Semi Mid 2017 Progress Report

Here’s my somewhat mid-year progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.

TL;DR> Doing pretty well!

The numbers are as of July 31, 2017.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2017:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. Write and publish two eBooks
  5. Get paid for one magazine article or photo

Here we go.

Gross Income

The gross income I’ve received is $1058.48. If you look at that as 7/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m definitely well above target!

I had several streams of income in the first seven months of 2017, including stock photography, the Manitoba Marathon, several image sales and ad sales through Google AdSense.

  • Stock photography sales were strong, with two payments from Shutterstock, my first from Adobe and my first from iStock / Getty. In total it was almost $400.
  • I was asked to help photograph the Manitoba Marathon and that netted a decent income for 7 hours of work. I enjoy the experience and one of the best parts is that you don’t have to do any processing at all – just hand in the SD card and you’re done!
  • I sold several images, both privately and through RedBubble.
  • I cleared the $100 threshold twice for Google AdSense. I may or may not receive one more payment before the end of 2017.

Score: ON TRACK

 

Stock Photography Income

As I mentioned, I received payments from Shutterstock, Adobe and iStock. I’m averaging about $35/month in microstock royalties, so I am getting closer to that $50/month target.

Beyond the “big three” of Shutterstock, Adobe and iStock, I have had some sales on Bigstock and 123rf with Dreamstime and Canstock going very quiet.

I submitted a lot of images in July (expanding my library by about 15%) and I’ll be taking and submitting a lot of travel images in August to expand my portfolio further.

I purchased and read Alexandre Rotenberg’s excellent Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography eBook (affiliate link) and plan to apply its lessons going forward. I will write a review of it shortly but I recommend it highly.

Score: GETTING BETTER

Net Income

My net income is very strong this year, and is already over my goal of $700 for the year. I’ve kept my expenses low by signing up for my web site hosting for 2 years last year, and so my only real expenses are the monthly Adobe Creative Cloud payments, domain name renewals and the eBook I mentioned above.

Score: ON TRACK

 

Write and Publish Two eBooks

I haven’t done anything on this yet. I need to get on it!

Score: FAILING

 

Get Paid for One Magazine Photo or Article

I have to submit those before I get paid! So… another thing for the “to do” list.

Score: FAILING

 

Summary

I am having mixed success this year to date. Income and expenses are good but I want to diversify my income streams more with more eBooks and get into magazines. The work never ends!

Steps For The Rest of The Year

  • Start writing eBooks
  • Investigate which magazine(s) to submit to, and make inquiries as to what they are looking for

End of 2016 Progress Report

Prairie Grain Elevator in Winter
Prairie Grain Elevator in Winter

It’s 2017 now – happy new year! – and here’s my end of 2016 progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.

TL;DR> Mostly failed to achieve goals.

The numbers are as of January 1, 2017.

Goal Review

I had five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Let’s see how we did.

Gross Income

The gross income I received was $667.76. That was barely above half my target, so a definite FAIL.

Since my October 2016 progress report, I had one Fine Art America sale come in, a couple of calendar sales from Lulu, and two Amazon Kindle eBook sales.

I only produced one calendar in 2016 and I didn’t expend much effort to promote it, so sales were poor.

My main job was on overdrive this fall and I didn’t have a lot of time to spare for my photography side hustle. Still, I’d rather earn $X/hour for working extra on my main job versus a considerably smaller amount per hour on my side hustle!

Income Sources

2016 Progress Report - Income Sources
2016 Progress Report – Income Sources

My sources of income in 2016 came from four areas:

  • Advertising, 15%
  • Image sales, 44%
  • Print sales, 4%
  • Product sales, 27%
  • Work for hire, 0%
  • Writing, 0%

Advertising was from AdSense. I haven’t gone “whole hog” on advertising on my web sites and blogs, mostly because I don’t want to be too intrusive.

I experimented with Amazon Associates advertising late in the year and it did not work out for me. I may revisit it later in 2017 but for now it’s off my sites.

I played with Commission Junction a bit but it doesn’t seem like a really good fit for me.

Image sales came from a few sources. I sold images directly to a few people for either personal or business use – always appreciated. I also had some nice stock income from Shutterstock later in the year as my stock photo efforts started to bear fruit.

Print sales were minimal this year, as you can see by their 4% contribution to my gross income. I had one Fine Art America sale and the residual from a previous Redbubble sale came in. I think prints have been on the decline in the industry for some time.

Product sales were the residuals from the 2016 calendars sold in late 2015 and early 2016, the minimal calendar sales in late 2016, and of course my eBook.

The big surprise for me from product sales was the three Amazon Kindle sales I had. I put the eBook on Amazon with zero promotion and it’s been nice to see that people found and bought it. Imagine what I could do if I actually promoted it!

