Welcome to my Monthly EyeEm Income Report. Each month I share my entire income earned from selling photos on EyeEm. I hope these reports inspire you and provide you with insights in to not only how much you can make on EyeEm, but also how you can do it too.
My income report includes everything I receive from the EyeEm Market and the various EyeEm partnerships involved in their ‘Premium Collection’ such as EyeEm x Getty, EyeEm x Alamy and more. I’ll also share any lessons learned, the photos that sold and the exact US dollar amounts from each of my photo sales. So if you’d like to know ‘how much can I make on EyeEm?’ read on!
Hello you! Hello, hello, hello! It’s been a while hasn’t it?
The last income report I wrote was in July and now, writing this towards the end of October, I feel like the year really is flying by. So, how have you been? What have you been up to? And, well, where have I been?
In the last income report I mentioned that my girlfriend and I were waiting on the keys to our new house and I’m very pleased to say that we are officially in. I am sat writing to you now in my office – my very own space for creating and typing at a keyboard 9 hours a day 😉
We’re super excited to have our own space again after a year of hard work and living with my parents. I’ve been working as much as possible to bring in more funds to buy furniture and all that other home-owner stuff which is why I’ve not really had time to create these income reports. I’ve not made a vlog for months (and have a backlog of about 15 videos to make!) and I’ve just not had the time to share my thoughts with you on here.
I’ve not been totally off the radar though. Those of you who are part of the EyeEm Awesome Facebook group will have seen me pop in and out of there trying to answer your questions and get involved in the discussions.
There has been a lot of great things happening in the group and one of my favourites is seeing members get their first sale. There’s nothing quite like that rush from landing your first one, so congratulations to anyone who finally broke through this month!
If you haven’t yet managed to sell your images on the EyeEm Market then stay tuned because as always I’ll try and drop some little nuggets of knowledge to help you along your journey. Here goes!
Total To Date1,972.76
Images That Sold This Month
As it’s been a while since I’ve posted an income report and since the last time there have been a few important conversations and events that have happened, so let’s hit on some of them.
The EyeEm Awards 2017
As you might expect the 2017 awards were the biggest and best yet, breaking all previous records. I was planning on going along this year but due to buying a house that plan was squished. Of course we live in a digital age and all the highlights are available online, so be sure to check out the winners of the competition this year.
There are some really beautiful images from the selected winners in each category and the snippets of information that go along with them are interesting. The overall winner this year was 19 year old Sasha Dudkina (who I personally have been following for a long while) and I have always enjoyed her shots. What I find interesting is that in the blurb accompanying her winning image it mentions how she has been an active member since 2014. She isn’t someone who just decided to pop on to EyeEm to try and win an award, she’s been doing this for a while. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until everyone hears me… EyeEm is, first and foremost, a community.
Sure, you can use EyeEm however you wish. You can post selfies or motivational quotes. You can spam people with ‘follow4follow’ comments if that’s your thing. You can even just sign up to EyeEm to use the market, but if you do this then you aren’t getting the most out of this great service.
So before I run this thought in to a bit of a rant, be sure to check out the 2017 winners (especially if you think you need a great camera to win these things). And now, time for me to let off a little steam…
EyeEm Is A Community!
Alright, so let’s talk about this because a lot of people (especially if they’re new to EyeEm) don’t seem to realise that EyeEm is, first and foremost, a community.
Yes, EyeEm hosts a photography award. Yes, EyeEm publish their own magazine. And yes, EyeEm is now pushing the fact that they are a stock agency – but above all else they are a community of photographers.
Everything that EyeEm is… all of it is to build the best photographic community on the planet. I know it sounds lofty but hang with me here; the magazine is a celebration of the work in the community, the awards are another celebration of the community, the missions, the features, the blog posts… all celebrating the community. The stock agency part is (how I see it) not only a clever way for EyeEm to make their own income, but is a way for them to reward the community and a way to encourage more people to join the community.
Community, how many times I said it there I’m not sure, but I’m confident that it’s enough to show my stance on this.
Why am I ranting about this? Because people want to treat EyeEm like they are just a stock agency, like they are just there to help them sell photos, but they are not.
To treat EyeEm as a stock agency alone is selling yourself and the service they offer short. By all means if all you care about is selling photos and you like EyeEm as a way to do it then that’s cool, but understand that they are not primarily concerned with being the best stock agency there is. There are bigger, better and more equipped stock agencies out there that can sell your images for more, potentially give you better exposure and protect your images better. And that brings me on to my next point…
Are people stealing your images?
