Making Money in Stock Photography
1. Upload Too Many Pictures to Stock Sites
When it comes down to it, you really do not know what will sell and what will not. You might have some good ideas, but it is surprising what sells. Also, what sells well on one microstock site does not sell well on another site, so err on uploading too many pictures opposed to too few. Now, if a picture is technically bad or is just obviously not a stock photo, don't waste your time or the stock sites time. However, if you have a well taken picture that you just aren't sure who will buy, don't worry about it. Let the stock sites decide. Now, having said this, keep in mind that if you submit too many junk pictures to some stock sites, they might ban you or greatly restrict your opportunities to upload. Do not go to this extreme. Use good judgment. As you upload pictures and have them reviewed, you will get a good feel for what is acceptable and what is not.
Take every opportunity to market what you are doing. Add links to your stock photo areas at the bottom of your emails. Tell your friends what you are doing. Participate in forums and get known. Consider putting up a Web site that highlights some of your work and directs people to your stock photos. It is hard to promote your pictures on a stock site with the search engines, but you can very easily promote your own stock photo site. Even if it is a simple Web page, go for it and don't forget to promote your Web site in the search engines.
3. Refer Others to Stock Photography Sites
Some make half of their microstock stock photography income from people they have referred. All you do is sign up your friends and then when they sell a picture, you make money. You only make a small percent of what they make, which doesn't seem like much, but if you refer 20 or 50 or 100 people that are actively selling photos, the money adds up quickly. Not all microstock stock photography sites offer money for referrals, so be sure to do your research. As a start, see Microstock Sites. This page indicates whether some of the more popular microstock sites have a referral program and how much they pay.
To really start making some good money, you will probably need at least a 1000 or more photographs. This might seem huge, but give it time. Just keep working at it. Keep taking pictures and keep uploading. Uploading frequently keeps you listed on the recent upload lists of many sites, whish helps to bring customers your way. Set a goal of so many pictures a month or every two weeks or so. Remember, all of your hard work will pay off, because once you are up to making a few thousand dollars a year, you will make that same thousand year after year, on top of what you make when you add additional pictures.
5. Upload to Many Sites but not All
The work required to upload to one site is the most work. The second, third, forth, and so on site does not require as much work as the first because the work is mostly done. However, uploading to additional sites still takes effort. You need to take the time to upload, choose categories, and possibly keyword. This might not seem like much, but when you multiple this effort over 5 or 10 or 15 sites, it all adds up. If the site brings in enough money, it is worth it, but many smaller sites will barely bring you a few dollars a year. This is probably not worth your efforts. Start with quality sites that have the potential to make your work worth the while.
This is a business. If it were easy to do, everyone would do it. Work at it. Learn all you can about taking good photos, stock photography, and other things that will help you be successful.
Photo credits: Picfest.