Selling Stock Photos to Earn Extra Cash or Make A Living

by WorkFromHome on January 29, 2012

Having a passion for photography and taking high quality photos can make a difference on anyone’s desire to sell those images to either earn some extra cash or make a living. As with any endeavor you embark on, your commitment to the overall process has an impact on your ability to be successful. Stock photography allows amateur photographers as well as professionals to expand their portfolio and have access to a wider audience through the many stock photography websites that are available. In order to sell stock photos, photographers need to be knowledgeable about the nature of stock photography, the type of photos that are acceptable, the competition, and how to market themselves.

What is Stock Photography?

Stock photography is a collection of images that is available for sale to any person or company. Photos are usually purchased and used under usage licenses for different reasons. The traditional stock photography websites are mainly for professional photographers and tend to be on the high-end side of the photography business. However, in the past few years, the stock photography industry has undergone a complete transformation with the creation of many microstock agencies that allow anyone with the ability to produce quality images to sell them on their websites. Indeed, more and more people can afford to buy decent digital cameras that are easy to use and produce professional quality images. Microstock photography websites allow professional as well as amateur photographers to create a portfolio and sell images.

Traditional stock photography agencies still sell photos at prices as high as thousands of dollars to a more restricted clientele that includes companies with big budgets. On the other hand, microstock website fees are considerably low. Prices usually range between one and five dollars and photos are usually inexpensive enough to attract and interest a larger number of buyers.

Stock photos agencies usually have a set of requirements that photographers should meet before submissions are accepted.

What stock photos to sell?

Having a good strategy to taking photos will increase your chances of having microstock websites accept and sell your images. Most stock photography websites have specific guidelines for submissions as subject matter and quality usually play an important role.

Almost all stock photography agencies put an emphasis on quality images that feature people or groups of people in different settings including sporting events, seasonal activities, corporate and more. Agencies often look for innovative ways to capture and show people’s emotions and feelings. It is important to note that stock photography agencies require a model release for every person on photos showing people. Agencies usually reject nature and abstract photographs that show landscape, sunrise, flowers and others, unless they are captured in a new and creative way.

In addition, photographers can often become overwhelmed and tend to lose focus when trying to satisfy multiple markets. It is crucial to target one or two niche markets to increase your chances of selling your stock photos. For instance, choosing to photograph just sporting events or rain forest animals will make you an expert in those subjects and allow you to stand out from the competition.

Quality is another important decisive factor for a successful submission process. Images must be visually free of any noise, scratch, blur and lens flare. Images must also have a high resolution as they tend to be reproduced on printed materials.

Where to Sell Stock Photos

Microstock photography websites have become the main destination for photographers, especially amateurs, who want to sell their photos. Although most photographers sell stock photos to earn extra money, a small few are actually able to make a living, selling images. Microstock agencies do not actually sell your photos; instead they license them to buyers. Royalty free licensing is commonly used by stock photography agencies and allows a buyer to make a one-time purchase of your image for a flat-fee. Additionally, photographs you submit to stock agencies are subject to a lifetime copyright protection which allows you to retain the rights to your photos.

Photographers generally sign an agreement with stock photography websites and earn a flat-fee each time a photograph is sold. It is crucial for photographers to choose and focus on a couple of niches as it will allow you to thrive and potentially earn between a few dollars and many hundreds monthly.

A few other tips are important to abide by to become successful. They include:

  • Making sure you create memorable descriptions, tags and titles
  • Taking advantage of major celebrations such as Easter or Halloween to sell those specific stock photos
  • Advertising your photographs on your personal website as well as others

In today’s marketplace, anyone with a passion for photography and the ability to take high quality photos can enter an agreement with a stock photography website and sell images, earning some extra cash in the process.

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