5 Tips for Selling Microstock Photography

If you’re just starting out in the world of professional photography, or if you’re more seasoned and looking for a lucrative outlet for your work, sell stock photos for publication use. Or, for less pay but more opportunity, look into producing microstock images that could be used anywhere.


What Buyers Want: Attention to Detail
Stock photographs online through services such as Getty, Jupiter or Corbis, tend to be high-end work for equally high prices. While an amateur or hobbyist has little chance of breaking into traditional stock photo services, microstock agencies like Dreamstime, Fotolia, Shutterstock and iStockphoto provide a market for specific niche photography that meets the following technical requirements:

  1. High-resolution photos sell. Stock photos could end up in print, so they have to be sized at a resolution that will print with integrity. The standard minimum size for print is four megapixels.
  2. Composition is key. It should go without saying that a well-composed photo will sell and others will be rejected. Pay attention to lighting and focus, and make sure your subject is obvious.
  3. Supply what is in demand. Microstock agencies are primarily looking for creative new ways to express concepts, emotions and ideas. Do some research to find out which niche each agency prefers, and tailor your offerings instead of dumping everything you’ve got on one agency. Or, specialize in a niche you love and leave the rest to someone else.
  4. Get releases. Every photo with an identifiable model should come with a model’s release form. Stock photos sell quickly if they’re going to sell, so get the release when you take the photo.
  5. Jump at every offer. Again, stock photos sell quickly. If you get an offer and take an hour to reply, the offer is usually gone. Act quickly and make money.

With Microstock, More is More
Microstock agencies provide an excellent opportunity for burgeoning photographers to sell their work, but the flat fees they pay in commission are tiny compared to those of the bigger companies. Find your niche, take great, high-quality photos, and submit lots of them. You may earn a dollar or less for each photo, so volume is important to realize some profit.

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