While there are so many hobbies to explore, photography is the only hobby that has practical and mental benefits. You can explore your creativity and create beautiful memories in the process.
However, many people do not know that they can make money with photography. Like any business, photography comes with extra costs like cameras, accessories, and lenses.
Making money with photography will be an excellent way to cater to these costs. Here’s a detailed guide on what you need to know about stock photography and the best sites to sell your photos.
THE 8 BEST STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY SITES
Here are the top stock photography sites to sell your photos.
Getty is known for its quality photos and unmatched standards. Being one of the top sites gives you an advantage of selling your work at a higher price, unlike other places. The site has a moment collection contract where you earn 20 percent of the listed price.
Getty is renowned for quality imagery, and it’s an ideal place to build your portfolio. Another great feature is the editorial classification of images. Architectural or travel photographers will find this a plus as you don’t have to remove stuff from the photo. You can classify it as editorial only and sell it.
Getty appreciates creative freedom and does not reject work because the subject is not in focus. The agency recognizes the artistic value in work and overlooks the technical aspects.
However, Getty has a disadvantage in that the contract is exclusive. You cannot resell the images anywhere else.
iStock also known as iStockphoto is part of Getty Images, which increases its reach and brand recognition. The best part with iStock is that you can sell your work to other agencies as the contract is not exclusive.
You get to earn a higher percentage with this site as you can sell exclusively through iStock. With this, you get the right balance between access to a broader market and reasonable earning options.
Nonetheless, with iStock being a microstock site, you get to earn a minimal amount for each sale. This means you could get a mere $1.60 for an image that sells for $12.
Another disadvantage is that iStock uses the same submission platform as Getty. You’ll have to deal with poor customer service and extended content review times.
Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock photo sites online. The fact that it’s usable, yet versatile makes the website a useful place for businesses with varying photography needs.
You’ll need to complete the application and verify your identity using a government-issued ID.
As a contributor, you need to upload ten images, seven of which need to be approved. If your submission does not meet the criteria, you’ll need to wait for a month to submit again. The best part is that you can access the critique form to talk with other photographers about what works and what doesn’t.
Shutterstock has a three-part series that allows you to use the right keywords to make your images searchable.
The 500px marketplace is a photography community-based platform and is also a stock photo site that allows you to list your photos. With this platform, you can create your portfolio and showcase it.
Experienced editors are responsible for all photo submissions. They are responsible for reviewing and approving photos for licensing. The 500px marketplace is free to join, and you can earn more than 50 percent of the sales of images submitted to the market.
Adobe Stock is a new entrant in stock photography. One of the aspects that make it stand out is the seamless photo upload option. All you need is to drop the photos in the publishing area, and the software does the rest of the work.
You can then add titles and keywords. The integration of Adobe CC and Adobe Stock makes things easier.
Unlike other submission platforms, Adobe Stock has a modern content dashboard and submission platform. You can get access to an easy-to-navigate interface, individual stats on each photo, and real-time sales. What’s more, you can make any edits after publication.
Their quick and consistent review times make Adobe a winner. You can have your submissions reviewed in two days. While their earnings are not as ideal, you’ll stick to getting a few dimes for sales made.
You might find Adobe Stock a bit strict as you need to meet the technical execution and quality. The site pays attention to images out of focus. They are also stringent on what you may term intellectual property.
Also, you may find your creativity limited with Adobe Stock as they are only looking for content that has a wide market and general interest.
Adobe Stock doesn’t have an editorial-only submission. Your submission won’t get approval if you don’t have a release for something.
Alamy doesn’t have a lot of rules like most stock sites. The site doesn’t have as many buyers, but it’s a competitive stock photo agency. Also, Alamy pays 50 percent on each sale, which is a significant advantage.
The site doesn’t offer exclusivity which means that you can sell the images to other places to maximize your profits.
Furthermore, the site deals with customers across different countries and industries, which allows you to upload any type of content that you deem fit.
Dreamstime is my favorite stock photo site. Major brands like Samsung, Google, Walmart, and more use it for their images. The site has strict quality control criteria for all its pictures. You’ll need to submit high-resolution photos.
All you need is to set up an account and submit your photos as samples. Exclusive images attract up to 60 percent of the net sales. You can opt to be an elite contributor or work as a non-exclusive contributor.
Once approved, the photos will be available for sale. Dreamstime has one of the highest payoffs as you can get up to 50 percent royalty off each sale.
