How to Make Money with Stock Photography?

Make Money with Stock Photography – If photography is your passion but you are unaware about how can you make your passion into profession and earn a bit money out of Stock Photography, then you might be searching for a comprehensive information about it and about how to start from scratch to a professional level what are the strategy you should follow and things you should consider about Stock Photography. And hence this is the article covering all the required information about Stock Photography that you should know right here.

You may also be wonder at some point about what to do with hundreds of other photos that have been lurking in your hard drive or you might have the idea of having someone to sell your photos.

How to Make Money with Stock Photography?

Make Money with Stock Photography

Make Money with Stock Photography

Perhaps you’ve seen a number of photographs in stock and wondering that “I could do better than that”. Sometimes it may seem like a relatively easy way to make money.

First of all, let me clear one thing that it is not that easy as it seems but neither impossible because there are many people making money out of Stock Photography.

But again you should be strategically stepping in stock photography if you want to take it to a peak level and below is all the step by step information about what to care and what to act on to achieve the desired result. So, go through it till the end for complete understanding.

Stock Photography | what is It?

Stock photography is a term for generic imagery, which buyers use for visual content in everything from news, blogs, and websites, to design content for advertising or promotional materials.

It is much cheaper than hiring a photographer and is typically sold through a platform that specializes in keeping a large library full of images so that buyers have many different options to choose from.

Think of stock photography as the opposite of custom-made photographs, which are licensed directly to a customer and are original works created specifically for that client’s purpose.

For example, if I needed a high-quality image of a happy family eating together, it would be quite expensive to hire a photographer to find all the models and have food, support and lighting together.

It would be far easier and cheaper to find someone on a stock photography site and pay from a few cents to a few dollars.

Types of Stock Photography

There are three types of stock photography, but most people focus on macro stack and microstock.


Macro stock photography, also known as “traditional stock photography”, refers to agencies selling high-value and exclusive images.  These agencies give a separate license to individual images directly to the customer and sell images for the price not less than $30 – $3000 per year.  And this gives the photographer a royalty.

Currently, the most well-known macro stack agency is Getty Image, but any company that sells RM or “rights-managed” images.


Microstock, on the other hand, sells images for very little (typically around 20 the to $ 10) and on a royalty-free basis.  Photographers do not receive any royalties, but rather pay per image per month – usually at the end of each month.

Renowned companies like Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, Depositphotos and all well-established as microstock agencies.

In this article, we will talk mostly about Microstock, which is the easiest entry-level stock photography to gain entry.

Stock Photography | How is it Beneficial for You

You can simply find various reasons in stock photography that are quite attractive:

  • Anyone having high-quality photos can simply get it to upload.
  • You do not need to have a strong portfolio.
  • You can decide further decisions about how much time you can give it – whether you want to make it a part-time gig or a full-time venture.
  • You have complete creative control over what you do.
  • When you can never ride on the images you have uploaded forever, it can provide a largely passive income once you reach a certain point.
  • The portfolio you create stock photography can later be used to secure more traditional freelance jobs.

Actually, if you are creative and really want to make money through photography then stock photography is a great smart way to make additional income as well.

Can You Make Money With Stock Photography?

Yes, Stock Photography really gives you money but it is not that easy.  While there are plenty of stock photographers who make a decent living, there are easily many more who do not.

Things have changed dramatically in 15 or more years.  And now Microstock is available.

In the early days, it was very easy to earn enough income to earn a living.  There were many pictures involved and the market was saturated with photographers.

These days, however, the industry is maturing and the supply of images is causing a huge increase in demand.

Shutterstock alone now has more than 225 million images with over 1 million pairs every week.  This means that to be successful, contributors have to work hard and smarter, 15 years ago when Microstock was just starting out.

The good news is that, while you may not live it full time, it is generally not difficult to reach the place of earning a few hundred dollars a month.

