7 reasons for low earnings of microstockers

Olga Zakharova, a professional microstocker and illustrator, shared her observations: why do some microstockers earn little money? Is it all about the quality of the published work, or is the reason hidden somewhere deeper? Let’s figure it out!


By publishing a post about the most popular questions that readers ask me, I was a little deceitful by not including the most popular question. And it sounds like this: “I have been on stocks already (this much), why do I earn so little?”

I decided that analyzing the reasons for poor sales would pull me into a separate post. It turned out to be quite tough, but true. As practice shows, those of you who ask this question combine several reasons at once. The good news is that it’s never too late to fix the situation, you just need to start by admitting that there is a problem πŸ™‚

Reason one: you do little work

Do not expect that the exam ten will earn you a cloudless life on a paradise island. To get financial returns, you need to invest a significant amount of time and effort. How much is difficult to say exactly depends on your pace of work, subject of illustrations, knowledge of programs, speed of drawing, and even the pace of personality. For myself today, I find it a good indicator two clean hours of drawing a day, five days a week. A year ago, when I was just starting to work with stocks, I painted for three to four hours seven days a week, now I gave myself some indulgences to have enough time for other projects. Time is not the main indicator, if you can draw an hour a week and give out a bunch of cool pictures at the end of the month, honor and praise to you, but globally, almost no one can get to the level of good earnings without spending a lot of time on stocks in the beginning.

Reason two: your work is of poor quality

Alas and ah, but it is so. The main problem is that a person who draws low quality works almost never realizes this. If you feel that the other reasons for low income are not about you, then it is almost certainly a matter of quality. A personal consultation from an experienced stoker can help here (here I am not asking, you can choose any successful stoker whose work is pleasing to the eye and ask how much it will cost to analyze your portfolio and give advice on development). Or just make it a rule every day for 20-30 minutes to watch the tops of illustrator sites – shutterstock, behans, dribble, not just flipping through the works, but looking at them, trying to understand why exactly what is drawn and how it is drawn.

This is, in fact, a completely magical method, because it seems that you are not doing anything – you just look at the pictures, and the quality of your own illustrations really improves. You notice this when you look at your half-year-old works and think – here, damn it, what a horror πŸ™‚

Reason three: you are drawing something that is already too much

As far as I understand, five or seven years ago one could live very well on stocks, drawing abstract backgrounds, flowers and in general whatever the heart desires. Now it is almost impossible for a beginner to survive in these niches (backgrounds and abstract). The mass of already uploaded images is too large, yours simply drown under it, so no one buys them.

If you want to get more money, look for niches. And then look again and keep looking constantly. A niche can be not only a theme, but also an original approach to execution. But flowers and abstraction cannot be niches. Either money, or flowers – in modern reality, for new authors of stocks, this is, alas, so.

Reason four: your portfolio is too boring and monotonous

Similars are good, but only when they are somewhat different from each other and make your portfolio look pleasing to the eye. After all, how does a typical regular shopper behave? He is looking for a picture on some topic, sees yours, he likes it, he downloads and then often goes to the author’s portfolio to see, maybe you have something else beautiful? And there – all the same picture that he already bought, only in green, purple, blue, red, etc., rotated by 10, 20, 40 degrees … It will be interesting for him to add you to favorites, follow your creativity and buy new items ? Unlikely.

If your number of followers grows in proportion to your gallery views, then this is probably not your case. If they watch a lot, but there are still no sales, this is a reason to think about both variety and quality.

Reason five: you don’t work with large stocks

If you are complaining about low income and at the same time you are still not present at shutterstock and istock (at least one of the two), stop complaining and immediately go to take the exam. In theory, it is possible to earn a lot on small stocks, but I have never heard of such cases. I have already written how much all the stocks bring me, except for the shutter, some of the stocks have the first in terms of profit, but I haven’t heard that some canstock was the first πŸ™‚

Reason six: you want too much πŸ™‚

Every time I literally have to pull out with ticks from those who complain about a small income, their understanding of the word “small”. Most often, quite adequate numbers are called – for example, they want to receive $ 200 every month after a year of work, but sometimes there are those who believe in the possibility of earning $ 1000 a month two or three months after starting work and are sincerely sad that they cannot succeed πŸ™‚ The problem is the fact that shutterstock forbade the authors to disclose their income, and, in all honesty, almost no one wanted to do this even before the ban. That is, to understand how much to earn “normally” and after what time is quite problematic.

From my own experience and the experience of those whose reports I read, I came to the conclusion that three to four months after registering on shutterstock, subject to dense, but not exhausting work, normal quality of illustrations (not categories slag and horror-horror) should be every month leave at least $ 100. If the stock is not completely new to illustration, who has just learned how to use an illustrator, but a more or less experienced designer who is guided in techniques, trends and just knows how to draw quickly and efficiently, you can raise the “norm” to $ 200. Well, then the income should grow at a good pace, but if it has grown to $ 100-200, the rest is a matter of technology, that is, continuing regular downloads, maintaining or improving the quality and drawing in niches.

Reason seven: you came to stocks recently

It takes time for stocks to start generating significant income. We can only guess how the internal search engines work, but it is clear that the β€œage” of the portfolio plays a role in this business, how the regularity of downloads, the number of sales and other indicators, which take time, play a role. That is, even if a super-duper designer comes to stocks and uploads 200 cool works, he will not be able to earn $ 1000 in the first month. It’s another matter if he brings customers with him, but this is still a very rare scenario.

Well, and one more reason – you came to stocks quite recently πŸ™‚ It is worth worrying if after six months of active work and regular uploads to the shutter, at the end of the month you do not accumulate the minimum amount for withdrawal, those $ 100. Earlier than after six months of regular work, I would not draw any serious conclusions, although if in three months I had $ 10-30 a month, I would also be on my guard.

Author: Olga Zakharova

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