If you’ve got a good quality camera and take high quality photos, selling them as stock photos is good way to generate income. I’ve been selling photos with various stock agencies for over 10 years now and have the following top tips for maximising the potential:
1. Research existing photos
Before planning a photoshoot, look at existing photos agencies have. If there are lots of photos already, consider alternative angles and viewpoints.
2. Properly keyword your images
As the stock photos agencies have so many photos, the primary way people find them is through search. So keywords are absolutely critical to ensuring potential customers view your photos and may buy them. You must properly keyword your images with as many relevant keywords as you can – my photos often have over 25 keywords. Yes, keywording takes time, but you only need to do it once (I do it in Lightroom).
3. Take top quality photos
It goes without saying that you must take top quality photos. The agencies all manually inspect every photo you upload and they will reject your photos if quality is poor. Pay particular attention to ensuring horizons are level, noise is minimised and focus is sharp
4. Do good post-processing
Post-processing is another important step which can’t be skipped. I use Lightroom to post-processing such as correcting lens distortion, levelling horizons, cloning out imperfections and adjusting colour balance. It’s worth noting that to properly do this you really need a high-quality monitor which has been calibrated for good colour accuracy.
5. Consider editorial photos too
The biggest market for stock photos is commercial photos (which either don’t require a release form or have one). However, the editorial market is big too, so do consider it.
6. Upload lots of photos and be patient
Stock photography is a numbers game. If you’re planning to upload say 50 photos and hoping for a good regular monthly income, then it won’t happen. You need many hundreds of photos to see regular sales and thousands.
7. Keep track of photos and sales
Have a system to keep track of what photos you’ve uploaded and login to the stock photography websites to track sales. You don’t need to spend money on systems/automated tools – spreadsheets, collections in Lightroom and other manual methods work well.
8. Work with the top agencies
The market share that agencies have is proportional to the sales you will get. So it’s worth focusing on the larger agencies with proven track record. I have had most success with and particularly recommend: