Profitable Photography: Selling Stock Photos for Beginners

Is there anything as cool as earning money by selling stock photos?

Yes, and it is as good as it sounds. You can definitely sell your photos and make huge earnings from them. Besides, there is no rule book that says a beginner in photography cannot make money from his photos. Another common belief to be debunked is that you need the best equipment to get the best photographs that qualify for sale.

Here is the deal:

If you have been following the new trends in photography, you will discover that even the ‘phone photography’ is fast making beautiful trends and results in the photography world. With a very good smartphone and great talent, you could shoot the photos well worthy of selling and will end up with some bucks in your account.
That said, there are various ways you can sell your photos online and this article peruses a lot of options and gives insight into the best and the most popular photo selling options. Follow my post and let me show you how to make money selling stock photos.

What Are Stock Photos and How to Make Money Selling Them?

Stock Photos

Simply put, stock photos are pictures or photographs put up or shot for sale. The word “stock” is used which means there would be a big pile of photographs.
Stock Photography would then mean a freelance (does not exclude being full-time) creation of photographs for the purpose of selling them to as many clients as possible for royalty-free usage.

It involves exchanging your photos for money. The striking difference between stock photography and a usual photo session like a wedding photography shoot is that while the former is a freelance shoot, the latter is based on a time, fee or period contract. Basically, if you know how to shoot attractive photographs, you could earn from shooting pictures without being engaged on a gig by a client.

But you are probably wondering:

How can you do that? You shoot a great lot of beautiful pictures, get an online stock Agency, upload the photographs and then users locate your photos and pay the price tag for them to be able to use it royalty-free. The beautiful part of this is that you can get payment more than once over on the same photograph for sites that allow you to retain copyright.
Quite simple and direct, isn’t it? Well, before you get lumped against any brick wall of the challenge to this booming business, I compiled some tips to help like an easy-guide or step by step guide to help you launch a career in selling stock photos. Let’s get to it.

Related: Stock Photography Income: What Is Stock Photography Business?

Tips on Selling Stock Photos

Here are some tips that would certainly bring you to the big boys’ table:

1. Do You Shoot Well?

Shoot Well

One important factor to first settle while engaging in selling stock photos is to truly weigh the quality of your shots and photos. While it is understandable that you are a fresh hand in the profession, it should also ring a bell to you that the clients are not looking to pay for poor photographs. You need to be very honest with yourself to do this. So, my very first tip is for you to get your photographs right so as to avoid being discouraged about the outcome of the sale. At least, get it to a good quality worth marketing. Here, it is thinking about the quality of photos and not the money to be earned. You don’t need massive photography equipment, just a few hints I suggested below could do the trick.

2. Know the System

The best way to get profitable in stock photos is to understand the needs of the Stock agencies. Subjects can vary from wildlife, lifestyle, nature, etc. To get rich with Stock Photography will demand a lot of hard work and constant improvement in your skills and branding. You must be able to identify the Photo agency that sells your style and type of photographs. The kind of clients that patronize (blogs, magazines, individuals) photos on the agency site. Organizations tend to pay more and also hire you on a private contract basis.

3. What Kind of Stock Photos Are Buyers Purchasing?

Kind of Stock Photos

The best way to ensure bright results is to anticipate the needs of clients. You can do this by going through magazines, newspapers to see the photos in use. Most of the photos are purchased from photo agencies. The style of shots preferred also matter. Remember this is about market forces. Success will depend largely on how you understand the needs or demands of the market, how you respond, and what brand/reputation you are building.

4. Create Space

Most of the buyers prefer having the photographers insert their adverts, content, product or just text. This would be much simpler to insert if you always leave a “copy space” or “English copyspace”.
The same principle would apply to your cuts. It is much better to leave the photo uncropped for the designer to make such amendments himself. This way, a buyer can easily make a portrait or whatever size of cut he wants of the photo rather than struggling to enlarge or make up for the cropped part.

5. The Legal Framework

Legal Framework

Rather than strike up the sands of a whole pile of legal issues during or after a sale, it is much better to understand which laws apply and how they apply to stock photos. The questions to ask range from: Which rights am I transferring to the buyer of my photos? Copyright issues and Photography? What are Panorama laws and how do they apply? What are the protected designs?
The legal framework on stock photography will be largely drawn from intellectual property laws and laws of contract and photography. So, you can read up on this and do your research well so you can navigate easily.

Related: Photography Laws: Can a Photographer Use My Photos Without My Permission?

6. Make the Pictures Less Busy

There is a huge likelihood as a beginner in photography to include a whole lot of details in your photos. For instance, in an artistic photograph, emphasis on accessories rather than the face of the model which best carries the expression of the emotions in the photo would be deemed a distraction. Focus and necessity are key. Not all details matter and not all beautiful things need to feature.
Try to capture only the necessary details and keep the photograph focused.