Recently one of the members of our Facebook group discovered a way that they could right click and save an image from the EyeEm website. Images on EyeEm tend to be fairly good quality and some of the previews are around 1200px; which is good enough for using on social media. As a professional photographer this persons livelihood relies on stock sales and they were worried that anyone would now be able to take their images for free.
The argument was that EyeEm clearly wasn’t doing enough about it and my counter to this was ‘well, what would you like them to do?’.
Take a second, what do you think the solution would be to stop people copying your image from the EyeEm website? There’s no right or wrong answer, just have a quick think about it. How would you suggest making it harder for people to take images from EyeEm?
What did you come up with? It’s an interesting problem, right?
If I had to guess I’d say that you considered that they could:
- Remove the ability to right click on images (so people could not choose the ‘save as’ command).
- Watermark the images.
How’d I do? Did you guess one of those?
If you did then I’d agree with you, these were my initial thoughts too. It’s what other big agencies do, so why can’t EyeEm? But the more you think about it the more you’ll see why it just wouldn’t work.
If you’re a little bit savvy with a computer then you’ll know that disabling right click doesn’t prevent anyone from downloading an image. Even if you’re not savvy I’m sure that if I gave you 30 seconds now to Google it you would figure it out. Sure, it might be a minor inconvenience but if someone really wants to take your image it would not be difficult.
So what about watermarks? That makes sense: slap watermarks all over the image and now even if someone does grab your image they only have the watermarked one. Winner, winner chicken dinner!
Except… watermarks can be removed in Photoshop (again, they are a deterrent and not a fix) but there’s a bigger problem with this method…
Could you imagine what your EyeEm feed would look like if all the images were watermarked? It would be terrible!
Getty doesn’t have this issue because the people who use Getty are looking to buy images. It’s not a platform for people to admire images; it’s not a community.
I love browsing through images in my EyeEm feed. I love browsing them on my phone, on my tablet and on my computer. Your work looks awesome and should be shown off in all it’s glory. EyeEm does a great job at this on all manner of devices, so how could they add more protection to your images whilst maintaining the viewing experience?
The discussion got pretty heated and I ended up spending a large chunk of time arguing the finer points of this over private message…
[side note: as much as I love chatting with you all in the Facebook group please realise two things:
1) I do it to help you out and I don’t gain anything from it. I started the Facebook group simply because I have had a lot of fun and small success with EyeEm and want to give back to the community. I want others to enjoy it as much as I do, and…
2) I love EyeEm but I’m not employed by them. When you are moaning and whining about EyeEm I don’t really care. Sure, I’ll try to change your mind because I enjoy the service and I want you to as well – but ultimately if you don’t like EyeEm then so what? Quit, move on and find another service that you do like.
I love a good discussion and if you’ve got a different opinion than me then that’s even better (I love to be challenged in an intelligent, thoughtful way), but arguing with people on the internet who just want to vent their frustrations instead of have a proper discussion is one of my least favourite things to do. Don’t waste your time or mine.]
So the discussion got pretty heated because understandably this person felt like their work was exposed and was too easy for people to take without permission. Their argument was that EyeEm is a stock agency so they should do more (like watermark images and disable right clicks) because all the other agencies do. The problem, as we already found, is how something like this could be implemented without ruining the community features.
Personally I think the features that this person was looking for was superfluous. You can put all the safeguards on EyeEm that you want but the only thing that will really make an impact is a legal team (which most of us likely don’t have).
Even if EyeEm added watermarks, prevented right-clicks and made the image previews a 200px square it still wouldn’t solve the problem completely. What is stopping someone from buying the image at a large size and uploading it to their website where others could then find it and take it from there? Nothing.
The point I want to make with all this ranting is that whenever you decide to put your images online you enter somewhat of a grey area. We all know that some people don’t understand copyright (or outright don’t care) and will use images without consent. Putting our images online doesn’t say that we agree with this and are ok with it, but we have to accept that the risk is there and is real.
It doesn’t matter if your images are uploaded to Flickr, Unsplash, EyeEm or your own personal blog, once you upload it you are accepting the risk of it being out there.
