This story was written for the people like me. For those who tried to create a portfolio on photobanks, which would bring passive income in 2019-2020. The path was hard.
With a great desire to finally break out of my routine office work, change something and start living the way I want, I started looking for alternative earnings, and it was at the end of 2019.
One day I mat my friend, her name is Nastya. She tells me how she makes money on her photos. She sells her photos on the photo stock platforms, where each photo is not sold expensive, but selling many times. So, she managed to earn money for her apartment and a car, she travels regularly and have forgotten about the hated office work. Nastya has been engaged in stock business since 2010, she already has an impressive portfolio that brings her nice income.
Well, I also caught the fire! Firstly, because I really liked the idea of photography, because I love taking pictures. Secondly, because you work for yourself, no one presses you, and there are no bosses - only your favorite work - a camera, a computer and…. Life on the sea, not tied to one place… - If you wish you can make photos of the sea, or mountains or other people, whatever. All this staff is selling on photo banks, and you can afford everything that you wish to. The bright flash of such a thought shoot through my head and the decision was made!
Before that, I had already taken courses in photography and took some pictures for myself, I even participating in various photo exhibitions in our city. I thought - well, I have a knowledge base, there are not many things left: to buy the photo equipment and several lenses, to register on the photobanks, pass exams (for some reason, I was afraid of exams lots) and hello my new dream job. Uploading photos - getting profit, and the more photos I take, the more money I get.
Well, it started: for the new year I made myself such a gift - I bought the new Sony camera, which shoots without mirrors, 3 lenses, a tripod (all together it cost me about $ 6,000. A lot? But this is the money invested in my own business, was my thoughts). Looking forward to a new life, I began to shoot everything. Of course, I looked a little at what exactly is in demand in the photo stocks, well, and began to act in each direction. I must admit that I passed the exams immediately and without problems (and what I was so afraid of - it was quite formal). I was registered on the 3 stock platforms: Shutterstock, Adobe stock, Getty Images.
I remember my first sale on Shutterstock, how incredibly happy I was, although my sale was only 25 cents per photo, and at that time my portfolio was already somewhere out of 100 of my works. But as time went on week after week, I spent an incredible amount of time for processing my photos and assigning keywords to them on 3 sites and uploading them to stocks. Many of my photos were rejected altogether at first, it was insanely insulting, because I spent my free time on each photo, I remember, then I was furious and tried to upload the same photos repeatedly (sometimes, by the way, they accepted what was not accepted the first time). But the most offensive thing was that there were practically no sales.
Then I started looking for information, what is my problem. I found courses in stock business and stock photography, paid for them (about $ 200, well, it must be so!). Passed. Yes, of course, on the courses, there was a lot of useful information and in the end, I understood how to take actual photos, how to quickly process photos, quickly assign keywords to them, plan my work and optimize it. As a result, I worked on the photo stock for days and nights as a routine mechanism, because I needed to make volumes of useful content.
By March my portfolio reached 600 photos and 10 $ sales, from all 3 stocks in 3 months!!! "How could be so?" - I thought. But I simply physically could not do more, I had my main job, I spent a lot of time on additional information search, on my own training, on long hours of processing, uploading, and sometimes if I still did not accept photos for their repeated uploads. In my opinion, I no longer enjoyed photographing, I just constantly sat near the computer doing my photo routine (well, what is the difference between my office routine? It just sounded rosy!).
Then I again meet my friend Nastya, I begin to question her about her success. Nastya looked at me in surprise and said: “So you also wanted to become a photo stocker? My girl, the train has already left now. Only those who started a long time ago and have a huge portfolio still earn normally. And only studios have a chance to get involved in this process, since they make a large amount of content and get to the top, well, where do you go. In 2010, there were not many stockers, and they made very good money, but now it is almost impossible to join this success train. Even I have to move a lot to stay at the same level, and you have to run 2-3 times faster just to achieve something. And, your photos are not sold right away, it is normal that most of the photos are bought after 2-3 months (although, of course, there are those that they buy right away, but there are those that were first bought after a few years). A portfolio of 600 photos is insanely small, you have to work so hard to upload a month, so think for yourself. "
Of course, I was very upset by her words, but I did not give up! I am not that person; you need to go towards your dream although. I continued to photograph, to accelerate my pace of work. At my main job, we were transferred to a remote mode and it began to turn out to steal some time from work for processing and uploading photos. It turned out a little more work, but it was still far from the minimum - the result I needed of 500 photos a month, but another 3 months of my life passed in this way.
