How to earn money selling your photos on Internet: a quick guide

September 1, 2020

Got a digital camera? Now you can earn money selling your pictures on the Internet! If you have a good eye and if you are a creative person, you can generate very nice monthly income by selling your pictures on stock photography web sites. In a month or two you will start collecting monthly PayPal transfers for few hundreds bucks from any agency you decided to work with. You probably can not live from a few hundreds bucks a month, but come on at least it pays you back for all that nice and expensive photographic gear you have purchased last year, and pays back quit fast.

I truly love online stock photography phenomenon, since it is the first in the world and probably the only business model which allows amateur photographers like you and me to earn some money from they lovely hobby. In fact, if you are a talented photographer and you shoot hundreds of pictures every month you can earn a very significant part of your living by shooting high quality creative pictures for the stock photography agencies.

There are many stock photography sites that will be happy to sell your photos as royalty free stock and share with you the received revenues.andnbsp; However, be aware that many sites will ask you to provide detailed personal information such as a scan of you picture ID or passport. Also, at many sites you will be requested to sign and fax back a signed copy of the site's submitter agreement. These requirements are part of a continuous effort for limiting the online images fraud and aims to protect both image buyers and image copyright owners from the fraudulent behavior.

In addition to the submitters authentication, many stock photo sites will ask you to pass a professional online test, which should verify that you have all the required photographic skills and that you understand rules of the game on stock photography market. Do not be afraid of that test. If you know the difference between shutter speed and the aperture and if you can explain what is DOF you will pass this test for sure.

The basic stock photography rules are very simple:1) Do not submit stock photographs and illustrations that include any copyrighted material. Avoid photographing company logos, trademarks, third-party images and brands.

2) Provide a model release for any recognizable person in your stock image. You can download model release form from every stock photography site. Fill it in and send along with each image containing a recognizable person. It could be a good idea to keep around some printed copies of model releases forms. When you shoot a person, do not forget signing her on one or more model releases! Note, that most sites will also ask you for the copy of model's ID, the witness signature and a copy of witness picture ID. Keep all this in your mind when you prepare a stock photography shooting session

3) Editorial content. Some stock photo agencies, like Pixamba and Shutterstock accept royalty free editorial stock photos. Different rules set apply for editorial content. Editorial content can be used only in news and therefore editorial stock images do not require model releases and can include copyrighted material. So, if you have shot a crowded carnival in Brazil do not throw out all your pictures just because you do not have model releases for all these people. You still can submit your images as editorial stock photographs to some stock photography agencies.

4) Use appropriate lighting and composition. This is common sense, but I will mention it anyway. Your images compete for the buyers attention with stock images created by highly qualified talented professional photographers who shoot for years, own some nice equipment and definitely know how and when to use it. You must think creatively in terms of lighting and composition, otherwise your images will never sell.

For instance, if until now you relied on built-in camera flash as a proper source for indoor lighting it is a time to change your mind. Go to the stock photo sites and take a look how other stock photographers use light in their work. You will probably need to switch to some more professional sources of lighting for your indoor photography. Again be creative and you will win the war for the buyers attention and buyers dollars!

5) Images format must be JPG for all microstock agencies, typically starting from 2-4 megapixels and with 15 MB - 20 MB max file size

6)Properly prepare your images before uploading them to stock photo sites. First of all it means digital editing. Your images must be sharp when viewed at full size (1:1), this way stock editors review your submissions.

There are many software applications that can help you to edit your image, starting from the industry standard Adobe Photoshop, followed up by the newer and much cheaper Adobe Lightroom and ending up with Google's Picasa, which is very limited in its editing capabilities, but is available for free. You also can try Corel photo editing software, which gives you a good value for a dollar spent. Do your best editing your pixels and you will be rewarded by image sales.

Making your image look gorgeous is still not enough to create a bestselling picture. Think about buyers. Buyers yet have to find your image among all the similar pictures in the web image database provided by a stock agency. It means you have to describe your image using appropriate keywords, title and description. It is important to do it before uploading images to a stock photo site, otherwise you will need to add keywords at every stock site, thus multiplying image preparation time.

The good news is that the keywords and other metadata can be inserted directly into the JPG file, so any image can carry its own metadata. This image metadata modification protocol is called IPTC and is implemented by some graphical applications, e.g. Adobe Photoshop. Editing IPTC data and selecting of proper descriptive keywords can take significant amount of time, especially if English is not your mother tongue or if you are much better in taking pictures than in describing them in words. The bad news is that the buyers will never find your images if they were loosely keyworded!

7)Prices and payments: what income you can expect?

Most stock photography agencies pay photographers on a per-download base, i.e. when a rooylty free photo or illustration is purchased by an images buyer. This is a micro-payment model and the microstock prices you get paid start as low as $0.20/download. Some stock photo agencies like Pixamba that believe in the fair trade double the contributors commissions and pay $0.4 per download even for non-exclusive images. If you were successful to create a real bestselling image you can easily get a few hundreds downloads a month, and your earning arithmetic at e.g. Pixamba can be $0.4 x 300 = $120 monthly for a single image. Shooting 10 bestsellers monthly could generate you $1200 monthly income from Pixamba only definitely not a bad return on a few hours investment.

The rule of the thumb says the more images you have in your portfolio the more images you sell and the higher monthly income you get. Typically, the microstock agencies send you a check or a PayPal transfer if you have earned a certain amount of cash, typically $100. A few agencies (e.g. Pixamba, BigStockPhoto) offer smaller $50 payouts, thus allowing you to get your earnings faster.

8)Copyright

Most stock agencies act as your non-exclusive sale agents, offering your royalty free stock images to the content buyers and keeping you as the only copyright owner. Avoid companies that request you transferring your copyright to them or to their buying customers! If you transfer the copyright you loose all the rights for your image ownership.

ProStockMaster web site provides a list of the well-known leaders in the stock photography industry. It is a good idea to start working with the trusted companies first and learn the rules of the microstock game.

Well, that's all folks! Now just grab your digital camera and go for a stock photography shooting session. Oh, - wait!, wait a second. First, open your web browser and take a look what other people submit to stock photography agencies. Note the most popular royalty free images and review the stock agencies suggestions for the required stock content. Keep this stuff in your mind when you are planning your shooting.

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