http://www.Bigstockphoto.com, http://www.iStockphoto.com, http://www.Shutterstock.com
If you’ve been following this eletter and the weekly photo tips, you’re probably familiar with the term “microstock photography.”
But just to quickly clarify: Microstock photography refers to royalty-free images that people can search for and buy on what amount to photo-broker websites. For a buyer, it’s a quick and easy way to find images for brochures, websites, album covers, and more. And it usually costs only a dollar or two per image.
As a photographer, you can upload your images to microstock agencies in your spare time and then sit back and let them sell while you’re doing other things. Buyers pay the website and you receive a cut.
Selling your photos for stock is fun and easy. (And it can be lucrative, too. Lise Gagne, who spoke at our photo workshop in Austin last week, is raking in six figures a year doing it.)
Here’s a quick profile of three major micro stock photography sites on the web — all places where you sell your images quickly and easily for extra cash…
GETTING INTO MICROSTOCK AGENCIES
To sell your images on Bigstockphoto.com, you must first sign up for a free account. Next, read the tutorial, which gives you a detailed run-down of what kinds of photos they accept, model releases and legality, tips on keywording your photos, etc. Then, using the info you gained in the tutorial, you must pass a “photographer test” to be eligible to submit your photos.
Getting your photos into iStockphoto.com is similar to getting into Bigstockphoto.com. First, you sign up for free. Then you’ll have to read the “photographer’s training manual” and pass their test. iStockphoto’s training manual is longer than the one at Bigstock and full of tips on composition, image quality, copyrighting, etc. Once you pass, you have to upload a photo of your government-issued ID.
To submit to Shutterstock.com, just as with the other two sites, you first have to sign up — it’s free. Most of its image requirements and submission guidelines are given in the sign-up pages, and there’s no tutorial or test. You do have to upload a copy of a government-issued ID or enter your credit card information. Of the three stock photo sites I’m profiling here, it seems to be the easiest to get into. But your photos still need to be accepted before they’ll be posted for sale.
UPLOADING YOUR PHOTOS TO MICROSTOCK AGENCIES
You can upload up to 10 photos at a time on Bigstockphoto.com. Once you choose the images that you want to upload (make sure they follow all of the rules laid out in the tutorial), you can add a title and keywords. If your image needs a model release, you must upload it before you upload the photo. Once your photos are uploaded, you can check your “status” to see which ones have been accepted.
On iStockphoto.com, your first uploads are part of the acceptance process. You can start by uploading three photos that fit their criteria and wait to see if they’re accepted. If they’re rejected at first, don’t despair. They’ll tell you why and give you another chance.
Once you’ve accepted their terms and conditions and they’ve verified your ID, you can start submitting photos to Shutterstock.com. As with the other agencies, you’ll be notified if your photos have been accepted or not.
You can make between 50 cents and three dollars per download on Bigstockphoto.com. And you can put even more into your pocket if you opt for their “special licensing” arrangement. With a “special license,” a photo buyer pays more for an image, but can use it in more ways, too — on t-shirts, say, or mugs or online software applications. If you agree to put your images into this “special license” category, you can collect up to $60 for some downloads.
Once you’ve sold a minimum of $30 worth of downloads, you can request to be paid through Paypal or MoneyBookers. You have to reach a minimum of $50 owed you before they’ll mail you a check.
When you first start out with iStockphoto.com, you’ll make about 20% of the image download price. This means you keep anywhere from 26 cents to $5.20 per download, depending on the size at which an image is purchased. Once you’ve reached 250 image downloads, you can apply for “exclusivity.” If you’re accepted, your royalties increase, depending on how many image downloads you have.
You can request payment by check or Paypal once you reach $100 in sales. If you have a bank account in the US, iStockphoto.com can pay you by direct deposit, too.
Since buyers subscribe to a membership that allows them unlimited downloads, Shutterstock.com assumes they’ll download more photos per month. Thus, you get 25 cents per image downloaded until you’ve made a total of $500… then you’ll get 30 cents per image download.
Shutterstock.com’s minimum payout is much higher than the other two — you must accumulate $75 worth of downloads for them to pay you through Paypal or MoneyBookers and $300 before they’ll mail you a check.
PHOTOS THAT ARE SURE TO SELL TO ONLINE STOCK AGENCIES
Stock sites are a great source of extra cash for photographers — and perhaps the best part about them is that you don’t have to actively go out and sell. The sites do that part for you. Once it’s set up, your photos can sell while you sleep.
If you’re ready to start selling stock images, it helps to know exactly what kinds sell best. Lise Gagne, iStockphoto.com’s top selling photographer, shared 14 essentials for high-selling shots at our Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop in Austin last week.
You can hear her entire presentation and get her fully-illustrated Power Point slides — plus full presentations from professional photographer Shelly Perry, who also sells her images as stock — in our Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop-At-Home Package.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]