How I made $70 in less than a month with NO effort

How I made $70 in less than a month with no effort

I was checking my Shutterstock account today, not even the end of the month yet, and to my surprise I found that there was $70 in there since the start of July, even though I haven’t used my account in almost a year.

For those of you who have never heard of Shutterstock, it is a website where you can upload your photos or illustrations and sell them to the public. The sales are quite small, but they add up very quickly.

This photo I took has earned $184.20 on Shutterstock since it was uploaded on 25/10/13

This post is mostly about Shutterstock because it’s where the majority of my photo stock income comes from, but at the end of the post I will list some of the other sites I also use for anyone who is interested.

I’ve been a contributed to many stock photography websites since I left high school. I loved the idea that I could do something with all those photos and drawings that were just taking up space on my hard drive and not earning me anything. The thing I loved about stock sites is that once the initial work was done, the photos would be up for sale forever, with no additional effort.

There are no sign up fees or charges at any point for any of these stock websites. They are completely free to use, so it is a no-risk opportunity that could potentially earn you some good extra money.

Admittedly, I’ve been quite slack in my stock photography. I’m not a professional photographer, I’ve never spent much time on it, I don’t have the best equipment…. In fact I only have my camera and laptop! It has just been a side hobby, so what I have earned is minimal compared to what can be earned.

So how did I make $70 this month? And before the month is even over?

I did nothing!

I haven’t uploaded images, advertised or done anything to contribute to my stock portfolios for over a year. And yet because I had been slowly building my library before that, the money keeps coming in.

Here is a breakdown of my Shutterstock earnings since my last upload in October 2014 (October was the last time I actually did any work!)

October 2014 – $19.24
November 2014 – $17.67
December 2014 – $93.37
January 2015 – $13.54
February 2015 – $73.91
March 2015 – $28.57
April 2015 – $27.49
May 2015 – $25.53
June 2015 – $21.55
July 2015 – $71.43 (so far)

As you can see, I’m not quite ready to give up my day job just yet, however almost $400 in 10 months for NO EFFORT – I won’t be complaining!

The great part for me now is that even if I never add any more images to my gallery, it will continue to bring in income as it has been doing, indefinitely.

The statistics above are just from my Shutterstock account. I also have accounts with multiple other websites. Here are my total earnings from the best of those as of July 2015 (I’ve included the number of images I have uploaded since I spend more time on some than others). I have only been on some of these sites for a short time or have only uploaded a few photos to them, so my current goal is to build their library in the same way I did for Shutterstock to increase my earnings and hopefully bring in some consistent income.

Shutterstock – 310 images & videos – $2204.76
iStockPhoto – 30 images & videos – $1215.65
Dreamstime – 41 images – $337.89
Other sites – Range from 10 to 60 images on each – just under $200 combined

This illustration has earned almost $700 on iStockPhoto. On Shutterstock, my set of space images have earned almost $400.

My best advice is to simply give it a go. The hardest part is getting approved for your first photos. Usually the criteria is quite strict, but once you are in, it’s much easier. If you are interested in learning more about the process or criteria, leave me a comment – I will work on a post in the future.

Some of these sites are harder to get approved on than others, so it’s worth trying a mixture and seeing which sites work for you. I don’t ever go exclusive with any of them, that way I still have full rights to sell my images elsewhere if I choose.

I also upload a variety of photos, illustrations and even videos. I’ve found that illustrations are easier to get approved if you have the skills to draw, because it’s pretty hard to have bad lighting or out of focus images when they are an illustration!

This illustration has earned $197.92 since it was uploaded on 30/10/13

As I’ve said, I’ve found Shutterstock to be my favourite and the easiest to use, so I’ve put the most time into that and it is paying off for me. I look forward to seeing how much I can make if I actually work on it regularly!

So have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose, and you might find yourself earning some extra money on the side that keeps coming in even after you stop working.

Disclaimer: I earn a small commission when you use the referral links I have provided above. I only earn money once you start earning money! It doesn’t make a difference for you but it’s a great way to say thank you for referring you. I have only mentioned sites that I am personally using (or plan to) so I can verify that they do work! All $ are in USD.

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Sarah Clark

I'm a freelance graphic designer, church volunteer and first time mum with a passion for bringing a new level of creativity into churches through inspiring leaders and providing resources. My goal is to be able to self-fund my ministry goals through my freelance projects while being able to work from home and be a full-time mum, and I want to help others do the same.

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