Saturday, November 1, 2008

Microstock: October Summary

I really like the fact that Lee Torrens at Microstock Diaries shares all his earnings information with the general public. It really puts a lot of things in perspective to see real numbers and real performance comparisons.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are my results for the first two months. I've essentially earned a meal at In 'n Out for maybe 30-40 hours of work (yes, folks, that's a big 10c an hour). Blogger doesn't do tables very well so it takes a little creativity to read it. The first column is the number of images in my gallery at the end of the given month and the earnings are specified per month (not cumulative).

September 15 $0.00 11 $0.00 - -
October 20 $2.70 15 $2.31 12 $0.00

Total Earned to Date: $5.01

I sold two images at Dreamstime and three at Fotolia.

I won't lie; I'm realizing Microstock isn't really a huge moneymaker and it takes a LOT of time and work to achieve anything. Like many things, it is a hard way to make an easy living, and I don't foresee anyone but the top 1% of microstock contributors making enough to make a real living.

I'm not abandoning it yet, but I am going to focus on shooting specifically for microstock to see if I can get more sales for less images. The main complication for that is I can't use my kids for models and I don't want to pay pro models, so that doesn't leave me with much.

As long as it stays a fun hobby, I'll keep going, at least until I can get my first payout.

For November, my goal is to finish getting my archives online (which I think will result in 10-20 more images at each site) along with maybe one or two microstock specific non-model shoots. My income will be tiny and inconsistent and I would be unsurprised if I earned absolutely nothing.


Lee Torrens said...

Hey Stanford, thanks for the link. You've got the core fundamental spot on: continue with microstock while you're enjoying it and/or learning.

The truth is that doing what you're doing provided quick and easy results about four years ago. Today, you need to do a LOT more to get the instantly pleasing results that people were getting back then. So you're also spot on about the fact that microstock takes a LOT of effort to get meaningful results these days.

If you want to see some results, you need to explode your quantity of images. Get 200 or so up each month, and keep the quality as high as possible. Contribute to the top eight agencies and listen hard for the feedback that is consistent across all agencies.

In regards to models, there are plenty of websites with aspiring models where you can do a deal to exchange their modeling time (and signing a model release) for prints or a CD of images which they can use for their portfolio. You don't need to pay cash, as long as their is something of value (called 'consideration' on the model release) which forms the legal contract.

Finally, if you think you might earn "absolutely nothing" then that's what you'll earn. It's not a business for dipping your toe in the water. Jump right in with a serious commitment. This way you'll have a real experience upon which you can base your decision about whether microstock is for you or not. Unfortunately, the days of toe-dipping are long gone.

Good luck, and keep up the good work with this blog!


Sean said...

The sad part is I just don't have the time to "jump right in". I wouldn't mind, but I have a PhD to finish, 10-20 hours a week of tutoring, and we still don't have enough money. In purely economical terms, my hourly rate at anything photographic is so low I can't justify spending more than 5-10 hours a week on it. And I probably should be spending that time on my dissertation, anyway :(

So, for now, microstock (and photography in general) is just a hobby. I suspect it will stay that way at least until I graduate.