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13 Tips to Make Money with Your Stock Photography

Updated on December 29, 2013

Make your Photography Profitable

Many hobby photographers have tried to make money with micro stock photography and have given up. Many say the micro stock market is dead but I say there is still the ability to make money with photography if you follow a proven formula for success.

Here is how to really make a part time and even a full time income from photography using micro stock photography.

  • Follow the rules. Each stock agency has rules to follow about the photo size, number of pixels wide and high, clarity, people and recognizable objects and landmarks, use of Photoshop, etc. Make sure you follow these rules and get accepted into the agency.
  • Make sure there your photograph is technically clean (clean the dirt off of your subject). If you are shooting to get a reflection off of a glass table clean the glass first to eliminate the possibility of dust on the glass. Your image will be rejected. The same goes for sensor spots. Have your camera professionally cleaned and do it regularly. Photos are commonly rejected for the spots dust leaves on the sensor.
  • Be prepared to submit thousands of images per year to stock agencies. I haven’t heard of a successful stock photographer who submits one or two images per month. Success is often measured in quantity as well as quality.
  • Take great shots. If you have ever taken what you thought was a good photograph and then looked on line and saw hundreds of other shots that were as good or better than yours start practicing. Just as you see shots that are more pleasing others will see the same thing. If you ant your photos sold never give up on getting better.
  • Submit to multiple agencies. Get accepted and put your photography in several agencies. Many buyers develop their favorite agency just like you or I have our favorite supermarkets. The more the better.

Selling Your Stock Photos

  • Create your own website of your own micro stock and start selling through PayPal as well. In addition to selling through stock agencies consider creating your own website and not paying a commission. There are several Word Press themes like Sell Media from Graph Paper Press and themes from Wix and other website builders. Just remember to keep the quality of your photography at its highest level.
  • Get out and shoot hundreds of shots a day. Yes it can be done! You need a lot of images to sell in stock photography. Just remember that not every image is suitable for sale so you need to get lots of shots to choose the best ones.
  • Leave room for an advertising message. Often stock photography is purchased to enhance advertising so when shooting consider the that an advertising will want your photography as a backdrop to their own message. That means lots of empty space for that message.
  • Use categories. Set up categories like ships, lighthouses, orchards, cars, antiques, towns, villages, dogs, cats, etc. I have met one stock photographer who make almost a full time living just from his vacations in Scotland. Each trip he shoots lots of interesting local photos and his work is often picked up by local chamber of commerce organisations for use in travel brochures and online advertising. The found his work by categories that included the location.
  • Read as much as you can on stock photography needs. iStock has a complete guide to image quality with examples of acceptable images ant poor images.
  • Use keywords on your photos for precision searches. Similar to categories be precise with your keywords. Do you use “apple” or “red delicious apple white background” Don’t forget that buyers are looking through hundreds of images as it is so make your images rise to the top.
  • Create sales sheets of many related images and post them at your own site. The buyer who visits your site looks at one image and sees several in the same category.
  • People in the shot seem to sell the best. Ad agencies want to show people enjoying themselves or making relationships. Get models by offering friends free photos of themselves by signing the model releases. Some examples are people laughing together, shaking hands, walking together and other pleasing topics.

While there are many more pointers to offer it pays to read what the requirements are on a stock image site. These sites want the best income for both you and themselves. Provide the best images and you have beat 75% of the other photographers already out there. Just remember to keep trying and your income will increase steadily.


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    • Danext profile image

      Dan Lema 3 years ago from Tanzania

      Your article is very helpful and informative for people who want to start making money with stock photography....i'm already in that field, so i agree with everything you've mentioned in here, great work....

    • profile image

      Byron Miller 3 years ago

      A very good post, but I'm still hearing bad info on Stock photography, they say it takes so long before you see any money come your way. And you haft to load up 1000+ images on each stock sites. Are you doing stock photography as well as writing about ?

    • passionate77 profile image

      passionate77 4 years ago

      very thorough information janmaklak, i just bookmarked the page, as found it so helpful, thanks for sharing the info dear, blessings!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Very useful information, thank you JanMaklak

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Some good tips here--thanks!