Today, I’m exploring a new method to earn some additional money from anywhere in the world. And that is: selling my photography.
It seems that most people are simply not aware of this option, or think that one needs to be a professional photographer to sell stock photos. However, in reality, anyone can do it. Of course, having a natural interest in photography can’t hurt!
What is stock photography?
Nowadays, publishers and designers constantly needs quality photography to illustrate magazines, e-zines, blogs, advertisements, websites, etc. However, most publishers cannot afford to hire a photographer for every occasion. Moreover, they usually need the photographs immediately. This is why stock photography exists: ready-made high-resolution images that can be purchased online in a matter of seconds.
Stock photos can be anything, from very specific to very general: people, places, objects, moods, actions. You probably live in a place that has something remarkable: specific architecture, beautiful nature… mountains, forests, beaches, busy streets, etc. This is already a great start. Even if the place where you live has nothing like this (very unlikely), you can simply take pictures of everyday objects, or of people doing things: eating, working, exercising… Everything that can illustrate a concept.
To put it simply, every image can be a stock photograph, so you just have to take pictures of things you like.
If you’re a blogger, you probably already take photos for your posts. Guess what? You can absolutely sell these as stock photos!
Stock photography is about sales volume. You won’t make much money per sale – most likely, less than a dollar. However, once you have put the image file for sale, it stays there forever and can generate hundreds – or thousands – of sales! Over time, one photo can accumulate hundreds of dollars in total profits. You just have to keep uploading and promoting your photographs!
To start, you just need a camera – any kind. Even recent phones will do! I know professional photographs are probably getting kinda offended by this statement, but hey. Just take a look at these 45 landscape photos shot with an iPhone by 500px.
If you are a student, check if your university rents out cameras and equipment to students. Universities that offer creative courses usually do. Besides a nice DSRL camera, you’d probably be able to get your hands on a tripod and other fancy stuff.
Start by investing some time to learn the basics of photography. Research composition, light and colours. Lynda has tons of great tutorials to get you started.
Now, go out and take some photos!
If you are using models, make sure you have model release forms on hand. These are simple forms that you can download when you make an account at a stock marketplace. Your models need to sign them – otherwise, your photos won’t be accepted.
If you need a model and you none of your friends want to volunteer, just set the timer and pose for the picture yourself.
Preparing your photos
You have your first batch of images – great! Let’s get to editing 🙂
Stock photo marketplaces have certain criteria. Before submitting, you need to make sure your photos will pass the test.
Most marketplaces don’t accept photos that have too much noise, or aren’t sharp enough (noise is THE main reason my photos get rejected sometimes). Moreover, any photo containing copyrighted material – like logos – will certainly get rejected!
Here are a few things you can do to make sure your photos go through (you need Photoshop for this):
- Reduce noise (if needed)
- Increase sharpness (if needed)
- Remove ALL logos, slogans, anything belonging to a brand!
Selling your stock photos
It’s time to start selling! Make an account at one (or all) of these marketplaces. Then pick out the best photos and start uploading!
- Photo Dune
- Deposit Photos
- Creative Market
- Texture Vault (for texture photos only)
Remember the model release forms we mentioned earlier? Have them ready – you will be asked to upload them if your photos include models.
When uploading, you will be also asked for keywords. These are very important – that’s how potential clients will find your photos. Come up with 20-25 relevant keywords. Try to describe everything in the photo – the objects, the mood, the story… Here’s a great article on keywording your photos.
Promote your stock photos
No sales yet? Don’t be disappointed! Sales don’t come on their own – you would need to do some promotion. You can begin by telling all your friends and connections about your new venture – you might as well score a few clients immediately, just from that! Afterwards, you can keep on promoting yourself in design and photography-related communities. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Free stock photography websites. A well-known marketing trick: to inform people about your product and hook them up, give them a free taste of it. To do that, you can offer several photos for free (but keep the best ones for sale). A good website to submit some free stock photos is Unsplash (this is where the images in this post came from, btw).
Social Media. Essential to all sorts of marketing nowadays! Make a Facebook page for your stock photography store. Expand to Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Gather fans and keep them updates on upcoming stock photos, or ask them for ideas. It’s a long process, but many of these fans can eventually turn into clients!
So there you have it! Selling stock photography can be a fun and easy way to make some additional cash doing something you enjoy.
Will you give it a try? Do you already have some experience with it? Would you add anything to this post? Let me know in the comments!!