MY microstock story

Woman taking deep breath


After reading some of the blogs here I want to tell you my microstock story, about exploding to 2000€/month then zero microstock income and finally restarting the microstock business again.

Christmas gift box

My name is Amir and I am part of the microstock business since 2007.

At the end of 2006 a friend of mine told me about earning 500$ at a microstock agency. Before that, I did never hear about microstock.

He was contributing to one of the first micros and was quite successful with about 500 images. At that time he earned about 700$ per month. That was a “wow” moment.

With absolutely no experience I started to search the web about stock photography.

Perfect spherical droplet of water

I started contributing to the same stock agency as my friend and was a little bit frustrated about the great number of refused images. At about 2007 some other agencies appeared and I decided to try a new one. That was the best decision ever, then after one year I was reaching the 1000 Euro per month, constantly. At this moment I went exclusive to the good running agency and increased my income in another year to 2000 EUR / month. It was absolutely awesome to reach this numbers with a portfolio of 2000 images. I tried to increase the number of my images but with a fulltime job I did not have enough time to produce what the marked would need. So my income stayed at least constant for another two years. In January 2011 I was forced to go offline with all of my images, 3000 at that time, due to legal issues in my country. This was devastating for my portfolio. After seven months I cleared all problems and could go online again, but the portfolio did never reach the old performance again.

The following two years my aim was to produce new content and at least touch the 2k mark again. Till end of 2012 I was again in that region, earning about 2000/month with one single agency.

Woman peering through blonde fringe

At this time there were several changes on the search algorithm so my sales began to struggle again. With increased costs for stock production and start of a whole new stock agency I finally decided to go non-exclusive and try to contribute to more agencies, hoping to get some more predictable income and not being dependent of one single agency.

Now delivering five agencies I am not reaching the great numbers from the super successful years but my aim is to increase my portfolio constantly and spread the income on more sources to be independent. Microstock is harder than ever before but with great images there is a lot opportunity for income.

My portfolio at Dreamstime is now counting 1500 images and following months there will be a lot more uploaded, stay tuned. I have still a fulltime job and try to manage family live, job, microstock and a little bit of spare time.

Feel free to ask questions and browse my portfolio: My Dreamstime Portfolio

Some of my successful images:

Woman with flying blond hair

Woman with trendy blond hair

Cherries in mouth of woman

Photo credits: Amir Kaljikovic.

Your article must be written in English



when reading stories like this, one wonders if he should also spread his pics to different agencies - $ 2000.-- per month is a number that not even some full-time photographers make - but just like David I am still true to DT alone too - they are growing quick - ok many pictures are mass production but as Amir has mentioned: if the quality is good then the chances are good that u make ur name - so lets do more and better :) Thanks Amir for sharing - one needs a bit of a push sometimes!


Beautiful images, congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story!


Yes I was surprised by your blog story and how it was allowed here.......... without looking at your portfolio on DT I would have been depressed by my poor showing ! but I have been true to DT alone. David.


Hi David.
You´re absolutely right. My income of above 2k/m was not on dreamstime. I was exclusive to another agency for years. On dreamstime I am active again since May 2013. I don´t know if I may mention the other agencies by names, so I write "the other" agency.

After long time beeing exclusive I decided to deliver several agencies to be independent.
Now I have portfolios on the major four and a completely new one.

As I mentioned earlier, my aim is to reach the 2k level over all agencies together.

Happy new year!


Looking at your portfolio on DT I guess your 400 or sales ( since 2007 ?) haven't netted anything like $2000 per month so your income must be from elsewhere ?


I admire your work and achievement and will study your portfolio.
Thank you also for being so frank.
It is harder now to sell images but satisfying. David.
Happy New Year.


Thank you for sharing your experience Amir, I read it with great interest - good luck for the new year, hoping things will turn around for you.


Thank you Fabio.
They just need to be sold a little bit more often.


Beautiful images, congratulations!


Hi, I mean it's a tough experience but you still have good cameras to make up for what you lost...


Thanks Phopic.

What do you mean with: "If your equipments produce excellent results"

And what is a expi? :)

Greetings, Amir


That's amazing buddy, I find that encouraging (especially to me). If your equipments produce excellent results..
The saddest, part is withdrawing 3K from the net -too much of an expi :'(


Hi Libux.
Thanks for the compliment.
I am not exclusive to DT so the aimed 2K/m should be a sum of all agencies.


