Microstocks and coronavirus

April 2, 2020 / by Taras Kushnir

COVID-19 Pandemic is one of the most dramatic events of the last decade. While there’s not much of positivity in destroying economies and taking human lives, it’s influence on our lives is immense and microstock industry is affected too.


Isolation and social distancing are important actions advised by WHO. Majority of people find themselves in the four walls of domestic life with cooking, kids, e-homework and e-everything else. This finds many unprepared for self-organization, working from home or even communicating more with their significant other.

Shutterstock isolation
Featured collection of Isolation at Shutterstock

While staying at home, counter intuitively people work more. Accordingly to this survey, 64% of US workers seem to work 2 to 4 hours more per week while 36% work extra 5 hours. Entertainment also becomes a priority as boredom increases: EU internet traffic became so saturated that Netflix decreased streaming quality to reduce traffic 25% and Microsoft reports 775% traffic increase from Teams.

Many microstock contributors have been working from home even before the pandemic so they may have skills needed for self-organization. Others will have to learn how to use pomodoro timers, calendars and manage their time efficiently.

Review teams at Shutterstock and other microstocks are also working from home which may introduce delays in submissions review.


While governments cancel prosecution for skipping loan payments, total purchasing power of majority of people significantly decreased. Photographers that had non-microstock earnings like photo shoots with clients on locations or sport photographers will get the worst hit since all such events will now be cancelled. During recession many projects are cancelled so general demand in stock photography or illustration will at least temporarily decrease. Some contributors already report decrease in sales. This is worsened by huge competition on otherwise hot topic: “coronavirus search” on Shutterstock shows half a million results only today.

Tourist places
Empty streets of once the most crowded tourist attraction in Italy

The challenges that isolation brings affect photographers more than vector illustrators since in many places it is simply forbidden to leave your home without essential need. It will require new skills and motivation to create content at home. Those who can work outside, on the other hand, can enjoy fresh air or ability to take photos of busy places without neural density filter. This provides a unique opportunity to finally process those forever shelved photo shoots from the last year and to prepare and upload them to microstocks.

Moving forward

While it is not clear when the pandemic will end, it is paramount to set yourself for working from home comfortably and efficiently.


Many software vendors also announced price cuts, sales and bonuses. Notably, Adobe announced Bonus program where Adobe Stock contributors can qualify for 1 year access to Creative Cloud depending on number of downloads. Serif announced 50% sale on Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo which work both on macOS and Windows. Apple offers 90-day free trial of Final Cut Pro X.

Needless to say you will need a reliable internet connection at home.


Working from home provides a unique challenge of decreased motivation. Small tasks at home like washing your dishes, cleaning, looking after a child or a pet constantly distract your attention. I can recommend a pomodoro technique to fight procrastination.

To make it work, you should always set feasible goals. Working from home successfully as a freelancer is all about setting your goals. Decide what is a reasonable amount of work you can do and stick to it.


Productivity depends on tools and motivation described above, but it also depends on your environment. Create a dedicated environment that allows you to work well. It’s tempting to work from sofa but when you are in your home “office”, you’ll get to the work mode easier. Keep it clean and ventilated, it is as important as ever because of COVID-19.


Having proper rest is as important as doing proper work. If you are using pomodoro technique, you will get breaks naturally, but otherwise you can just use a timer to remind yourself to rest. There are several applications like EyeLeo for Windows or TimeOut on macOS that can help you with that.


If you would like to create content to illustrate COVID-19 pandemic, Shutterstock has excellent guide for you. Few things worth to mention is to create illustrations, since many topics are hard to cover with photographs, depict social distancing in public places, personal hygiene and variety in demographics.

If you don’t know which content to create or you want to try something new, there are certain helpful resources. You may check out Custom contributors from Shutterstock or Custom content from Getty where you can get hired to create a specific content.

Isolation and break from work are also a perfect opportunity to pick up new skills from YouTube or one of the online learning platforms, learn new software tool or simply to read a new book.

Make sure to checkout “What content to create during the pandemic” in Xpiks blog to find out more.

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