How To Sell Photos Online | Best Microstock Sites | Top 7 Microstock Agencies

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Do you like photography, videography or creating 3d images and vectors? If the answer is yes, you have probably realized the potential of generating solid revenue by selling your media via stock agencies. If you haven’t, check out how to sell photos online!

How do you combine your passion for photography or videography with your ability to make a living?

Passion for photography
Actually it is simple - as long as you can create high quality media such as: photo, video, audio, vector, or 3d graphic and tag them with appropriate keywords, you can upload them into best microstock sites like Shutterstock.com (Review), Pond5.com (Review) and Fotolia.com (Review) and start reaping the benefits of this lucrative online business. Just make sure that the quality and commercial value of your media submissions are high enough.

In the beginning, you can practice by submitting your media “off-the-side of your desk” while you still do your day job. Depending on your success you may later decide to pursue the online media stock life full-time and leave your 9-5 behind, or you may realize that the media stock business is only a hobby that you are interested in that helps compensate for all your needed media gear and gives you a nice bonus income. The separation between a life change and a passion will become clear as you move through the experience.

With online media sales you do not make money on just speculation like in other areas such as trading where people do not actually create anything but every profit means a loss for someone else. Here you create your own product and offer it to customers who can decide if they want to buy it and use for their business. This also means there are fewer risks (potentially no risk – the worst that could happen is that you have no sales!) and you gain worldly experience. You have control over your success!

How much can you earn?

How much can you earn
That depends. There are many factors that come into play: media creativity, idea, quality, subject matter, quantity of uploads, previous ratings, upload month, date and time and so on. As most avid fisherman will tell you, you've got to use the right bait to attract the big fish. So media stocking is like fishing. You must have right subject and idea, and then find the best place to take great shots, edit them, upload and hope for a big fish. “Big fish” in the world of online media sales are generally extended license or footage sales that can add about $20 - $50 to your balance. Most often, however, you will have Royalty-Free license sales that will compliment your balance with $0.25 - $3. When your total number of approved photo count is more than 3000 and/or videos more than 300 and they have average quality, your monthly income can reach between $500 - $2000 or more! These are just rough numbers to give you an idea of how much money you could be earning doing stock media (Disclaimer: In real life, numbers and conditions may vary!).

Want to know how much it is possible to earn? Here is my income report of 2009-2016

First steps to online media success

In the beginning, you must decide what type of media you want to create: photo, video, vector or 3D. This choice will point you to the gear you will need to create your media. Do not spend a lot of money at the outset. You are just trying this on...try to feel if this is the type of work you want to do all your life. It might be worth trying a few different media types to see what suits you best.

To sell photos online you will need to decide what camera type do you need a DSLR camera or mirrorless camera, tripod, filters, speedlights, triggers, softbox, umbrella etc. For video you can also use a DSLR camera with full HD or 4K video capture. This is best used with continuous lightning, slider, filters, and softbox etc. A more powerful PC is generally preferred for processing video, 3D and vector media. For 3D and vector - graphic tablets are best. For beginners I would suggest: Canon 100D, 550D, 600D, 650D, 700D, Canon 1100D 1200D, 100D or Nikon D3200, D3300, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500. Most of these cameras can be purchased used. I would not worry about warranty as Canon and Nikon cameras are very reliable and durable. For semi-professionals and professionals, good options are: Canon 6D, 5D MK2, 1D and Nikon D600, D610, D750 or even old one, but good Nikon D3X.

Model Release

If an image contains a distinguishable human face or any other body parts that could be used to identify an individual, you need to get the person's permission prior to submission. The reason for this permission or “release” is that the individual in the photograph gives all rights to the photographer for using the images, including selling them on micros stocks. Most micro stocks offer their own model releases. However, if you work with multiple agencies it is pain to fill out multiple model release forms. The good news is that you can use one generic model release for all micro stocks. Generic releases are available for download by category:

Remember that a release is also required for any firm logos and patented objects, so it is just best to remove them with Photoshop prior to submission.

What’s next: sign up, create and upload!

The next step is to sign up on some best microstock sites. You may be required to submit a personal ID. Some of these sites require clients to pass an exam before they are permitted to submit stock. To pass exams on Shutterstock.com (Review) and Depositphotos.com (Review) apply your best works first. One of easiest ways to pass these photo examinations is to submit photos isolated on a white background. Try and find some unique or interesting objects for this – this will help you pass the exam.Sign Up

Next just upload your works with accepted quality and added keywords. You can try this service to generate keywords based on similar images, just type 2-4 keywords, choose 5-15 similar images and you will get full relevant keyword list to choose from. If the media is accepted you will receive your first income shortly. If you have similar object sets and you feel they are all worthy of going online, I would recommend splitting similar images into different batches and uploading each batch separately on different weeks or months. This will increase the chances of similar media being accepted. Usually payout can be requested when your balance reaches 50$ - 100$. Just remember, it is not a fast way to earn money, but hard work and diligence will bring you extraordinary success. Good luck!

Top 7 Best Microstock Agencies

Microstock
Review
Images / Footage / Vector
Exam
Payout
Min Image Size
Contributor Rate
1. Shutterstock
Yes/Yes/Yes
Yes
$75
4MP
20%-30%
2. Pond5
Yes/Yes/Yes
No
$25
2MP
50%
3. Fotolia
Yes/Yes/Yes
No
$50
4MP
20% - 46%
4. Dreamstime
Yes/Yes/Yes
No
$100
3MP
25% - 45%
5. Depsotphotos
Yes/Yes/Yes
Yes
$50
3.8MP
34% - 42%
6. 123RF
Yes/Yes/Yes
Yes
$50
6MP
30% - 60%
7. Veer [discontinued]
Yes/No/No
No
$100
2MP
35%
   

About the Author

Alexander JemeljanovSiebel Consultant / System Analyst with more than 8 years experience. Main hobbies include - photography, videography, and microstocking with more than 6 years experience. I also enjoy sports activities, blogging, and trying new things.View all posts by Alexander Jemeljanov →

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