Income from Selling Stock Photos – How Much Money I Earn

Here I would like to share my experience with earning money from stock photography sites and agencies like iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, etc. I am an amateur photographer and I do not upload photos regularly to a stock photography sites. By writing this article, I hope to answer the questions like “How much can I earn?”, “Which photos sell most?”, “Which site is best?” which most people ask before they start uploading photos.
In a 4 ½ years period, from February 2008 (when I first entered stock photography) until October 2012, I earned approximately 1515 USD by selling photos online at numerous agencies and web sites. The table below is a summary by agencies and web sites.

Summary of my earnings by selling photos online.
Agency or web site USD Member Since Member Until
iStockphoto 673.08 February 2008 now
Getty 290.84 May 2011 now
Flickr 470 July 2007 now
Shutterstock 96.35 October 2010 June 2012
Fotolia 30 October 2010 June 2012
Total 1560.27

At the moment I upload photos only to iStockphoto and Getty Images only. I am a member at iStockphoto since February 2008 and an exclusive contributor since June 2012. The table below is a summary of my profile at iStockphoto since my membership (until October 28, 2012).

iStockphoto statistics since membrship (from February 2008 to October 2012).
Uploaded Active Rejected Deactivated Acceptance rate Downloads Earnings
616 343 203 15 63.18% 329 $673.08

Does being exclusive pay more? – In my case, yes

Before continuing with the numbers I will first explain what exclusivity is to those who are not familiar with it. Almost all stock photography agencies have exclusivity program. Exclusivity may apply for a specific photo or the photographer. If you select a specific photograph to be exclusive then you must sell this photograph only at that agency and you are not allowed to sell it in other agencies. In return the agency may provide you some more benefit for the exclusive photographs such as higher commission or let you sell the photo for higher price, etc. If you opt to be an exclusive photograph at one agency then you must sell your photos only at that agency and you are not allowed to sell you photos in other agencies. In return the agency gives you more preferences such as higher commission or sells your photos for higher price or shows your photos within the first search results.

Now let’s compare my earnings before and after becoming exclusive contributor at iStockphoto. This might be helpful for those who do not know what the world look like being an exclusive.

Total earnings from iStockphoto before and after becoming exclusive.
All earnings Royalties from iStockphoto Royalties from partner program Downloads from iStockohoto Downloads from partner program
Before exclusive (June 2011-May 2012) $184.38 $117.07
(64% of earnings)
$67.31
(36% of earnings)
117
($1 per download)
212
($0.32 per download)
After exclusive (June 2012 – October 2012) $232.41 $223.29
(96% of earnings)
$9.12
(4% of earnings)
49
($4.56 per download)
24
($0.38 per download)

I will also put average per month statistics as well because I do not have statistics for 1 year after I became exclusive contributor.

Per month earnings from iStockphoto before and after becoming exclusive.
All earnings Royalties from iStockphoto Royalties from partner program Downloads from iStockohoto Downloads from partner program
Before exclusive (June 2011-May 2012) $15.36 $9.76 $5.61 9.75 17.7
After exclusive (June 2012 – October 2012) $46.48 $44.66 $1.82 9.8 4.8

From these numbers you can clearly see that my income at iStockphoto only has increased 3 times, from $15.36 to $46.48. But, to be fair I should account for the fact that my income from the other agencies has become zero after becoming an exclusive. Nevertheless, in my case I would clearly conclude that becoming an exclusive at iStockphoto is a win-win situation because two reasons:

  1. it is much easier for me as an amateur to organize and upload photos to one web site only –simply my life became easier;
  2. being exclusive at iStockphoto only still pays me more than what I earned altogether when I was uploading to multiple web sites.

Which photos sell most?

The approach of taking photos is fundamental for how they sell. As I said, I am an amateur and I do not take photos with the sole purpose to sell. Instead, I first take photos as a pleasure and hobby and then I try to sell those which look beautiful. Because I do not take photos with the purpose to sell they do not sell much :). Typically the photos which sell more are simple, with one (or few objects which constitute a big object), and convey a certain message or describe a certain concept such as happiness, success, frustration, etc. You should always keep in mind that, stock photos are used mostly for advertisement. Therefore, if you want your photos to sell then try to answer the following questions: “What can I advertise with this photo?”, “What advertising message can I use together with my photo?”. Below is my most downloaded photo of a flower shop. It can be used to advertise fertilizers, flower shop, flower market, companies for flower decorations, etc.

Review: Which stock photography agency is best?

There are quite many stock photography agencies where you can sell your photos. I tried few of them. Below they are ordered based on my personal preference:

  1. iStockphoto
  2. Shutterstock
  3. Fotolia
  4. BigStockPhoto

iStockphoto

Stockphotography agencies differ by commissions which they pay and their customer model (the people whom they sell photos). I started with iStockphoto and I continue with iStockphoto only. Somehow, iStockphoto matches better my approach of selling photos – I do not take photos with the sole purpose to sell. Compared to the other 3 agencies which I used, iStockphoto generated most money so far. Also, iStockphoto has many professional contributors which I guess are happy with their income. Moreover, iStockphoto has pay model which favors skilled and loyal professional photographers – the more photos you sell the more royalties you get. On the other side, which is also very important, iStockphoto has a lot of clients who have different needs for photos. This, unlike some smaller and less popular agencies, opens an opportunity for beginners to explore and find their niche in this big and also very competitive business.

Shutterstock

The second agency which I found as most profit generating is Shutterstock. Compared to iStockphoto, Shutterstock has different model with respect to how its clients buy or pay for photos and consequently the money which the photographers are given. Unlike the pay-as-you-go model Shutterstock encourages subscription based payment. In this model, photographers are paid tiny commissions of $0.25 but they have many downloads which at the end of the month may sum to a nice wage. In my case, I did not earn good money from Shutterstock – only $96 for almost 2 years. One reason and probably the most significant reason for this low income was the style of my photos – they were not taken with the sole purpose to sell, or said in other words, my photos did not have stock value. Because of this reason many of my photos which were accepted at iStockphoto were rejected at Shutterstock. Like iStockphoto, Shutterstock is a very popular stock photography agency and it has many clients. Because of the subscription program, they have loyal clients which download many photos trying to fill their download quota. Certainly there are many professional stock photographers which make good money from Shutterstock. Just I think it did not work for me as an amateur.

Fotolia

The third agency which I tried is Fotolia. Although the high number of photos which I have online at Fotolia I made very small profit. Most of the downloads were from subscription users for which I was being paid the nothing $0.25. I guess it is less popular than iStockphoto and Shutterstock but I might be wrong. Still you can go and try it.

BigStockPhoto

The fourth agency which I tried BigStockPhoto was a waste of time for me. I think it is really unpopular and has few customers. I did not have any download from this web site. My wife, who is trying to start selling photos as stock also has disappointing results with this agency. But if you are a professional photographer who can clearly see the stock value in the photos and takes photos with the sole purpose to sell; this agency can be an opportunity to grow. Why? Because it is easy to become authority in small community with inexperienced and non-established stock contributors. However, I repeat again, you need to have the eye to find and see the stock value in the photos. I think inexperienced, beginners or even amateurs like me are not going to get much of the byte in this web site.

Other stock photography agencies

Certainly there are other smaller stock photography web sites which I will mention for your record:

In summary, if you are a beginner I would suggest you to go for a large popular stock photography agency such as iStockphoto, Shutterstock and Fotolia. These websites have many clients with different needs and the probability somebody to download your photo is higher than other web sites. After gaining some experience you will adapt yourself and take on your own direction.

I and the readers of this blog post would appreciate if you share your insights and experience by writing comments under this blog post.

Related

There is a related blog posts which I wrote before that you might be interested to throw a look at:

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{ 46 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. That's a thorough report on your experiences with stock photography. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes! Actually not many concrete numbers are available out there, particularly related to amateurs and beginners. BTW, you are very fast with the comment :) I have just posted the article

  3. Hi 
    Thanks for sharing your information! Very useful. I just wondered, when it comes to taking photos of people to be used as stock photos. Do you pay the model? Do they get a cut of the download fee? 
    Are you aware of people who only sell their own image to stock websites?

  4. Hi Nick, so far I did not take photos of models except the people who are around me such as friends and family. However, I know that there are two popular approaches. The first approach is to find a free model(s), ask him/her/them to sign the model release and in return to the free signature you can give the model free retouched photos. Second option is to pay the model per hour. As far as I know the first option is more popular. There are many models who want to have some nice photos – so it is fair to make each other favor. Certainly the model does not get a cut from the download fee. Theoretically this approach exists but I never heard of somebody to follow it.

  5. Hi

    I’m thinking of going into stock photography after some encouragement from
    a couple of friends who’s seen the photos i took. Like how you started, I’m an amateur as well and this is just a hobby for me. How long does it take till your photos get noticed and start earning income from there? I just like to get an idea of what are the chances of people buying your photos when you first started.