What You Need to Know About an Image Bank (Microstock)

Image Bank

Microstocks or image banks are large photography databases where photos, graphics, cartoons and illustrations are sold and bought internationally. Through Microstock agencies, you can sell your photos online to several clients across the globe. Various agencies offer different percentages and accruing benefits to photographers. Some offer between the range of 30 to 50 percent, while some offer even up to 85 percent of the selling price as the photographer’s commission. Also, the higher the popularity of the site, the higher the chances of your photos being sold and also for a good price.

Summarily, image banks or Microstocks are really huge digital databases and online market places for photos and a host of other graphics. With the advent and increase of image banks, there are many opportunities for you to sell your photos and even equal opportunities offered to beginners and professionals at some sites. All you require are some good sample photographs, a computer with a good Internet connection and a lot of patience and talent. There is creativity, excitement and much money to be made. There are only some speed bumpers on your way such as stiff competition from a heavily growing market, and high demand for the volume of your photographs. In all, there are many Microstocks online and your choice may clearly affect how you perform generally in the market and your earnings.

Online Stock Agencies

Stock Agencies

Online stock agencies are platforms that afford you to showcase your works and get your commissions directly. Some of them just have a bit of requirement for you to sign up as they grant private individuals long access. Most sites allow you to fix your own prices, others have a range.
Many sites grant exclusivity which means that if any of your creations are available on just a site, your earnings can go up to 60%. Some of the online agencies you can put up your photos include Shutterstock, iStockPhoto, Adobe Stock, Foap (mobile app), etc. A number of popular sites are considered below. So, if you are ready to start earning, you can check on these sites.

6 Best Sites to Sell Your Photos Online

1. Dreamstime


Dreamstime is one of the best Photo Agencies you can subscribe to as a beginner. This is because it is much easier to fulfill their conditions of quality and general requirements. The site will require you to submit some of your sample photographs for review. Most times, your photos are constructively critiqued to help you improve your style and boost sales.

The payment system in Dreamstime is quite unique because it ranks photos based on the number of downloads. That is, the higher the downloads of your photographs, the higher the price and vice versa. Overall, 50 to 60 percent of the total selling price they receive for your photographs devolves to you. I think that’s exciting.

2. Shutterstock


Shutterstock is another great place to digitally sell your photographs. Shutterstock is more organized and offers your photos to clients in a portfolio exhibition. Thus, a client who is in love with your photos and style can find their purchasing choices all in a folder and purchase as much as they want. Also, Shutterstock is a famous Photo selling website that generally makes for higher rates of turnover per photo. Shutterstock offers you up to 30 percent of the photo selling price and this rate ranges from below a dollar to around $28 depending on the price of your photo.

However, Shutterstock offers a very unique and rare compensation which is the retention of copyright over the photograph. I guess you know what that means already.

Requirements: Shutterstock requires an ID card or passport to conclude registration before you can sell any photos.

3. SmugMug


Want to customize your own space like a stand in a gallery? Then “SmugMug Pro” would just be right for you. While its free version is great and cool, the “Pro” version has more awesome features that allow you to create your own showspace, incorporate galleries and activate purchases.

Much more, SmugMug allows you to set your own prices and earn up to 85 percent of the selling price. SmugMug allows you to display your photos in a creative manner which you may not get anywhere else. It offers great flexibility and seller-management.

4. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

This website is owned by Adobe and it is integrated with many of the programs this company owns. Few of them are PhotoshopInDesign, and Illustrator which means that this company buys its photographs and designs created with these programs. With this website, you can earn approximately 20% to 46% of the commissions of each photograph that is sold through this platform. The greater your rank is, the higher the commissions you could earn on this website.

On Adobe Stock, you can earn credits, which you can redeem for cash. You can get approximately 1 and 30 credits for each photograph. Each credit has a value of $ 1.40.

5. iStockphoto


iStock is a hub of Getty Images. This simply means you are entering into a market with high demand and traffic as well as competition. This site offers reputation, high rates of turnover and huge purchase prices for good photographs. It also offers up to 25% to 40 % of profits from all the profits realized.

Requirements: iStockphoto requires the submission of three sample photographs by you and completion of a quick questionnaire.

6. Your Website

Thought about creating a website you can control the supply and price of your photos? Think about creating your own site and space. It can be challenging at first but it is a gradual process that will yield a famous brand for you if you keep to it. Not only this, you can earn massively selling your photos. It also offers the opportunity to market your photos in more than just one site. Here, you can control what clients see and how they see them. The impressive portfolio and even get contractual engagements to supply photos to different clients consistently. You would agree with me that it cannot but get better.

Related: 17 Best Websites to Sell Your Photography (With Tips on Most Profitable Photos to Sell!)

You can certainly make money with every photo.

It’s that simple and it is that great. You could make hundreds and thousands of dollars from the business in the long run if you patiently and skillfully keep at it. If you follow these tips for selling stock photos then the sky is the limit, for beginners and professionals alike. Do not forget to stay in touch with the news, the growing reputation of the online stock agencies and so on. It is very important and I wish you the best. Thank you for reading!

Related: How to Make Money Taking Pictures for Companies?

Profitable Photography: Selling Stock Photos for Beginners

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