Can you afford doing stock photography?

Stock photo is a question of numbers. And it’s a long term game. After a while playing it, you can determine you return on investment (ROI) by dividing your total stock photo number by your annual stock revenue to get an average sale per image per year.

As an example, let’s say you have 2000 images and made 4000$ in sale over the year. 4000/2000 gives you an average sale per image per year of 2$. If you submit 1000 new images the next year, you can hope to make an additional 2000$ that would be added to the 4000$ from the 2000 images that you already had for a total of 6000$.

Your ROI will hopefully raise over the years, but should not fluctuate too much. After a couple of year of monitoring your yearly ROI to make sure it is stable, you can start to plan your trips or your shooting.

If you go on a five days travel that would cost you 700$ on hotel, meal and gas, how many usable images do you need to bring back to break even after a year? Let’s use again the 2$ of our previous example. 350 image would fetch you 700$. 350 images over 5 days would require you to photograph 70 usable images per day. Would you be able to do it? If not, would you mind to wait more that a year before breaking even?

What about makeup artist and model fee if you plan to shot lifestyle stock photo? What would be the cost, and how many images can you produce out of it?

This is a long (but hopefully informative) introduction to say that I recently went to Toronto. I explained in a previous post that I went on a five days photo spree before a 3 days photojournalist conference. I calculated the extra expenses of those five day and it made sense to do it. According to my ROI calculated from my 3 years doing stock photo and the number of image I submitted to agencies, it should take me a year to break even. Everything after that would be a net profit.

Yesterday, I received my Canadian Press sale report and, with my images being there for only half of the month, 4 images sold. Actually 3, but one sold twice. Let’s see where I am in year!

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