  6. Hi lyn, the short answer is: It depends. Depends on the type of photos you upload, how frequently you upload. If you have a professional approach you probably the best you might be able to make after 12 months could be $1000 per month. Or if you have mine approach then after 1 year you would be making $10 per month.

    If it helps you can throw a look on the type of the photos which I have on iStock and Getty as well as my flickr.

  7. Hi feradz, 

     

    Thanks for the fast reply. can i clarify by your approach? (compare to professional approach)

  8. A professional is supposed to dedicate full-time and purposely create photos that have $$ value whereas I snap some photos (mostly when I travel) and then when I have really free time I check if there are any that I can upload for selling.

    Let me put that with a concrete example and numbers. Acording my stats above for 57 months (since February 2008 till October 2012) I had uploaded 616 photos to iStock. This on average makes 10.8 photos per month or 2.49 photos per week. Instead, a real professional is supposed to upload 18 photos per week while not exclusive and 60 photos per week while exclusive at iStock photo. According to this, if my approach was professional I should have to upload until now about 60000 photos, and I uploaded 97.5 times less than that.

    I hope this helps you form a picture. And just to remind, this example is only one aspect – the aspect of uploading photos. There are other aspects and the most important is to take photos which has $$ value. Yet, I don't have formula for that – I guess one can learn it with experience.

  9. feradz,

    i have some older photos from my digital camera which some i think can be use as stock photos. is there such requirement to upload pics from a dlsr camera only?

  10. lyn, 

    Based on my experience, non-DSLR photos would be certainly rejected. Typically non-DSLR cameras have JPEG artifacts which cannot be removed after noise reducation and are the reason to fail the inspection of the reviewrs. These artifacts are mostly due to the sensor of the non-DSLR cameras (which are small) and their processors which process/compress the captured RAW image in JPEG. But you can always try.

    If you want you can send me an sample image and can tell you more concretely if it will be accepted or not.

    BTW, the inspectors have quite high quailty criterias which might be much higher than your friends have. For example, my wife was at one moment very enthusiasted about stock photography but still she is not approved as a contributer to iStock (and she is trying to get on board). Best advice is try to upload at one of these websites and see what happens. Who knows, probably you have the photos that everybody wants and you can get rich in one night.

    Ferad

  11. Perfect article. However istockphoto is loosing their members. I read an article on some photo magazines, istockphoto admin, inspectors and managers are very rude for members. Their crew is very amateur. They can earn money and salary because of us, so how can be rudefor us?  In my opinion still shutterstock is best.

  12. I am an amateur I cannot say much. For me istockphoto has generated me most income. Can you put links to the sources which state istockphoto staff is rude and treats customers bad – or what you claim is just an attempt of defamation and advertisement to shutterstock?

  13. Really helpful blog. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your expereince.

  14. Stock photography has become a difficult business. $1500 in 4 and half years is almost nothing. The costs of time and money are far greater. i have written an article about this. Please check it out. http://photoaffiliates.com/the-cost-of-making-money-in-stock-photography/

  15. Hi Usama, one thing which I have repeatedly emphasized is that I do not do stock photography as a professional but as an amateur in my really free time. Assuming this I invest really very little in that. However, I believe if I take a professional approach with dedicated 8 hours per day (40 hours a week) would most likely make more than $1500 a month (1 year after the start).

    I have read your blog post. It is interesting and looks at stock photography from different angle – the angle of making $80 000 a month. Come on, be realistic. I guess the people/agencies making this money are not more than 10 in the world. You give example the top person/agency in this area. Certainly, one who starts stock photography will not need to have $10 000+ to buy equipment neither to setup a studio nor pay gold to top models. But after a time when he/she settles the direction can think of renting a studio, working with models etc. Shortly I think the point you make is a bit exaggerated. Stock photography is not expensive.

  16. Thanks for the figures. I noticed not only did you arc up on everyone who left a comment on your page; you even went to the page of someone else and got argumentitive on theirs. Honestly what I got from both of your pages is that it doesnt pay well. Which I what I got from most other pages on the topic. Do you want links and facts and figures? (Sarcasm)

  17. Hi Dani. I would refrain making statements like “does not pay well” or “pays very well”! Instead I would encourage all who talk about this topic to write their concrete numbers so that those interested in can make their own conclusion whether the income from stock photography is satisfactory. In this blog post I have tried to be as objective as possible. BTW, if you have concrete numbers to put as an example income from stock photography, please be welcome to post them here. Thanks for coming to this blog post and leaving your feedback.

