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How To Make Money Selling Stock Photos Online

Last updated 03/26/2024 by

Halle Goddard
You constantly get compliments on photographs posted to your social media, and your friends have asked you to photograph them for events. They tell you what a fabulous photographer you are and that you should make it a profession. With some time and commitment, you can actually make extra income off your talent and create a lucrative business.

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How it works

Microstock websites allow you to sell your best pictures at a high volume. These websites do not charge you to upload your photographs, but customers pay a fee to buy them and you get a percentage of the sale.
These “micropayments” generally start out as $1 for smaller photographs and increase with the size of the pictures.
On some microstock websites, you start out earning about 15% of the sale of each photo, which can increase to as much as 50% over time.
When selling stock photos online, it is all about quantity over quality. While it is crucial to create and upload brilliant, eye-catching photographs, the amount you sell is what generates income. Because photos sell at low prices at the start, you need to be able to sell a significant amount of them before really becoming profitable.

How to get started

If you are looking to make money selling your photographs, you need to approach what you may have always considered just a hobby with a more ambitious, business-oriented mind-set. You should invest in a high-quality DSLR camera as the first step so you can take sharp, bright photographs and learn an editing program to help you in perfecting the photos.
Because the larger microstock websites only accept photos that have undergone a rigorous approval process by their own staff, it is key to submit high-standard pictures. When learning the ropes of microstock photography, start with smaller websites that are more lenient when it comes to accepting photos to get your work out there.
Lee Torrens of Microstock, who sells his photographs across many sites, says iStock, Shutterstock and Dreamstime are the top sites when it comes to successfully selling microstock photographs.

How to maximize income

With an emphasis on quantity over quality, developing a solid, extensive portfolio should be the top priority of any photographer. With microstock photography, it is production and volume that count, so offering many options should be your goal. To give yourself a shot at earning an extra income, upload as many photos as possible to the microstock websites. Create target numbers of pictures that you will upload on a weekly or monthly basis.
Keywords can make or break the visibility of your photographs, and are crucial to building any success. Be sure to think of every possible way your picture can be searched and include variations of search terms for maximum exposure.
Selling nonspecific photos with generic subjects that appeal to more of the population also can increase profits. The more specific the photo, the smaller the market. Keeping pictures simple is an enticing way to grab the attention of a larger audience.

More options for selling photos online

In addition to selling on microstock websites, photographs can be sold directly on a personal website or can be submitted to editors in need of blog or article pictures. This takes a lot of effort to advertise your personal website, promote your name and brand and showcase your portfolio. When submitting pictures to editors, be sure to check out the publication’s photography guidelines.
Like any business, selling stock photos online takes dedication, time and hard work. If you have the talent and are willing to put in the effort, these tips can help you take your photography hobby and turn it into a full-fledged regular income.
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