• Collins Akaniru

Sell Photo Online: How to Profitably Sell your Photos Online

Whether your equipment consists of a top of the line DSLR camera or the latest smartphone, selling your photos online via stock photography sites is worth considering.

If you think what you have as it takes as a photographer, don’t hold back. It’s time to turn your passion into profit.

As a photographer/creator, you can earn a significant amount of money by selling your images in online marketplace in the long run. For smartphone users, some of the stock photography sites like 500px has an Android and iPhone app so you can snap pictures and upload them on the go.

On top of that, most of the online marketplaces allow you to retain the copyright of your images which means you do still get some control. Furthermore, they also provide credit to the image’s owners, which is a huge benefit if you’re trying to build a brand around your creative work. QUICK TIP:

Stock photography sites that are quite popular are notorious for making it more difficult for new, aspiring photographers to actually make some money.

Read on and you will learn how to earn money by selling photos online.

Stock photography is a number game. The more quality photos you have in stock sites, the more sales you will make and ultimately more profit.

Success in Stock Photography depends on:

  • Quality Images

  • Quantity of Images

  • High Rating Area (Low competition + High buyer Request) -- I will discuss regarding this later in this post.

Income in stock photography directly proportional to

  1. Your effort (quality + quantity images)

  2. How well you observe/see the market (Find low competition + high buyer request)

  3. Keeping yourself informed and up to date with micro/macro stock news (Latest topics/technologies where buyer may want to be interested)

Be the supply of the demand by analyzing the Market through www.research.picworkflow.com This tool gives you an arbitrary rating for possible search queries

What Type of Images do Buyers Want?

To maximize your success, you need to understand what buyers are looking for. The following are hot cakes for buyers:

  • Distinct variations from the same shoot.

  • Thoughtful room for text. So buyers (editors/publishers) can place their own text on image.

  • Images that they can’t find anywhere else.That's the class point. Your creativeness and uniqueness can create such photo.

  • Images that show authenticity.

  • Images that show cultural diversity.

  • Images that show local culture.

  • Images having both literal and conceptual meaning.

Shoot Images that Have Both Literal and Conceptual Meaning

An image of a bird flying towards the sun during sunset represents literal subject matter such as a "bird", "sunset", "bird flying towards sun"

This image also can represent abstract concepts like "freedom", "liberty" and more. Images that have both meaning (literal + conceptual) are more likely to be popular as stock images. Save Some Negative Space

Images that have plenty of negative space are great stock photos. Buyers often use purchased photos in posters on full page advertising. Therefore, they need space for words and quotes.

But, what is negative space?

Negative space is the area which surrounds the main subject in your photo. Negative space defines and emphasizes the main subject of a photo, drawing your eye to it. It provides "breathing room", giving your eyes somewhere to rest and preventing your image from appearing too cluttered with "stuff". All of this adds up to a more engaging composition. Negative space provides breathing room and draws your eye to the main subject.

How to Stand Out

  • Expert yourself in a few domain

  • Find a niche.

  • Expert yourself in a few domain with your own style and class.

  • Try to create unique look and style.

  • Buyers searches/buys images those they can't find anywhere else.

  • Unique images are highly searched and bought by buyers.

4 Steps to Create your Own Photography Style

  • Step #1: Determine your goals

What are you looking to pursue or accomplish with your photography?

You may want to shoot product photography, wedding, portraits or you may be interested in fine arts. Do you want anything else to accomplish with?

What do you enjoy about photography?

You may enjoy black and white type of genre. Do you enjoy people laughing in portraits or you may enjoy taking photos of mountains, sea beaches. The fact is that, you need to find what kind of shoot is more enjoyable to you.

  • Step #2. Research & Analyze to find your inspiration

Analyze the photography market and find people or group of people who are creating better photos in the niche/industry you are interested in. For example, you may like taking photos of mountains, sea beaches; now try to find the best photographers who are making extraordinary performances in this industry.

Take their work as a inspirational factor for you. You can only use their work as inspiration; not copy it.

Don’t forget that, your photographs are a visual representation of your brand, your own brand! So, try your best to create a unique edge for your work.

  • Step #3. Criticize your photographs

Criticize your work or photographs by yourself. Get feedback from your friend, colleague, family members, other professional photographers. Although this is hard step, but it will help you in the long run.

Look for similarities and dissimilarities between the photographs including subject matter, composition, depth of field, lenses used, tones, colors, and any unique elements your eye may catch.

If you know your weak points, try to overcome these weak points and you will definitely do well.

  • Step #4. Don’t afraid of making mistakes

After you’ve defined your style and written your rules, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Most often, extra ordinary photographs are being created from making mistakes.

Your image should have commercial value. Images that have commercial value, pretty useful to a creative buyer.