I did not work for hire, nor did I write for other people. Given my lifestyle and preferences, I don’t think work for hire is something I should be pursuing in the future. If it happens, great, but I’m not going to pursue it in 2017.

Score: FAILED

 

Stock Photography Income

As I mentioned above, I was pretty busy at my job in the fall so my stock photography submissions suffered. I made a big push during the Christmas break to submit some photos I had marked as “potential stock”, and most were accepted and a few have sold already, so that was worth doing.

I had a goal of $50/month for income from stock photography. How did I do?

2016 Progress Report - Stock Photography Income
2016 Progress Report – Stock Photography Income

Clearly I didn’t hit my goal. I’d say I’ve reached $20/month (USD) fairly consistently, but I’m a long way from my goal.

I still think my goal was realistic, if I had achieved my side goal of submitting a thousand images by the end of 2016. I have about 300 images online, and if you do the math and assume a proportionate amount of income/image, I would have hit $50/month if I had a thousand images for sale.

That takes us back to the same old refrain – submit more images!

Score: OKAY

Net Income

My net income was way off my target of $700 for the year. Net income was $145.31.

Where did my expenses come from? Two places:

  • Web site, 67%
  • Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop licensing, 33%

I mentioned in my February report that I pre-purchased my web site hosting expenses for 24 months at 24% off. I consider that an investment but that accounts for the majority of my web site expenses. The other web site expenses are domain renewal fees.

My Adobe costs are for the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

I think I had my expenses under control, but my gross income was not where it should have been. If I had achieved my gross income target, I would have met my net income target.

Score: FAILED

 

Work For Hire Gigs

Nothing happened on the work for hire front. I didn’t invest any time in it in the last half of 2016 and I don’t think I will have it as a goal for 2017.

Score: FAILED

Write and Publish eBook

This one was achieved!

Score: ACHIEVED

 

Summary

I feel that I didn’t meet most of my goals. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Not everything is going to succeed. You just have to recalibrate and move on.

I will be developing my 2017 goals soon and I’ll post them. I know “getting a gig” will not be one of them, and more eBooks is probably going to be a goal. More to come!

October Progress Report

Sunset near Reversing Falls
Sunset near Reversing Falls

Here’s my October progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.

I’m doing these every two months for the time being.

TL;DR> Really falling behind.

The numbers are as of October 1, 2016.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Here we go.

Gross Income

The gross income I’ve received is $619.25. If you look at that as 9/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m definitely below target.

I only had income from one source, a nice payment from Shutterstock for my stock photos. Someone signed up for a yearly plan through one of my photos, so I received a nice cut of that signup bonus plus the sale of a few images.

However, that wasn’t enough to even stay on the $100/month target.

I am putting my calendars together so I expect some income from those near the end of the year, although I may not actually receive the money until 2017.

Score: FAILING

 

Stock Photography Income

As I mentioned, I received a nice payment from Shutterstock. If we disregard the anomaly of a signup bonus, I’m really trending toward USD $20/month and slowly rising.

I signed up for Adobe Stock and I’ve sold 9 images so far. I think there is a lot of promise there and the amount per image is higher than Shutterstock or iStock, so that’s nice.

My usual refrain is the same – submit more images! I didn’t submit very many in August but I submitted a fair number in mid to late September.

Score: GETTING BETTER

Net Income

My net income is slowly continuing to increase. However, it seems pretty clear that I won’t hit my goal of $700 for the year. The expenses are good but the gross income just isn’t there.

Score: FAILING

 

Work For Hire Gigs

No luck at all on the work for hire gigs. I keep my eyes open but nothing appealing has come along. I think I am going to revise or eliminate this as a goal for next year. My free time and lifestyle at the moment don’t really allow me to spend a weekend on any gigs, so it isn’t really realistic to expect anything from this.

Score: FAILING

Write and Publish eBook

I finished and submitted my third article to be published. It will come out in two parts. I intend to turn this into another book.

I’m starting to collect blog posts into eBooks to sell. I’m going to do one or two just to see how well they are received and decide if they are worth the effort.

Score: ACHIEVED

 

Summary

I feel that I am definitely failing at my goals. I am going to have to reevaluate my goals for 2017 and decide if A) I want to buckle down and get more serious about this side hustle, or B) revise my goals to be more aligned with the amount of effort I am willing to put into this.

Steps For The Rest of The Year

  • Submit more stock photos
  • Offer calendars for sale

June Progress Report

Here’s my June progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle. I skipped the May report as there wasn’t a lot to say.

TL;DR> Falling behind.

The numbers are as of June 1, 2016.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Here we go.

Gross Income

The gross income I’ve received is $426.31. If you look at that as 5/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m below target.

I really only had one source of income for the period covered by this report, but it was a good one – I released my eBook!

I had some strong sales of the book, mostly at a discounted price. I’ll write another post about the eBook process but I’ll sum up by saying that I was pleased by the response. I’m encouraged and ready to start on another one.

