A Beginners Guide to Selling Stock Photos Online

by WorkFromHome on April 4, 2011

In this day of ever increasing expenses for a large number of businesses, employing a professional photographer is just not feasible. Looking around, one sees pictures everywhere – magazines, advertisements, flyers, books, leaflets, etc. The millions of websites all use photographs to make them more attractive and appealing to the visitor. The power of a photograph is so strong that hardly any piece of writing, with the exception of serious researches or novels, is complete without photographs to accompany the text. So where do they come from?

Micro-stock Customers

Micro-stock photography is a subdivision of the stock photography industry. Over the past decade or so, there has been a significant increase in the number of “micro-stock” sites that have become big players in the industry. The word ‘micro’ points to the small size of the files used by designers and web publishers. What sets the micro-stock photography apart is the fact that micro-stock companies make their images available for restricted use for a small fee and the interface is almost totally web based. This provides photographers and customers alike, quick upload or download mechanisms. Also, unlike the traditional stock photography companies who represented a select group of photographers, micro-stock companies use images from a large pool of photographers, including amateurs, or hobbyists. A third factor that sets them apart is that they make their images available for sale at a very low rate for a royalty-free image.

This particular industry is especially aimed at small businesses who can’t afford using the expensive images provided by the traditional stock photo companies. Many professional photographers feel that the spirit of the true stock industry is being destroyed by the micro-stock industry, however, others claim that there is a need for this type of service for those who can’t afford the higher rates and the micro-stock industry is filling this need.

Market for Beginners

There are many online agencies where one can build a portfolio of images they would like to sell. Taking pictures to sell does not require any special photographic equipment; a decent 4MP digital camera without any special accessories is just fine. Supplying pictures to one of the micro-stock agencies is a great way for beginners to learn while trying to make a sale. One gets useful reviews, critique, and recommendations from reviewers on the site and from the community forum.

Since the market is huge, photographs of every subject under the sun are usually needed. So whatever individual interests are, they can be pursued. As long as pictures are clear, sharp, and technically well formed, chances are good that they will sell. To get a head start, it is good ideas to do some research and find out what kind of pictures have greater potential. Whether it is emotions, nature, pets, or anything else, it is a good idea to concentrate on a specific domain and become very good in that one field, instead of doing a little bit of everything. While quantity is important in building a portfolio, quality is just as important, if not more.

The customers at these sites are searching for quality photos and if they find one that is of interest to them, the chances of the remaining photographs being viewed in one’s portfolio are greatly increased. If one photograph of poor quality is viewed by the customer, then they will lose interest and not bother with any of the remaining photos in that portfolio.

Once photos are uploaded, it is essential that they be given appropriate titles. This point is crucial in making a sale. If appropriate keywords are applied in the photo title, then when these words are searched the photograph is sure to appear in the search engine results. Another good way to sell a photo is to give the photo suitable tags. The more tags there are with a photo, the greater the chances of it turning up when searches are done and the greater its chances of selling. Make sure tags are relevant, or people finding the photo will not want it and may even report it.

Finally, make sure to promote your work. Having a website or blog along with thumbnails and links to places where the photos are located will help to improve the chances of a sale. A majority of the stock photography sites also provide links and widgets to allow the user to promote their photos on various networks and blogs to help sell photographs. It is a good idea to join the relevant forums as they provide a good idea of what the customer demands are.

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