Stock Photography – Using it, making money with it

Well, we all hear how it’s hard making money in stock photography due to the microstock photography dropping ASP’s (Average Selling Prices) for licenses and the plethora of images now available for stock download today.

Still, I have just attended a seminar, hosted by SmugMug, that talked about people making money in stock (mircostock) photography today.

Shutterstock is one of the largest microstock agencies and has recently floated an IPO October 11, 2012 on the NYSE, symbol:  SSTK.

They have a cool keyword search tool for looking for stock images:


Shutterstock Stock Photo Keyword Search:Search Terms:



For example, one may use the search bar above from Shutterstock to search for any kind of keyworded images. You’ll probably find a lot.

The example I used was “women in nature”.

This returned over 6000 pages of images…

Feel free to use this tool to see what kind of images come up for your search.

Often, the images on the first page will be more popular than images on the pages buried in the back… This is useful information as to what sells and what gets lost in the shuffle.

Use it …!

While many people are not making the money they used to make in stock photography several years ago.  Others are doing quite well, with earnings over $100,000 annually.

What are some other keys to success?

  • You won’t make the most money in the first year.
    • Money comes in following years as you develop a portfolio of several hundred to several thousand images, depending on the stock service you use.
    • Have patience.  Keep at it for a few years.
  • Image quality requirements are high and rising.
    • Those people who were on Stock in years in past, would not qualify today.
  • Each stock agency has slightly different requirements.
    • Quality must be high, noise low, no logos, releases, etc.
    • Find the agency most suited to your style of photography.
  • Key word to be found.
  • Shoot in niches you become recognized in.
    • Clients do search by artist.
  • Look at what is being sold to know what might be bought.
    • Much of the advertizing we see in magazines, or in mailers may have stock photography.
    • See also the sales reports provided by the stock sites of what is selling… what’s hot, what’s not.

What have been your experiences with using or publishing microstock photos?




One thought on “Stock Photography – Using it, making money with it”

  1. To make the most out of making money online with stock photography make sure that your image is original and truly copyrighted by you. All trademarks must be removed. This includes logos, brands and entities with copyright or trademarked elements. This many also extend to trademarked products such as cast sculptures, toys, architecture and other elements of design. This is necessary to avoid future legal problems.

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