On this the second article (and video), I will showcase my 7 best selling files, the earnings of each one, and all lessons learned as well. I’m writing this to attend a request on my last video.

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I’m sure every microstock contributor with at least a few sales already noticed there’s no correlation between his/her favorite files and the ones that sell the most. While I was doing the analysis I noticed how wrong my first predictions were.

Many of the files you believe will sell a lot may never bring as many sales as many files you despise.

My 7 Top Sellers on Shutterstock, Pond5, iStock and other microstock sites.

01. Space travel

This group of Space Flight simulations made on After Effects is by far my best seller. So far, they made me U$1.898. (50% from Shutterstock, 40% from Pond5, 10% from DepositPhotos, approximately).

You can start selling your photos and videos today with this link: http://bit.ly/newcontributor

These are actually the only files I got that were entirely made on After Effects (and makes me want to that again). They were originally made for a church service opener that later I adapted to sell. It’s quite a nice effect, but I never expected they would do so well and I’m so happy I did submit them.

This is a precious lesson for me: leave no file behind.

02. The Brazilian Flag

On second place I have this slow-motion shot of the Brazilian flag. This file alone made me $914 (approximately, 90% from Shutterstock). It was shot on a Canon 60D and is not even in Full HD. So there’s a second lesson: start with what you got.

It was shot in 2014, a few months before the World Cup in my country. This is a strategic one, of course. So learn to identify this kind of opportunity that happens close to you. I also submitted other soccer related files in that year that made good sales.

03. Curitiba Bus

In third place comes this editorial pack of my city’s public transportation. 5 files combined made me $714. Storyblocks brought 20%, while Pond5 and Shutterstock represented 40% each.

Apparently, the city where I live in, Curitiba, is a historical reference in public transportation. So these ones might work very well for documentaries.

Lesson to learn? Explore unique subjects close to you. Many other clips of local touristic points also sell well. Maybe I don’t get to sell the famous Rio de Janeiro landscapes, but I can definitely build some authority on my city’s icons. This works well if you live in a city that’s not so mainstream.

04. Aerial Amazon

Next, we have this aerial shot of the Amazon forest. With this shot alone I was able to sell $602. This one is strong on Pond5 (80%), while Shutterstock had 13% and Storyblocks had 7%. If I combine the other images I made on this trip to the Amazon, the total would easily go over $1000. Which I believe is enough to cover the trip costs I had.

Lesson: Make good use of your travelings.

05. Labrador Dog

Here’s a funny one. These were my first approved files and were actually nothing but a test I made with my dog. $357 earned. 40% came from Pond5, and 30% from Shutterstock and iStock each.

Lesson: Commercial value can be found much closer than you think.

06. Car Mirror

Another interesting case. A shot of a sunset on a car mirror. No sales on other agencies, but $230 on Shutterstock.

Lesson: Take your camera with you.

07. Public University

This is a public university in my city that for some reason sells a lot. $228 earned on this file alone. Also one of my first files (Canon 60D, I guess). I have no idea what people see on it. It’s one of those files I was almost giving up on. There’s even a shake on the end I forgot to cut.

The original file was shot during the night with a very bad camera and conditions. So I tried it again with a better camera and lens a couple of years later. No sales. Go figure…

Once again, start with what you got. But start!


I’ll stop here but there’s still a lot of curious cases I could talk about. It’s interesting how many files I despise sell better than the ones I am proud of.

What about you? What are your funny best sellers? Feel free to put them in the comments below. I guess this is a way we can learn a lot from each other.

If you would like me to keep writing/recording this reports/insights, please let me know! This is something I love doing, but knowing there’s someone reading and interested is the gasoline I need to keep making it public!