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  • Marián Pentek

Make money from your photos: Short introduction to selling images online with microstock agencies

Do you love photography and would like to make money from it?

What about to try selling your pictures online with microstock agency?

You need not be a professional photographer or have the most expensive equipment.

You do not have to worry about marketing, advertising and meetings with clients.

Just snap away what you do best and leave the rest to Micro Stock agencies!

Microstock is the easiest and most accessable way to earn money with your images. Microstock agencies give professionals and amateurs an easy and clear platform to upload and sell their images online.

What does microstock mean?

micro (small payment) + stock (photos and graphics "ready to use")

Microstock is selling stock photos for a low price. Main idea is -> if the images are cheaper, then more people will buy. This is in contrast to the traditional stock image market, which was very expensive.

Microstock photography is a relatively new branch that is still growing and changing and adapting to the fast pace of our time. Right now there are several microstock agencies selling millions of photos, illustrations, videos, and even sounds and music. The biggest of them contain more than 50 million files. I don’t even dare to predict what it will look like 5 or even 10 years from now, but one thing is certain. With the rapidly evolving technology and the trends it creates, reaching into all parts of human life, the demand for digital images will grow with it. At the same time, the increasingly easier access to technology will mean more digital content and tougher competition.

The microstock concept allows both amateur and professional photographers and designers to upload their work and sell it to a large audience of buyers. Previously the stock photo market was limited to the professional photographers with a large portfolio of images. It was very difficult for the beginner or part-time photographer to break into this business.

Pros and Cons of selling pictures with microstock agency


* You’re in charge of when and how much you’re working.

* You don’t have to bother with advertisement and marketing – the microstock agencies will do that for you.

* Relatively easy to access the income you’re getting paid even when you’re not necessarily working right then. Even if your workload is a bit lighter for a few months, or you don’t upload anything new at all, you’re still earning money for the previously uploaded photos.

* Broaden your horizons, get to know new people (via discussion forums and various events put together by the microstock agencies) and get more experience.

* You’ll improve in other areas of photography because microstock agency websites can be a source of inspiration, which might help new photographers polish their technique – most of the websites will let you know why they didn’t approve your photos. So in the end you can become a better photographer.

* If you’re resilient enough, microstock photography might become your main source of income.

* You’ll pull out and maybe even use the photos that would otherwise have been collecting proverbial dust in one of your computer folders.

* If you already own a DSLR camera and image processing software, your starting out expenses are almost nonexistent.


* It takes up quite a bit of your time, especially at the beginning.

* If you give up too soon, you won’t earn anything.

The most popular microstock photography agency websites

There are quite many agencies where you can try to upload your images. For some of them it is easy to become a contributor, while at others it can be a pretty challenge. Most difficult are Shutterstock and iStock. Most photographers will have to try more than once to get accepted there. Some other sites - like Dreamstime and Fotolia - don’t have an acceptance procedure; you can directly start uploading. They can also vary in user interface, commissions amount and tax rates.

Here is a list of the most popular:

* Shutterstock

* iStockphoto

* Fotolia

* 123 RF

* Dreamstime

* Canstockphoto

* Depositphoto

* Alamy

* Pond5

Every image you upload at microstock should be well prepared and selected. They have to be of highest quality and suited for stock, otherwise they will be rejected. And do not forget that the competition can be thousands of similar photos from around the world.

If you want to know more about selling images online with microstock, you can try my new ebook...

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