Stock Photography Guide - Sell ​​your photos on these websites

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Anne Warren
Stock Photography Guide - Sell ​​your photos on these websites

If you are an amateur or expert photographer and want to earn extra money with your great passion you may try it by selling photos online, it is likely that you have considered dedicating yourself to stock photography.

What is stock photography?

Stock photography is a term that collects all those generic images that are used to visually accompany the content of a web page, blog, advertisement, or promotion.


Generally, it is an image that is sold through a specialized platform that acts as an intermediary, a catalog, library, or image bank. In which it is possible to find a multitude of different options to choose from, depending on the search you do.


It can become an important source of income if you spend time studying trends, achieving the quality that customers are looking for, what types of photos are the most sold, etc.


This means that surely a good part of your portfolio can be uploaded to this type of platform to be sold and thus achieve extra money, instead of being stored on your hard drive.


Types of stock photography

There are three different types of stock photography. Let's see separately what are  characteristics and differences :


Macrostock, the traditional stock photography

It is a type of photography that focuses on agencies that sell exclusive images at a high price, such as Getty Images.


These companies license the images to the client and sell them for an amount ranging from $ 30-3000 a year, while the photographer receives a royalty for his images.


Microstock, low cost stock photography

Microstock agencies such as Shutterstock, iStock, Depositphotos, or Dreamstime, among many others, sell stock images for a price no higher than $ 10 usually with different copyright options.


In this mode, photographers charge for each download of their images at the end of each month, so it is about achieving a large volume of sales, the more quality images you upload, the more chances you will have to sell.


Midstock, halfway between microstock and macrostock

This type of image is focused on the media sector and advertising. Typically midstock sites are subsidiaries or acquisitions of a macrostock that offers photos at a lower cost; hence it is an alternative for many companies.


Why is stock photography interesting for a photographer?

Stock photography is very popular, especially in recent years with the rise of internet businesses.


There are several reasons why learning and trying to get the most out of your photos can be a great option:


One of its main advantages is that creating an account and uploading your photos is available to anyone, you just have to comply with quality rules that each platform sets.

It offers the possibility of dedicating the whole day or just a few hours, the final performance will depend on it.

It allows you to have creative control, although it is always good to be guided by the trends of each market.

It is not necessary to have a  solid catalog of images to make sales, although as we have already seen, the volume is important, especially in microstock.

It can contribute to the creation of a  good portfolio. Isn't that great? You like photography, you take good photos, you have time to upload them to different stock platforms and you will receive money for it…  where is the trick? Let's see it in the next point.

Is it possible to make a living from stock photography?

Yes, but it is not easy.

There are many photographers who make a living from it, but there are many more who do not, since they quit in a matter of months when they do not see a sufficient economic return to support the work behind it.

There are also those who are lucky or quickly understand what customers are looking for and generate income quickly, but it is not normal. With this, we do not want you to get discouraged, but to keep in mind that the industry has evolved, and to be successful you must be constant, persevering and very aware that you have to work hard and more effectively and intelligently.

Stock photography is a business and as such requires original and quality content to stand out. It is a very saturated area, so companies are no longer looking for the typical stock images; In addition, the fact that you are competing with thousands of photographers makes you have to work even harder to stand out.

Most people take 2-3 years on average to reach a high level, and if you don't do it full time, maybe longer.

A good number to start trying to generate income with stock photography is to upload about  100 images per month. But to get a high income (I mean an average of $ 500 per month) you must upload at least 5,000 quality images.

You may not be able to make money from this source of income alone, but you can get a  few hundred dollars a month as something extra if you upload a lot of images, spend time on it, and let customers come.


Is Stock Photography Worth Doing in 2021?

You may see this video to know details;

Practical tips for succeeding in stock photography

If you've already decided that you want to dedicate your body and soul to stock photography or you want to try your luck, you have to focus and go step by step.


Let's look at some key recommendations when starting to upload photos to stock agencies:


Sign up on various platforms to see what's trending. 

Taking a look at the main page of these or reading specialized blogs such as Canva, Stock Photo Secrets, Alamy, or Shutterstock, among others. You can be informed about the photos that the users of these agencies are looking for the most.

It is likely that the photography that you like the most is one of landscapes, animals, or objects, but we recommend that you take a risk and go one step further because with the great offer that exists, it will not be easy for you to position yourself and get sales.

Although trends change, there are categories that stand out above the rest, such as those related to lifestyle, current, commercial, or travel news, among others.


Think like a user or a company.

All images have an intention and stock photography does not try to produce them for its own sake. Always ask yourself the following questions: who is most likely to buy your photo? What will they use it for? How will they use it? ? Thus, you will have a much better chance that your images conform to what is really needed.


Plan your photoshoots.

Higher-earning microstock photographers often travel to venues or events, or use models and accessories that they know will be in high demand. To do this, they study the forums and search libraries for shots that are impossible to find.


Research the most suitable keywords.

It is very important to know how to choose these words since it is the main way in which buyers search for images. Do not forget to place them according to their order of importance. You can use the suggestions of the google search engine or google trend itself to find out what is most sought after.


Upload photos to the platform regularly.

The more images you have, the more sales you can get. Being active will increase your chances of selling, help you keep your images well positioned within search results, and keep you on the lookout for current trends. If you want to automate this process, consider using StockSubmitter or other similar software.


Best Places to Sell Stock Photography

Although there are many microstock agencies, only a few are really worth it and it is important that you are in the most used by customers. Do you want to know what they are? Take note :



It is one of the most popular because its prices are affordable, it offers images and videos, and it serves all types of companies or individuals in more than 150 countries.


It's relatively easy to get a sale on  Shutterstock. However, the payment is less than $ 1 per photo. Even with this, to this day, it is still a fairly powerful source of income for many people.



It has been owned by Getty Images for some time, making the photographs available at both libraries. You only pay  15% of the download price; It is a low price that usually fluctuates, but it is not bad at all.



It is a British site where there are hardly any obstacles to start making money.


Much less massive than the previous ones, it is ideal for selling live news photos and all those shots that contain people or privately owned assets.


The best thing about Alamy is that you pay  50% for each sale.


Adobe Stock

The one known as  Fotolia until it was bought by Adobe, is still an interesting place because, in addition to having high payment rates, it allows you to easily send photos through Lightroom and offers users the possibility of acquiring them from any of its platforms.


On the contrary, it is a fairly strict means of publication if you do not have model or property authorization.


Other websites to sell stock images

If the previous platforms do not convince you, take a look at  Depositphotos, which works with a royalty structure whereby if you upload many photos you can get higher profits; or  Dreamstime, ideal for uploading shots from a smartphone.



As you have seen, stock photography is a  good idea if you are serious about it, it is not a way to make a quick buck, far from it. It takes perseverance,  patience, and a lot of work, but it is a task that you can combine with other projects or to which you can dedicate yourself completely.


Jump into the world of stock photography - do your research, take amazing shots, and upload them to websites frequently.


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