  18. Hello Feradz – Very informative and interesting analysis of the facts and figures regarding stock photography. Since nearly everyone has a camera in their phone now, they assume that makes them a good photographer. I expect we both know that isn’t true. Most pictures I see from people, including my own family, are poor, technically botched (turning on the auto-format can’t be that difficult) or boring at best. As many pictures as I take, I am grateful when I get one real good one in 50.

    So I have a couple questions for you. Since you know how the system works, and what pictures are more likely to sell, and a potential calculated rate of return, then why haven’t you focused (no pun intended…) on taking pictures that may sell while on your vacations or photo expeditions? Also, what kind of camera do you use? What size of picture does iStock like to receive? (I suppose I could check their site for that). Did you ever submit any video? Do you have a particular genre of picture you take? What kind of picture did you sell the most? Did you see a pattern in the rejected photos? In your opinion, what pictures do you think sell the best?

    I was surprised at what they charge for some of the pictures (some regular pictures were $50-100 and exclusive rights were $200+!). And what do they do? Store the photo in different sizes and allow a menu of downloading options? Why wouldn’t a company offer the same service with a much better compensation plan for the photographers? Or another idea would be a website that showcases photographers with their own page or pages within the website that only offers exclusive photos? Just my thoughts. Anyway, your article clicked with me. (Yes – that was intentional). Well done.     

  19. Hi John,

    I will try to answer your questions in a turn.

    However, before starting to do that, first, I would like to say that I cannot describe myself as one who knows how the system works but rather as one who is knowledgeable (has some knowledge) about how the system works. Those who know how the system works are probably the stock photographers who make living from this work, or to put it in more concrete way the top 10% of photographers who sell most. Also, the people who know how the system works are the people who run this business, the people inside the stock photography agencies.

    Why haven’t you focused (no pun intended…) on taking pictures that may sell while on your vacations or photo expeditions?

    Making a decent income requires full time dedication. In other words, stock photography demands a lot of time. Time for identifying creative ideas, setting the studio before the photo session, taking photos during the photo session, selecting the good photos, editing, tagging and uploading the photos. I will not go in details and skip giving examples what each of these mean. However, if necessary I can dedicate an additional comment or a blog post for it. Also, it requires an investment – money for studio, equipment and models. I do not want to dedicate more time for stock photography than I do now time because I do not want to. I have other job, a research scientist at Intel Labs, which I like more than stock photography.

    Also, what kind of camera do you use?

    At the moment I have Canon EOS 50D which I think is sufficient for stock photography. Newer models like Canon 7D, Canon 6D and Canon 5D Mark 3 would provide an advantage in more difficult conditions where light is low but anyway stock photography is not a photo journalism and I would say the advantage might not be huge. I have a low-end Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom lens which is good for personal photography but I think not sufficient for serious stock photography. Definitely, one should buy several pro-range lenses which cost good money. Based on my experience, in stock photography, the problem is not the equipment but the skill of taking photos which would have stock value.

    What size of picture does iStock like to receive?

    I do not know their preference. The minimum as far as I know is not smaller than 2MP. What I would say, upload the largest size possible.

    Did you ever submit any video?

    No.

    Do you have a particular genre of picture you take?

    No.

    What kind of picture did you sell the most?

    The photo which sold most is the flower shop which I have in the main body of the blog post. So far it has been downloaded 125 times and generated $244.75 royalties (most downloads and most money). The second most downloaded photo is the domes of the St. Alexander Nevski Church in Sofia – 10 downloads and $3.91 royalties.

     The second photo which generated most income is Barcelona skyline with 5 downloads and $23.83.  As you see there is a big gap between the first and the rest.

    Did you see a pattern in the rejected photos?

    At the beginning I had to tune my criteria for a good quality photo with the inspectors. So I would say I at the beginning I had nay rejected photos because of focus, noise and artifacts and flat dull colors. Now I have less rejection, probably 1-2 photos out of 10 photos. The decrease in the rejection is due to my decision to not send photos which are most likely to be rejected.

    In your opinion, what pictures do you think sell the best?

    This is a difficult question that I think does not have one answer. In my opinion, photos which sell most are simple photos with one subject and/or photos which convey some concept. An example of a simple photo that could sell is some object (let’s say an orange, apple) on a white background. Again a simple photo can be a portrait of a beautiful woman with a nice background bokeh. Simple photos in general are good sell because they can be used in very generic way such as combining the object with the white background in a presentation or with other objects and writing some advertisement text next to the beautiful woman.

