How Much Money I Made Selling Stock Photos and Videos this Year

January 2, 2020

How Much Money I Made Selling Stock Photography and Stock Footage in 2019.

As we quickly move into the year 2020, I wanted to bring you all a detailed recap of exactly how much money I made selling stock photography and stock footage in 2019.

First, for those of you who don’t know me yet, my name’s Beth and I’ve been a stock contributor consistently for a little over a year now. I have stock photos and videos that I sell each month on Shutterstock, Pond5 (just video clips), and Adobe Stock. By the way, if you’re interested in my opinion on which stock site is the best, you can read all about that here.

I’ve been sharing my monthly income from stock photography and videos here on the blog since June of 2019.

Why do I share my stock income each month?

When I first started thinking about uploading my own stock photos and videos, I wondered if it would be worth all the effort involved. From what I read, it seemed like a ton of work to only be paid a few cents per sale for each photo. But at the same time, I was intrigued by the idea of receiving some regular passive income each month from my photography. Especially the work that I had just sitting on old hard drives not doing anything else.

As I researched the internet for how well others had done as stock contributors, I realized there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there that clearly shared exactly how much money could be made each and every month. Sure there were a few stories of fluke cases where someone had a video or two go viral and they made thousands. But realistically, I wanted to know what would be possible.

This past year as I started to see consistent results with my sales, I decided it would be fun to document my progress. I’ve learned a lot along the way and felt like I would also enjoy sharing the process with you all. I’ve always enjoyed reading, researching, and learning. Teaching is the next step in that process of knowledge gathering and I’ve really enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned with you all.

I hope you all know that I don’t share my income to build myself up. I share it because it’s what I had searched for and hoped to find early in my own journey as a stock photographer and I hope that it will be helpful to you as well.

Biggest lessons I learned in 2019 as a stock contributor.

In January of 2019 I had a goal to shoot, edit, and upload 10 clips per week to all three sites. If I could maintain that goal throughout the year, I would add over 500 clips to my catalog by year end. This would more than double my current catalog and therefore, my monthly earnings (in theory).

Guess what… I totally missed the mark on my goal. I have been SO busy this year that I’ve hardly uploaded any new clips. In fact, I don’t think I’ve uploaded any since June when I started sharing my monthly stock income.

So here are my two lessons from that experience:

  1. It truly is a great source of passive income. Having not added anything to my existing catalogue, I have been so surprised that my clips continue to sell and generate income each and every month. I haven’t added a single thing and yet each month I make hundreds of dollars off my stock clips. As a busy working mom, this is such a great bonus to my life. For those of you with a full time job or a busy lifestyle, stock photography and footage may be a great little side hustle to get you some extra income each month. If you can carve out a few hours or days throughout the year to start uploading some clips, then you can just let them sit and start earning for you.
  2. It’s important to set realistic goals. Here’s the hard truth that I learned this year - I had way to many goals on my list. It’s not a bad thing to have many goals and dreams for your work, but you have to learn what is realistic and what will fit your lifestyle. 10 clips a week might not seem like a lot and when you’re first starting out I think it’s the perfect goal, but I had a few other priorities this year that involved growing my photography business and this website. Much of my time was spent on these endeavors first with very little left to growing my contributor account. I do hope to add more footage to my account in 2020 and I may have a surprise about how I plan to do that coming in a few weeks, but I will leave you in suspense for now.

Before we get into the total numbers for 2020, let’s take a quick look at how much I sold in December.


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1| Shutterstock Earnings for December

Shutterstock Total Earnings for October: $241.59

(28 total downloads)

Videos: $224.35

Photos: $17.24

My current catalog includes 444 images and 469 videos.

stock earnings on shutterstock

It’s been an awesome month on Shutterstock and I am incredibly happy to see sales picking back up after a few months of low sales August through November. I had a major video sale on December 18th where one video sold for $120.55.

video sale on shutterstock

2 | Pond5 Earnings for December

Pond5 Total Earnings for December: $79.70

(4 total downloads)

Videos: $79.70

Photos: none (I don’t think Pond5 markets photo sales on their site anymore. I almost never get any photo sales here.)

sales from adobe stock in December

3 | Adobe Stock Earnings for December

Adobe Stock Total Earnings for December: $1.67

(3 total downloads)

Videos: $0 (whomp whomp…)

Photos: $1.67

adobe stock sales for december

Totals for December sales: $322.96


Now that we’ve taken a brief look at this month’s total sales, let’s look at the yearly totals:

Yearly Grand Total for Shutterstock: $2022.47

Monthly Sales on Shutterstock

Monthly Sales Numbers on Shutterstock

Monthly Sales on Pond5

Yearly Earnings on Adobe Stock

Monthly Sales on Adobe Stock

Monthly Sales on Adobe Stock

Total Yearly Sales: $3239.91

Total Stock Photo + Video Sales for 2019

Total stock photo and video earnings 2019

Concluding Thoughts

As you can clearly see, Shutterstock is by and far the winner this year in terms of sales and amount earning. I have roughly the same amount of clips and photos on each of these sites, so they are pretty closely comparable. The reason my catalog size is different for each site is because some sites are pickier than others and not all of the clips I submit are accepted to each and every site.

Overall, this year has been a great blessing. Obviously this isn’t enough money to live off, but I’ll take an extra $3k any day. In the future I would love to double, triple, quadruple the size of my catalogue, but as you know that takes time and effort.

What’s coming in 2020

For 2020 I have some exciting new ideas. I’ve decided I’m going to give Blackbox a try if they’ll have me. I’m planning to keep my current catalog going as is, but I will add an equivalently sized catalogue on Blackbox. I will then have a way to easily compare Blackbox’s results with my own. It’ll be helpful and interesting to see many of the ways they compare in terms of number and frequency of sales, ease of use, and overall whether or not it’s worth the cost (15% of earnings per clip).

Be sure to join our newsletter if you’d like to be notified each time I make a new post. I hope you’ll join us!

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Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
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