$47,107. This is the exact amount these two photographers have earned from stock footage since signing up to the Stocksy platform. While it’s true that this amount doesn’t exactly hit the big time (especially when broken down and broken down into yearly numbers), it’s a respectable number and would be a nice supplement as part of multiple streams of income. .
In this video, Daniel from mango street breaks down how he and his wife, Rachel did it and what kind of pictures sold best, to give you some ideas in case you want to up your game in today’s “stock market”.
The site used by Mango Street is stocky, and from a quick glance at the site, it looks like royalty-free image uses range from $15 for the smallest size to $125 for the largest. Commercial licenses are obviously more. In terms of stock and microstock, these aren’t bad amounts, although as we’ll see, it’s definitely a numbers game.
Daniel starts by showing us a 30 minute photoshoot he did with a model and shows the variety of images he got from it. The images have been up for 2 years and out of those approximately 100 images, 9 of them have earned a total of $332.50. Not exactly megabucks yet.
But he points out that it was only a 30-minute shoot. If he was doing an organized half-day or full-day photo shoot with multiple models, he could easily add a few hundred quality images to his stock portfolio. I guess the models get paid for their time. The second point he makes is that these images have no expiry date (apart from changing trends and fashions) and will potentially earn money as long as he is a photographer.
Between Daniel and Rachel (they are a married couple) they have 1045 images uploaded to the site, and in 2020 when many event photographers had a less than great year, Mango Street did well and that made the difference for them to be able to stay afloat during what was frankly a bit of a tough year. For all of 2020, they made around $5,000 from stock photography, which Daniel says is a pretty average annual amount for them.
So what kind of photos sell best? The couple’s best-selling image is an environmental portrait of a couple of laughing baristas in a cafe. They did the filming for free, but gave the commercial license to use the photos for their own promotional purposes in exchange for selling them as stock images with model and ownership releases. This image alone has sold 37 times and has earned them a total of $1,353.13 so far. That’s probably more than a local independent cafe could have paid for a promotional shoot.
The second most popular topic is their dog, a cute, wrinkled bulldog named Carlton who, in just 2 pictures, earned around $1700. He ticks all the boxes for millennial dog owners and is obviously an easily accessible thing to photograph. If you have pets, this would be an ideal and popular topic with a little creativity. And unlike regular models, they accept payment in cookies. In total, all of the many dog images earned around $5,000. That’s a lot of dog biscuits.
Another interesting point that Daniel makes is that one of these images of Carlton was never intended to be a stock image, and he’s surprised at how popular it is. You may have images on your hard drive that would actually be pretty decent sellers, it’s definitely worth a look.
Letter balloons spelling out different words have also been a huge hit. With a minimum of accessories, you can create many different images based on the same theme. A $40 investment for the balloons earned them around $4,000.
And then the lighting? Daniel says the majority of images are taken using available light, maybe just with a reflector. very occasionally they will use a strobe or off-camera flash. Keeping it simple has been good for them and works with their aesthetic.
And what kind of images do buyers want? Whether it’s portraits, business, coffee, technology… Daniel says these are all good subjects to pursue. The important (and probably the hardest) part is being able to capture it in a creative way that hasn’t been done thousands of times before. Another way to see what’s popular is to look at what images are already trending on stock sites. Think about holidays and seasons and try to plan ahead.
Now, of course, there’s a caveat: Stocksy is very selective about the number of photographers it takes and the images it chooses to upload. But there are other sites to check out, such as Adobe Stock, and twenty20 which is a subsidiary of Envato. Ultimately, multiple income streams and passive income are never a bad idea. These days, I wouldn’t advise anyone to try and earn from stock images alone, and even those numbers show that it’s more of an added bonus than a big chunk of income. But if you have good photography skills and you go out and take these kind of pictures anyway, why not give it a try?