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Dec 21

How to Earn Money with Stock Photography

Reading Time: 4 mins

It’s a luxury to make money doing what you love. When it comes to stock photography, you can make an income and express your creativity at the same time.

Have you ever considered it? Stock photography is often seen as a hobby, but it can actually be a worthy source of income, even if you are an aspiring photographer.

If you’re interested in getting into stock photography, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered! Our guide will explain to you how to register on a platform, submit your works, and start earning money. We’ll also give you tips on creating photos that sell.


What is Stock Photography?

Stock photography refers to photos that are sold on macrostock, midstock, and microstock platforms. They follow specific topics, and can be used for commercial, editorial, or personal purposes. Stock photos can be used in advertisements, books, magazines, brochures, articles, product packaging, web design, interior design, and more. The extent of use varies depending on the license type associated with each purchase, and the conditions of the specific license.

Stock photos can be uploaded to digital platforms, known as photo stocks, photo libraries, photo archives, image banks, or photo banks. These platforms enable photographers to sell their work numerous times, while consumers download their images. Nowadays, stock photography distributors offer images, as well as illustrations, vectors, videos, and music. 

Stock photography is distinguished by the fact that it is not created for a single client. Today, the leading stock marketplaces sell millions of images on various topics.


How to Become a Contributor on a Stock Photography Platform

  • Go to the registration page on a stock photography platform, and fill out their form with information about yourself
  • Upload several images for a quick test. Most stock platforms need them to make sure your work fits all criteria and does not infringe on anyone’s rights
  • Wait for a response. It usually takes 7-10 business days for a team to process your application
  • Start uploading files to earn money


Why Stock Photography is Attractive

Stock photography is appealing for a variety of reasons; it is suitable for anyone interested in photography. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or an amateur photographer. You have the opportunity to upload your works to an image bank and make money out of it. 

Stock photography does not require you to have a portfolio once you start. On the contrary, you can build one while making money passively. Later on, you can use your portfolio to gain freelance photography gigs.

You can also venture out into stock photography without having professional equipment. If you don’t have many options, feel free to use a simple camera or a smartphone. Just make sure your photos are high-resolution. Using daylight or buying additional lights can help improve quality.

Decide how much time you want to devote to work. If you want to make it a part-time job, you can create evergreen content, which means your visuals remain relevant as time passes. If you want to make it a full-time job, pick a niche and develop your unique style to set yourself apart from other photographers and gain an audience.

Another advantage of stock photography is that it allows you to be creative during the process. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. If you’re photographing people, get model releases, eliminate branding and logos, and make photos that are unique, but versatile enough to be used for different occasions.


Can I Make Money with Stock Photography?

Yes, you can make money with stock photos. However, don’t expect it to happen too fast. 

To generate consistent money, you need to submit images regularly, conduct research on which photos sell, and create content that people are willing to buy. 

We have several tips that will help you become a successful stock photography contributor.


  • Pick a niche and develop your unique style 

Stock photography sites, like any other, have regular customers. You have a chance to gain loyal buyers if they notice your profile and add your photos to their favorites. To do so, you’ll need to develop a distinct style and a portfolio that stands out. You will always be in demand if you specialize in certain topics and meet client needs for specific types of photos. Safe niches are lifestyle, nature, backgrounds, sports, and food.


  • Keep up with trends

You can strive to make photos that are in line with current trends. To find out what people are interested in, use Google Trends. You can capture lifestyle shots with people wearing masks, for example. Mental health is a topic that’s receiving a lot of attention recently. You can also try this niche if it’s something that speaks to you. Alternatively, you can bring up the subject of ecology. Photos of people who are plogging (a combination of jogging and picking up litter) or sorting trash will almost definitely find success. You should also keep up with color and photography trends. Outdated photos are unlikely to attract much attention or generate revenue. 


  • Diversify keywords

If you want customers to see your photos on the first page of search results, tag them with relevant and versatile keywords. You should use keywords that accurately describe your photo. Keep in mind that keywords should match the trends, genre, place, theme, and atmosphere of the work. For each image, use at least 20 keywords.


  • Don’t overdo the editing

As we’ve said before, photos that appear outdated are unlikely to attract much attention and generate income. Stock photo editing is just as important as the actuality and authenticity of the photo. Avoid overprocessing, unnatural colors, poor cropping, improper color toning, and visible vignettes. Don’t make any major changes to your photos. Remember, your clients will modify the photographs as they see fit. An over processed image will not provide them with this opportunity.


  • Consider seasonal demand

Every brand, whether it’s a small business or a large corporation, has a communication calendar. Marketers plan their content ahead of time, and so should you. Create seasonal images and submit them two to four weeks in advance; a seasonal rise in demand can result in additional sales. 



People are looking for original and creative content that will stand out. Although you can’t earn much on one sale, you can sell the same photo multiple times. Even a couple popular photos can turn into cash cows. Don’t be afraid to open a new door in your photography career. Stock photography can not only help you make money, but it can also help you channel and develop a stream of creative ideas to build an outstanding portfolio.


Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.


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