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Make Money Selling Stock Photos

easy tips on selling micro stock photography

Stock Photography Community

Tip #2: How to Find a Microstock Agency

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is a microstock agency and how does it differ from a traditional stock agency? Microstock is a sign of the digital times. It's a catalogued directory of digitized images which can easily be purchased and directly downloaded for a minimal fee per image. Buyers pay as low as 50 cents an image and sometimes up to a few hundred dollars for a download depending on the size of the image and the rights purchased. Usually a low-resolution, royalty free image (can be used as often and for any purpose within agreed upon terms) purchased for online use, will cost the buyer about one or two dollars depending on the agency. Of this amount, the seller/photographer will receive a commission (usually around 50 percent). Each microstock agency has their own rate of commission and method to increase a photographer's commission scale.

Microstock differs from traditional stock agencies in that:

- the approval process is usually easier for a beginner

- amateur and part-time photographers are welcomed to submit images

- lower resolution images are usually acceptable

- they deal almost exclusively through online downloads

- the cost to purchase an image is very affordable

- payment commissions to photographers are low

- in order to make money, a photographer must rely on selling by quantity

A traditional agency usually deals only with full-time, professional photographers who produce a large quantity of high-resolution images, based on specific themes. Individual images cost anywhere from $99 to hundreds of dollars (or more) depending on the exclusivity of the rights purchased. Photographs can be purchased as digital downloads, or many times, are offered within themed groups published on a CD.

Tip #2: How to Find a Microstock Agency

Do a little bit of research before jumping in. Read reviews for the most popular microstock agencies then visit each to get an idea of the submission process, the style of photography they're looking for and how much traffic they have coming through. Obviously the more eyeballs looking at your images the better your chances of selling.

Here are a few places to begin your research:

Stockphoto Affiliate

Stock Photo Directory


You might feel more comfortable with just trying one agency at a time. Or select 3 or 4 to try your luck. In my case, I find I only have enough time to handle two agencies right now. To view my stock images, visit Dreamstime or BigStockPhoto.

And don't be discouraged if your first attempt at the approval process is a little rocky. It's all a learning process and every agency has different criteria for accepting an image. If your photo is rejected, you will always receive the reviewers comments. These can be very helpful in learning what sells, how to create a better image and if the agency is right for you.

The photo at the top of this post happens to be one of my favorites. I photographed it through the window of a moving car! Driving back home from Denver on an Autumn afternooon, those big fluffy clouds called out and I couldn't resist. It's been downloaded 29 times from Dreamstime.

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