123rf has over 68 million photos and is one of the best places to sell your photos online. The site has a revenue-sharing model that allows you to earn more by uploading more photos.
Moreover, 123rf has a contributor level that depends on the number of downloads you’ve had in a year.
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE
Stock photography involves the sale of images that are subject to a usage license. They are for commercial purposes and are available on stock photo websites. Clients then access these images and buy them to use in a magazine article, a blog post, a book cover, or for other uses.
As a photographer, you can set your desired price point for each image you upload. However, this depends on the medium it will be on, its use, commercial purpose, and other factors that defer from one site to another.
Photographers do not sell the images, but they have a license for specific uses. Also, they retain the copyrights.
These licenses can be expensive depending on the photographer, and some sites are willing to spend thousands of dollars on quality photographs.
USEFUL TIPS TO SELL STOCK PHOTOS
While some will argue that stock photography is not as profitable as it was some years back, few people are making a profit from this. Getting a license for your photos as a beginner photographer can be daunting.
Here are some helpful tips on how to sell stock photos.
GET TO KNOW THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LICENSING
Stock photos are intellectual property. Customers obtain a license to use them for a specific use. The photographers keep the copyrights, which means that they can reuse the stock images and make sales of the same photos.
It’s essential to understand that you can charge more money based on the terms of your license. You’ll need to read the fine print before signing any contract. Ask questions if you’re unsure about what each license offers.
There are mainly two categories of licenses, rights-managed, and royalty-free. These categories have their exceptions and limitations, which you need to understand.
DETERMINE THE TYPE OF STOCK PHOTOS YOU NEED TO SHOOT
Some people get into photography as a hobby, where they create art for themselves. However, a few photographers produce images for paying clients while maintaining their artistic integrity.
If you fall in the latter category, it’s crucial to understand the demand for the different genres of stock photography and create photos that clients will purchase for commercial use.
Do your research on the kind of photos that are popular in blog posts, magazines, and social media posts. You’ll need to create these images to sell online.
INVEST IN A QUALITY CAMERA AND LENS
Any photo doesn’t count in stock photography. You need to invest in a quality DSLR camera and lens that gives you sharp images. High-resolution images will get you paid more than ordinary pictures.
Remember that clients want full-color images that are bright and clean. These photos should appeal to the mass. Forget about post-processing techniques like Photoshop, over-saturation, or cropping photos.
Keep your photos neutral for clients who want natural images with a sharp focus.
Getting more sales doesn’t come easy, there are different tactics you need to use to make this happen. Apart from creating high-quality photos, you need to zero in on a particular niche based on the subject matter.
Also, you need to describe the photos using keywords, tags, and titles to get these images in front of potential buyers. Find out some popular search terms and use this on your photos. Nonetheless, avoid using too many keywords as you may get a penalty when uploading these photos.
CHOOSE THE STOCK SITE WISELY
With multiple agencies to choose from, it’s critical to work with the right one. Some photo sites are microstock agencies that tend to offer a lower price for photos uploaded on their websites.
Big agencies like Alamy and Getty will offer higher rates and are open to negotiating the amount depending on the use.
However, you should note that some agencies have an editor who will only choose the photos their clients would like. Some agencies are unmanaged and can accept all your photos as long as they meet the set technical guidelines.
You’re likely to get multiple rejections before any agency accepts you, do not give up. Although this will feel like a disappointment, it will make you a better photographer once you apply the suggestions and feedback offered.
Remember the first batch of photos is the hardest, but it gets easier after being accepted.
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STOCK AGENCY
Stock agencies work to promote your work as a photographer. If the agency accepts your first submission, strive to build a relationship with them. \
Find out if they have current picture needs or if they’re looking for location-specific photos.
Things change in an instant thanks to technology. It’s essential to stay up to date with the latest trends and news in your photography genre.
For example, if you’re a travel photographer, check to see if there’s a new direct flight to a famous destination. As a lifestyle photographer, look at the trends that brands are using.
HAVE A PORTFOLIO
In photography, you’ll have failures and successes. Some photos will be more profitable than others will. Learn from the failures and build a portfolio based on the shoots that sell more. After a while, you’ll have a sense of the type of shots you should focus on and those you should forego.
The stock market is competitive and crowded, which might make it difficult to make a living as a stock photographer. However, there is an opportunity to create a steady source of additional income by publishing photos you shot without a purpose.
Moreover, you can upload photos shot for client assignments. Use the above guide to learn how to make sales in stock photography and the best sites to consider as a photographer.