At the end of spring 2020, Shatterstock (which in the end brought the largest number of sales, and I already focused only on it) announces new conditions - now we get for the photo depending on our level, oh my god ... THE LEVEL! And the level depends on SALES (What? How? Yes, how is this even possible?) Well, my hands just give up, because the level of my sales is clearly not perfect. Of course, I read the reviews of disgruntled stockers that all sales have dropped dramatically. But it does not make it easier for me.
I spent an insane amount of time (it would be better if I spend it to search for a boyfriend), money and what I got in the end? ... and in the end, by that time, I had already accumulated on my account - $ 25 ... Yes, I cannot even withdraw this amount (minimum 35 $). There could not be the chance to leave the office work, and of course no sea or mountains ...
In the summer I just went on vacation to relieve my head. Already the downloads that took place on the stocks did not please, but simply caused laughter - 10 cents per photo, and the purchase, well, maybe once or twice a week.
I remember how then I decided not to do this anymore, well, it is not worth it, and upon my return I put up my adorable photo equipment for sale, everything was on sale for a long time, but in the end, by September-October, I received about $ 2,500 back for a camera and other accessories ... At that time, I even experienced some relief that now I have free time, and no longer need to spend so much time on this.
When I had already come to terms with the fact that I would not be a photo stoker, my friend Nastya again met me. And over a cup of a coffee, she said that she had found not so long ago a new story, which is only now starting to promote itself. She only trying to use it, but the results are already promising.
It turns out that with my Nastya, everything also became bad with sales on photo stocks, and she hired several people who would help her with processing and uploading photos, and she was only engaged in shooting, but even in this case, the volumes did not save. We had to work more and more. “But it is 2020 year – so hard"- then she swore.
“Do you remember I told you that only studios can now earn decent money? So, I found such a studio that any photographer can join, upload their material there and earn much higher than on any stock. Right now, I have a portfolio of only 300 photos, and you can imagine, it brings $ 300 a month. I am delighted! the studio itself works on the principle of a cooperative with a division of labor, it belongs to the authors themselves. At the same time, the authors pay $ 1 for processing the photo (but, if you count, you and I spend much more doing this on our own, and I personally have been paying other people for this work for a long time). But my portfolio has already paid off and brings me a net profit. "
She then gave me a link to the studio's website - the community of free authors is called StockNub. But I have already sold my camera ... again, is it all over again? I thought that I could delete my portfolio from other sites and upload everything to StockNub, but it turns out that the studio accepts photos taken even on a mobile phone, miracles! The studio sees the prospect in this very direction - mobile photography. The decision was made instantly, I bought the google pixel phone on the money from my last Sony camera.
I make the photos with my mobile phone. I upload photos, and incredibly happy that I no longer need to spend a long time on processing, I just pay for it to professionals and that is it. The principle of work of the studio is slightly different from that of other stocks - they maximize the profits of the authors, and the authors receive not a commission on the sale, but a share of the profits of the entire studio. At the same time, 90% of all proceeds from the sale of photographs go to the distribution by author. Now I can say that for EVERY photo I get 5 cents, and this is daily (not once a month 10 cents). By the end of the year, I had already managed to finish my portfolio to 2,000 images and this month I received $ 2,000, which is incredible.
I took a vacation. Writing all this while sitting on a plane to Zanzibar, for taking new pictures and inspirations! While there is a chance, I think we need to catch it. No one can guarantee that over time this studio will not turn into Shutterstock, where you plow for almost free, but now I think that is the moment when it is time for photographers to pay attention to alternative sources of income. Cooperation is always stronger than competition!
Many of the authors may say - of course because you must pay there, and we are used to uploading photos for free. It is unfair that now you must pay for posting a photo. But people, do not forget you are already paying so! You pay with your equipment, time (which is priceless), you do this routine like office clerks. Is this real freedom? I can say - NO, real freedom - when you can afford to do only what you really love and live the way you really want!