Your photos are amazing! Love them! Probably you will become soon one of the best photographer of DT. Congratulations. In addition thanks for sharing your story, it is always interesting read about each personal experience in this attractive world of DT and of microstock in general.
Just to say that today to make 2000 euro (roughly 2500 dollars) in DT you need to collect 1300-1400 sales per month (this is my personal opinion). I think the biggest contributors here collect more or less 800-900 sales per here today no one makes 2000 euro. This is my personal opinion reached in this three years and half in DT.....(probably someone will deny this idea). Good luck


THANKS Eranicle, nice to read that.
At least for the book cover I would have enough material, don´t know if I am a good author. :)


Thanks for sharing, I read it with a joy. You can write a book, it will be bestseller!
Your photos are great.


Haha Amir danke für den Tip. Bin momentan auch am beobachten wie sich alles so verhält.. mich wunderts halt, dass wirklich nur die hässlichsten Fotos bis jetzt verkauft wurden ^^*.

*English*: Haha, thanks for the tip. At the moment, I´m just watching to get a better view of my selling statistics. I´m a bit suprised to see that only (in my opinion) ugly pictures have been sold.


Super interesting story. Loved the comment about the law in Austria. Thanks for sharing


Thanks Amir. Your photo are amazing


Hallo Konsti.
Wär a Idee, vielleicht mache ich demnächst eine Stock-Runde und wir plaudern über das Geschäft. In unserer Gegend gibt es noch ein Paar Stockfotografen.

Ein Tipp gleich zu Begin:
Da du bei Dreamstime exklusiv bist lerne die Seite inn und auswendig. Schaue dir die Art der erfolgreichen Verschlagwortung an und welche Bilder hier gut verkauft werden. Nur für eine Seite zu produzieren bringt Vorteile da man viel genauer das Publikum und Käuferschaft einschätzen kann.


Hey Amir! Absolut inspirierender Beitrag, der mich nur noch mehr motiviert hier weiterzumachen. Vielleicht können wir uns ja mal treffen und du erzählst mir ein bisschen was über deine Erfahrungen und so... würde mich freuen!

Schöne Grüße aus Seekirchen!


I have seen and felt the same things changes in this business. Web sites having millions of free images doesn't help either. Your portfolio is amazing!


Hi Babar760.
Yes, indeed. I am talking about the glory good old days.
I absolutely agree with you, the competition is fierce, but there are still niches and ways for normal photographers. You can compete with the mass or deliver in a way to gain follower and create a unique style. I am long a part of this industry and know lot extremely successful contributors, the glory days are not over, you just need to deliver new ideas and work harder then ever.


Hi Amir,
I'm afraid you are talking about "the good old days". Now, with 30,000 uploads per day the competition is very fierce. The pie has stayed the same but we all must fight for smaller and smaller pieces! To make 2000euros in a month, you would need 5000 extremely good images!


Hi Fallostupido.

I live in Austria and here it is not allowed to earn money with photography if you are not member of the chamber of commerce especially the “photographers’ guild”.
The major problem about that was, that you could not go to the photographers guild and say, “I want to work as photographer” .You have had to go through a antiqued old-fashioned education process for about three to four years. I have had a fulltime job and did not want to leave it.

At my stock photography beginning I contacted the tax office, got my tax number and paid my taxes. My information was that if I do not work on commission and do not photograph weddings stock photography should not be a problem. But it was.
So the photographers guild forced me to go offline and treated me with prosecution.

The only way to solve this was to get invited to an extraordinary exam from the guild and get tested about all topics of photography. I had to wait about seven months for this exam and at that time my portfolio was offline.

After successfully passing the exam I was able to start by business as “educated” photographer and reactivate my portfolio again. That was in 2011.
At least I could work on commission also.

In 2013 this antiqued law was abolished and now everyone can start a business as photographer without any education!!!
That’s the funny story about ruining an extremely well performing micro stock portfolio.


Very interresting to read!


Why do you went off line your photo? Which kind of law have you "broken" and how have you resolved the trouble?

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