“Stocks are a good way to earn extra money amid pandemia”
Stories of three Kazan residents who exchanged their work in the office for the production of content for the currency storage of digital content
Stocks have long earned the fame of unobvious and, at the same time, quite profitable kind of earnings. The requirements are essentially minimal — to create and upload content (photos, illustrations, textures, 3D, music, and more) to special platforms. Realnoe Vremya talked to Kazan residents who made a bet on stocks at the time and found out whether one can still make good money on them, how long one has to wait for profit, the barriers to entry and what difficulties one should prepare for if they decide to sell their content for currency.
“Working at stocks can be compared to running a marathon”
Before starting to earn money on stocks, Kazan resident Artem Salaev (name changed at the strange but respected editorial request of the interlocutor — editor's note) was engaged in photo and video shooting, photographed weddings and, at the same time, tried to shift to the niche of corporate video because he considered wedding celebrations not the most creative activity. In 2014, after the dollar exchange rate jumped, all the equipment that he wanted to buy became twice as expensive, while our interlocutor received half as much. Trips, which were one of the main items of expenditure for him, also became more expensive. Then Salaev found out that he could earn money on stocks and decided to take a risk.
“Stocks are large international online platforms where anyone can purchase content to create a media project," explains Artem Salaev to our publication. “For example, you are writing an article and you need illustrations for it. You can find them in Yandex.Pictures, but if you work in a large publication or any other more or less large project, you may have problems with copyright. Abroad, they prefer to buy such content on stock sites — even if an ordinary employee is preparing some kind of working presentation.
According to Salaev, there are three or four sites in the world that occupy 60-70% of the market, and all of them are based in the United States. For example, the headquarters of the largest platform Shutterstock is located in New York, in Empire State Building. There are also Canadian and Australian platforms, there is one Russian stock Lori, but it is not that alive — it sells little and pays poorly.
To enter most sites, one just need to register and upload their content there. If it meets the quality requirements, the stock accepts them and starts selling them. Some stocks require an invitation, and some require a long time to knock and pass an exam due to high requirements for the quality of content.
“It is very difficult to get on one of the oldest and most prestigious platforms — Getty Images, where the coolest images are loaded. I got to 90% of the stocks, but not everywhere. In general, through perseverance, one can get anywhere," says the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya. “Working at stocks can be compared to running a marathon — you need to keep up the pace and do it for a long time. There is a term called “death valley” — this is when the author works hard, creating materials for six months, and does not sell anything at all. This is real, some do not sell anything even longer, and then quit. You need to work for at least two years to start selling something more or less regularly. I loaded it myself for two or three months, everything also stalled, I gave up this business, and after a year and a half the first sale appeared. After some time, I went back there again with a strong will, started working regularly, and, fortunately, it worked out.
“Relevant topics — Black Lives Matter, same-sex couples, and so on”
Some authors earn through high quality and genius talent, others — perseverance and quantity. For Artem Salaev, the formula for success looks like this: taking beautiful pictures in a beautiful place and on the right, relevant topic.
“There are seasonal themes — New Year, Halloween or Valentine's Day. There are topics that suddenly become mega-popular. For example, in 2015, gadgets, smartphones, and trackers were at their peak. In connection with the pandemic, the agenda has also changed: the one who caught this wave last autumn-winter, earned very well. Now one of the most relevant topics is Black Lives Matter, images of people with disabilities, same-sex couples, and so on," Salaev shares his observations.
Our interlocutor admits that about 10% of all the content he uploaded was sold, and the rest is humbly waiting in the wings. And some of the content, in his opinion, is ignored completely undeservedly, and some inconspicuous things are bought very actively.
“This is by no means a passive income, this is a permanent job where you have to upload a lot of material every day — 500-1000 images and videos a month, or better yet more. And out of this thousand, about 30-40% will be accepted. For creative people, a big plus is that you can photograph whatever you want," sums up Artem Salaev.
“Stocks charge a very large commission, giving the author about 30%"
Before becoming a content maker on stock platforms, Nikolay Artyushkin was a journalist. In 2014, the publication where he was working closed, and he began a futile search for a new job. The former journalist was rescued by a grant for one of his earlier articles, which allowed him to “do something that does not immediately make a profit”. It was then that Artyushkin decided to try to work with stocks.
“In those days, the income was very good — I received much more than I could earn in this field (I do vector illustrations) in Kazan. Now the competition has become noticeably tougher, plus the sites themselves have reduced royalties — stocks charge a very large commission, giving the author about 30%," Nikolay Artyushkin shares his experience. “Most likely, at first you will have to work for a long time without much income — I have this period lasted about six months or a year. But then for several years it was possible to do almost nothing — income was growing or did not fall at least. In general, income appears immediately, but it is very small — it becomes possible to live on it in about six months, provided that you worked very hard at the initial stage. Over time, it became possible for me to work a few hours a week and get normal money.
Like Artem Salaev, Nikolay Artyushkin pays attention to the topic of content relevance — it is important to follow the agenda. In general, according to our interlocutor, there are a lot of different niches on the stock market: there are authors who work exclusively on holidays, there are authors who work only on the news agenda, and so on.
“I do not know people who make good money on stocks, combining. You can earn money here if this is your main activity. Although it was when I started. I doubt that it is be possible to earn as much money if you focus heavily on classic stocks now. Personally, my income from stocks has significantly decreased recently, but I moved to other similar sites, where commission is much lower," says Artyushkin.
“These are difficult times for stockers now”
Igor Tishin from Kazan got acquainted with stocks in the same way as the previous heroes, it happened in 2014. He was working in an office and was looking for extra income in his spare time. He had experience as a designer and illustrator, so Tishin started drawing vector illustrations and uploading them to microstocks. After five months, according to our interlocutor, the income from them began to exceed the salary, so he decided to quit his job and devote all his time to stocks.
According to the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya, if you want to engage in stocks right now, you need to know a few things:
- First, regularity is important. Upload new works every week. Treat it like a job.
- Second, you need a financial safety net, time, patience and diligence. You will not be able to get a good income immediately, especially if you combine stocks with main job. To get 500$ a month from stocks, you will need six months or a year.
- Third, there is much more competition now than there was six years ago. More authors have appeared, and the quality of their work has increased significantly. “If you draw a vector like me, don't expect to make good money by making simple flat icons. The market is saturated. Find your niche.”
“These are difficult times for stockers now. For example, Shutterstock reduced payments to authors. Many are dissatisfied with this — someone announced a boycott and stopped loading new works, and someone completely removed the portfolio from the site. Fortunately, there are other platforms besides Shutterstock. The advantage of stocks is that you can load the same work to several sites at once. I work with about ten of them," Tishin says.
For some authors, this is a constant and good source of income, for others — additional money that can be spent on a cup of coffee or new jeans. According to Igor Tishin, everything depends on you.
“If you are engaged in any kind of handmade, open a store on Etsy," our interlocutor believes. This is not exactly a stock, but the principle of operation is similar. In general, stocks are a good way to earn extra money amid pandemia. Especially if you started doing this not today, but six months ago. But today it is not too late," our interlocutor believes.