How to Earn Money Selling Stock Photos


How to Earn Money Selling Stock Photos

If you’re considering earning money selling stock photos, there are two major sites to consider—Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Both of these sites are leading resources for businesses and other organizations that need high-quality, royalty-free images and other types of media to use in their marketing materials and Web sites. But which one should you choose? This article can help you understand the differences between the two services so you can choose the one that works best for your business goals.

Choosing what type of images are your strongest suit

There are many different types of images you can sell online. If you’re not sure what you’re best at, do a little research on what kinds of images are in demand. Many stock photo websites and microstock agencies offer listings of their most popular images, giving you a good idea as to where your strongest suit lies.

Finding keywords that people are actually searching for

As a stock photo seller, your number one job is finding and photographing subjects that people are searching for on Shutterstock. There are many ways you can do that: by looking at Google Trends data for general search terms and niches, using research tools like FotoForensics, or by getting ahead of trends before they hit (if you're quick). Put simply: find out what photographers are shooting in your niche, look at their work and photos that have performed well in search results in recent months and years (view individual Shutterstock Sales reports), and think about whether you can take those photos yourself—or better yet, tell a different story with your own spin. Then start taking pictures!

Understanding the competition level for your niche

There are a lot of stock photo websites out there, but one that provides unique value is Shutterstock. Here’s why: more than 6 million people in search of photos and illustrations visit Shutterstock every month. That means you’re targeting a highly competitive niche, but you can add value by offering your photos for free—or inexpensively—compared to other stock photo websites. This approach enables you to stand out from the competition and potentially make more money with your business (because no matter how hard you try, some customers will buy images if they see how much it costs at other sites). And, by providing something exclusive on one site while offering it elsewhere for free or cheap, photographers actually can make money selling their photos without competing directly with everyone else on another site.

Making sure you have plenty of free images in your portfolio as well

Having lots of free (and high-quality) images in your portfolio is a must for any stock photographer, and it makes sense from a business perspective as well. Most professional photographers will give their images away for free if it means landing more paid jobs with larger clients. So build up your free library and make sure you’re creating some amazing work. You never know what will catch on—it could be worth quite a bit one day!

Having a profile on websites like Fotolia, iStockphoto, Dreamstime and Shutterstock will get you more sales

Sign up for a free account on these websites. While you’re at it, register your work at every major stock photo website. Also, be sure to upload a few sample images and encourage friends and family members to buy one or two. Don’t expect sales immediately—it will take time for customers to find you, but that search is made easier if you have a presence on as many sites as possible.

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