I’ll talk about stock photography below, but suffice it to say that I should see a payout in a couple of months at the current rate.

Score: FALLING BEHIND

 

Stock Photography Income

April was pretty flat but May was strong with USD $17.51 in sales, my best month ever. Shutterstock was the strong agency, responsible for more than half of that. For most of the month I was selling at least one image a day through them!

I’m still way behind on submitting stock photos.

Score: GETTING BETTER

Net Income

My net income is growing positive, so it’s looking pretty good!

Score: ON TRACK

 

Work For Hire Gigs

No luck on the work for hire gigs yet but I’m not going to call it a failure yet.

Score: POOR

Write and Publish eBook

This one is done and done. You can buy it here!

I was very pleased by the response. I didn’t do a lot of lead-up advertising but when I released it, I had several people very excited and eager to purchase it and also to share the link to their friends. Sales were strong through Gumroad and I only had one return. Who returns an eBook? (shrug)

Related to writing, I had a second article published in a Canadian rail magazine! My photo was on the cover of the magazine again and I think it looked great. I haven’t started on a third one but I have the topic in hand.

Score: ACHIEVED

 

Summary

I feel that I am falling behind  – I am failing at a couple, fair for one, on track for one, and one goal has been achieved. I’m starting to get concerned. I think next month will turn the tide for the better… I have a good feeling.

Steps For The Rest of April

  • Update portfolio
  • Submit more stock photos
  • Look for paid gigs more aggressively

April Progress Report

April Progress Report
April Progress Report

Here’s my April progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.

TL;DR> Staying the course.

The numbers are as of April 1, 2016.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Here we go.

Gross Income

The gross income I’ve received is $337.17. If you look at that as 3/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m on target.

Two things brought my income right on target.

One, I received an AdSense payment! AdSense is not a large income earner for me by any means. My AdSense income has been pretty small and it takes several months before I get a payment. If you look at my 2015 income, AdSense represented less than 30% of my side hustle income.  It is currently about the same percentage for this year, but I expect that to drop because I’ll probably only receive one more ~$100 payment before the end of 2016. Good thing it’s in US dollars!

My second slug of income for March was an image sale that came from Instagram! I was very surprised to get any income from that route. One of my Instagram followers liked my photos and contacted me to ask if any were for sale. We messaged back and forth and we agreed on a price for 5 digital images. Once the payment went through, I sent her the full size, edited images and she printed them and framed them, and sent me a nice photo of her photo wall. I’m glad she and her husband (who both work for a railway) like them.

I have some stock photography money in the pipeline, but until I add a lot more photos to generate greater income, I won’t be seeing any payouts for many months.

I have a Gumroad video sale in the pipeline that should be paid out in April. It’s been a long time since I sold a copy of my Chaleur train video, so it was nice to see a sale this month. True passive income!

This was a good month for income.

Score: ON TRACK

 

Stock Photography Income

My stock income stayed pretty flat – I accumulated USD $9.73 in March 2016. I’m a little disappointed.

I’m still way behind on submitting stock photos.

Score: FAILING

Net Income

My net income is barely negative as of the end of March, so it’s looking pretty good!

Score: ON TRACK

 

Work For Hire Gigs

No luck on the work for hire gigs yet but I’m not going to call it a failure yet.

Score: FAIR

Write and Publish eBook

I’ve finished my first eBook. I’ve had a few people look at it and they like it. I am just waiting for one or two more images from a friend, and then I will click “publish”. I’ll be starting the marketing process in a week or so.

I had my first article published in a Canadian rail magazine! I’m very excited and happy with its reception. The second article is finished and submitted; I don’t know when it will be published. I have the topic for the third one but I haven’t started writing and I don’t expect to start for a few more weeks. I hope to take that article research and expand it into a second eBook.

Hopefully by next month’s report, I’ll have income to report from my eBook!

Score: ON TRACK

 

Summary

So far, staying the course – failing at 1, fair for 1, and on track for 3 of my goals. I’m not too concerned yet but I need to work a bit harder, especially on the stock photography.

Steps For The Rest of April

  • Update portfolio
  • Submit more stock photos
  • Publish the first eBook
  • Look for paid gigs more aggressively

March Progress Report

March Progress Report
March Progress Report

Here’s my March progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle.

TL;DR> So far, so good.

The numbers are as of March 1, 2016.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Here we go.

Gross Income

The gross income I’ve received is $185.82. If you look at that as 2/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m pretty close.

I finally received my payment from 500px for selling an image there (this one) after filling out my W8 form. If you’re a Canadian you’ll find that you have to fill one of these out for pretty much any kind of online income now. They declare that you’re not a US citizen and therefore generally not subject to withholding tax.

I also received the last of my calendar sales from Lulu. That’s done until the fall!

