Stock Photos Can Make You Some Extra Cash

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Stock photos can earn you some extra cash

Stock photos are used by everyone from bloggers to book cover artists. When it comes to stock footage (video) even major corporations use stock for their ads. So why not earn side hustle money by taking great photos and uploading them to the sites that sell stock photos and footage?

Stock photography is one of the quickest ways to start selling your photos to the masses. The only experience required is the ability to take beautiful photos and the technical ability to upload them to the stock photo sites. Once you upload to the stock agencies, they post them on their website and if your image sells, you get a percentage of the sale. It’s that easy. And the best part is that you can upload the same photo to multiple agencies.

Uploading your images to multiple agencies gives you a better chance at making a sale, and you’ll find out which agencies are best for your photos and footage. Of course there’s no obligation to upload to more than one site, but it does increase your exposure. And best of all, you retain your copyright to your images, since you’re only licensing the use of the image or footage.

Do the research


You need to know what type of images are selling well. There are popular niches, such as food, health, hobbies, and activities, but you need to know what niche you want to work in and what type of photos you want to take. Pick something you love because you’ll be taking a lot of photos.

Go to the stock agency sites and look at what they have to offer. But instead of looking from the photographer’s perspective, pretend you’re a buyer. What kind of photos would you want to use? Would you purchase images on crafting, books, dogs? Whatever you’d be interested in, maybe someone else is too.

Put your term in the search bar, then sort the photos by bestselling or most popular. Now take a good look to see what these photos have in common. What makes them popular? Usually the most popular images are well-lit, simple, and colorful.

What photos do you already have that would be perfect for stock images? Don’t have any? Well, now you have a good idea of what’s popular. Go out and shoot photos with your own take on what’s popular. You absolutely DO NOT want to duplicate what you’ve researched, you want to take unique photos.

Sign up at the stock agency sites.

Beginner friendly sites include: BigStock.com, iStock.com, Shutterstock.com, Adobestock.com, and Pond5.com (for footage only).  These agencies have a huge audience and sell a lot of images and footage. Look for the “selling” link on each of these sites and get signed up. Most of the sites will require that you upload a photo ID of some sort, be it a driver’s license or passport. You’ll also need information for filling out the electronic W9 for taxes. Once all this is done, you’re ready for the next step.

Find your best images.

Go through the images on your phone, SD card, or computer. Pick the images or footage that is the best quality you have. Anything shaky or out of focus will not be accepted, so don’t waste your time or the agency’s. You’ve done your homework to see what sells, so take a good look at your images, are they the same or better quality? If not, get back out there and take more photos or footage. The higher the quality the better your images will sell. And remember, the quality has to be pretty good just for the agencies to accept the images in the first place.

Start uploading your best images.

You’ll have to be accepted by the agencies in order to sell your photos or video, and depending on the agency, you may have to upload sample images or footage. Don’t be deterred by rejection. When I first started uploading video to Pond5, I got a lot of rejections. They saw flaws in my footage that I didn’t see until it was pointed out in the rejection. Yeah, rejection sucks, but it also makes you better, so go back and take better quality images and try again.

Keep shooting.

Take more photos or footage while you wait for approval and sales. Many stock photo photographers and videographers have several hundred, if not thousands of images uploaded to these sites, so it’s definitely a numbers game if you want to stand out and make money.

How much money can I make?

A good beginner goal is $25 a week. As you grow your portfolio, your stock photo income will grow too. Patience is key as you grow your portfolio, and your audience. Adding new images each week, you’ll increase your chances at a higher income. Just adding 10 photos a week will give you more than 500 images by the end of the year. It’s not unheard of for an established stock photographer to make thousands of dollars a month, but you have to put the work into it to get the money out of it.

Stock Images and Footage Tips

  1. Shoot stock photos of what you love, and find the niche it belongs in.
  2. Shoot series type footage: interiors, corporate, inspirational, etc. You can shoot more than one niche, but make sure you have a series of images or videos for each niche.
  3. Check out Breakfast Stock site for more tips and tricks for the stock photographer.
  4. Quality, quality, quality.
  5. Do your research. You don’t want to shoot and upload 300 stock photo images, only to find out there’s no market.
  6. Photoshop and Lightroom are your friend. If you have access, use them to increase the quality of your photos.
  7. Keywords: make sure your keyword and category game are on point. Keywords can make or break your visibility.

Some good books for more information on selling stock photos:

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