March 9, 2023

The Rise of Stock Photography - How to Make Money Selling Your Images Online

I was asked to write this blog with the title “The Rise of Stock Photography” but the thing is, the traditional world of stock photography for an individual contributor is beginning to crash. The stock industry has hundreds of millions of images between all the agencies and tens of millions of images are being uploaded each month. It’s a lot of work for a single contributor just to upload 50-100 images each month in their spare time. It’s getting to be virtually impossible to compete. Putting your 50 images up against 5 million is a tough hill to climb. Sales are slowly dwindling and are virtually all subscriptions which means you’re only earning pennies for each sale.

But can you still generate any kind of an income selling images online in the current business climate? The attraction of doing stock photography is you can set your own hours and work out of your home. You don’t have to open a little shop, mat and frame prints, or set up booths at art fairs or knock on doors of art galleries. Just shoot and upload images into your online portfolio.

In order to survive in the current state of online stock photography, you have to be better than your competition. That is a very tall order. Of the five-plus million images being uploaded in any current month, your 50 images need to be top notch and among the best. A very bold statement indeed, but you should strive to be the best and at least realize your work needs to be above average.

You need to understand the stock industry in that buyers are looking for commercial oriented images. Buyers do not want a picture of your girlfriend. Amateur photographers, when working with models for the first time, will have the woman pose with one hand behind their head and the other hand on the hip. The image doesn’t communicate any kind of a concept other than a pretty girl trying to look like a model. Instead, have the person dress in a t-shirt and blue jeans while holding a cleaning rag and a bucket of water. Spring cleaning, house chores, washing windows, buyers are looking for images that COMMUNICATE a CONCEPT. Scraping paint off a wall, sweeping the floor, changing the oil on a car, doing taxes, reading to children, washing dishes, taking medications, and so on and so on and so on.

Buyers want images that will help them gain customers for their cleaning service, car repair shop, lawn care, travel blog, and every other type of service they may provide. When you’re driving down the road and look at a billboard, does the advertisement have a two hundred word paragraph or an eye catching image?

And that gets us into EXECUTION. When you look at that billboard for two seconds, how do you tell the public you provide plumbing services? A picture of a girl with hand on head and the other on hip? Or does the girl modeling for you wear a worker shirt and hold a wrench and a plunger? That is how you advertise a business on a billboard when your potential customers have a mere two seconds to look. In big letters might be a web site to reference or a phone number that is easy to remember.

Businesses want images for their web site or for brochures that they can hand out. You should understand this. When you’re surfing the internet do you stop to read complicated text or do you stop to look at an interesting image? Even those stupid click-bait web sites that you know are a waste of time, many times you still just can’t resist going down that rabbit hole because they used a really interesting image to sucker you in.

Pictures are a very powerful visual tool if you can communicate and execute a concept. This is how you can at the very least submit above average images to beat the competition out there.

You may want to consider expanding into other areas for selling your images online. Web sites such as Fine Art America allow you to sell high end prints. You may want to upload only the very best photographs into Fine Art America and perhaps specialize, such as having a portfolio of only old cars or barns. Don’t upload these images into your stock portfolio. It wouldn’t be a good idea to sell images at Dreamstime for a subscription rate and be charging $100 at a fine art site.

Another option is to sell t-shirts with your images. is a well known web site that specializes in t-shirts. If you’re skilled with Photoshop, you could offer various services, such as having people provide you with an image and you convert it into a watercolor that your customer can then print. Etsy is a good web site for offering various photo services. If you do photography chances are you have some skills with photo editing software.

Photo editing software may also give you enough skills to start learning how to make vector art such as Illustrator. It’s getting more difficult to earn money with illustrator software but the competition is much less. If you search the database at Dreamstime you can find illustrators with very small portfolios and very large sale numbers.

AI is a new technology where you need no software, cameras, or even a skill. All you do is type a text description of the image you want and the picture will be generated in a minute or so. The results are jaw dropping. Since the technology is new there are still some issues but as with anything, the technology will improve over time.

One opportunity that many photographers miss is they can become fairly proficient with photo editing software but they never think of learning or trying to create composite images. Combining various images together to create a concept is something very few people know how to do which makes the competition a little more favorable.

Regardless, you need to keep in mind that the competition is right behind and will run over you if you don’t keep up. You need to create images that execute and communicate a strong concept. You need to become proficient with software and consider learning different kinds of applications in order to expand your portfolio. You need to develop workflows that allow you to upload as many images as possible in as little time possible. 

Consider the possibilities for selling your images and services on sites that provide prints, t-shirts, and other types of image-based products. And lastly, strive to be the best that you can be. There was a time in the online stock industry where you could get sales by being “good enough.” Nowadays, you need to be better than most in order to stay in the game.

Follow Me:  Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

1 comment:

  1. Nice to know this about How to Make Money Selling Your Images Online❤️ napakainformative nito and thank you for sharing po


Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog