Stock Photography Income

Stock Photography Income Report 2020

It’s been quite a long time since my last stock photography earnings report or any kind of post in that matter. I know the earnings reports are what you, my readers are most interested in. So finally here it is. My stock photography earnings in 2020.

Related readings:

  • My Earnings Archive: Here you’ll find the newest and all of the old earnings reports I’ve done so far.

Foreword and Shutterstock’s Betrayal

It’s been a crazy year and the world has turned upside down because of all the covid-19 pandemic madness and weird world leaders doing this and that.

I’ve had some personal health problems too and that’s the main reason why I haven’t been very active with posting new articles.

Fortunately, all of this craziness hasn’t hit too hard on my photography sales. In fact, my 2020 stock photo earnings have increased 48% from 2019. So can’t be too disappointed on that.

Some big changes were introduced in 2020. Most notably the new earnings structure by Shutterstock.

In short, SS decreased the minimum royalty per sale to $0.10 – introduced the new royalty levels based on the total downloads in a year – and on top of that your level always reset to level 1 in January. There are now 6 levels starting from 15% royalty ending up to 40%. You can find more on that in Shutterstock’s Earnings Schedule Page.

The system favors heavily those with a lot of images and downloads. For beginners, it makes things harder and less motivating.

As a result, Adobe Stock is now the king of the block. At least that’s how it is for me personally. I get more money from AS sales with fewer downloads than from SS.

In the past, I’ve always recommended Shutterstock as the number one choice for beginners. I can’t do that from now on because that simply isn’t true anymore.

But don’t get me wrong. You still can make money via Shutterstock, but for beginners, it may be too demotivating to receive those $0.10 sales and for only a few downloads. Shutterstock’s strength is those occasional big sales, but to get those you need a big portfolio with high-quality content.

Anyway, let’s now dive into the earnings.

Stock Photography Earnings

From here on I’ll only represent my total earnings by the month. This is because there have been some rumors that some accounts in a certain agency have been closed because of publicly representing their earnings which is against the agency terms.

The terms of service do actually have such a point. I have read it myself. So I guess it must be honored even though I don’t really understand why representing one’s personal earnings should be forbidden.

So… in 2020 my Stock Photography earnings were $5325 which was around 48% percent higher than in 2019 when I earned around $3590.

My goal was the earn over $4000 so in that respect, the year has been a success!

In the below graph, you’ll find the 2020 earnings distribution by each month (Red) and comparison to 2019 (Grey)

Stock Photography Earnings in 2020

December was huge. Best month ever (BME) and most likely will be for a loooong time. Thanks to excellent performance in Shutterstock and Adobe Stock which both reached BME.

As a reminder, I contribute to all of these Stock Agencies:

The link takes you to my portfolio in each agency.

Stock Footage Earnings in 2020

Also, Stock Footage gained sales. My total stock footage sales for 2020 was $895.

2020 was the first full year for me selling stock footage. In the graph Below, you’ll find the distribution between my Stock footage sales and Stock photo sales.

Stock photography and stock footage earnings in 2020

I have about 190-320 videos at the moment depending on the agency. That’s not a lot and I seriously need to increase my portfolio sizes. I should have at least 1000 videos.

I only contribute to Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Pond5 which all are selling every now and then. Those three are the best sites for selling stock footage in my opinion. I wouldn’t bother with others. Shutterstock is the weakest of these three.

What next?

The stock photography field is rapidly changing. Things I’ve written a couple of years ago are now utterly old information.

Royalty rates are being cut, Agencies that used to be good are now bad or weakening. Others fall while new ones arise.

Difficult to see the future is… That’s what Yoda would say. =D

However, I know which direction I personally will be moving. Is it the right direction…? Who knows.

The direction is to move towards more illustrative content and continue to create stock videos and animations.

I’ve seen in my own image portfolios that digital arts and 3D illustrations sell the most.

Also, making book covers seems to be an interesting new area to expand. Creating book cover imagery gives me more freedom to be artistic.

I was accepted as a contributor to Arcangel in February. Thanks to Alexandre Rotenberg’s inspirational posts on the subject.

Is the direction that I’ve chosen the right direction? That will be seen.

Thanks for reading!