It took some time (unless lucky) and required a lot of images to be uploaded, but with a little persistence and dedication, $ 200- $ 500 per month is definitely worth mentioning.

How Much Can Be Earned As A Stock Photographer?

Want to know the amount?  On his blog that is photographer Alexandre Rotenberg writes that to earn a passive income of $ 500 / month, you have to upload at least 6,000 pictures.

(This assumes that you are uploading high-quality business images of various topics within your niche and that everything is properly keyworded.)

How long does it take to upload 6,000 high-quality non-identical images?  Well, if you work full time and have a family, then 200 images a month will probably be a bit more.

With Focus, you can probably manage up to 100 images a month.  Fifty is certainly quite remarkable.  (Less than that and it’s probably not your line of work.)

For 100 images a month it will take you five years to reach Rottenberg’s 6000 images mark (which he says is the minimum).  If you increase the value of your images by incorporating models with model releases and/or actually pushing your niche, you can probably do it in just three years.  I know photographers who managed to achieve $200 – $300 passive income in just two years.

Either way, this is not a quick-rich scheme.  Most photographers will need at least three years to reach that level and if you are a busy bee, you will need a full five.

Of course, there are some photographers who are happy that their exit is in wide demand or that they are traveling all the time and can take amazing pictures of places that have not yet gone out of the market.

In general, expect a long haul before you can get enough income.

Challenges of Being a Stock Photographer

The ‘high five’ shot is a popular one for stock photographers.

The truth is, many people’s contributions will be dropped within the first six months.  The reasons are many, but usually, come down to the fact that he did not see enough return during those first few months.

Often this is due to image quality, but not always.  There is also the problem that you are competing against thousands of other contributors and 15 years of the stock is already on the table.  Add to the fact that it actually takes dedication to upload 100 images per month, all correctly keyworded – especially if you do it by hand as I first started.

Furthermore, it takes a lot of creativity to create unique content in an over-saturated market.  In addition, your content needs to be marketable (something that someone would currently want to buy – ideally business), and it is not as easy as it sounds.

Or at least, it is not as easy as the post “You make money by selling images as stock photography” appears.

Suffice it to say that if you want to load your unused photos on a site and hope that they will sell, you probably won’t make any money.

Like anything else, stock photography is a business, and in this business, you need to produce original content that buyers are looking for, not just your typical stock photo cliche shots.

If you have a knack for it or are ready to study the trends and learn to make it, then you have a good chance of succeeding (with a lot of hard work, of course).

3 DIY Handy Tips for Being Stock PhotoGrapher

As research is important with planning for stock photography and similarly here are some short of other slices that you need to keep in your mind before starting.

Keyword Research

Keywords are the primary way potential buyers find your images, and as such, they are extremely important.  This means that it is important to be right

Here are some suggestions of Keyword research for stock photography for beginners:

Make your keywords as descriptive as possible.  Depending on the other microstock agency you are working with, it may be important to list them in order of importance.

For example, you might want to put the more specific keyword “cat” in front of the more common “animal”.  Basically, the more specific you are with the snapshot, the better will be the search result.

You will also need to indicate if the shot contains one or more subjects (ie “cats” vs.  “Cats”), includes any objects that are in the image, and list functions such as “running” or “to jump” If your image clearly reflects this concept and things like” teamwork “or” hope “, is if seen, be sure to include them as well.

Some platforms such as Adobe Stock provide an auto keyword tool that works great but does not rely on it.  It is best to do due diligence and make sure that you are not missing any important words and organize them in order of relevance.

Thankfully there are some great keyword recording tools out there that make this process easy.  I will meet them at the end of this post

Always keep the end-user in mind

You need some end users to sell your photos.  Bloggers, marketing agencies, businesses or magazines, end users determine what sells – literally.

What kind of content they are looking for?  Image content that helps in understanding the concepts and/or complements the content that they are creating.  It can be all about anything and anything, but some things are more in demand than others.

