My name is Michele Milanese. I am 26 years old and I am a:

  • photographer
  • video maker
  • drone operator

I work near Udine, Friuli, Northeastern Italy.

My story as a microstock producer: the first year

I started being a microstock contributor a couple of years ago.

For a long time I earned little, because my portfolio and strategy were limited: I sold a hundred photographs, uploaded only to Shutterstock (learn more about Shutterstock).

Many of those stock images were not created to be sold on microstocks, but taken during my travels prior to signing up.

So, in my first year I only got about thirty sales, because my mentality was:

Let's upload and see what happens!

I was producing mostly for fun, as many had advised me not to start uploading, given the strong competition that had been created over the years.

My worst mistakes

Finding time to dedicate to microstock while knowing at the same time that most of the photos are sold for only 25 cents, it is very difficult to stand for many photographers.

I have a tip for those who think so:

Do not get emotionally attached to your shots, because that way you may not notice if they are useless for those who, unlike you, do not know how much time and effort they cost you.

Wrong attitudes lead photographers to blindness

When I was studying photography in Milan, a teacher of mine told us:

If you want to pass my course, don't take pictures of cats! Unless they have a firecracker in their ass!

The stock market is driven by an imperative:

The content sells only if it is useful to those who are interested in buying it

This is a thought that expresses concepts that Daniele Carrer often explains in his course (learn more about Daniele's course) and that were the basis for my qualitative leap in the production of:

  • stock footage
  • stock images

making me stop doing the mistakes I made when I started, such as:

  • thinking that good earnings can be achieved with little effort
  • believing that a small portfolio could be enough to become a good producer
  • avoiding to create photos and videos just for microstock

The second year of production of stock images and stock footage: my turning point

A lot of things happened in my second year as a producer of stock images and stock footage. Not only related to microstock:

  1. I bought Daniele's course.
  2. I registered my company.
  3. I became a certificated drone pilot.

In my second year, I invested a lot of time and effort, for my online and offline business.


By my own choice, but also thanks to Daniele's advice, I almost completely stopped producing stock images, focusing on 4K stock footage, as it is no longer worthwhile to produce Full HD videos.

However, I did not spend the time I wanted for producing microstock. Today my portfolio is bigger, but as I wanted it to be. I sell on:

The choice to switch to stock footage and give up the production of stock images has led to significantly better results, which I have reached slowly.

In the first months after buying the course, my income came almost entirely from the photos I had on Shutterstock. Those stock images, individually, paid from 25 cents to 3 dollars: Small change for a professional photographer like me.

But this did not discourage me because it worked. I was:

  • having fun while producing
  • learning how the microstock market worked

On the contrary, it excited me, so much so that improving has become a challenge for me.

Then I sold my first video and everything changed. The following month I sold the second, thus passing from cashing $0.25 to $20 per sale.

In the same period, the sales also started to come from other agencies ,and I passed from 20 to 180 dollars a month.

So I understood that it could be worth it, and I started working hard to enlarge my portfolio, trying to create more efficient production workflows that could allow me to produce more content in the same amount of time.

4K stock footage


To switch to 4K stock footage, you don't just need a camera to shoot it.

You also need a good computer with a lot of storage, and a fast internet connection.

As for the latter, even without the optical fiber that is not available in the place I live, I can manage to upload what I produce with a 4G connection and 70GBs per month data traffic, included in my mobile phone subscription, which in Italy costs less than 10 euros.

As for the format I use the .mov, which is heavy but very qualitative. I only use mp4 when shooting with my drone.

How the stock footage must be to be sold

Videos, when sold as stock footage, must have a beginning and an end. If so, they sell better, because this makes it easier for the buyer to integrate them into their project.

To create titles and keywords for my contents I first fill them on Pond5, and then I use .csv files to transfer the information to other agencies, saving a lot of time, as Daniele explains in his course.

I look for inspiration for the subjects to shoot in the following:

  • in advertisements (for videos sold with the commercial license)
  • from newspapers (for videos sold with the editorial license)

Learn more about editorial and commercial license in this page.

Then I gather ideas and examine their effectiveness on the Keyword Research Tool of

If agencies reject my content, I resend it. If they still refuse it, life goes on, and I move on to something else.

Conclusions on the microstock business

I am more and more excited to have started the business of microstock and listened to Daniele's advice.

Last month I grossed about $400, of which $126 came from a single video sold on Shutterstock.

These are my sales reports on:

  • Adobe Stock
  • Pond5
  • Shutterstock

The first Getty Images report has also arrived, given that the agency makes it available with a delay of one month.

Two months ago I sold 9 videos and last month 10.

The numbers seems satisfying on Getty, but unfortunately the royalties they pay are just 20%. So I knew the average single sale earnings were not that much, but I didn't think they were that little:

On Getty I sold 9 videos for only $26.52 (an average of $2.94 per video).

Getty Images, therefore, is not worth the time it takes to upload and describe the stock footage.

Michele Milanese