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Dear Sarah,

A big THANKS to everyone who filled out our Breakfast Stock Club reader survey for 2016. This is a great tool for all of us to share:

  • Which agencies are working best…
  • Where we’re succeeding…
  • The most common struggles we’re having.

The ONE biggest struggle I tend to hear is not that you haven’t tried. It’s that you HAVE had photos accepted but the sales aren’t coming.

Here’s the thing… some industry experts say that you really start making sales AFTER you get to 300 photos in your portfolio.

It sounds like a lot, but you should be aiming to fill your portfolios with photos – the more photos you have online, the more potential sales you can make. If you only have 25 photos online for the world to see, you may never sell one! So keep going. Keep uploading. Build that portfolio.

And remember that time is money. The longer you wait to upload your photos, the more potential income you leave behind.

Now, let’s look at how BSC readers did in 2016…


In 2016, 42% of BSC readers who responded to the survey got accepted to new agencies. This is awesome! It’s the hardest step – and you did it.

30% made their first stock photo sales… and a WHOPPING 84% continued building their stock photo portfolios – YES! 


38% of respondents increased their sales over the past year, too. Fewer folks requested their first payout this year over last – which means most readers are taking what you already did and pushing ahead to build those portfolios.


Shutterstock was the lead income earner among BSC readers in 2016, followed by Fotolia, Dreamstime, and iStock, in that order.

For total sales, readers are doing well in all of the above, along with Bigstock.


Hooray! You guys are doing great! Here are a few of my favorite achievements that readers shared from 2016:

  • My biggest achievement in stock photography in 2016 was having images accepted and getting a few sales being a complete newbie to digital stock photography.
  • Increasing sales by 700% over last year and receiving multiple payouts throughout 2016!
  • One 2016 goal was to get accepted into Shutterstock and I now have 268 on the site.
  • Received two agency payouts even though I didn’t add a single new photo to my online portfolios last year.
  • Taking the plunge in November and December and submitting images to 6 sites with images accepted by all of them.
  • Achieved sales in images that were outside the norm for me. I documented hobbies (gardening and hiking) and those photos are some of my best sellers.
  • Increased my portfolio by more than 30% on multiple agencies.
  • Participated in several of the Breakfast Stock Club Challenges (with good reviews!) and started taking photos of everything!
  • I have 4 accomplishments: I increased my portfolio from 100 to 293 images on iStock, and to 209 on Shutterstock. I also ordered my first payout from iStock, and finally earned double digits in one month from Shutterstock.
  • I surpassed my goal of 100 photos uploaded to each of the five agencies I applied to: Alamy, Bigstock, Dreamstime, Fotolia and Shutterstock.
  • Overcoming the fear of putting my work out there!
  • Going from 0 to 211 images for sale and getting approx. 150 downloads between August and December.
  • Got accepted to my first agency.
  • A sale for one photo for $26.40 on my birthday & receiving over $300 in total payouts for December!

Reading through these always inspires me to get going, too. Thanks to everyone who shared.

Now… where to go from here…

If you don’t have any photos up for sale, yet, don’t worry. It’s still the start of a new year. See how far you can get by the end of February.

And if you’re already going, but you haven’t seen many sales… KEEP GOING. Build up your portfolios. Take new images. Try shooting something you haven’t tried, yet.

And of course if you’re already on a roll… keep it up!

I’ll share some of readers’ best-selling images in a coming issue.

Until then… keep pushing forward into 2017!

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