I remember when I was first asked to join the EyeEm Market and one of the things I remember worrying about is losing control of where my images can be used. I’d never sold images through a stock library before and it was a service that had no track-record. Ultimately the decision I had to make was to either hoard the images on my computer, just for me or to give them some freedom in the world. I had to accept letting them go somewhat for me to be comfortable with it. Perhaps you’ve had this inner dialogue too. Perhaps, like me, you found it difficult to relinquish some control of your images. Sending your babies out there for others to use and modify is scary, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
My final thoughts on this are that when you put your images online you’ve got to accept that you are letting them go in to the wild. Now, that’s not to say that if some dirtbag rips off your image there shouldn’t be consequences – not at all – but what I’m saying is that I don’t let the thought of it keep me awake at night.
Honest people will always pay for your images and see the value in them, on the other hand dishonest people will always find a way to get what they want without paying for it.
Focus on creating more images, enjoying the process and improving your practise. Try not to sweat things that may not happen.
Should Professional Stock Photographers Be On EyeEm?
Ok, sorry, I’ll elaborate. If you earn money from selling your photos to stock agencies as your sole income then I’d say that EyeEm is not the best place for your images*.
So why is that?
If you think of yourself as a professional stock photographer then you probably have some high standards when it comes to your stock agency. EyeEm is still very new and it is maturing. I mean, they only recently added the ability to send multi-releases! Professional stock agencies should already have all these features and more, because it’s all they do. If you consider yourself a professional and you insist on professional services then EyeEm probably isn’t the place for you yet. However, if you are a forward-thinking and progressive professional who wants to cover all bases then putting your images in EyeEm makes perfect sense.
Let’s think about it another way, in terms of money: we know that a majority of the sales from the EyeEm Market come through the partnership with Getty. In my income reports you can see that overwhelmingly most of the sales come from here.
EyeEm compensates their photographers by splitting any money they receive 50/50. But the key here is that they split what they receive. If your EyeEm Premium Collection image sells through Getty then Getty will keep an undisclosed amount. For the sake of this example let’s say that they keep 60% of the sale (I really have no idea how much they actually keep). If this was the case then 40% of the sale price would go to EyeEm who would then split it 50/50 with you. So you’d end up with 20% of the sale price.
If you were a professional stock photographer who relied on this income for a living then why would you want two middle-men taking your money? It just doesn’t make sense…
- You like/really love the community aspects of EyeEm (the missions, following & interacting with others, the magazine, etc) or how it works (auto tagging, mobile editing).
- You don’t want to deal directly with an agency like Getty due to terms in their contract (for example, some agencies may want your images to be exclusive to them).
- You believe that in the future that the EyeEm Market (direct) will become more popular and therefore will be a valuable stream of income.
- Or you want to diversify your income streams, sell your images in as many places as you can to maximise your exposure.
If stock photography was my main source of income my main focus would be on Getty, Alamy and the other power players, but personally I would also still invest my time in EyeEm because I think that in the future people will see the EyeEm search engine as a way to find more authentic images.
If you are a professional stock photographer right now and you are whining about your EyeEm performance then you need to realise that it is still very, very new to the game. Ask a bunch of people to name 5 stock agencies and I bet EyeEm doesn’t get a mention yet. Either the EyeEm Market will take off and your images will already be there when it does, or it won’t and you’ll have put in a lot of work for little returns. You’ve got to decide if the investment is worth it but don’t expect to be making a living wage off EyeEm anytime soon.
Now, for the rest of us who just love earning some extra cash for our photos we are in a great position. The EyeEm Market is allowing people like you and I to get our images in the big stock libraries and in the EyeEm Market itself. We are making money with our images right now, with images that most of us would never have believed would sell on places like Getty. We have no expectations of earnings and are happy to receive a bit of extra money. We are winning because we don’t have any expectations from EyeEm.
Let me tell you guys, if you feel grateful for the service EyeEm offers like I do then you’re winning.
If you love taking photos, uploading them and then getting that notification to say you’ve made a sale then you’re winning.
Either the day will come when the EyeEm Market sees more direct sales (and our images will be there when it does), or we will just keep earning a little bit extra from the bigger agencies. Either way, enjoy the ride and have fun with it.
/ end rant.
Does More Images = More Sales?
Finally I just want to touch on one more thing. There was another great bit of chat in the Facebook group this month where Michael Zwahlen really hit the nail on the head. For those of you who don’t know Michael he is what I would consider a professional stock photographer but with the right attitude. He knows what he is doing when it comes to making money with his images and has lots of great content on his blog regarding stock photography.
