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Real Talk. How much per hour do you make doing stock video/photo/graphic/etc. after all hours working, traveling and cost of production are put into calculation?


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Not only from Shutterstock, but total from all stock sites.  When I do a stock shoot, my goal is to make as much money as if I worked as a freelance videographer.  Typically, I make like $50/hr doing freelance gigs.  So, that's my goal after putting all hours of shooting, editing, uploading, tagging, cost of traveling and fees for models.  Some shoots end up making me more than that goal and others end up almost not making any money at all.  I don't recommend my friends in the industry to do stock video/photos because there's a possibility that they may end up making less than minimum wage and will hate me for telling them that this is easy money.  So far for me it's sustainable as a business making probably nearly the same money per hour as my freelance gigs.

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Ok, the quickest way for me to work mine out is:

Dec is the 8th anniversary of my first upload and sale on SS. Total income from stock from an average of 8 agencies over 8 years = approx $250,000 AUD. I have treated it as a full time job, so that roughly works out $16 per hour. (250,000/8/52/37.5)

If we are comparing it to our (other) day jobs, then I am an accountant by profession and can earn significantly higher than that, but its not anywhere near as fun and enjoyable. I am constantly learning in stock, keep stretching myself (like learning stop motions, etc), using a full range of business skills because I still treat it as a business, but applying it to a creative pursuit, which is much more rewarding.

 

ETA> I just realised that I dont actually work 52 weeks in a year on stock, so its closer to $20/hour. (Exchange rates have fluctuated a lot over the years as well.)

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The question is not easy to answer.

For me it is like this. I have the computer anyway - because of my job. The software, too, including the backup I don't have to calculate any costs for all that. I don't drive anywhere to take pictures. I am out with my family on a trip and then take pictures. So I have no travel costs, no hotel costs, no expenses.

I bought the camera for $250 including SD cards - of course I have to amortise those.

I think it took me about 3 hours on average to take each picture. There are images that took me less than an hour to shoot, edit, keyword and upload to 7 agencies, and those that took me 7 hours (or even more - some 3D renderings, CGI etc.).

On average, each of my images brought in about + $100. I think I should be around $33 per hour. But I can't say for sure. In my job I capture every minute. I'm not quite as accurate with microstock. Nevertheless, that should come out reasonably well.

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Milleflore Images said:

Ok, the quickest way for me to work mine out is:

Dec is the 8th anniversary of my first upload and sale on SS. Total income from stock from an average of 8 agencies over 8 years = approx $250,000 AUD. I have treated it as a full time job, so that roughly works out $16 per hour. (250,000/8/52/37.5)

If we are comparing it to our (other) day jobs, then I am an accountant by profession and can earn significantly higher than that, but its not anywhere near as fun and enjoyable. I am constantly learning in stock, keep stretching myself (like learning stop motions, etc), using a full range of business skills because I still treat it as a business, but applying it to a creative pursuit, which is much more rewarding.

I hear you.  I started stock video with ZERO expectation.  I just thought it was better than doing nothing and probably I may make some change to pay my bill.

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1 minute ago, blvdone said:

I hear you.  I started stock video with ZERO expectation.  I just thought it was better than doing nothing and probably I may make some change to pay my bill.

Yes, that was exactly how I started to. I had left a stressful job in business, was doing graphic design for a few years but the clients were driving me crazy, so I started stock with zero expectation as well. 🙂

 

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7 minutes ago, Wilm Ihlenfeld said:

The question is not easy to answer.

For me it is like this. I have the computer anyway - because of my job. The software, too, including the backup I don't have to calculate any costs for all that. I don't drive anywhere to take pictures. I am out with my family on a trip and then take pictures. So I have no travel costs, no hotel costs, no expenses.

I bought the camera for $250 including SD cards - of course I have to amortise those.

I think it took me about 3 hours on average to take each picture. There are images that took me less than an hour to shoot, edit, keyword and upload to 7 agencies, and those that took me 7 hours (or even more - some 3D renderings, CGI etc.).

On average, each of my images brought in about + $100. I think I should be around $33 per hour. But I can't say for sure. In my job I capture every minute. I'm not quite as accurate with microstock. Nevertheless, that should come out reasonably well.

 

 

 

I agree with your method of calculation.  If you are on a vacation and shoot something on the side while on vacation, you shouldn't add that cost into calculation.  Also, the equipment you already have for your other work shouldn't be fully counted.  I think $33/hr is very reasonable for stock video/photos.

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1 minute ago, Milleflore Images said:

Yes, that was exactly how I started to. I had left a stressful job in business, was doing graphic design for a few years but the clients were driving me crazy, so I started stock with zero expectation as well. 🙂

 

If i had a big expectation, I would've probably quit within a year.  Because of zero expectation, I just kept shooting when I had no freelance gigs.

