The Story of a Poor Artist

ʟ ᴜ ᴄ ʏ
11 min readJul 14, 2020

Follow your heart, and you will find the way.

103cia NFT artworks
See Fashion Through Art by author on Adobe Stock

Well at least that was what I first believe. When Corona spread in the first month, that’s when I decided to resign from my latest (office) job. Not because of a pandemic, but because I couldn’t stand with the employer. Also in my mind, there are many artistic ideas that I want to make and I can not do it if I still hold with this (17 work hours) job.

Short story, I’m back to my home town (with a broken heart — because the resignation process wasn’t going well — and sore body… yeup the cause of 17 unhealthy hours) and try to pursuing my dreams. After try, try and trying again, the results are not as I expected.

At the middle of April I decided to try my luck on some best micro-stock agencies. I’m a new player (self-taught learning) with AI (Adobe Illustrator) so I made lots of mistake when uploading the files. The files I’ve uploaded on Shutterstock and Dreamstime were experimental artwork (training results).

Shutterstock (SS)

November 15th, 2020
Shutterstock
July 02, 2021
Shutterstock
October 01, 2021
Shutterstock earning review
2021

Was the most popular at micro-stock site before in June 2020 they’ve change their earning policies into minimum $0.10 per download (before $0.25). You know what that means; yeup.. many contributors close their accounts. Even so I decided to leave a few files there. I’m able to earn enough for withdraw after 1.3 years. The payment process takes 1 week with max 15 days.

[+] The download ratio is very good; photo sales earn a bigger profit. Their reviewing contributor’s files pretty quick, was less than 1 hour (now 2 days max in office hours) and UI site easy to use. After reaching level 3, earnings per download can be greater than Adobe Stock.

[-] Achievement levels are reset at the beginning of each year. They didn’t give a clear explanation in which part from your files which is not in accordance with the policy (it is too general).* Earning policies absolutely bad; with too many conditions for your files to be approve.

Note: It’s a good site to learn how to produce a great artwork, as the qualifications to get approved are very strict.

* Sometimes when replacing a file (upgraded and previously approved with the same title and keywords) does not guarantee that it will be re-approved, it is often rejected — depending on the reviewer.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock
November 15th, 2020
Adobe Stock earning review
2021
August 25, 2022

Fotolia migrated to Adobe Stock. My experience with Adobe’s Customer Service (I think they’re works also as a moderator) who chat with me was not friendly — lack of manners, not giving a good solution; luckily there are still a few that are not like that. To get your files to be approve will take maximum 3 x 24 hours (or more in weekend). If you have problems with opening or saving vector files, please find information you need through the Adobe Community. I finally get my pay out on December 2020. The payment process takes 1 week.

[+] UI is simple and UX is good (easy to upload and editing). After reaching a minimum of 150 downloads, contributors can get a bonus to access the Creative Cloud app plan in the following year. Each year AS will choose from contributors portfolio to purchase as a free collection for 1 year.

[-] SS’s contributor migrated to this site, so it will be more competitors. If get rejected, better to submit it to another micro site. Contacting AS representative might a bit difficult, but can use this email address for communication: contributor-support@adobe.com.

Dreamstime

Dreamstime earning review
13 downloads — November 15th, 2020

Contributors can earn a higher price by selling in exclusivity.

[+] Reviewing contributor’s files very quick, just a couple of minutes and UI site easy to use. I don’t have any rejection uploading here. If the submitted photos are not suitable for commercial use, they are not immediately rejected.. but they are converted into editorial. The contributor support response also very good.

[-] The selling is super duper slow. Difficult to delete the files if there is no selling yet, and for some point difficult to edit. Editing sell the rights and exclusivity are not allow freely after approval. They refuse to transfer the earning balance if less than $100 when we want to close the account.

Pond5

Their Customer Service were very nice and give help very professional. I’ve sign up for about 1.5 months now and haven’t got any income yet from here.*

[+] UI is simple, easy to upload and editing (tittle, caption, keywords). You set your own selling price.

[-] Video selling is better than vector. Reviewing time in the first month take 10 days, but now is better (1–5 days). SS’s contributor also migrated to this site, so it will be more competitors.

* Updated: Still no sales here after 2 years selling vectors.

Creative Fabrica

Contributor will get paid just for listing products on Creative Fabrica, as part of their subscription platform. To open a shop, contributors must first create a portfolio.. then follow the verification steps.

[+] The review and approval process is very fast. Their Customer Service is very friendly and helpful (2022).

[-] Even though there is a discount feature, attracting buyers is not that easy*. To delete the files have to wait 3 months and after 3 months the files are still not deleted from the system; in 2023 it is difficult to contact Customer Service.

* Updated: Still no sales here after 6 months.

Vecteezy

Last update per June 30, 2022

Before join here, I suggest to build some portfolio at Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and other famous microstock. They will assess our portfolio to decide whether it is accepted as a contributor or not.

[+] The assessment process is very fast only take 1 x 24 hours. If you’re the type of person who likes to give away your artwork for free, then you’re in the right place.

[-] The first review process only take 1 day, then takes for 7–21 days. After upload and being accepted, the file can not be edited. To delete file must fill out a form and it will be taken down one year from the date of the request. After approval new file sometimes updated (appear) on 3 days until 2 weeks. New sales status is updated after 3 days. To be able to sell on a pro is difficult to get approved. For earning, for me it’s very small — also for the pro items.

Freepik

They ask an ID card for data verification, but it turns out the contributors’ documents won’t be validated until the contributor hasn’t reached the minimum amount to be paid. Before start it, contributor must upload 20 best resources to be review. If the resources have been rejected, contributor still have one more opportunity (last chance) to submitting the resources again. Btw, contributors have to upload exactly 20 files for review (Update: at 2022 only need 10 files).

