- Research and choose a stock library: Begin by researching the stock library to sell your photos with. Some popular stock libraries include Shutterstock, Getty Images, Adobe Stock, and Alamy. Consider factors such as the library’s reach, pricing structure, and commission rates. I’ve personally sold through, Adobe, Shutterstock, and Wire Stock in the past 6 months.
- Understand the submission guidelines: Each stock library has specific submission guidelines and quality standards for accepting photos. To save time, and avoid having your images rejected, ensure that your images meet the requirements.
- Organize and curate your photo collection: Take a look through your archives, for travel images to sell, or client work that might be suitable to sell (ensuring permission from the client is granted of course). Choose high-quality, and commercially viable photos that have the potential to attract buyers. Ensure that your collection includes a diverse range of subjects, themes, styles, and formats. It helps to think about who will be purchasing these images in the back of your mind, graphic designers, web designers, business wonders, marketing companies etc.
- Prepare and upload your photos: Once you have selected your photos, prepare them for submission according to the stock library’s guidelines. This may involve resizing, editing, and adding appropriate metadata such as keywords and descriptions. Submitting your images is super easy, but once you have done it, most libraries will notify you if your images have been successfully added to the library. Sometimes mine have been rejected for copyright reasons. An example: I submitted a photo of a notebook and pens on a desk. The image was not accepted because the notebook had a unique design that could have been copyrighted. So be aware things like that can happen.
- Review, tag, and promote your photos: Add relevant and descriptive keywords related to each photo to increase its visibility and searchability. Additionally, promote your photos on social media, personal websites, or blogs to attract potential buyers.
Remember that selling your images on a stock library is a great way to earn extra cash, but it can take time to see the dollars come through. From what I’ve sold so far, the average image is paying 90c, but each image is different and each stock library pays different commissions.
I feel it’s a bit of a numbers game, the more images you upload, the longer you’ve been on there, and the more income you will make. Try and stay updated with current trends to increase your chances of selling photos as well, and keep shooting to create new content for the library and treat it like a professional practice, and over time you could make a decent side hustle from it.
*Listen to The Photo Diaries Podcast EP 20 to hear about my experience selling to stock libraries.