Michael is a great asset to the group because he often offers a counter argument to mine. His style is much more of a professional stock photographer whereas mine is someone who makes images for myself with the potential of selling them – so it’s great to have people like this in the group so things aren’t seen only from one side. While we may disagree on some aspects of stock photography there is something he said recently that I do very much agree with…
When one user made a comment about having more than 700 photos on EyeEm Market and expecting more sales, Michael had this to say:
The number of images doesn’t say a lot. Stock is about number of images + marketable content + time. Buyers are going to buy what they need, not randomly from what is on offer.
Do you understand what he is saying? This is a really important thing to grasp.
It doesn’t matter if you have 700 images or 700,000 images it’s not just a numbers game. When it comes to sales you need the magic combination of images, content and timing.
Buyers will not look through your images randomly for ones to buy. It would be a waste of time because they know what they want. Imagine if you had to find a photo of an apple pie to accompany a recipe you are posting online, what do you do? Are you going to search through my entire profile to see if I have a photo of an apple pie? Of course not. What you’d do is search ‘apple pie’ in the search bar.
Selling images is not an exact science. Sure you can make it easier on yourself; you know that at Halloween people might be looking to buy images of ghosts, ghouls and pumpkins. You know that giving buyers options could help, so you can shoot the same theme differently. You also know that your images have to be marketable. You need timing too, because it’s no good uploading images of your carved pumpkins in December and expecting them to sell, no matter how many photos you upload.
You can try your best to tick all the boxes, but at the end of the day the buyer knows what they want. Maybe you have hundreds of photos of vampires but next year it’s all about ghosts… more images don’t always mean more sales.
Lessons Learned This Month
This month has been a really nice surprise. After a small sale last month I thought I wouldn’t see much in the way of sales this month – but you can’t always predict what buyers want and when they want them.
The soft flowers, the tree-tops that look like brocolli and the image of me standing on that picturesque Japanese road have all sold again. What’s always interesting to me is the reason these images sell.
The flowers I think is because it’s quite a nice, soft image and can be used for blog posts about flowers or as a nice background.
The tree-tops is more interesting to me because I’m not entirely sure how it is being used. When I took the photo from a cable car in Hong Kong I never intended it to sell (in fact the majority of my images I’ve never intended to sell). I wonder where the image is used and how – perhaps as a background? Searching for the image through Google reveals no answers, so I wonder what it’s doing out there…
The photo of my back is just a great example of what I’m all about (and the advice I always give when it comes to EyeEm); take photos that mean something to you. I love this photo, it is one of my favourite memories from an unforgettable trip. Even if this photo never sold I’d be happy with it just because it really makes me happy. If you can take photos that you feel a connection with then the sales are just the icing on the cake.
This month has also brought out some wild card sales too. There’s two which I’m very excited to have sold, the first is this photo looking out of the boat window:
This was taken on a diving trip in Thailand and is part of a whole series of images from the day. Most of the images were obviously focussed on life under the sea but I just found the various hues of blue to be really nice. Again, never expected this to sell and had no intention, I just liked the image and liked the memory associated with it.
It’s always fun to see a different image sell and now wondering where it might find itself. Good luck out there little buddy!
The next image I think is well deserving of a sale. Again, this was taken on another diving trip in Thailand and the memory attached to this image is so vivid. After a tiring dive we popped up to the surface and there we were, surrounded by this big blue surface that was gently swaying. The equipment we had on was heavy but in the water you feel almost weightless.
I don’t drive but I imagine that it is a similar feeling to diving. When I dive my brain switches into a state of peaceful wonder whilst at the same time it is on autopilot keeping me alive. I am enjoying the underwater life like a child discovering things for the first time, meanwhile the adult part of my brain is like ‘Ok, breathe in, right, now breath out. Cool, now equalise the pressure. Yep, kick your feet a little.’
It’s difficult to explain but you feel completely relaxed but also exhausted from all the secondary thinking your brain is doing. Then, when you hit the surface you come back to the world feeling refreshed.
This photo represents to me utter serenity. Gentle waves bobbing me side to side, nothing between the sea and the sky. Just perfect.
I feel a lot for this image, but I also really like it as an image as well, so I’m glad that it’s seeing some love on the EyeEm Market.
Believe me, when you have an image that you love like this and you see it being appreciated there is very few feelings that come close.
Until next month, good luck and keep shooting!