How to Make Money with Stock Photos: Ultimate Guide 2022

Have you been thinking about building your own freelance business? Or you’re already on track but cannot take off because of photo management issues? Lighten up! Your concerns are actually relatable to many others who are also seeking ways to make money online from stock photos. Let’s walk through this article with us to know more about how to sell stock photos and make money!

Stock Photos: Definition and Types

Stock photography is a generic term for pictures used in everything from news reports, blogs, and websites to commercial and promotional materials by buyers. Stock photos are much less expensive than employing a photographer. They are available on websites with a large library of images so that buyers can select from a variety of options.

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There are 3 types of stock photos such as macrostock, microstock and midstock.

1. Macrostock

Macrostock photography is basically traditional stock photography. Customers pay a premium fee to license macrostock pictures so they can have exclusive rights to that particular image, preserving the uniqueness of the photos. However, in some scenarios, macrostock images aren't completely exclusive, which means a limited number of customers can also purchase that same stock photo.

2. Microstock

Since exclusivity isn’t frequently included, microstock photography has a low price range. This approach is new to the scene, but it has risen in popularity as more stock agencies have taken advantage of technological advancements to establish themselves. Microstock images are sold at an even lower price per unit when purchased in bulk, allowing several clients to have the right to use them.

3. Midstock

Midstock photography is a stock photography choice that falls between Macrostock and Microstock in terms of price. It's popular on the net, and you can use both exclusive and non-exclusive images.

Why You Should Start Selling Stock Photos

selling photo on stock

In general, stock photography is a terrific way to supplement your income if you're creative and want to make money through photography. Below, you can find a couple of reasons why you should make money with stock photos:

  • You may choose how much time you want to put into it, whether it's a part-time job or a full-time business.
  • You have complete creative control over your work.
  • Even though you might never be able to live off these photographs, once you reach a certain threshold, your stock photography income can become massive.
  • Stock photography builds a portfolio that can later be used for freelance photography employment.

How to Build Your Stock Photography Business

Now we want to tell you about the most important tips that you should follow in order to make money with photography by selling stock images.

1. Research the Markets and Find Your Niche

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Truth be told, you need to know what the end consumers want in order to sell your images. Products are more often than not determined by the end-users, not by enterprises, or magazines. What exactly are they on the lookout for? Doubtlessly, they need images that aid the illustration of concepts or enhance the content they're creating. This can be anything and everything, although some items are more in demand than others.

Furthermore, while photographing a wide range of objects may be more enjoyable and diversified, most people who make money with stock photos concentrate on building niches - ideally, ones that are in demand and aren't overly saturated. You can actually consider selling stock images that demonstrate the eCommerce industry and its relevant trends. There’s no limit to how unique and outstanding you become.

2. Pick Suitable Stock Sites

There are plenty of websites out there offering you the chance to display astounding pictures and sell photos online. It’s simple to find a do-able one, but not easy if you want a sustainable and compatible website for your business.

Pay attention to all the pros and cons, the basic functions that are bound to be included, and the advanced ones which will differentiate it from other stock website competitors. Think thoroughly about the features you can’t live without and things you can compromise with, for instance:

Standards for photographs: each site will have its own criteria set of content, image format, and file size restrictions.

Commissions: Some stock photo sites provide a 10% fee, while others offer up to an 80% commission.

Exclusivity: certain sites require exclusivity, which means you won't be able to sell your images elsewhere. Others will make exclusivity optional but will compensate you for it with a higher fee.

Competition: More popular sites increase your chances of being discovered, but they also increase competition, making it more difficult for your images to stand out.

3. Gear Up and Photograph

The amazing thing about stock photography is that it doesn't always require using top-of-the-line equipment to create high-quality photographs that are sure to interest buyers. Of course, this is true as long as the photos are clean and the composition adheres to stock photography's basic principles.

To be more specific, an entry-level DSLR camera and a kit lens are all you need to get started with basic stock photography. You may always bulk up later when you've saved up enough money to invest in other accessories like tripods and ring flashes.

4. Retouch Your Photos and Upload Regularly

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Want to Edit Stock Photos before Selling?

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The final phase in post-production is retouching. It entails fixing image flaws before presenting, publishing, or printing. The most usual modifications, for example, are erasing fingerprints or scratches that a product picked up during the shoot. Retouching can also be used to emphasize and communicate item characteristics that a camera cannot, such as glitter flashes or color saturation. Ideally, these are minor adjustments that you won't notice unless you're looking for a difference between the original and retouched image.

Finally, uploading frequently is critical for a variety of reasons. The more photos you have available, the more likely you are to sell. Trends also change over time, and many photos that were once popular will no longer be so in a few years. Indeed, your business may not take off right away but stay consistent will help you enhance the possibilities and trustworthiness in the minds of your clients.

Websites for Selling Stock Photos

Most photographers who work for a while and try to figure out how to make money selling stock photos, focus primarily on Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock. Also, it’s worth considering iStockPhoto and Vecteezy. Here is a summary of these places to sell photos online.