For example, businesses often require images depicting concepts such as “family,” “teamwork,” and “trust.  The more images you can put together, bringing these types of concepts to life, the more sales you can make.

People who create websites or advertisements often need images with negative (empty) space where they can put text and so on.

This turns into three major questions:

  1. Who wants to buy it?
  2. Where can they use it for?
  3. How will they use it?

If you make these paintings with this in mind, then you will have a better opportunity to sell.

Upload Regularly

Regular uploading is important for several reasons.  First, the more photos you have, the better your chances of selling.

Second, it places your images front and center in the search results of most platforms.

Third, changes in trends and many images that will be popular in a year will not be “in” after a few years.

So what about this promise of passive income? Well, it exists.  For example, once you reach $500 per month, chances are that you can simply stay there if not much then at least for a while.

If you are not uploading new content, you will find that as the month’s pass, the amount will fall.

If you go for a full year without new uploads, you’ll probably go for about $ 300 / month, which for some is still a huge passive income.  For others, may it not be that much.

So in general, if you want to avoid the loss of time, you have to keep uploading new high-quality content.  This will help you maintain more discoverable images in current searches and also help keep them relevant to changing trends.

This does not mean that your old photos are not sold – there are many buyers looking for photos that were popular years ago – but you sell better by keeping your content fresh.  If you are on a stock site that offers new photos in a different category, all the better.

Stock Photography Niche | What to Shoot?

So you have decided to go for it.  You have registered with one or more stock agencies and you are ready to start shooting stock photography.  With whom should you start?

If you check with various sites that report on stock photo sales, you will see that there is not only one type of photo for us – to be sold to us!

That being said, there are still many things that they have in common, and these tend to trend.

Luckily, figuring out current and future trends is big business on the net, and just about any big image site has to cover them in your blog.

For example, according to Canva, 2018 trends include minimal creations, pastel colors, powerful women, and cultural diversity.

Stock Photo Secret predicts that 2019 trends will include vibrant colors, personal technology, social causes, and hyper still-life and so on.

In addition, each site will usually tell you what is trending.  Alamy, Shutterstock, and most others provide monthly updates to photos that end-users are looking for.

For example, Shutterstock’s shortlist for March is currently requesting images depicting Mother’s praise, global ceremonies, and general work practices.  The current needs of Adobe Stock (which they publish quarterly) have a huge list of everything from forests to employee promotion.

Does this mean you need to shoot these subjects? Not at all.  But being aware of the trends and choosing the ones that either pique your interest and/or fit your niche will help you a lot in your sales.

How to Find Stock Photography Niche?

If you are just starting out, you are probably shooting a wide variety of subjects and if you like a lot of people, you probably have flowers, beaches, sunsets, pets and maybe even flags It is a hard drive.

Unfortunately, these are very common topics that are, well, general.  You can see thousands of such pictures on every stock photo site imaginable.

The flat lay style is still popular among end-users

While throwing a wide net may be more fun, most people making money in stock photography focus on developing certain things – ideally, those that are in demand and which are not particularly flooded.  The more specific and specific you can be, in fact, it is as simple as your craft.

This is not to say that you cannot be a normal person.  If you focus your attention and really work there it is easily sold out.

Popular Micro Stock Categories

As mentioned earlier, if you look at what’s trending in a particular year, it’s often a wide variety of diverse themes and genres.  It is also said that there are some areas that sell better than others.

Here are some among them:


Images of well-done lifestyles are always in demand.  Whether it is a family sitting for dinner, someone signing a leash, a dog carrying a dog on a walk, parents playing with  children or a couple enjoying a walk on the boardwalk, these types of images are actually Sells well in

Remember Shutterstock’s request to appreciate mom?  It falls into the category of lifestyle.

The challenging part is that you will need to find a model for this type of image and release the model.  This can be a bit annoying, but the payoff can be worth it.

Nature and landscape

If you have a person, you can have an easy time selling your landscape photography.