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4 hours ago, blvdone said:

I agree with your method of calculation.  If you are on a vacation and shoot something on the side while on vacation, you shouldn't add that cost into calculation.  Also, the equipment you already have for your other work shouldn't be fully counted. 

You're so full of crap.  Make up your mind, you hypocrite.  This is essentially exactly the opposite of what you told me on another thread when I told you that I didn't count the time I spend shooting or the cost of my gear when figuring my hourly rate.  You also said I didn't know how to run a business, yet my hourly rate is $230/ hour.  Go back and read it for yourself. It's all there.

 

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11 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

Ok, the quickest way for me to work mine out is:

Dec is the 8th anniversary of my first upload and sale on SS. Total income from stock from an average of 8 agencies over 8 years = approx $250,000 AUD. I have treated it as a full time job, so that roughly works out $16 per hour. (250,000/8/52/37.5)

If we are comparing it to our (other) day jobs, then I am an accountant by profession and can earn significantly higher than that, but its not anywhere near as fun and enjoyable. I am constantly learning in stock, keep stretching myself (like learning stop motions, etc), using a full range of business skills because I still treat it as a business, but applying it to a creative pursuit, which is much more rewarding.

 

ETA> I just realised that I dont actually work 52 weeks in a year on stock, so its closer to $20/hour. (Exchange rates have fluctuated a lot over the years as well.)

Just want to say Annie that this is the first honest and realistic answer to this question I have ever seen anywhere.

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11 hours ago, Milleflore Images said:

Ok, the quickest way for me to work mine out is:

Dec is the 8th anniversary of my first upload and sale on SS. Total income from stock from an average of 8 agencies over 8 years = approx $250,000 AUD. I have treated it as a full time job, so that roughly works out $16 per hour. (250,000/8/52/37.5)

If we are comparing it to our (other) day jobs, then I am an accountant by profession and can earn significantly higher than that, but its not anywhere near as fun and enjoyable. I am constantly learning in stock, keep stretching myself (like learning stop motions, etc), using a full range of business skills because I still treat it as a business, but applying it to a creative pursuit, which is much more rewarding.

 

ETA> I just realised that I dont actually work 52 weeks in a year on stock, so its closer to $20/hour. (Exchange rates have fluctuated a lot over the years as well.)

$20/hr is not bad for side job that's fun!!

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24 minutes ago, Foodio said:

Just want to say Annie that this is the first honest and realistic answer to this question I have ever seen anywhere.

You know, Foodio,

this is really very difficult to assess, but I tried to be very honest as well. When I upload to certain agencies, it's incredibly fast. The IPTC data is transferred without any complications. With other agencies, it's more complicated. With AS, I have to pay attention to the order of the keywords. With istock, every second keyword is questioned and has to be checked individually. With some agencies you have to assign different categories, with others not. It usually takes me between 15 and 20 minutes to keywrite an image. For uploading and the various steps, at least 20 minutes as well. This is also due to the fact that English is not my mother tongue and I therefore have to research some keywords. On the other hand, sometimes you have small series of pictures with very similar content. So you can simply take 45 of the 50 keywords and only have to change 5 keywords. When uploading, you can then set 5 images at the same time and thus save time. I think it works out if I calculate about half an hour per image for keywording and uploading.

I have pictures that were taken in a few hours, and I haven't done any touching up. But these are only a few. Many of the photos I have, however, have taken very little time because the post-processing only consists of a few common routine hand movements.

But I also have pictures that took a lot of time. Since I design the architecture for my renderings myself, including some of the furniture, and don't buy it from evermotion or wherever, a lot of time goes into this. I have a few images that I'm sure took me 14 hours or more to create. On the other hand, I have made variations of these images, derivatives, which then take maybe only two hours. It's the same with vector graphics. In addition, I use many of the individual elements of the pictures again and again for new pictures. I've also created some very elaborate photo montages that have taken 5 or more hours because cropping takes time.

All in all, I think that an average of 3 hours per image is about right.

Otherwise, I feel the same as Annie. Basically, I also have a lot of fun creating images. Unfortunately, however, my motivation has dropped a little because the RPD has declined more and more over the years.

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I am missing something in the calculations. Namely that some photos make money every year. So you cannot calculate how much you will ultimately earn from a photo.
Only when Stocksites no longer exist or when you remove the photos / videos from the site, you can calculate how much you have earned.
The people who have been stock photography for a long time have an advantage, because the photos of us newbies will probably not last as long.

For example, if I don't upload anything for three years and then calculate my hourly wage, it will of course be higher. And after hundred years............. 🤣

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Hard for me to work out.

My day job involves getting photo and video so the only extra time is keywording (which is fast if its existing topics, copy/paste) and uploading so the "stock only" effort is minimal.

