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My online stock photography project

Updated on July 11, 2016

Is earning extra cash on stock photography sites possible?

You may have seen blogs on how to earn money online by selling your photos. This is not a tutorial on how to earn money on stock photography. I am purely writing this article to express my experience with stock photography websites. Photography is a side business of mine and I enjoy doing so as a hobby, although I do like the idea of earning extra cash on the side, even if its just a little bit (I mean who doesn't?). However there are articles on photographers uploading about 10 great images on numerous sites and earn more or less $1 in total each month which isn't very much. I've seen forums and articles all over the internet but I haven't come across an article that relates to the process of starting stock photography from 0 images to an outcome of 1000, 2000 or even 5000+ images on their portfolio so that is what I am trying to achieve here.

I started photography about 8 years ago with a decent amateur camera 400D Canon with kit lens 18-55, 55-250mm and 50mm. Now I shoot with a 7D Canon with 85mm f1.8, 40mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8 and 18-200mm. So there is nothing too expensive here (apart from the body of course).

My idea is to see if I can actually make some extra cash with my images using the equipment I mentioned above through these stock agencies online. Bare in mind that I do have a full time job and only doing this in my spare time "at work" between 10am - 5.30pm. I will be updating regularly on how many images I sold, accepted and rejected on this site, along with others like iStock, Depositphotos, Fotolia, and Dreamstime.

Uploading to Shutterstock

About a week ago, I signed up for shutterstock.com.

It only took a couple of days for them to review my images and check my ID. Once accepted I used the 10 images and submitted them to become active. Only took a day for them to review the images and 3 out of 10 images were accepted which isn't very much! 3 of them were due to intellectual property and model release forms which I have not uploaded to this article.

So I started off with 3 images on shutterstock portfolio. Its not a great amount of images to be honest but at least I was accepted and something is up on their site for sale.

Photos I sent to get accepted into shutterstock

Rejected because of focus issues
Rejected because of focus issues | Source
Accepted for shutterstock
Accepted for shutterstock | Source
Accepted for shutterstock
Accepted for shutterstock | Source
Accepted for shutterstock
Accepted for shutterstock | Source
Rejected because of focus issues or too soft
Rejected because of focus issues or too soft | Source
Rejected because of focus issues or too soft
Rejected because of focus issues or too soft | Source

Uploading to Fotolia

So I've signed up with Fotolia not long after Shutterstock and it only took 24 hours to confirm my account. They took a couple of days to review my images but it came through in the end. Allowed me to upload images, go ahead with titles and keywording for each image. I managed to push through about 17 images but only 10 were accepted. Fotolia's website for contributors are easy to use and has merged account with the buyers side of things. Which means you can also buy photos using the same account (pretty handy if you're really wanting to go for other photographers images).

What I find weird is that some photos that were accepted through Shutterstock were declined by Fotolia and vice versa. See below for images I have captioned to show which were accepted and declined from each stock agency.

Few days after they declined some of the images Fotolia mysteriously accepted 4 of my declined images and put them up for sale. Captions below images


Weird decline and accepted images

Was not accepted by fotolia Was not accepted by shutterstock
Was not accepted by fotolia Was not accepted by shutterstock | Source
Accepted for shutterstock  Was not accepted by fotolia but later accepted
Accepted for shutterstock Was not accepted by fotolia but later accepted | Source
Accepted for shutterstock Was accepted by fotolia
Accepted for shutterstock Was accepted by fotolia | Source
Accepted for shutterstock Was not accepted by fotlia
Accepted for shutterstock Was not accepted by fotlia | Source
Was declind at first but Accepted for fotolia  Was not accepted by shutterstock
Was declind at first but Accepted for fotolia Was not accepted by shutterstock | Source
Was declind at first but Accepted for fotolia  Was not accepted by shutterstock
Was declind at first but Accepted for fotolia Was not accepted by shutterstock | Source

Sold my first image! - Shutterstock

The image below is one I uploaded with shutterstock. It's a snail sliding along my carpet outside leaving a nice trail. I was super excited to see my first earning of 25c. Definitely one of the least expected image to sell.

This sale was made 5 days after I signed up and uploaded the image.

My first image sold for 25c earning!

Sold for 25c
Sold for 25c | Source

Uploading to Dreamstime

Signed up to Dreamstime at the same time as Fotolia and all it took was a confirmation of email and you're able to upload images for sale. I uploaded 73 images and a few of them were editorial.

The page to submit images is a lot different to Shutterstock but it is nicely laid out. Still the same process to title keywords etc. The only thing is you need to add full description over 5 words or more to submit.

Once submitted it heads into pending files tab with more details of the files you're submitting like

ETR: 114 hours
DATE: 07/04/2016
License: Commercial

The day after I received a notice stating that 2 of my images have been accepted for sale (these are only the editorial) and added to my portfolio and couple wasn't up to standard but what about the rest of my images? Its been about 8 days since I've uploaded these the 73 images and still no progress. It seems like a very slow process for Dreamstime to review images that aren't editorial.


Uploading to iStock

From what I've heard and read around the internet iStock isn't as good as it used to be. Have no idea why that is. I've signed up for iStock at the same time as the agencies and uploaded 3 photos for review and examination. Next day I was accepted and they sent me this large email of instructions to enter my tax information. This was a lot of work to be done and didn't quite have the motivation and time to fill in all that jargon. Besides its not like I would be earning hundreds from selling stock images at this stage but I will get around to it.

I uploaded 2 images on that same day I was accepted. 8 days later, still no progress on reviewing my images. This put me off a lot so I gave up with iStock for the time being. Will organize group of images to upload when I know they're accepted in a couple of sites.



Week Two - Shutterstock

My second week of shutterstock seems to be my favorite and most exciting stock agencies of them all. The site is clean, simple and easy to use. The keywording search engine they have is superb! Extremely useful to add keywords to your images when you have no idea what to add for them. I like to use the keywording search engine for all my other stock agencies as they don't have for their sites.

I've now uploaded over 120 images and so far 39 images are on my portfolio. I regularly upload at least 5 images each day.

These are the images I currently have on my portfolio with shutterstock.

My Shutterstock portfolio reached 39!

39 images on my portolio
39 images on my portolio | Source

Stock agencies online

Which photo stock agencies do you earn the most from in one month?

See results

© 2016 Aaron

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      PhotoResearch 11 months ago

      Very interesting! Do you have a second to answer some questions that I have for a research project on stock image providers? Please send me a message if so.