Introduction to Selling Stock Photos Online

If you have decided to read this article you are probably looking for an advice on how to sell your photos online. It is possible that you already have some experience and would like to learn more about stock photography or you are a beginner and need some basic or general information to start with.

Web Design Stock Photo on Shutterstock

No matter whether you are an amateur, semi or pro, at some stage most photographers get an idea of selling their work. In order to be successful and gain any financial benefit you need to learn how to do it, be aware of some very important rules and get to know all necessary details to be able to run this process smoothly.

Look at it in this way: Almost all of us have thousands of pictures that are sitting on our computers' hard drives and doing nothing else but taking up all that precious disk space. Especially nowadays, where all these cameras have millions of pixels packed in their sensors, one image can take up tens of megabytes. Why not try to upload these images to a stock photography agency where they can earn some extra money for you? Let's say one dollar per image you submit during a whole year. Now, if you multiply it per 2-3 hundreds (or even thousands) of photos you might have? This may seem to be a basic and general rule, but it should give a rough idea of what it is about, taking into consideration that some of your images can become stock photos. Maybe they already are and just need some final tweaks...

Before you start your stock photography journey

Before you start, you need to learn in detail how it works, what stock photography agencies are there, what expectations they have, what technical requirements you must meet in terms of image size, dimensions, rules for uploading and review process. You need to know what images sell best and what don't, and what pictures are sought for. You should check out tons of stock photos to see what quality and aesthetic level is required from you as a photographer and contributor. Search as many stock photography websites as you can to see photos of other contributors who sell their artwork, and what's the most important, the ones who succeeded.

At this stage you most likely have an idea of what you want to achieve but if not, I am sure the following pages should highlight the most important issues of what to do, what to avoid, where to go and how to start selling your photos to the biggest stock photography agencies.

Here you will find a summary of "good to know" stock photo websites you might want to check, but while one agency may offer reasonable compensation to one stock photographer, the other may not work out at all. It will depend on your style and favourite subjects, number of images you have in your portfolio and can submit at the beginning, number of images you can produce on regular basis, uploading frequency, as well as quality of your photos. You should definitely focus on our recommended top 5 if you are taking stock photography seriously. There are many stock photo agencies and marketplaces to go for, but some of them may not be successful for you. This guide should be taken as a guideline only to give you an idea on what stock photography players are out there and what you can expect from them. Then, you make a choice and probably after a while you will know exactly which way you want to go and what agency is best for you.

By reading this guide you should learn:
- what stock photos sell best (and what don't);
- what microstock sites you should submit your photos to;
- how to apply to become a contributor and how to pass any required tests;
- how to prepare your photos for uploading;
- what you should pay particular attention to (picture size, quality, sharpness, noise and any other important factors);
- pros and cons of becoming an exclusive contributor;
- what is the purpose of giving your images for free;
- what is referral (affiliate) program;
- what is the benefit of taking part in partner programs.

Like this article?

Share it with your friends


What to do now?

Read the articles on how to start selling your photos online
Read stock photography agencies reviews
Check what types of images sell best