Outside day job topics i enjoy getting out and about and taking photos so its something im doing for fun so again no real extra investment on a trip that would happen anyway.

Its very rare i make a journey or a trip *specifically* for stock.

Having said that, ive had quite a lot of "for fun trips" and holidays which have been more than paid for entirely by stock earnings from those trips.

1 video clip is paid 4x over for my entire 3 week trip to a tropical rainforest for example but thats an exception.

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Honest answer from someone who has only been doing it as a "hobby/side income" for just over a year. I'm negative £££ after cost of camera/travel cost/time is taken into consideration. I was going to buy the camera anyway, so in theory I could take that off but will leave it in. 

The rate of pay per hour will obviously be better for those who have been doing it for years, as the work has already been done for a majority of the portfolio. I think most newcomers like me will be negative income for the first couple of years until it starts to become profitable.   

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2 hours ago, Thijs de Graaf said:

I am missing something in the calculations. Namely that some photos make money every year. So you cannot calculate how much you will ultimately earn from a photo.
Only when Stocksites no longer exist or when you remove the photos / videos from the site, you can calculate how much you have earned.
The people who have been stock photography for a long time have an advantage, because the photos of us newbies will probably not last as long.

For example, if I don't upload anything for three years and then calculate my hourly wage, it will of course be higher. And after hundred years............. 🤣

I give 3 years for my videos/photos to capitalize.  Of course they'll sell for many years, but I think the first 3 years are the most of sales come from.

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2 hours ago, Former_Poster said:

Hard for me to work out.

My day job involves getting photo and video so the only extra time is keywording (which is fast if its existing topics, copy/paste) and uploading so the "stock only" effort is minimal.

Outside day job topics i enjoy getting out and about and taking photos so its something im doing for fun so again no real extra investment on a trip that would happen anyway.

Its very rare i make a journey or a trip *specifically* for stock.

Having said that, ive had quite a lot of "for fun trips" and holidays which have been more than paid for entirely by stock earnings from those trips.

1 video clip is paid 4x over for my entire 3 week trip to a tropical rainforest for example but thats an exception.

I think many contributors are like that too.  I'm all in this stock video/photo.  So, I plan and do stock shoot only trips.  But I shoot some video/photos on half vacation/half work trip too just hoping to recover the cost of the half vacation/half work.

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1 hour ago, Travers Lewis said:

Honest answer from someone who has only been doing it as a "hobby/side income" for just over a year. I'm negative £££ after cost of camera/travel cost/time is taken into consideration. I was going to buy the camera anyway, so in theory I could take that off but will leave it in. 

The rate of pay per hour will obviously be better for those who have been doing it for years, as the work has already been done for a majority of the portfolio. I think most newcomers like me will be negative income for the first couple of years until it starts to become profitable.   

I think you have to give it 3 years to see how it works out, but I know it's not easy.  Hardly easy money.  That's why I don't recommend doing this to everybody because many would be very disappointed and feel deceived by me.  

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1 hour ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

This guy published a blog post about a two-week road-trip he did capturing stock content across Iberia and onto France and analyzed the earnings a year later.

Quite interesting and conclusion is that it wasn't worth it from a business point of view but he had a great time nevertheless. 

 

I'm glad you added that, because my stock photography is not about profit, income or living. We've had enough threads for "if you could tell someone new, what would you say."

My answer is, anyone who thinks they can do this for a living or for profit is fooling themselves. Don't do it! Anyone who does stock, because they love what they do, will find happiness and many returns. Enjoy the adventure and the journey.

I don't know how much I make an hour. I have some clue what my expenses are, per year, and also my income, as I fill out a schedule C for every tax return. I don't care what I make an hour or an image!

I have a great time, making photos, the travel, capturing where I go and what I see, the experiences and the pleasure I get from the results of going from idea to a finished product.

 

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3 hours ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

This guy published a blog post about a two-week road-trip he did capturing stock content across Iberia and onto France and analyzed the earnings a year later.

Quite interesting and conclusion is that it wasn't worth it from a business point of view but he had a great time nevertheless. 

 

Yes, you got to make sure you'll enjoy the trip in case you don't make any money from stock photos/videos you shoot along the way. 

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18 minutes ago, blvdone said:

Anybody making $240/hr?

$230 right now.  Is that close enough for you?  It was over $240 at one time but then I watered it down by submitting a bunch of new clips which have not had enough time to generate a good return.  All I have to do is let the clips in my existing portfolio continue to sell over and over again and it will absolutely exceed $240/hour.

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1 hour ago, Doug Jensen said:

$230 right now.  Is that close enough for you?  It was over $240 at one time but then I watered it down by submitting a bunch of new clips which have not had enough time to generate a good return.  All I have to do is let the clips in my existing portfolio continue to sell over and over again and it will absolutely exceed $240/hour.

You're amazing. 

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