Making Money With RF

Posted on 9/4/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

In response to my story RM Licensing No Longer Makes Sense Peter George Unger commented, “I have 9,200 images with Getty and every single one is RM. I am making on average $15,000 per year from them. Can you honestly tell me I can make more money than that on pathetic RF prices? for which they pay $0.25 cents per download. Which library would pay more then 15K on RF prices?

Check out this story  and what Steve Heap is doing. Also check out his website. He sells nothing but RF through Microstock agencies and earns about $35,000 per year. He has a collection of a little over 10,000 images and sells non-exclusively through multiple agencies (about 28 of them). His three biggest sellers are Shutterstock, AdobeStock and iStock. Together they represent over $20,000 of his total annual royalties.

It is a lot of work managing all those distributors, but it may be worth it.

Quite a few photographers who only shot RM 5 to 10 years ago are now distributing at least some of their images as RF, and through multiple agencies. The market has changed dramatically. Getty’s Creative RM collection is no longer the world leader when it comes to revenue. You need to keep in mind that the gross annual revenue alone for Shutterstock is more than twice that of Getty’s Creative collection and the Creative collection includes both RF and RM images.

It is also important to recognize that over 98% of the images licensed around the world are RF. Most customers won’t even bother to search RM collections anymore because they don’t want to take the risk that sometime in the future they might make an unauthorized use of an image that they had licensed for a very specific use. You might earn somewhat more per image licensed with RM (although often not that much more), but you won’t license anywhere near the number of uses of RM images as you would license is they were available as non-exclusive RF.

Copyright © 2019 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Steve Heap Posted Sep 4, 2019
    Thanks for the mention, Jim. Just to correct one point - although I have images on 25+ agencies from earlier submissions, I actively submit new images to 18 agencies now. It is actually very little additional work compared to supporting one agency, thanks to a great application called Stock Submitter that handles all the uploads and submission processes for me.

  • Ellen Boughn Posted Sep 7, 2019
    If a photographer insists on RM, the place to be is in the editorial sector. Take a look at the licensing fees at Shutterstock Premium editorial. Of course, the content tends to swerve away from traditional stock subjects to the more unique. And then there is Unsplash. RM shooters be changing their strategy, if they can.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff