Updated: April 20, 2011
Are you a photo enthusiast? If yes, then why not try selling your photos online?
You don’t need those expensive DSLR cameras, a studio setup or even have formal training on photography to sell your images. All you need is a decent camera, a bit of technical knowledge, a Paypal account and a place where to sell them.
The stock photography industry has expanded significantly in recent times and a lot of microstock companies have opened their doors to amateurs and hobbyists. These online sites offer free hosting for your images and will sell your photos while you earn commissions for every sale.
So instead of letting your photos consume valuable space in your hard drive, why not try to earn some income from them? Below are some guidelines to help you start in this endeavor.
What type of photos can you sell?
Microstock agencies do have an approval process for the photos. Each company has its own specific requirements but all of them need images with good technical quality and premium subject matter.
You cannot just take a picture of your dog and sell it online. These photos are often bought by designers who use them for marketing materials, so your images must be large enough to be reproduced in print.
The standard minimum size is usually two megapixels but some companies will require more. In addition to this, your photos should be of high quality, which means there are no unnecessary blemishes, adequate lighting, proper composition and focus.
Another important consideration is the subject matter. Creativity is a must. Photos which capture an idea, emotion or concept are highly marketable while quality pictures of people, activities and events also have good demand. Just make sure that your “models” know that you will be selling their photos online.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to enhance your photos with digital software. Sometimes an image becomes better when cropped or its brightness, contrast and color balances are adjusted.
Lastly, try to establish a niche with your photos or at least focus on a number of subjects. If someone buys your hamburger photo, then maybe you could upload several other food images and hope that the same buyer will come back if ever he needs more food shots.
Most of these microstock companies do have a list of their subject requirements. They will tell you what is most in-demand. Check them out to get an idea what is profitable or not.
Some advantages of selling your photos online:
If you are serious enough and is able to build a large collection, this can be a good source of passive income. Your image is royalty free, which means one photo can be bought several times by different sources.
You will improve your skills in photography and digital editing. In the future, you could go on and offer your services to other people and make your way into becoming a real-life professional photographer.
A few disadvantages though:
You will have to make do with the low payout. Selling your photos will make you earn as little as $0.10, some websites definitely offer more.
The good thing is that you can sell them in several websites, so these pennies add up in the end. I think that this is definitely better than not making a profit at all and letting your photos waste disk space in your computer.
Piracy can also be a problem. Some people with advanced digital editing experience will be able to capture and remove the microstock watermark in your photos. I think that this is inevitable specially if your images are first rate.
Just look at the bright side – your photography skills must be good for someone to take your images that way, which means that you can go further with your hobby and maybe consider offering professional services for more profit.
Where do I sell my photos?
Here’s a list of microstock companies to choose from. I can only vouch for iStockphoto from these websites but the others are still worth a try. Good luck and happy clicking!
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Photo courtesy of jaydproductions