There is money in photography. Whether you are planning to shift into making it as your primary source of living or just a hobbyist who wants to make extra money from your photographs. Microstock photography is one option to earn money from your photographs.
I must admit, I have so many stock photos taken from different trips I had in the past. From a personal perspective, these photos are not crap. I must say, a lot of what I have taken has potentials. When I say there is potential, I mean, I can sell them or make money from those photographs.
However, I also have to say that I am quite lazy when it comes to editing and filtering photos. And yes, I have to blame it to myself why I have loads of stock photos that the world has yet to see. No, I am not selfish with my work, I just couldn’t find the time to fix it and make it more presentable and you know, make them meet the standards of people when it comes to photos.
Things changed when I heard about Microstock photography. Honestly, I wished I had known about Microstock photography earlier. Probably, I have been earning for a while now. But as the saying goes, it is better late than never. Who knows, in just a couple of months, I get to earn what I am supposed to earn had I started Microstock photography earlier.
What is Microstock photography?
Anyway, for those of you who are wondering what I am talking about, well, Microstock photography according to Techopedia.com is “a type of stock photography where amateur and hobbyist photographers submit photos for online distribution at a much lower cost than those sourced from typical stock photo vendors.”
Unlike large stock photo agencies, Microstock photography is considered as low-cost and distributes photos on a royalty-free basis, which makes it a more economical (which makes it more sought after) way for small businesses or publications (particularly online businesses and publications) to incorporate visual website elements.
Furthermore, MicrostockPhotography.com defines it as a “relatively new stock image industry aimed at personal and small business use. Photo buyers that would shy away from the traditional stock photo costing hundreds of dollars for limited use in the past are now prime customers of microstock agencies.”
Why sell your photos on Microstock photography?
For sure, fellow hobbyist and all the more, professional photographers can list down a number of benefits about selling photos through Microstock agencies. But personally, here are some of the things I find beneficial about getting yourself into this kind of business:
- Microstock photography helps improve the overall quality of your photographs.
Generally speaking, microstock agencies follow very strict guidelines when it comes to accepting submitted photographs. They do so to ensure that they maintain a certain standard. So, if you intend to submit your work on a microstock agency and make money out of it, it basically means you have to exert effort in making sure your photos meet the quality these agencies require.
Take into account, however, that every microstock photography agency is different. They have their own sets of rules, and they follow certain standards. But to give you an idea, below are some of the most common reasons for rejection of submitted photos:
– Bad composition
– Bad lighting
– Weird color contrast
– Out of focus
Now, if you want to make sure your submitted photos are considered and/or accepted, you have to take into consideration the above reasons when editing or filtering your photos. Rest assured that when taking all of this into account as you work on your photos, it will also help keep you on your toes as a photographer, and will, in a way, force you to check your work thoroughly before submitting them.
Personally, the high-quality standard helped me grow as a photographer. Of course, who would want to submit something that will only get rejected in the end, right? So, each time I work on a photograph, I make sure it is at its best and it is worth the money I am getting paid for.
- Microstock photography helps push your creativity to greater heights.
When submitting photos to any microstock agency, you have to make sure your work is unique. The more unique your photos are, the more it gets saleable.
To be honest, going through microstock agency websites can get a little overwhelming especially if you are a newbie. I remember the first time I checked microstock websites, I kind of wanted to back off from the idea of submitting my photos. The photos were beautifully done, and other people’s work can get a little intimidating, but I took that as a challenge eventually.
I thought if these people are able to do such a thing, why can’t I? Microstock photography brought out all the creative juices in me, and I must say, I was totally surprised at how creative I can get! It did really push me to my limit, and it continuously pushes me day after day.
You know, if you want to take photography as a serious business, in the long run, I must say getting into this is a good way to start. You will really learn a lot as you progress in this kind of business. More so, it will also help you hone your photography skills.
- Microstock photography helps put into use your stock/unused photographs.
Let’s admit it, we love taking photos when we travel or when we go places, and most of the time, we do not make use of those photos. Usually, they only end up stocked in disk spaces or backup drives and cloud services.
I am one of those who are guilty of this. In fact, I own a couple of hard drives where I keep my photos. Not even a quarter of them are shared online via social media or printed out. As in most of them are just stocked.
Imagine, with all the unused photos that I have, I could be rich! Don’t you think?
Kidding aside, who knows really, right? So, here’s the thing, if you are like me who only stock unused photos, why not share it to those who need your photos instead and make money out of them, right? Instead of those photos eating up space in your drives and backup services, why not put them into really good use?
Here’s the thing, there are a lot of people all over the planet who need photos to use on their websites, their blogs, articles, and so on and forth. You know that popular quote that says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, as I said, you just do not know how many people will be happy finding and using your photos.
So, instead of keeping them in your drives or cloud spaces, put them to good use instead — do a little editing or filtering, and consider the set of criteria of the microstock agency you plan to submit them to. Who knows, in the end, these people might end up paying for their own habitual backup expenses.
- Getting into microstock photography helps make your hobby purposeful.
With the presence of smartphones, whether you are a photo hobbyist or not, you get into the world of photography. Some people even get out of their way to buy really good cameras just so they can use it for their travels or whenever they have family events, etc.
But let us be honest here, photography is a very expensive hobby. So, imagine, you buy an expensive photo tool, but your photos end up just being stored on the drives. But things become different when you decide to sell your photos via microstock agencies. It becomes purposeful. You do not only get to sell and make money from your photos, but it also gives you a different perspective about taking photographs.
