantly surprised that my earnings averaged $235 in 2010 (my first year). The next year (2011) my earnings grew to $320. And, last year (2012), I experienced a large boost in revenues to an average of $587 per month!
I submit images to four agencies: Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime and Big Stock. Since I have not committed to an exclusive arrangement with any agency, I am able to submit the same pictures to multiple agencies. Shutterstock consistently provides the largest payouts. iStock's submission process is by far the most cumbersome. Dreamstime has a payout structure that bases the payment of a sale on the number of times that the image has sold. So, the Dreamstime payouts tend to rise over time. Big Stock hardly sells any images at all, so I stopped submitting photographs to that agency a long time ago.
For me, microstock is simply a convenient way for me to offset some of the costs related to this expensive hobby. I submit images that I take for my own enjoyment. If they sell--great. If not, I've expended very little additional effort as I already have the pictures.
Many people seem to be interested in making money through photography. And, many are curious as to how much revenue might be generated through microstock sales. Each month, I update my earnings. I plan to share this information monthly through this blog.
Please CLICK HERE to view links to my portfolios by agency.