How To Sell Your Pictures As Stock Photography
I love taking pictures. I just can't get enough. The more pictures I take the better I want to get. This also means that the more pictures I take; the more high quality equipment I want. It's an addiction. Many photography hobbyists have the same problem I do. If you don't want to pour all your money into your photography hobby, there is another option.
You can turn that photography hobby into a successful photography business. A great way to get started doing this is through stock photography. Businesses all over are looking for pictures to use in brochures, websites, advertisements, and more. These businesses will happily pay for your pictures rather than hire a photographer to take pictures for them. Here are some tips on how to get started on making money from your photography.
The first thing you need to do to start your stock photography business is to decide if you want to sell your pictures on micro or macro stock photography sites. Micro stock sites (ie. istock, dreamstime, and shutterstock) operate on the premise that if you offer photography at a low price, you'll get more sales (which they do). These sites sell pictures for as low as a dollar for small sizes, up to ten or twenty dollars for a large copy of your picture. They also offer other options like allowing prints, and exclusive license (they pay you a lot more but you can no longer sell the picture to anyone else). Photographers get a percentage of the sale, which can vary from 20 to 80 percent of the sale price. Many photographers don't like these sites because they sell photography for much less than they feel it's worth, but many small businesses rely on them for affordable stock pictures. The other option is macro stock photography (ie Alamy and MyLoupe).
You will probably sell A LOT fewer pictures on macro stock sites, but on these sites you make significantly more per picture, usually around $250 per photo (as opposed to the 60 cents I made off my first micro sale). Most of these sites will only accept pictures with over 6MP, but if your camera has fewer pixels, you can learn to upsize your photo in an editing program. While it is your own choice which route to take, many photographers start out on micro sites and then start moving their best pictures over to macro photography sites as their skills improve. You should note that some macro sites will not do business with photographers who sell their work on micro sites, so be sure to check their policies before uploading.
Once you've started uploading pictures, you need to remember not to stop. The more pictures you have online, the more sales you will make. Most sites have uploading limits and if you can, you should try to put up as many pictures as you are allowed. You should also put your pictures on as many sites as possible. Many people have their favorite stock site and only look for pictures there. This means you can put shots up on multiple sites; although many sites will guarantee you a higher percentage if you decide to upload a picture to their site exclusively. I would try not to overlap picture on macro and micro sites since someone probably wont pay $300 for a picture they can get for $1.
The next key to becoming a top seller is to take pictures with content that sells. Whatever you're subject is, you will almost assuredly sell more pictures if the background is a solid color. Black and white are the best, but any solid color will work. Generally people want a subject without a background. If the background is a solid color, it's much easier to remove with an editing program. If you want to know what subjects sell best, most sites have a section where you can see their most popular downloads.
Just remember to get inspiration from these photographs, don't copy them. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with pictures of people. You will need to get releases signed ahead of time for pictures of people with recognizable faces and also of recognizable property.
Hopefully these tips will help you get started making money with your photography. Just remember that, just like getting the perfect shot, starting your business takes time. You just need to work hard and not give up, no matter how slowly it starts. Many people started out slowly and are now making enough on stock photography sites to take photographs full time.