By Jonathan 2 Comments

Why Micro-stock Mega-sucks

I have been submitting my photos to for four years now. In a month I will close my account with them and never submit another photo again.

Here’s why; sometime over the next few weeks I expect to finally crawl over the minimum payout threshold of $75. I do not intend to spend another four years to make another $75.

I understand that there are many people who do in fact make decent money through micro-stock agencies. They make this through pure, raw volume. They are submitting hundreds of photos a month to multiple agencies in most cases. This takes up an alarming amount of time. Not only the time to upload the photos, which is considerable even over the fastest internet connection, but also to tag and describe each one individually, something that is impossible to automate.

I simply don’t have that kind of time. Not for such a puny payoff. In the four years I have had my photos on Shutterstock, 264 people have downloaded them, probably very few of whom are legitimate publishers, most were probably using them for cheap art for their walls. I don’t like that. My art is worth more than 25 cents a pop.

Most of my photos get rejected. It’s not because they are bad photos, it’s because the people who make the decisions are kinda stupid. I’m not being harsh, they actually are. I have had photos get rejected in one batch only to be approved when resubmitted, unaltered, in another one. The reasons given for rejection are dubious at best, and ridiculous at worst, and rarely are accurate. Usually they make me wonder if the person actually spent any time looking at the photo at all. I even had my most popular photo get deleted from my gallery after being there for a year with no explanation whatsoever. I found that fishy, to be honest.

I don’t have time to spend uploading and tagging multiple photos in the hopes that they *might* get approved. Life is too short.

You might be asking yourself why I didn’t close my account sooner. The answer is simple, by the time I realized what a waste of time micro-stock was, I had already earned a little bit of money. Not a lot, but enough that I wanted what was rightfully mine. I didn’t want to have given away my photos for pennies, and then never see those pennies. So I made up my mind to wait until the first payout before quitting.

It took a long time.

So you think you should still give micro-stock a try? By all means, if you have *lots* of time on your hands and you enjoy letting other people make money off your hard work while you get paid next to nothing, then yes, you should sign up right now.


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  • ernst says:

    I agree with you. Don’t use microstock website. Even if you were accepted, you would be screwed.

    I take the example of one of the worst of these gangsters (post I made in a number of forums already).

    shutterstock is a scam company like many others in this sector. In fact it’s a pyramidal scheme.

    shutterstock abuse the naivety of some who believe they will make money with pictures or footage. In fact it’s a pyramidal scheme. At the top sit the real money makers, while 99% of contributors are there to add to the amount of photo/video in their library.
    They can then pretend, they have millions in stock. How do you think they attract their clients ?

    This company (I don’t know for others except Fotolia who at least respect people) is taking contributors, clients, and users for idiots. They came out of the blue, became rich in a very short time (or cook the books like many others).

    What can you expect from these new rich ? Look at the reality behind the gloss. Look at their rules, privacy policies, etc… And you will discover how they screw you and the contributors.

    Take privacy policy for instance: read it and try to remove your record from their system as they pretend they allow you to do. You will discover that once you register, your privacy belongs to them. I know, some brainless people have been easily convinced by marketing sharks and online dictators that privacy doesn’t exist anymore. When you will be victim of identity theft and lost 5000 $ on your bank account through fraud, they will think otherwise.

    • Jonathan says:

      Indeed. Microstock is a crime that has been perpetrated upon unsuspecting amateur photographers that has in turn destroyed an entire market for pro photographers. I regret ever getting involved in that racket.

      I have long since removed any trace of my photos from any and all microstock sites I tried back in the day. But case and point: I just used Google image search to look up one of my photos, which was once my best seller on microstock, and I found it has been used in at least 3 books, including as a cover image! Not to mention several websites. People and companies are making money from my photo, and what did I get for it by selling it on microstock? I’d guess a grand total of about $5.00, after selling it 20 times over before I came to my senses.
      Just stay away from these crooks!