Finally, a friend asked me to help him with his web site, so I am hosting it on the same hosting platform (Pair Networks – affiliate link) as my own sites and charging him a low rate. We all benefit!

I have some stock photography money in the pipeline, nowhere near the minimum payouts yet; I sold some images in early March that will be on next month’s payout; and there are a few other pending things that will hopefully land soon.

So, doing well this month.

Score: ON TRACK

 

Stock Photography Income

My stock income improved – I accumulated USD $10.53 in February 2016. It started out very strong and continued to do pretty well through the month. I’m satisfied with that progress.

I’m still behind on submitting stock photos. I have been trickling some through but not at the rate that I would like. I need to work on that.

Score: ON TRACK

Net Income

My net income is still negative but I hope to hit positive numbers by the end of this month or maybe April.

Score: FAILING

Work For Hire Gigs

No luck on the work for hire gigs yet but I’m not going to call it a failure yet.

Score: ON TRACK

Write and Publish eBook

I’ve done a lot of work on my first eBook. I still have a bit of fact checking to do and select some photos and then I can click “publish”. I’m considering this one to be a trial run so I am not putting a lot of income hopes on it… it’s more to learn the ropes and gain some experience.

I was a bit distracted this month because I was writing an article for a Canadian rail magazine. I’ve already submitted one that I hope will come out this month and the second one (just submitted a couple of days ago) will hopefully come out later this year. I’m not getting paid for either one but I think it will be good exposure and look good on my resume / web site.

Since I haven’t actually published the eBook yet, I’ll call this:

Score: TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Summary

So far, improving – failing at 1, fair for 1, and on track for 3 of my goals. I’m not too concerned yet but I need to work a bit harder.

Steps For March

  • Update portfolio
  • Submit more stock photos
  • Finish the first eBook
  • Poll followers for eBook topics
  • Look for paid gigs more aggressively

February Progress Report

Here’s my February progress report to show how I’m doing in my photography side hustle. Numbers are as of February 1, 2016.

Goal Review

I have five goals for my photography side hustle in 2016:

  1. Gross income of $1,200
  2. Stock photography income of $50/month by end of year
  3. Net income of $700
  4. 2 paid work for hire gigs
  5. Write and publish one eBook

Here we go.

Gross Income

February progress report
February progress report

The gross income I’ve received is $40.15. If you look at that as 1/12 of what I need to reach my $1,200 goal, I’m falling short.

There’s money in the pipeline, of course, and some of it is imminent and some is “whenever”. Part of the problem with passive income like stock photography, videos, and so forth is that there is a minimum amount that you have to earn before you can request a payout. All of my (minimal) stock photography income so far is below that threshold, and there are funds stuck in Gumroad because they are below their threshold. I understand the reason for the thresholds – there is overhead to the company in issuing a payout – but it’s a bit frustrating. Since I count income only when I receive it, those funds are not counted in my gross income and it makes my gross income look worse than it really is.

All that being said, I’m still falling short of my goal.

I haven’t had any success in selling prints recently. I need to look at my portfolio and spruce it up.

Score: FAILING

 

Stock Photography Income

Stock photo - Large field of bright yellow sunflowers
Stock photo – Large field of bright yellow sunflowers

I accumulated USD $7.43 (CAD $10.37 at present) in stock income in January 2016. I’m very satisfied with that progress.

December’s stock income was a mere USD $1.45.

This is only February 3 and it is already a strong month, so I am pretty optimistic.

I am falling behind on submitting stock photos, so I need to work on that. I’ve shot and submitted a number of Valentines’ Day images, so I am hoping for some sales from those. My first batch of “shot for stock” images is starting to sell, which gives me hope that I’m doing the right thing.

Score: ON TRACK

 

Net Income

If I’m not hitting the gross income targets, I’m not hitting net income targets either! Currently my net income is negative because I invested in my web site hosting costs by pre-paying pair.com for 24 months for a 24% discount.

Score: FAILING

 

Work For Hire Gigs

I hope to shoot the Manitoba Marathon again this year, so that could be one of the two I want. I’m tempted to reach out to the Running Room and other groups to see if any opportunities are available. I’ve been scanning Kijiji and I found a few possibilities but nothing has borne fruit yet. We’ll call this…

Score: ON TRACK

 

Write and Publish eBook

I’ve done nothing on this, other than some thought on what I’d like to write about. I believe the next step is to assemble a list of possible topics and poll my mailing list / Traingeek Images followers to see what they would A) like to read and B) like to pay for.

Score: FAILING

 

Summary

So far, not great – failing at 3 and on track for 2 of my goals. I’m not too concerned yet but I need to work a bit harder.

 

Steps For February

  • Update portfolio
  • Submit more stock photos – Easter is coming up!
  • Assemble list of potential eBook topics
  • Poll followers for eBook topics
  • Look for paid gigs more aggressively