This style is oh-so-popular with photographers, but with oh-so-challenging anyone making money.

Why?  Because everyone loves to shoot this range and there is already a serious glare of strong images.  Basically, you have to be absolutely awesome to make it in this niche.

Trade and Industry

Stock photos that you may find boring may actually be in high demand for businesses.

The business and industry (including technology) niche sell well across the board.   People work together with their computers, employees in meetings, all of which are in constant demand.

It is further an easy subject where you can easily find a niche.   Just about all of us do some kind of work and/or have used it for those who do it.

I read a story about a sharing photographer with a top-selling photo he had drawn while technicians were putting solar panels on his roof.

Ultimately, Right place with the right time and popular technique = good payment.

Travel Photography

An advantage of always carrying a camera while on vacation.

The area where I am most often known to the lucky ones is travel photography.  (By “get lucky” I mean sell photos as soon as possible.)

If you already travel a lot and you take high-quality photos of places that are not already heavily captured, chances are you will be selling.

I know a few different people, who are able to get their stock photo income up to $ 200- $ 300 a year without too much headache.  This is not a whole lot, but since they travel around the year, it makes a significant difference.

Current News

Current news stories can be exceptionally lucrative.  In fact, Alamy has a strong enough demand for it that they’ve created a whole separate section for live news coverage with a much less stringent acceptance process.

“If you want sales, just shoot what is in the news!” – Alexandre Rotenberg of mystockphoto. com

You don’t have to travel to the big things -simply cover what’s local to you and your region.  If something like the Women’s March is within travel distance for you (or you’re already going), then make a point of capturing some excellent images.


One area that almost always sells well is holiday photos. The trick here is to think well ahead – often six months ahead – and then start uploading a few months before the holiday.

Stock photographers, who focus on the place, typically shoot Thanksgiving-themed images early in the year and then put them up for sale over the summer.

Likewise, with Christmas, they will start in early summer and be available until August.

Pro Tip: Take lots of pictures during the shoot and then upload 10-20 each week, so that you can easily stay in the latest range until the time of vacation.

Which Microstock Photography Site Is The Best?

These days there are literally dozens of microstock agencies, but only a few will really be worth their time.

Most photographers who have been around for some time first focus on Shutterstock, Fotolia  (now known b Adobe Stock), iStock and Alamy.  Others to consider are deposits and Dreamstime.

Here is a brief rundown:




Shutterstock is by far the most popular microstock agency.  It serves small and large customers alike, from individual bloggers to large companies.

I also worked for a photography software company that used Shutterstock regularly for their imagery needs.

Part of Shutterstock’s draw for end users is that they have a huge image library of both images and videos, serving in over 150 countries, and being some of the cheapest purchasing sources of stock imagery.

But being one of the more low-cost options, photographers have their drawbacks.  Payments rarely exceed $ 0.25 per photo.

Still, selling with so many users is not particularly difficult.  In fact, many longtime stock photographers claim that Shutterstock is still their best seller.




IStock, owned by Getkey Image, also does not have to pay much (only 15% of an image’s download value), but it is slightly better than Shutterstock at 20 ¢ – 50 sales per sale.

Nevertheless, the fact that they are now part of Getty’s massive system means that your photos are likely available for license at both libraries.

I have heard that iStock’s earnings fluctuate a lot, but it is good for many contributors I know.




Alami is one of my favorite stock photo sites. Sure, it’s not as huge as Shutterstock or iStock, but they pay a full 50% off on every sale.

Sometimes you can make $50 per image.

They have a much better submission platform than iStock. And while they have very strict image rendering standards, I appreciate it. (Maybe because my images always pass?).

If you are a live news photographer, Alami is probably the best platform. They are also great for selling editorial photos – people with and/or personal property, but you have not received any releases.

Also, because it is a British stock photo site, there are no hoops to jump to join. That and the high commission rate were the things that originally took me to them.




