How to Make Money with Stock Photos

Ever wondered how to turn those stunning photos sitting on your hard drive into cold, hard cash? You’re not alone!

Picture this: you, making money from your passion for photography, even while you sleep. Intrigued?

Buckle up, because I’m about to guide you through the exciting world of stock photography.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into every nook and cranny of making money with stock photos. So grab that cup of joe, sit back, and let’s turn those beautiful shots into a revenue stream!

Let’s talk about how to make money with stock photos.

What are Stock Photos?

stock photograph of a beautiful scene with flowers, river, and mountains

We all have heard of the term “Stock Photos” at some point, but today let’s dive deep into what they actually are.

Stock photos are high-quality photographs that are sold over the internet to be utilized for personal and commercial use.

Most of the stock photo sellers include freelancers and small-scale businesses; big brands are also jumping on the bandwagon.

But, why would a business buy a stock photo online instead of hiring a professional photographer?

Because it’s a more cost-effective option!

On the other hand, a seller can easily make some extra cheddar by snapping in leisure time.

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Additionally, high-end cameras of our smartphones which have eradicated the requirement of buying a professional camera have made it possible for everyone to capture moments without limits.

Types of Stock Photos

There are two commonly known types of stock photos. The first is Macrostock, which are highly-priced photos and are licensed to be exclusively used only by the buyer(s) to preserve their individuality.

However, Microstock is a good-quality photo that can be downloaded by an unlimited number of audiences and pays comparatively less.

Where to Sell Stock Photos?

Some of the famous stock photo websites are:

  • Getty Images
  • iStock
  • Stocksy
  • Crestock
  • BigStock
  • 123RF
  • Alamy

You will find these websites with various profitable plans according to the sort of agreement you choose.

In simple words, the profit percentage is subject to the exclusivity rights of your photos.

Therefore, you must read the complete agreement before uploading any of your photos in order to make a wise decision and avoid any breaches.

What Kind of Stock Photos Sell the Most?

Example of a stock photograph

Stock websites provide image subjects as well as image quality guidelines. Hence, in order to increase the probability of your photo getting accepted, you must follow the best practices.  

The subject of the photos can be a vast discussion. The best approach to come up with an appropriate and in-demand concept for your stock photos is to do your keyword research in order to find out what the buyer is looking for in the market.

Most of the time, you will find photographs related to hot news topics.

For instance, during the pandemic, photos of hospitals, ambulances, people following SOPs, etc were highly sought.

Other than that, photographs of the latest products and technology are also widely marketable.

How Much Money Can I Make Selling Stock Photos?

An average experienced photographer can make $100-$500 by posting around 50-100 eye-catching pictures per month.

However, there are many factors that may affect your income from stock photography.

This includes your title and tagline; you must provide as much relevant information about your photograph as you can.

Don’t forget to incorporate the keywords.

Be as intricate as possible; mentioning one-word concepts, the number of people, prominent colors, etc. will direct potential buyers to your photographs.

Diversity and uniqueness of photographs also matter, because the lesser the amount of the same picture available to the buyer, the higher the chances of your photos being selected.

Most importantly, know that we all have our own experiences and we all make progress at a different pace, thus be impatient and keep putting your best efforts into your work, even when the outcome is not as pleasant and according to expectations, stay focused and remember that Rome was not built in a day!

Top 3 Stock Photography Niches

Lifestyle Photography: Authentic lifestyle photos showcasing common experiences, emotions, and activities are in high demand. This genre can be quite versatile – everything from cooking at home to people engaging in outdoor activities can fetch good returns.

Business and Finance: With more businesses going online, there’s a growing need for images related to finance, entrepreneurship, office work, and teamwork themes.

Health and Wellness: Given the global emphasis on personal well-being and fitness, especially post-pandemic, health-related stock photography has seen a significant rise. Photos depicting exercise, healthy food choices or mental wellness concepts are currently popular.

3 Important Stock Photography Tips

Quality Not Quantity: It’s crucial to focus on the quality of your images rather than just flooding stock photo sites with numerous subpar shots. Ensure each picture has a clear focus, good lighting, and high resolution.

Understand Demand: Understanding what buyers are looking for is crucial in stock photography. Do some market research to find out what types of photos sell best. This could be anything from business-related shots, lifestyle images, or concept-driven photos.

Copyrights and Releases: Always ensure you have the necessary permissions for the content in your image. If there are recognizable people or private property, you’ll need a signed model or property release on file before you can legally sell these photos.

What Makes a Good Stock Photo?

A good stock photo should be able to evoke a strong emotional response from the viewer. It should also have a strong composition, with a focal point and an interesting background. The content of the photo should also be relevant to the subject matter, and it’s important that it has a high-quality resolution.

A good stock photo is not just about taking a picture, but also about how it’s taken. A photographer needs to understand how light works in order to get the best shot possible. They need to know where shadows will occur and where they will be cast on the subject’s face or body.

How to Become a Stock Photographer?

how to become a stock photographer

The first step to becoming a stock photographer is to find the right niche. You need to find out what type of photography you want to do. The second step is to start building your portfolio so that you can showcase your work. The third step is to submit your work for consideration by stock photography agencies.

In short, there are three steps in order to become a stock photographer: finding the right niche, building a portfolio, and submitting work for consideration by agencies.

To become a stock photographer, you need to have a portfolio of images that are well-composed and capture the attention of the viewer.

Your portfolio should include a range of genres, such as portraits, landscapes, and street scenes. You may want to start by putting together a professional website that showcases your work and allows visitors to contact you.

Once you’ve developed some experience as a stock photographer, you can start uploading your photos to stock photography websites like Shutterstock.

3 Challenges of Being a Stock Photographer

Stiff Competition: With many photographers around the globe contributing to stock photo websites, competition is fierce. Standing out and having your work noticed amidst vast libraries of images can be tough.

Predicting Trends: Being successful requires anticipation of market needs and current trends. However, predicting what content will become popular is challenging, even for seasoned photographers.

Legal Issues: Navigating copyright issues, acquiring model releases, or permission for commercial use of buildings and landmarks can also pose significant challenges. An improperly released photo can lead to legal disputes further down the line.

How to Make Money with Stock Photos – FAQs

Q. Can I make a living selling stock photos?

A. Yes, you can make a living selling stock photo but how much you make will depend on how good your photos are, how much you sell them for and how many sales you make.

Q. What kind of photos sell the best?

A. Photos that are in demand and that have good keyword tags will sell the best.

Q. Where can I sell my stock photos?

A. There are many websites where you can sell your stock photos, such as Getty Images, Stock Crest, Stocksy, BigStock, and 123RF.

Q. How much money can I make selling stock photos?

A. You can make anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per sale depending on how good your photo is and how much you sell it for.

Q. What do I need to sell stock photos?

A. You need a good camera, good lighting, good photo composition, and good keyword tags

Final Thoughts

This was all about “How to make money with stock photos”.

The best thing about the photo-selling business model is that you can get started right now.

All you need is a great-quality camera and decent photography skills.

Don’t forget to read the platform guidelines; it’ll improve the chances of your pictures getting approved.


  • Zain

    Zain is an SEO Copywriter / Freelancer and Digital Marketing with around 4 years of experience in writing and digital marketing. He's currently managing this blog and offering freelance writing services on Fiverr and Legiit.

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