How To Make Money By Selling Stock Photos Online

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You have a thousand pictures on your phone that no one has seen. There’s probably a million more on your cloud storage that you need to delete. Every time you get the alert that your storage is almost full, you make the empty promise that you’re going to clean out all those pictures.

As expected, it never happens, and you go on taking pictures until the alert pops up the next time. Unfortunately, many people are in your shoes. They’re not aware of the major opportunity that lies on their storage drive. They don’t know that there are thousands of people in the exact same situation. Except that they’re making good money every month selling those pictures.

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What It Takes In Selling Stock Photos

Whether you’re a semi-pro photographer or just a hobbyist looking to make some side income, it’s possible for you to make great money selling pictures to stock photography sites. Others are doing it and so can you. All it takes is a proper understanding of the basics and the right attitude. And you can be on your way to capitalizing on all those pictures on your drive.

There are many opportunities to make money with photography. But for some reason, selling stock photos is often left out of the conversation. While it probably won’t be enough to provide you with a full-time income. There’s no doubt that you can make enough to cover the cost of the gear you need plus more. Here are some tips to help you get started with selling stock photos online.

Temper Your Expectations On Selling Stock Photos

As previously stated, don’t expect to make a full-time income selling stock photos. While plenty of people make enough money to quit their jobs and do so pretty quickly. It could take a while before you make your first sale. As a result, you need to have the right expectations so that you don’t grow frustrated.

Also, selling stock photography is not what most would consider passive income. There’s work involved. If you’re expecting to make a lot of money from a few pictures. Then your expectations are off-base. Be prepared to take a lot of pictures and to not only sell them on stock photo sites where you can make a cheaper sale. But also on microstock sites where you can earn an approximately a cheap sale.

You shouldn’t take this as an attempt to scare you from starting your business in this space. Rather, it’s meant to ensure that you succeed. Having the wrong expectations is a sure way to sabotage your long-term success in selling stock photos.

This probably goes without saying, but you want to make sure you’re taking great pictures. This probably means that you’ll have to invest in a great camera, lens, and other accessories, but it will be worth it in the end.

When you’re first getting started with selling stock photos, you’re going to face rejection. Big name brands such as Shutterstock have extremely high standards for what pictures they accept. In fact, some experts believe that they reject the same amount of (or maybe more) images than they accept. That’s why it’s a good idea to know what you’re competing against. Take the time to browse the sites that you’re interested in approaching with your pictures to get an idea of the quality of photos they accept. While there are other sites whose quality standards aren’t as high as those of Shutterstock. They’re still not going to allow pictures of low quality, and they generally pay a smaller commission amount than the bigger brands.

Have Fun in a Photography Class

If your skills can use some improvement to reach those quality standards, you should look into taking a photography class. You can find photography classes online or at your local community college. Remember that you shouldn’t feel like you’re doing this for a job or a class you need in order to graduate. Everything you do when it comes to this endeavor should be fun. Just as some people take dancing classes or vocal lessons, even though they have no plans on performing at Carnegie Hall, you should approach this class with the same mindset. Have fun to learn how to take better pictures, and before you know it, a higher percentage of your images will start getting accepted by the big stock photo sites.

Give the People What They Want When Selling Stock Photos

It’s a fact that certain pictures just don’t sell, regardless of the quality. If you look at the wallpaper on your computer screen or the popular content you find on the internet, you’ll get an idea of the types of pictures that actually sell. Keep in mind that stock photo sites are trying to make money. They’re not just trying to collect nice pictures. When they buy a picture from you, it’s because they know there is a need for that type of image in the marketplace. Whether it’s from the number of searches on their website or whatever method they choose, stock photo sites want pictures that speak to a specific topic or that evoke a certain emotion.

As you scroll through these websites, you’ll notice certain themes that come up. Pictures such as those related to healthy eating and fitness, or scenic pictures such as mountains or waterfalls, are all popular. If you go over to sites like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto, you’ll be able to search by what’s most popular. Spend some time studying what you see on those sites to get an idea of where you want to focus. While you can always step outside of those boxes when you’re ready to take those shots, don’t be surprised if the ones you take that fit into those boxes get accepted more readily than others.

What Kind of Photos Will You Sell?

Now that you know what the people want, it’s time to give it to them but with your own flavor. While we do recommend that you find the popular shots, you don’t want your pictures to be a replica of what’s already out there. The shots that you see on Shutterstock and elsewhere are supposed to serve as guides. You’re not going to make any money submitting the same shots as others. As you go through these sites, it’s good practice to ask yourself how you can take a photograph that’s different or better. Whether it’s having a different background or different time of day, you can improve upon even the best shots. If you’re not able to think of a way to change or improve on a picture, then it’s best to move on to the next one.

Where Should You Sell?

Location, location, location. That’s usually the answer to selling anything. Just like the tree in the forest, if people can’t find your awesome pictures, do they really exist? You can do your own research to find the one that best aligns with your goals, but Shutterstock should definitely be on your list. Other options include Fotolia, Alamy and iStockPhoto. Each of them has their own commission structure, and you should keep in mind that some will pay more for exclusivity.

How Should You Sell?

The biggest thing when selling your photos is to make sure you give careful consideration to your title, description, and tags. You want to make sure that people can find your picture when they search for it and that they can tell what it’s about once they find it. The more categories of searches that your image fits into, the better it is for you.

Ready to Get Started in Selling Stock Photos?

Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to get started. After all, what good is all this information if you don’t put it into practice?

Making money selling stock photos is going to take some perseverance. Unless you’re already a pro at photography, you’re most likely not going to be able to jump right in and sell the pictures sitting on your cloud drive. The best thing you can do is take the time to study what we’ve prescribed above, start taking some photography classes and practice as much as you can. As much fun as this is supposed to be, you’ll also need to take it seriously to be successful. Meaning, like an expert in any other field, you should take the time to learn and practice your craft.

Even after you’ve studied and practiced, you shouldn’t be surprised if your first few shots aren’t accepted by anyone. That’s not atypical. Understand that the stock photo sites receive a multitude of high-quality submissions, and it’s possible that your first few don’t meet their standards. Keep at it and hone your craft and eventually, yours will be among the ones chosen.

Even when your shots do start being accepted, you can still expect to receive a denial for an image. The good thing is that once one of your shots is approved, you’ll have an idea of what sells and what the expectations are for the next time you’re ready to submit a picture. In any case, grab your camera, go out there and have fun.

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