A lot of photographers swear by Dreamstime, although this is not one of my favorites.  This tends to pay out somewhere between $ 0.34 and $ 2.38 per image sold.

An unusual aspect of Dreamstime is that it is one of the few platforms that will allow you to submit photos taken with your phone.

What I don’t really like about Dreamstime, however, is their submission tool – it’s too slow for me.  If you are not using an automated submission tool, it may be agonizing.

Adobe Stock / Fotolia



Fotolia has been around for years and once they were bought by Adobe, most of the stock photographers I knew had increased their sales.

Salary rates are similar to Shutterstock but slightly higher.  Michael Godek on Petapixel describes it: “When you can earn money on Shutterstock, you can earn crime on Adobe.

One thing notable about Adobe Stock is that you can easily submit your photos through Lightroom.

This is a big plus for all of us who do careful keywording and metadata in Lightroom.

Not only this, but Adobe software users can also purchase photos directly through any Adobe platform.

Another thing they have for them is ease of presenting – they all look like other stock companies like they are from Flintstone.

A prerequisite for working with Adobe Stock is that they do not allow any editorial photos. Boo, her!  If you do not have any model/property issued, then you are out of luck.  (One of the reasons I love Alami is when shooting news and protests!)

Luckily you don’t really have to decide if you use a submission tool that presents all the various main sites at once (assuming you haven’t signed up for a particular contract).

Deposit Photos

Deposit Photos

Deposit Photos

If you haven’t paid attention to stock photography, you’ve probably seen deposit photos out there.  He has an aggressive marketing team and seems to be just about everywhere.  The contribution of the people I know is very good.

One thing that can be frustrating about how they operate, however, is their royalty-level structure.  You will have to sell as many pictures as possible to go to a higher level.  And of course, the higher your level, the more you have to pay.

For example, their entry-level in less than 500 uploads is “green”.  The highest level – to move to platinum – you will need to increase it to 150,000+ uploads!

The wondering Payment difference between these two?  You will get 34% of what the buyer has paid for an on-demand photo.  You will get 42% in platinum.  This goes down to subscriptions at 30 for green and images sold at .35 for platinum.

Special equipment for stock photography

Stock photography has been long enough for a couple of very good equipment to be made for us. Here are a few of my favorites:




If you plan to submit to several non-exclusive Microstock sites, then you really want to automate this process.

Stock Submitter automates all the tagging, keyword research, and metadata of your photos, and then allows you to upload and submit them to dozens of platforms simultaneously. It also allows you to track your sales, and approved files. Honestly, this is a serious time saver!

It works on both Mac and PC, and you can store things online. This allows you to submit 33 files a month, which is not really enough. So if you are accumulating more (which you should be), you will probably be able to get it well while subscribing. (100 uploads to the next level is about $ 4.30 for a month.)


If you’re looking for a free, open-source keywording and uploading tool, Xpiks shows a lot of promise.

Xpiks work for all the platforms including Linux. I hadn’t used it yet because I had already started with StockSummit but I get to hear good things about it.


Keywording used to be one of the most laborious aspects of submitting stock photos. These days there are a lot of aids out there, but a new choice of mine is Qhero.

Qhero uses AI to create keywords and so far it is very accurate for me. It is also free to use.

Google Trends

Believe it or not, Google Trends is still incredibly useful to see what people are looking for in the image world.

This, in turn, can inform which subjects you want to shoot next. You can also check trending topics by country, which can help with your targeting.

Final Verdict:

Above all, if you are serious about Stock Photography, Microstock is a great investment that helps you to earn extra money as a professional. Like anything, you will need a lot of patience, hard work and perseverance to pay it off, but once you do, passive income is quite good. The fact that you can choose whether part or full time is also quite helpful, especially for those who have lots of other projects going on. Take great photos, do your research, and upload again and again and you will finally be able to reach the $ 500 / month mark.

What’s is your opinion? Is it worth your while? Drop your opinion in the comment section below.

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