    An example of a concept photo can be interlocked hands in a grip which would convey the concept of togetherness or support. People dressed in a business suite and sitting in a table may convey the concept of some business partnership. Which concepts are hot, I think all of them. Somehow, I also think that photos with models tend to sell more. Probably, describing a concept with a person is easier than with an object.

    And what do they do? Store the photo in different sizes and allow a menu of downloading options?

    Yes!

    Why wouldn’t a company offer the same service with a much better compensation plan for the photographers?

    The Pareto principle – 90% of the income make 10% of the population J. Why somebody would pay you more if they can pay you less and have the same job done? Probably they think they will not increase their profits by increasing the compensation rate for the photographers. As far as I know the agency which has the highest compensation rate 50% is Alamy.

    Or another idea would be a website that showcases photographers with their own page or pages within the website that only offers exclusive photos?

    Already, there are such kind of websites, for example, SumgMug. But I think they are not popular among stock photography clients (buyers) because of three main reasons. Exclusiveness is not important for the stock photography clients (buyers) they would not pay extra for that. Second, such websites do not have uniform price scheme – every photographer has his own price. Third, the photos may not have the required level of quality and the required model releases. 

  20. Great article.  Just trying to find new ways of suplimenting my income abroad.

    Kind Regards,

  21. Hi Ferad,

    Thank you for putting this information & experience out there. My question is, with the ubiquity of smartphones & high quality consumer cameras, do you see a downward trend in the percentage of photos sold per photo uploaded?

  22. Hi Phil, unfortunately I don’t have so much information to answer this question. Probably, somebody who works at such agency might be able to give some more details.

  23. Hi Feradz, I want to use my Nikon 5100 to take stock photos, is this OK..

    for "Shutterstock"

    thanks

  24. This camera should be fine.

  25. Agree, this is a great article for a sneak look at the stock photo industry.

    Just want to share with all another good, short article where a photographer shows us what, of his photos, sell the best. It’s an eye opener but makes sense to me…

    http://www.dreamingtrack.com/tales-from-the-track/96-stock-photos-that-sell

    I too am looking to generate income while living in Bali, Stock photography might be fun.

    David

  26. Oh, forgot my question…

    I see on these sites that the photos sell for 100's of dollars, why do you only get $3 or $4 dollars for your work? Do they really keep 98% of the profit???

  27. Great article. This is a perfect case where sharing private details benefits everyone, I really appreciated being able to read this and look through the numbers.

    I'm an iStockPhoto contributer since Dec 2012 and also only upload infrequently when I think I've got a good enough photo. I've only got 22 photos on there so far with a few dozen sales on the partner program for $0.28 each, but when I have more accepted and more consistent sales numbers I'll hopefully find somewhere to share my data as well.

    Thanks again

    Dave

  28. Hi Feradz,

    I am not accepted at this time, I mean at this first time at Shutterstock. So can you please advice me what kind of photos do I need to prepare for my second time…

     

  29. Hi Edi, because this is a generic question I will answer with a generic answer – try to look at existing photos in shutterstock and upload something similar. If you would like me or others reading this blog to help you I would suggest that you put your photos here and alltogether discuss what is wrong with them.

    Ferad

  30. I'm figuring out how to get into this business, and I am very positive with this business, because I think all the businesses in the world have the pessimistic side for some people who could not optimistic, thanks for sharing .. and i love your other job, as a research scientist at Intel Labs. I think it's a good thing to make intel processor faster than any processor :).

    I have a question for you,
    I have a Nikon D3000 DSLR, and I want to start directing my photography hobby to earn good income, is nikon D3000 sufficient for this business? thx before

  31. I'm figuring out how to get into this business, and I am very positive with this business, because I think all the businesses in the world have the pessimistic side for some people who could not optimistic, thanks for sharing .. and i love your other job, as a research scientist at Intel Labs. I think it's a good thing to make intel processor faster than any processor :).

    I have a question for you,
    I have a Nikon D3000 DSLR, and I want to start directing my photography hobby to earn good income, is nikon D3000 sufficient for this business? thx before

  32. Hi Yudi, Dikon D3000 is a low end DSLR but should be good to start. There is only one way you can know — just upload photos :) Good luck.

  33. thanks for advice, can't wait for another tips :)

  34. Hi

    I found your article I inspiring and informative, I photograph as a hobby but would like to try stock photography… This will be along side my full time employed job, will I need to declare any income from stock photography to the tax office as an additional self employed income? .. That's assuming I make any that is?

