How To Make Money From Stock Photography

How To Make Money From Stock Photography

Whether you are yet to venture into the world of stock photography, or are already established in the industry, the question is usually the same – how to make money (or more money) from stock photography? The answer isn’t an easy one, or a short one. But if there’s a company that knows how to make money from stock photography then it has to be Shutterstock at the moment. Shutterstock just seem to be going from strength to strength, and are consistently the best earner for most stock photographers involved with microstock. Recently, they posted a list of 33 things that stock photographers can control to increase their earnings potential. In case you missed it, we thought it would be worth a mention here…

How To Make Money From Stock Photography – 33 Things That Affect Your Success

According to Shutterstock, the attributes listed below are often the difference between an image that gets five downloads vs. those that get 5,000, and the portfolios that make $5,000 per year vs. portfolios that earn in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They also point out that these tips for success are not specific to one file type and they are in no particular order. So here goes:

1. Portfolio size 
2. Upload timing and seasonality 
3. Portfolio diversity 
4. Relevance: choice of subject matter 
5. Creativity, personality and uniqueness 
6. File type (photos, vectors, videos, etc.) 
7. File size and image quality 
8. Content type (commercial vs. editorial) 
9. Presence of model and property releases 
10. Metadata quantity 
11. Metadata quality 
12. Choice of models 
13. Age of models 
14. Ethnic or regional diversity 
15. Category (lifestyle, nature, medical, etc.) 
16. Literal vs. conceptual content 
17. “Authenticity” (real people, real situations, natural lighting) 
18. “Aspirational” qualities – images that reflect realistic ambitions for something better. 
19. Geographic diversity or specificity, global vs. local content 
20. Composition, geometry, symmetry, and patterns 
21. Visual simplicity 
22. Lighting quality 
23. Room for text 
24. Color palette (pastels vs. saturated colors, B&W vs. color, etc.) 
25. Trends in aesthetics: model, prop styling and art direction 
26. Relevance to customer needs and whether you’re filling a content gap 
27. Retouching and post-production 
28. Amount of similars vs. distinct variations from the same series 
29. Distribution (Shutterstock, BigstockOffset, or partner programs) 
30. Building your personal or company brand, as well as your followers 
31. Optimizing your contributor profile page 
32. Marketing your own portfolio (via social media, a personal site, SEO, your profile page, and otherwise) 
33. And don’t forget that you can also add income through the customer and contributor Referral Program

How To Make MORE Money From Stock Photography

There are some excellent suggestions in the above list. Many will already be thinking of most of these, but no doubt there is an area or two that you could improve in. They key is to find that area so you can make money from stock photography – or perhaps, more money than you are currently. Personally, the top areas that my portfolio needs improving from that list would be 1, 3, 8 and 15 to name a few. I have no doubt that if I can continue to improve in those areas then I can continue to make money from stock photography.

What about you? What areas do you think are the most important to continue to make money from stock photography? Let us know below. Or if you are looking for a basic guide to get started in stock photography then you should start here.

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