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How to Sell Stock Photos

Stock photography refers to photographs which are licensed for specific uses. Selling stock photography can be a daunting task if you don't know where to begin.

There are two possible options to do so. The first is to set up your own particular stock shop/website and find clients. The second is to join a website that will approve your pictures and pay you either a lump sum or commission on each sale. Some websites may even pay both to buy rights to your site. Of course, the first option is quite a long shot, therefore, contacting stock websites can be more effective. 

Joining a Stock Agency

If you have the skill set to take stock photos then you can join different stock photography selling websites. Most such sites are free to join and are very simple to use. However, the rejection rate is quite high because there's a stiff competition among this niche.

Keep in mind, not all your pictures will be approved, but only a handful of them, so make sure you send over the best ones to avoid rejection. The advantage of selling through a stock agency is that you do not have to worry about promoting your work as the agency takes care of the promotion. However, on the downside, you may lose rights to your photos and have little control over their usage. 

Which stock site should you use?

When you are looking to step into the stock photo business, you’ll come across two types, namely, Microstock and Macrostock. Both these types of stock websites have their own standards but are different from one another. Macrostock is for big photographers.. These agencies look for high dimension photos taken from a professional camera which are very specific. Getty Images is one of the best macrostock websites out there. Such sites pay well, but are very demanding.

Microstock organizations, on the other hand, are interested in photographs from all over. Anybody with a low or high-resolution camera can be a microstock photographer. The most well-known sites include Fotolia, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime.

These agencies provide low rates and you get a small percentage of the sale depending on the value of the picture. The greatest drawback of most such websites is that they don't allow a payout until you've reached to a minimum sale. There is nothing to keep you from offering your stock on both large scale and small scale websites. The suggestion here though is to spare your best pictures for the macrostock websites and commercial ones for microstock.

You need to understand the two basic types of purchases if you’re planning to sell through agencies:

  • Licensed Images: Here a buyer will pay you to use an image for a specific number of times. If he or she intends to use it more often, they would have to purchase another license.
  • Royalty Free Images: Here, your buyer gets the right to use your image as many times as he or she wishes to. Here they do not have to pay you royalties as they get the ‘right’. However, a number of users can purchase the same photo by paying a one-time fee.

Most photos on stock sites are edited. You should also edit your photos by using a tool like Luminar. This way you will greatly enhance your chances of getting accepted.

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