  35. Thanks for this article – it's really useful. I do have one question though – if you sell through stock libraries, exclusive or not, can you still use the image on your personal website or blog? Thanks!

  36. Hi Ferdaz, thanks for sharing… Maybe I missed this: Can you upload/sell the same image on different stock sites? I'm not sure if there are any regulations…

  37. Hi Liz, you can upload the same photo to multiple agencies unless you have chosen to upload the photo to one agency as an exclusive photo. Also, if you work as an exclusive photographer with only one agency (i.e. istockphoto) you cannot upload any photo to other agencies.

  38. My opinion based on the interpretion of multiple agreements which I read so far is yes you can use a photo which is on sale on an agency’s website in your web own website or blog.

  39. In most countries this money generated from stockphotography is considered as income and it is taxed. I would suggest to check with somebody more competent about it (contact the agency’s support service) to get better information how to declare this income.

  40. Feradz i think i stock pay very less comition only 15 to 20 % for non exclusive thats so bad it must be atleast 30%

    youtube is best option for camara lovers than stock 

     

  41. Nice Article. I Love This Article.

  42. Havnt read everything here yet but its *exactly* the kind of info I was looking for.  Thanks to all commenters and blogger Feradz especially. I dont hope to be in the 80,000 per month set, and have organized my life so as to keep all costs at absolutely rock bottom level, in order to be able to do interesting things and investigate possibilities.

    100$ per month would be truly magnificent, as that would buy all my dog food and pay usual vets bills. I live in one small room in my own house – the house needs repairs I cant afford at present – but I feel sure that it is not necessary to devote a lifetime to house repairs, and that doing stuff you love and enjoy enough to become competent, is by far a better way to go…to reach an *adequate* income..

    "Dreamstime" says it really likes 'illustration' images and as Im an artist and have sold quite a lot of work for print publication – Im focussing on that to begin with…waiting now to know if my work will be approved..I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on that topic.

    I can easily understand how simple images might be the most popular and most saleable. This has been the same in the arts 'prints' business likewise – and I remember a  very basic 'ring of flowers' design that knocked all my tones and brushwork into a cocked hat – in terms of sales – which were multi million!  

    When someone is looking for a useful image for a website or an ad – I think they need it to be as impersonal (or maybe multi-personal – ie – for 'everyman'), as possible….

    Hope you all do very well or maybe become zillionaires, I dont mind … as long as me and the dawg eat well enough…    :o)

  43. Good Article – Thanks.

    I joined Shutterstock in June 2013, and though slow I have earned $180.00 – which isn't a huge amount – but in my opinion, better than sitting on my hard drive earning 0! 

    My monthly downloads are increasing slowly, but surely.  Good luck everyone

  44. Paula, thanks for sharing your experience!

  45. Thanks for sharing this. I've got a question. Maybe the answer is "you should decide for yourself" but I'd like to hear you opinion.

    I'm not a profesional photographer, although I sell some of my photos through Getty Images and ImageBrief, and for that I earn some $5k a year. As you may know, working with those two agencies is not easy: you submit 100 photos, 5 are shortlisted, and maybe 1 is sold once in a while. So that's not so encouraging, although royalties are not that bad. I will keep on working with them.

    I've now joined iStock, and after reading a number of forums, I can see royalties are extremely low. But I can also see that a big and spot-on collection can reward you with nice extra money.

    My question is: if I decide to give iStock a try, how do I decide which photos to upload there vs which photos to keep for Getty Images and ImageBrief? I can feel a little nervous thinking, this photo could make $0.71 in iStock but maybe $300 in ImageBrief. Sorry if it's a silly question. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

  46. Hi Marco, based on your yearly income I would say that you are more professional than me. I can suggest you to try and see whether you sell something on iStock and how much money you make. I am sure after 6 months or 12 months you will have an answer whether it is worth or not. Or most likely you can identify a area to improve. Filtering of the images that exists in Getty also exists in iStock.

    My guess for you would be that you will be making far less money than what you make in Getty + ImageBrief. I personaly think that iStock is biased to certain contributors and that iSotck shows the images of these contributors in first pages. Having your image shown in the first page matters a lot. I would say that the client profile for iStock (and microstock in general) are people/agencies who want something to match their idea but without being very specific about the contents of the image. Therefore, I guess the iStock clients spend much less time search in other pages and that they simply choose an image from the first page(s). I see it difficult for you to become one of these preveliged contributors for iStock. I am not one of them.

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