Like, if before you just snap anything and everything you see, today, since you have to think about certain criteria to make your work saleable, you ensure your photos are really good ones. And yes, whenever your photos get approved and accepted, you get that certain feeling of fulfillment having reached your goal or your purpose.
- Selling photos on microstock photography agencies can get really demanding.
When I started selling photos to microstock photography agencies, I really did not intend to like take it seriously. I just really wanted to put my stock photos into good use that is why I got myself into it.
But as days progressed, I realized, I got stuck to it. You know, it can get really addicting, which is not surprising because imagine, you took photos just because you find the subject/s good, and then you get paid for them.
Selling photos through microstock agencies can be like running your own little business sans the challenges that come with a full-blown business. And just like any other business, how it will succeed depends on how much time and effort you will pour into it, and of course, how much you make out of it.
But unlike other businesses though, what is nice about selling photos on microstock agencies is that you take full control of everything – your time, the effort you give in to it, and he profit you make. Of course, ideally, the more photos you submit, the better the income you get. But as I said, it really depends on you.
- Getting into microstock photography can give you a sense of fulfillment, and sometimes, even fame.
Just in case you haven’t heard about Google Images search, yes, it does exist. It basically works like the normal text search but of course, instead of using text, you use images. Normally, photographers use it to check whether or not somebody is using their work or have published their work online.
Now, once you start selling your photos online through microstock, you can search your photos through Google Images and see how many people are using your photos. It’s actually fun and joyful. I mean, imagine how you’d feel if you see a lot of people using your photos in their respective platforms – that means a lot. Well, it means your photo or photos is/are effective!
Come to think of it, who knows one day you will end up seeing your photo being used by a very popular publication! That would be very thrilling and yes, very fulfilling!
- Most of all, microstock photography allows you to earn extra cash!
Let us admit it, the most amazing benefit of getting into microstock photography is getting paid and earning some extra cash for you and your family!
But I have to tone down your expectations. While yes you get to earn something from getting into microstock photography, it doesn’t really pay that much – unless of course, you have an established team of professional makeup artists, models, wardrobe artists, etc.
Unfortunately, most microstock photography agencies do not really pay that much. For instance, as a contributor to Shutterstock, which is one of the most popular microstock agencies, you only get to earn 25 cents per photo download. But there are also microstock websites that pay well. But at the end of it all, it is safe to say that if you want to earn more, you got to work on coming up with really good, high-quality photos, with high commercial value. By doing so, it may help add the numbers up.
One tip, if you want to earn more from doing microstock photography, you have to continue producing unique, saleable photos, and do it regularly because like anything else, photos can also go out of style. So the more updated your photos are, the more likely they are to sell.
So, there you have it. These are just seven of the many benefits you can get from getting into microstock photography.
No, let’s move on to some more essential information about getting into this industry.
What microstock agencies to focus on?
There are actually a lot of microstock agencies to choose from. In fact, a quick Google search about microstock agencies will lead you to a lot of non-exclusive microstock agencies wherein you can submit your photos as royalty-free.
To be perfectly honest, most of these agencies are not worth anybody’s time because of low returns – unless you are able to optimize your workflow through a mass-submission software like that of StockSubmitter. It basically lets you submit your photos to microstock agencies massively without having to waste time when doing it manually.
Anyway, if you are to ask the veterans in microstock photography submission, most of them highly recommend submitting photos to Shutterstock, as well as Adobe Stock or Fotolia. Other most preferred microstock websites are Alamy (which is, by the way, a great website for editorial images), Getty Images, and iStockphoto.
You may also want to do your own research when it comes to microstock agencies and looks into different reviews before choosing what you think is the best site for you. Also, do not forget to check each site’s criteria for your reference.
How much you can make?
How much you make in microstock photography depends on a lot of factors like the agency where you are submitting your photos, and the regularity of your photo submissions. How many photos you submit must be factored in as well. But ultimately, your profitability depends on the quality and uniqueness of your photos, because photo users will depend on their selection on that.
But to give you an idea, a photo is licensed for 25 cents or could get even lower like in the case of iStock, which is just amounting to 2 cents. Now if you think the amount is too low, then probably this is not the kind of industry for you.
Moving on, microstock photography is considered as a high-volume numbers game. Meaning, the more your photos are downloaded, the more your earnings are.
Now, to overcome any probable case of frustration, it only needs a paradigm shift. For instance, if you are making 100 downloads a month at an average of like 74 cents per download, which makes $74 a month. Now, if you have more photos and you get yourself into more microstock agencies that means better potential earnings. Not bad at all, right? It’s barely enough to upgrade your gear and pay off some holiday costs.
Again, how much you make in this kind of business really depends on you. It’s entirely in your hands. But like I said early on, microstock photography is not something that will suffice your earnings from your day job, but it can definitely add up to your monthly income.
Though it does not really bring so much money, I did wish I had someone open my eyes to what I get to gain from microstock photography a long time ago. Because you know, at the end of the day, no matter how small the amount of money you get from it, it still is money, and it still lets you buy or pay something. Well, I am a believer that no amount is really too small because when you add everything up, it lets you buy food, and pay the bills, right?
But more than anything else, it makes your unused photos purposeful to others, which brings in a good feeling.