Prepare yourself before shooting

Preparing before shooting saves time. Here are necessary preparations you should make:

  • Location relevant preparation

Analyze your location Analyze weather of targeted location Check directions in google map

  • Arrive early before shooting

Selected Image preparation

Prepare list of targeted images

Do some test shoots before final shoot

  • Camera gear relevant preparation

Figure out which equipment you want to bring

Clean your lenses and camera body sensor

Format your memory cards

Clean filters (Polarization Filters, Neural Density Filters, etc.)

Charge batteries + spare batteries

Shoot More and More

  • Go out! and take more photos.

  • Learn new things and try new things

  • Try to shoot in different angles

  • Keep up with changes

10 Best Places to Sell your Photos Online

Based on several analysis and discussion with other stock photographers; Following stock sites are better for solid earnings (ordered not based on popularity, rather based on alphabetically)











Benefits of Submitting to Multiple stock agency sites

Different stock sites have different customer bases,those searching images of similar keywords. Photographs that are rejected by one agency, can be accepted and sold by another,because stock sites have different interest of field. Get Your Model Release Early

Model releases help protect both the photographer and customer from any claims that may be brought by the model due to the use of the model’s likeness. By obtaining a model release, the photographer is given the right to use the model’s likeness under the conditions laid out in the release Before shooting images that contain model, get model release early. Because it saves time. Use universal model release form Every stock agency site has their own model release form. But, your target is to submit more stock photography site and earn money. So, use a universal model release form Universal model release form saves our time and money. Universal model release form creates/saves a scope for future. In future, you can submit photos to new stock sites.

How to Market/Brand yourself

  • Blogging

  1. Write tips and tricks, your views on photography.

  2. Write blog posts about your photo

  • Website Marketing

  1. Showcase your photos in websites

  • Facebook/Twitter Marketing

  1. Attend in competition, and share pronounceable contents in Facebook/Twitter.

  2. Post photos/shoots periodically in Facebook & Twitter.

  • YouTube Marketing

  1. Publish shooting content like photos/videos in YouTube.

Invest your time in proper metadata & keywording your photos

If you don't put your time behind keywording your photos, then there is a lot of chance that buyer will not find your photo. While keywording, think your image like a buyer.

  • Use 25 to 45 accurate keywords, and customize them for every images as much as possible.

  • Make your titles and descriptions unique.

  • While keywording, think of both descriptive meaning and conceptual meaning.

Don't Spam Keywords & Description

Never label your images with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to get more views. The keywording and metadata idea is to help customers to find the right image. Stock Sites reserves the rights to ban contributor who use spam keywords.

Dealing with Image Rejection Issues

  • Avoid chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration is an optical problem with a lens that results in colored edges around the objects. This issue notifiable at most cases of high-contrast areas. For example, Edges of a tree against a sky.

To avoid chromatic aberration, use high quality lenses or remove it in post production.

  • Avoid JPEG compression artifacts

If too much compression is applied, then compression artifacts will be visible. Also image quality will be degraded.

To avoid JPEG compression artifacts Shoot images in RAW format or, Select the highest JPEG quality setting in your camera's settings

  • Don't submit too many photos at the same time

Don't submit too many photos at the same time.Otherwise, they may be rejected. Suppose, you have taken several snap of an object in several angle. There is a chance that stock agency site will accept only one image out of these

  • Inspect images at full size or more

Before submitting images to stock photography site, inspect images at 100% - 200%. Inspecting images at 100% - 200% to locate noise, artifacts, and other defects that might reject your image. If any noise, artifacts or defects appears, remove them using image editing tools.

If noise, artifacts or defects are not possible to remove through image editing tools, try to shoot again.

  • Use of cloning tools or brushes to get rid of dust and scratches

A dirty camera sensor or lens will cause dark spots or dust particles to appear on images. If any image has scratches or dust spot(s), it will be rejected. To get rid of this problem, clean camera sensor and lens frequently.

While changing lenses take proper way as no dust goes inside camera sensor or lens.

  • Be aware of brand and logos

Images that contain brand and logos are rejected by stock photography sites. If you already took an image where brand or logo exists, then remove those using photo editing tools.

But the problem is, its time consuming. You can change angle / perspective to skip logo which will save your time.

Remove watermark, date stamps and signature.

Stock image agency does not accept images that have:

  • Watermarks.

  • Date Stamps.

  • Signature.

  • Personal branding information.

Dealing With Noise Issue : Use a very low ISO setting

  • In very low ISO setting, your camera sensor gives you the best. For example, ISO 100.

  • In very low ISO setting, both total reproduction and colors will be very high quality.

  • In very low ISO setting, the amount of noise produced will be minimal.

  • To control exposure in low ISO, use tripod.

Include reference image for Auto Traced or Live traced illustrations.

A reference image needs to be uploaded in the property-release field if an illustration was created from another image.

Keep in mind that you must also own the copyright of the supplied image

This post is a courtesy of a course I took on Udemy for you.

Hope you find this useful

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