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. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

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.


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.


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.


Write and Publish eBook

This one was achieved!



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!