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Can you imagine anyone paying you good money for your photos? No? You know, I had all those photos from a recent trip to Rome, Italy, laying around and I thought it should be possible to make a few bucks off of them. First, I couldn’t think of a way to market or sell those images but then I discovered microstock sites.
Microstock sites are great: You register (it’s free) and then upload a few sample images. After your samples passed an initial review you start uploading and making money.
Let’s look at how this works in detail:
What is stock photography? Imagine someone is creating a website about healthcare. To beef it up they want a few images of doctors, nurses, operating theaters, and the like. Rather than hiring a photographer (sending him on “assignment” as it’s called in the business) which can be very expensive, the designer decides to use stock photos, i.e. images that are readily available. Usually, stock images are much cheaper than “bespoke” photos. So our designer would visit one of the established stock image sites and browse around a little until she finds some nice healthcare-related imagery. After paying up (usually at the tone of $100 per image or higher depending on the use) she downloads the photos, puts them on the website, and calls it a day.
Microstock sites vs. traditional agencies
With a traditional agency, our designer likely spent between $500 and $1,000 for half a dozen images of doctors, nurses, and stuff like this. That’s a small change if you are a Fortune 500 company, but what if you are on a budget or doing website design for a friend or a non-profit organization?
Enter microstock agencies. Microstock sites have stirred up the traditional market for stock photography over the last three years. What’s the idea here? Rather than charging $100 or more for a photo, on many of those sites, you can get high-quality images for less than $10, sometimes as low as $1!
With a payout of perhaps 25 to 50 cents per image, this is not very attractive for professional photographers but an amateur can make decent money this way and should at least be able to finance her hobby. And remember, this is the Internet we are talking about: Make it up on volume. 25 cents per image downloaded may not sound like much but if you have several hundred or even a thousand decent and usable images, all of them submitted to the big microstock sites even a paltry 25 cents per download can add up nicely.
What you need
Most microstock agencies have the same requirements: You’ll need at least a four Megapixel camera (more is better, although you’ll be fine with between six and eight Megapixels), your images should be free of noise, properly keyworded, and should picture sought after subjects. For example, good selling images are business or healthcare-related or illustrate a concept or an emotion such as love, relationships, career, and the like.
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