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Discover These Tips For Selling Stock Photos Online Through A Photo Agency

You can make money selling stock photos online by selling the license to use your photography.

Stock photography is basically any image that someone else such as a magazine, book publisher, advertising agency, greeting card company or other entity might want to purchase to use in or create their own end product.

For instance, greeting card companies need images to put on their cards. Advertising agencies need photographs or elements they can incorporate in print and online media and magazine and book publishers use photographs for editorial use.

So if you are able to take good quality photographs of subjects or scenes, these entities can typically use, you have a good chance of selling some of them. You can also sell the rights to use them in a particular capacity and you can do this online working from your home computer.

Stage 1 - Selling Stock Photos - Taking The Photos

The first criterion is that stock photos must be high quality photography. The lighting needs to be good, the image free from clutter and unnecessary elements and generally the simpler the concept, the better the chance that the photograph will be used or purchased more frequently. For instance, you could create a collection of stock photos around a particular theme.

You might have an image of a baby being bathed in a baby bathtub with a rubber ducky to start out. That image will be more popular and sell more frequently if it is isolated from any background elements or photographed on a plain well-lit white background versus if the photograph were simply taken in someone's kitchen.

You will also increase the likelihood that you'll sell this type of stock photo if you also offer images of related items photographed individually, such as a rubber ducky, the baby, the soap bubbles, the baby powder container, the towel, etc. But again, quality is key when selling stock photos. Other options include royalty free agencies to increase your profile.

Photos must be clear, crisp, free from noise and other distractions and of high resolution. Some of the most commonly purchased stock photos are photos of everyday people doing everyday things.

But take note that in order to successfully sell photographs that contain a living subject as a stock photo, such as a person or a pet, you need to obtain a model release or property release from the adult subject, the parent or guardian of the minor subject or the owner of the pet.

You may also need a property release if you want to use an image of a particular person's property such as an automobile, building or business prior to offering it for sale as stock photography.

Also, don't use any logo'd or recognizable brand name items or copyrighted materials in your photos. This could open up all kinds of legal problems and implications and agencies won't accept them. And don't submit family snapshots, vacation pictures or tourist type photos.

Only high quality images that are saleable to a broad market will have high earning potential.

Stage 2 - Selling Stock Photos - Collecting The Photos

As mentioned, stock photographs often sell most successfully when they focus on a particular theme and you have a collection of related photographs. But again, only if they are of high quality.

You will need to group your photos and index them with photo names or numbers and also meta data containing key words someone might enter to search for each photograph. This makes it easier to organize and to promote your photos.

You'll need to be meticulous about organizing your photos and labeling them with the proper key words if you want to succeed at selling stock photos, because you can only sell photos people can find when they are looking.

You will also need a large quantity of photos to start earning money with stock photography. Think in the thousands. Of course, each photo does not have to be of something entirely different, they can be based on themes and variations of themes as outlined above.

But every photo does need to have superior quality, resolution, lighting, and composition.

Stage 3 - Selling Stock Photos Online

Your photos will be evaluated by each agency for salability, potential for lots of sales and accepted or rejected based on their individual criteria.

You'll need to upload them to the client's site according to their specifications and then wait for them to be reviewed by the powers that be. If accepted, the stock agency will notify you and you'll need to sign an agreement as to the agencies terms.

The agency will usually set the prices for the photos and then display your images, along with all the other images they represent, on their website for clients to view and purchase.

When a client purchases the license to use one of your images, you will receive a commission on that sale.

Stage 4 - Selling Stock Photos - Stock Photo Agencies

There are many stock photography agencies popping up online as well as some that have been established for quite some time.

Each agency works a little differently and you will need to read their specific terms, conditions and requirements for selling stock photos. A few you should check out include: Fotolia, IstockPhoto, 123RF, BigStockPhoto, Shutterstock and DreamsTime. Try doing a search on stock photography online to find others.

Look at each of these sites and determine whether your images are of similar quality and content, read the forums on the site, take a look at the fine print including rights and commissions or fees, and select one or two sites you like best to get started.

Submit a sampling of your photos to each of these agencies for review to see if they will be approved and accepted. Some agencies may specialize in a certain types or sizes of photographs and you will need to determine which agencies are the best fit for your work.

Once you establish yourself with a few agencies, continue to upload lots of high quality photos on a regular basis if you want to keep earning money by selling stock photos.

Look at the trends to see what kinds of photos are selling and take a clue from that. Then create your own photo shoots or opportunities to create similar style or quality photos.

Stage 5 - Selling Stock Photos - Making Money

There is a great deal of money to be made selling stock photos online, because many advertising agencies, publishers, and companies and organizations purchase stock photography in lieu of hiring their own photographer to develop a concept, which is usually much more expensive.

But it will take a lot of time, effort, organization and imagination to set yourself up to the point where you can realize a steady income from selling stock photography. I must mention again that the quality of your photos must be first rate. Still, if you love to take photographs, it's a great way to make money doing what you love!

Related Stock Photography Articles

Sports Stock Photography Primer - What You Need To Know
Sports stock photography is a fast and cost efficient way of getting and licensing the rights to a sporting image. You could then use the picture as you require on a website, brochure or magazine, etc

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David Coote
Wedding Photographer
Northern Ireland