1. Getty Images

Getty Images is undoubtedly a big name in the stock photography industry, with more than 200 million assets in its gallery. They provide their clients with 125 million royalty-free photos spanning a wide range of topics, including editorial imagery.

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Getty Images receives a lot of traffic to its site because of its good reputation, which increases your chances of selling your work. Getty offers photographs in three sizes: small, medium, and large, which cost $150, $350, and $499 respectively.

Although this pricelist appears appealing, keep in mind that the agency places a high value on your prospective earnings: only 20% of each transaction goes to you, while Getty receives 80%.

2. Shutterstock

Another well-known name in the field of stock photography is Shutterstock. Its clients have access to around 270 million royalty-free photos. Thousands of individuals visit the site every day, increasing your chances to make money with stock photos.

Ironically, the disadvantage is linked to the fact that this agency attracts a lot of attention. It implies that you, as a contributor, will face stiff competition. A single image price is also low because this is a microstock site. If you're a professional photographer, this reduces the worth of a single shot to $0.48, which might be demotivating.

On average, Shutterstock contributors earn a 25% commission on each image sold, with a variety of third-party payment forms like PayPal or Payoneer to receive money from.

3. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a newcomer to the market after having acquired Fotolia – one of the previous significant names. Given that Adobe software is used by a large percentage of visual creatives, they have a distinct market niche. Adobe has wonderfully owned it by allowing photographs to be sold and purchased directly from within their products.

Earnings are comparable to Shutterstock's, however, the strength of this company lies in its figures. The Adobe Stock user interface is straightforward, and users appreciate the possibility to upload immediately from Lightroom. The image acceptance rate is nearly 100%, which is rather impressive.

4. iStockPhoto

iStock is a "microstock" agency, which means it sells low-cost stock photos. Contributor commissions range from 15% to 45%, depending on the options selected by a photographer when contributing new content.

holding camera in hands

There are two types of licensing available in this Adobe Stock alternative: exclusive and non-exclusive. If a contributor selects the non-exclusive option, a photographer will be able to upload photographs to other stock sites in addition to iStock, which increases the likelihood to make money with stock photos. In this situation, a photographer is paid a flat 15% commission. Depending on the number of downloads, the commission for the first option might be as high as 45%.

5. Vecteezy

Vecteezy is a name you're bound to come across if you're seeking the finest stock photography sites of the year to earn a little extra money from your images, vectors, or videos. As a contributor, your photos will be available to a global audience of millions, and you can make money for each download by taking popular stock images.

To apply, you must submit some of your best works for review by the Vecteezy team. After that, if you've been approved, you may begin adding your best stock photographs to the marketplace for others to buy and download. Like with any other website, stay consistent with uploading, get your customers engaged, and you’ll be able to earn money with your images.

Tools for Effective Stock Photos Selling

In addition to choosing stock photography sites, you need to use special tools for effective stock photo selling. They include services to make market research, fast content loading, and creating metadata.

1. Google Trends

For any freelancer or photographer, market research is indispensable, but most relevant research techniques out there are expensive and time-consuming. Hence, people are more likely to use digital tools for convenience, and one of them is Google Trends.

It is a trend search feature in Google that displays the popularity of a keyword. You can see if a trend is increasing or decreasing. There are also demographics, similar topics, and inquiries to help you better understand the niche you're looking into.

2. Qhero

Qhero replaces troublesome uploading with quick editing, fast content loading, and a handy set of keywords for posting photos and movies on iStock.

Because of the versatility, smart content-based keyword suggestions, and excellent management, it will help you save hours of keywording time. Users can also plan submissions for months in advance thanks to the unique scheduling, and batch-oriented statistics, letting them track the return on investments.

3. StockSubmitter

Filling metadata and uploading pictures to stock photo agencies are two of the most time-consuming aspects of stock photographers' jobs. However, we can make use of specialized tools to free microstock contributors from that routine and allow them to focus on their creativity.

Among other choices, StockSubmitter is a microstock workflow program that automates the entire process of filling out, translating, and storing metadata. It can also upload and submit your content to hundreds of microstock agencies at once.

In Conclusion

That’s basically what you need to know when you’re planning to start a stock photography business.

Most of the time, selling stock photos is a smart choice when it comes to passive income sources. Demonstrative pictures are always in need to help people visualize word-based content. There’s no limit to what you can do and how much you can earn in this field. But like any other freelance job, patience and hard work are undoubtedly crucial.

If you’re determined to make money with stock photos, start small, stay consistent, and eventually, you’ll be able to reach that financial freedom you’ve always wanted.

Bonus Tools

adobe photoshop actions bonus tools

If you’re just learning how to make money with stock photos, you probably understood that you need to edit images before selling them. You can speed up editing using Ps actions, suitable for main types of photography. They are compatible with Photoshop CS 4-6 and Photoshop CC.