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I started in photography when I was about 13 and I still learn new photography tips every year. I found Shutterstock.com about four years ago when a professional photographer friend sent me a link to the website. I had just lost my day job. He told me how well he was doing selling stock photos and thought I might do well there, too. I tried three microstock sites right away — Shutterstock, Fotolia, and Dreamstime — and the only one that rejected me was Shutterstock. Still, it was very discouraging. So I quit after that first rejection. About a year later, my friend called and asked me why I quit and I told him how discouraged I got after my first rejection. He told me to come by his studio and he would give me some pointers. He did. And I tried again. This time, I was accepted! What a great feeling it was to get that acceptance e-mail. Even better was the e-mail I received the very next day telling me I’d made my first sale. After that, I started setting goals. My first was to make enough to pay my cable bill… then enough to pay my electric bill… then enough to pay my mortgage. After that, I wanted to get to the top selling level — $10,000 in sales. And I’m happy to say I hit that goal last month. Also last month, I had one of my photos featured on the front page of Shutterstock’s website. That helped get that photo to the top 50 most popular photos for a week, so that was exciting to see, too. My best-selling photos right now are a piece of barn wood from my barn that I made a blank vintage sign board with… the stack of different color papers that has been on the front page of Shutterstock for the last month now… and dripping blood photos that sell well this time of year for Halloween. You can see some of these, here: The best advice I think I can give to people just starting out is never ever give up like I did after my first rejection. Try not to take the rejections personally. Your photo might just not be quite what the agency is looking for at that moment. And try to join and attend as many photo clubs and seminars like the ones AWAI offers, so you can soak up as much knowledge about photography as you can. Learn from people who have already made the mistakes and have fun with whatever kind of photography you like to do. If you can have fun with it, it will never feel like a job. That’s how you find success. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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