How to Make Money Selling Stock Photography

It’s been almost 100 years since the stock photo industry began to take off. Since then, countless agencies and solo photographers have made a living selling their work to companies and people across a myriad of industries. Although the internet has helped boost stock photography like never before, the question on many photographer’s minds is the same: is there money to be made?

The answer is yes! People looking to tell their stories and ideas on websites and social media often browse through hundreds of online images in hopes of finding the perfect one. Whether you want to make big bucks as a stock photographer or just some pocket change on the side, here are seven tips that will help you stand out from the competition and find success.

  1. Get yourself a good digital camera.

If you were looking for a stock photo for your article or website home page, wouldn’t you only consider high-quality options? The average stock photo buyer wants pics that are sharp and a pleasure to look at, which means you should invest in a good digital camera if you hope to impress.

A digital SLR that lets you control the settings is recommended, as are these pieces of gear if you like to travel and shoot.

You don’t need the most powerful camera available to stand a chance in today’s competitive stock photo industry, but you’ll do far better if you’re not relying on a smartphone or severely outdated camera.

  1. Know the basics of photography.

Just like in any type of photography, creating stock photos worth buying means being at least familiar with the fundamentals.

The fact is, the average commercial photographer is good at what he or she does because they took classes, earned a photography degree, or simply have put a lot of time into studying important elements like exposure, lighting, etc.

While it’s no secret why a photography degree is so valuable in this day and age, there are other options available for career-changers, continuing ed students, and curious visual artists. You can learn in a conservatory program, short-term workshop, and even though hands-on practice.

  1. Study your own photos carefully.

It’s important to understand the technical editing elements of today’s industry-standard photography software.

Always inspect your images in at 100 percent so you notice imperfections before reviewers do. While you’re at it, make use of things like tripods, low ISO settings, and proper shutter speeds to avoid unwanted blurriness and other unattractive effects.

  1. Develop an impressive portfolio.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of stock photos that get submitted to the many online microstock photo providers out there. Stock photography is a numbers business — the more photos you put out there for potential buyers to look at, the more likely you are to make some sales.

It’s common for up-and-coming stock photographer to drop at least between 100 to 200 photos a month, whereas established photographers can provide less since they may have consistent buyers.

To keep your photos fresh, consider ideas and projects like these to tap into your creativity.

  1. Use smart keywords on big networks.

Some might argue that you’re better off focusing on sites with less competition. While there’s truth to that, wouldn’t you rather spend hours uploading images and writing keywords for popular sites where more buyers browse each day?

Of course, there’s more to becoming a successful stock photographer than simply dropping tons of pics into a stock site. It’s important to create keywords and descriptions wisely so when your photo is exactly what someone needs, they’ll actually find it in a sea of images.

  1. Do your research and find a niche.

While we’re not saying you can’t have fun while taking stock photos, it’s a good idea to do more than just snap a pic of whatever you feel like capturing. Doing some research will help you learn what customers are looking for, which means paying attention to the types of images that get the most downloads.

That being said, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing unless you can do it significantly better. Find an niche where stock photos are in demand but there’s currently a low amount of content for people to choose from.

  1. Don’t give up!

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This is perhaps the most predictable tip, but one that’s especially important if you see yourself making money selling stock photography. Don’t feel discouraged when only one out of many of your photos actually sell while the rest get passed up time and time again. This is common!

As long as both your photography skills and portfolio continue growing and you pursue your work with determination, you’ll soon find yourself finding a path as a stock photographer.

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