Monday, 29 January 2007

Make Money With Photography – Sell Your Photos

Yes, if you have talent as a photographer you can make some money - even without being a pro. However, you will not get rich quickly. I do this as a hobby only (next to a full-time job) and was able to make the money for an entry-level DSLR + a nice lens within a year. If you are good, a photoshop wiz, a talented designer, artist or painter - or all of that - you can make much more! It’s fun too!




Heads-Up:
Before you apply at any microstock agency, please read their forums regarding the application procedure/ requirements. I did not and I got banned for 3 months at Shutterstock. The agency where I make the most money now. And no, they do not tell you anything about getting banned upfront. Better invest a few hours and check out how it works.



Microstock only exists for a few years now. The combination of easy to use digital equipment, affordable prices and the internet made this business model possible. In simple words it works like this:
  • Take a photo
  • Provide a good description and accurate keywords for it
  • Upload it to microstock agency
  • Get it approved by their reviewers (takes about a week)
  • Get a commissions every time a buyer (designer, advertising agency, individual, ..) downloads your photo


Of cause it’s not that simple. Each of these steps has it’s requirements. Photos with people require a model release (=permission for commercial use). Do not upload every snapshot or holiday photo you have, they will get rejected. Check out the “most popular lists” and think about what potential buyers could need.


Please also know that microstock is highly controversial. The agencies pay pennies (cents) to the photographer for each download. But the volume adds up. However, many professional photographers don’t like the fact that their work sells for “almost nothing”. There is an opinion out there that microstock de-values photographic work and is destroying the industry and quality work. Decide for yourself. It has been discussed with passion and all arguments have been exchanged. Just search the popular photography forums for “microstock” (eg at the dpreview.com forum).


Below are the most popular microstock places. In brackets my personal % of earnings
  • Shutterstock (40%)
  • Istock (20%)
  • Dreamstime (20%)
  • Fotolia (10%)
  • BigStock (10%)

I also joined StockXpert recently. They have the most easy upload process!

I have between 300 and 500 photos on each page. You are allowed to submit the same photo to every agency … as long as you do not sign up for an exclusivity agreement.

You will not see much earnings before you reach +100 images online. Build up your portfolio continuously and so will the returns. A general rule of thumb is 2-5 US$ per photo per year (when submitting to multiple sites), depending on subject and quality.


Once you got started, you will have to optimise your workflow. Otherwise uploading and keywording will drive you mad … and steal all your time.

  • Upload via FTP. All sites (except iStock) have FTP upload. You can use a freeware program like SmartFTP Client to upload a batch of photos to multiple sites simultaneously! Just let the upload run over night and your done
  • Use an IPTC editor to keyword your photos. The keywords get stored in the photo file. And the microstock site will read the keywords automatically from your file. That means you need to keyword your photos only once. You can use freeware programs like Exifer or Pixvue. Also Microsoft recently released a similar tool for windows. I use Exifer and that works ok for me.

Microsoft Photo Info Tool: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/photoinfo.mspx


Recommended Links On Selling Photos Via Microstock


Pls find below my referral link. Pls use them if you want to join any of the microstock agencies as a photo seller or buyer. You do not loose anything and I will get a small bonus. Thanks!

http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=56445

View My Portfolio

Royalty Free Images

3 comments:

athol birkmyre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jordanmcclements said...

Another way to make money from your photos (especially if they are not quite good enough to make a killing from the stock photo web sites) is to set up your own web site and give them away for free while making money off the advertising on your web site.

(Works quite well for me).

The only downside to this method is that you need some techniical knowledge...

mathew said...

Very nice.......I'm sure it will help many people.....

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