Can You Make Money Selling Your Photos Through Stock Image Websites

Can You Make Money Selling Your Photos Through Stock Image Websites


Posted 2021-10-01 by Gayle Beveridge-Marienfollow

[SECTION]What if Your Photos Could make Money for You?[/SECTION]

So, you take photos all the time. You love it. Maybe you share them with your friends on social media. Then what happens? They sit on your phone until you run out of storage and have to delete some? They languish on your computer hard drive? There are lots of things you could do to with them; I've outlined some in 5 Easy Ways to Preserve and Share Your Photo Memories, but have you ever thought of selling them? What if your photos could make money for you?

Now, I'm not talking about getting an exhibition going and selling framed photos, I'm talking about something much, much easier than that; something that does not require printing, or advertising or exhibitions, and that something is microstock. This relatively modern concept has made it possible for everyday people to sell their photos. You don't need to be a professional photographer. Read on to find out how this can work for you.

[SECTION]Selling Photos Online Through Stock Photo Websites[/SECTION]

In order to sell your photos in the microstock market, you need to sign up for an account on a stock image website.

What is a stock photo site?

A stock photography site is a database of images to fulfil the needs of its audience.
The largest buying base of stock photos are bloggers and small to medium-sized website business owners.
These images may be purchased and viewed in two ways: as a royalty-free (RF) or rights-managed (RM) image. Royalty free means the purchaser pays a set fee for the image and not an ongoing royalty for its use.
The site obtains images from photographers for placement on the website.
The photographers are paid a commission when photos are sold and a minimum earnings threshold is reached.

Some Popular Stock Photo Sites.

Here are some of the more common stock photo sites. I have done a sampling on both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock.

Adobe Stock (Fotolia)
Getty Images / iStock
BigStock Photo

[SECTION]Tips for Successful Selling[/SECTION]

Now that you're ready to dip your toe into the microstock world, there's a few things that can help you along.

Keywords should be relevant and plentiful
Captions should be descriptive and relevant
Apply at least basic photo edits for correct exposure, noise reduction, etc.
Upload your photo in both landscape and portrait formats if possible
Post unique photos in your portfolio. Popular image categories can become flooded and it may be difficult for your photo to be discovered amongst the masses. It may be more prudent to target less saturated topics.
Preview the thumbnail view before uploading

Contribute (upload) regularly. Uploading small lots of images frequently may be better than uploading a lot at once to maximise the opportunity to be included in the new or recently uploaded section of the stock site.
Edit and resubmit rejected photos (unless it was the content itself that was rejected)
Post good quality photos
Grow your portfolio, i.e. contribute regularly
Diversify your portfolio with a variety of photos
Keep track of recent trends. The Stock site will send newsletters or emails which will indicate what they are looking for and what is currently trending.
Sell your images on more than one site (unless you have agreed to provide exclusivity.)

Some Successful Sellers Tips and Tricks

The following two YouTubers have experience in stock image sales and provide a number of tutorials, tips, and tricks.

Nicole Glass
teaching doc The Teaching Doc
[SECTION]There's Just a Few Rules[/SECTION]

Each stock photo site will display its rules, but in general, be mindful of the following:

Must Do's

Read the contributor guidelines
Only upload photos for which you hold copyright, you need to have taken them yourself
If submitting photos of recognisable people, a model release will need to be provided (unless submitted as editorial rather than commercial images). Most sites will provide a template model release.
Check the minimum quality requirements for images

Prohibited Content

Check the contributor information for prohibited content. This might include:
Trademarks, service marks or other indication of origin, including logos, owned by third parties
Any copyrighted material, including artwork, other photos, sculptures, architecture, exhibits or audio which are copyrighted
Content created in a manner that violates human rights

[SECTION]How Much Can You Earn[/SECTION]

The big question, of course, is how much money can you make from this and is it worthwhile. This can be a very subjective question. Things you might consider are:

Commissions on individual image sales can be low
Earnings will be largely dependent on your portfolio size and the passing of time
The same image can be sold many times over
My personal view–it's probably more pocket money than paid living

The following videos give an indication of what to expect (at least in the early days)

Stock Photography Update September 2017 by Hunter Bliss
Stock Photography Earnings Update Mid July 2018 by The Teaching Doc

Is it Worth It?

Will it be worth the time it takes to assign descriptions and keywords and upload your photos? The answer to that question will depend on your personal circumstances.

It is a personal choice. Do you want some pocket money or is there a greater need?
Do you have spare time?
How many photos do you currently have stored that could be uploaded?
How many photos will you take in the future and consign to a hard drive to rarely, if ever, be seen again?

[SECTION]My Experience[/SECTION]

About eighteen months ago, I looked into this for a local camera club. As an experiment, I set up accounts on Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. I used the free to download Adobe Bridge Software to assign keywords to the photos, which can be done in bulk. The Adobe Bridge software also provides an easy upload to Adobe Stock. I uploaded around 130 photos to each of Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. I did all of this with my laptop on my knee in front of the television.

My earnings to date on this EXPERIMENTAL SAMPLE have been USD$58.56 (about $80.00) on Shutterstock and £27.89 (about $50.00) on Adobe Stock. These amounts seem insignificant, but I have done nothing else in the time since. I have not uploaded any more photos; I have not done anything to update my portfolios or to keep them current and I have not done anything to promote my portfolios. For the small amount of time that I committed to it, a return of $130.00 isn't bad.

The sites don't disclose who buys your photos, but I was rather chuffed when an advertisement popped up in my Facebook feed, and I discovered an image I took of a bee on flowers in my front yard had been used by the University of Tasmania to promote their Backyard Biodiversity Course.

83922 - 2023-06-11 06:47:29


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