[+] To uploading resources quite easy and their Customer Service quite helpful. Many people download from this site, so the income increases pretty fast.

[-] The file specifications requested were too perfect and too few opportunities were given. As of 2022, the wage policy was changed to the detriment of contributors. If suddenly the sales graph spikes sharply, be prepared to be banned for suspected fraud.

123rf

Must send an ID card for data verification before selling anything. Based on questionnaire, it turns out that this site is highly not recommended by contributors because the sales are very slow. After 2 weeks I decided to remove my account.

[+] They respond quite fast in response to questions. Uploading and deleting is quick and easy.

[-] There is no explanation whether the file should be zipped or just in EPS file, so you have to do a trial error (it turns out must upload together in JPG and EPS files). The review time is not clear, some are around 3 days, some are still in the pending review for days.

Depositphotos

It was very easy to be accepted as contributor in here, although there is a test that will require uploading a few of our best files. Uploading files also very easy. The selling it self very various to every contributors. I found selling vector was very hard, so I decided to remove my account.

PNGtree

I’ve try to Sign Up as a contributor, but the Register button keep loading. After contact for help, their Customer Service only give a link to PNGtree group on Facebook for support. I have also tried to find out how to register through the help-center site, but the link provided has expired. After reading reviews about them, it seems this company has a lot of problems.

Alamy

These are reviews obtained from several contributors and do not seem suitable for selling vectors:

  • Nandar Chanky Al Athif: Average price $9–12 per vector, commission $3–4 per vector. My stock is 700s, only 3 have been sold in a year… compared to the Adobe Stock even though the download is smaller but every month I can PO.
    Conclusion: Alamy is difficult to vector.
  • Vicky Hanggara: I have an Alamy account but it hasn’t been filled in yet, uploading is complicated.
  • RifqiRifqa Dimensi: For those who have more time, you can upload it here. Besides being quiet for vector, the payment duration is also very long to be able to land on a payment account like Paypal. Just 1 sale, the commission recap can only be read after 40 days.
Contributor review

Pexels | Pixabay

It works more like an online portfolio, where there are links that direct viewers to their website or social media. People can give tips/donations as appreciation but most people prefer to download them for free. One thing to note… according to the contributor’s review when they want to close their account, the account will still appears with a donation button. In 2019 everything uploaded there is also used by Canva, because Canva acquires Pexels and Pixabay.

iStock by Getty Images

iStock is part of Getty Images, where we can sell our work also in other agencies (not exclusive). The revenue here is no different than Shutterstock.

Meanwhile at Getty the contract is exclusive. Here we can make some serious cash, but for a serious price. According to a contributor, one of disadvantages the content review times are unpredictable. Some submissions will be reviewed within a day or two, more often it takes about a week or even up to 6 weeks.

Deviantart

If you think to get earning from this site when you’re not open for commission, better to think again. From my observations for 10 years, being able to sell something on DA is a bonus — people contact me for free design — because this site is more intended to display arts.

Try other luck outside of micro-stock through the POD (Print on Demand) site.

Etsy

The most popular site of its kind. First to know this is not free, there are a number of costs to listing (add products), transactions and payment processing. So… absolutely not suit on me.

Society6

I liked this site as a concept (I’m more into the patterns/abstract). It is say that is was free in the beginning, but when come up with the transaction, it’s cost $1 to verify your PayPal account. My balance was 0 in my PayPal account, because there have never been transactions. I also don’t have a credit card, so I can’t put funds there.

Teespring

It has a good product catalog to choose from. There are some other features they offers like their boosted network and YouTube integration. After 2 days struggling to make some product list, I decided to delete my account. I found that I can not reposition my design after approval, when you click the help button it was just an empty page. You can not delete any unwanted product after the list is created (only move to archive). Moreover, the page always error after editing more than 2 products, so I need to reopen a new page and reedit again because the last product I have save is missing. Such a wasting time.

For Bonfire, Teepublic, Threadless, Fine Art America, Displate, Zazzle, Design by Humans, CafePress, Merch by Amazon you might wanna read their review on Trustpilot or other source, and take some survey before decided to sign up. There’s also Vsual, a new company that sells artwork in print, but if it is considered less selling they will not publish it.

Redbubble

The biggest standalone print on demand marketplace by total traffic and organic traffic, and has grown steadily over the past several years. Redbubble has flexible margins on it’s products.

[+] Uses Google Shopping ads and re-targeting to promote your designs — at no direct cost to you. This gives contributors designs an increased chance of being seen by those people who are most likely to buy.

[-] The upload process is easy… but offers a lot of products, means you can spend a lot of time editing your artwork for each product.

Inprnt

Focusing only in prints demand. Packed the prints into a plastic sleeve and held in place by tape in between two large, thick sheets of cardboard, which were then encased in a large cardboard envelope.

“A touch warmer in tone and a little more desaturated in some places.” said Mariya in her review — so I think the product and packaging is quite good.

After 1 year I still haven’t make any income from POD and it turns out that selling art prints here is a very very bad decision, because Inprnt promotes it on Pinterest without watermarks and many people use the image for free.

Shutterstock’s AI Image Generator

To try it, you must have a Shutterstock account. The images offered are limited in 4 choices and 5x free to try. To download the generated image is not free, so it’s like a Batman trap.

Adobe Firefly

Even though it looks extraordinary, the results of its generation are still not as expected. Either because the keywords provided are not appropriate or because the features I use are free.

Free Stuff

Anyway I give some free stuff, not much actually.. but it’s worth a try.

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ʟ ᴜ ᴄ ʏ

I'm a part time (artist) who lives 17% in the digital world, 3% in the dream world and 80% in the real world.