So you’ve heard about microstock, you’ve finally found some time to research it and now you’re probably thinking – Can I really make it in microstock? Do I have to be incredible to earn a living from doing what I love?
The simple answer is this… You don’t have to be a pro to make money from your photos.
So Who Can Be A Microstock Photographer?
Of course, the more you know about photography the better off you’ll be, but there are literally hundreds of success stories out there of people making a good living without any formal training. And without a $10,000 professional camera.
Selling your photos online is a great way to earn money from a hobby, or to supplement your income as a photographer. It may sound daunting to begin with, but rest assured it’s not as hard to get started in as it looks.
Anyone can join an agency and then it’s up to the agency as to how they test your worth as a microstock contributor. After joining, some have a simple quiz you’ll need to pass to begin selling, while others have more rigorous initial inspections to pass on an initial image upload. Yet there are some (Mostphotos for example) with no approval process whatsoever.
The point is, there will be an agency that will accept your work, provided you can shoot sharp, interesting pictures and are willing to learn from critiques. (Note: You must be over 18 to join most libraries for legal reasons. However, if you are younger than that some agencies will accept a parent/guardians approval.)
Get Skilled Up While You Earn
Many of our readers who come to Microstock Man have made a hobby out of photography (or vectors, video or audio). As mentioned above, that’s fine and you can have a shot at the microstock industry just like anyone else. But the reality is, the competition is getting tougher than ever. So your skills need to be improving all the time as well.
Many people find that microstock has helped them improve as an artist. But you don’t want to improve solely by being rejected a lot – that’s no fun. So why not consider educating yourself as part of the entire microstock process? There are endless ways you can do this, but we recommend the following resources to improve your camera skills, editing techniques and more. You can see all our recommended eBooks, video tutorials and applications on our Microstock Tools & Resources page.
Basic Equipment Needed For Microstock Photography
Obviously there are some things that are crucial to getting started in microstock photography. One of the most common questions is ‘what sort of gear do I need?’ Here is a very basic rundown that should give you some pointers:
Camera – Probably something around the $500-$1,000 bracket should get you started, although the camera and lenses are the main items to invest in. Get as new as you can afford
Lenses – Again, get as good as you can afford. A cheaper kit lens will probably suffice to being with, but if you get serious you will want some good glass. Aim for 2 lenses, that cover a range of about 20mm to 200mm
Software – Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom are the most common and can be purchased easily. You can also try free alternatives like the image editing software GIMP.
Creativity – This one can’t be bought, but is vital if you are to succeed. Try not to think too ‘artsy’ but more commercial with an interesting twist. Ask ‘what would grab my attention on this topic?’
Microstock is a brilliant way to improve your skills and earn some money along the way. Is it a sure thing? No. And if anyone ever says otherwise, don’t believe them. But it certainly is an avenue that both amateur and professionals alike can pursue, confident that with a little ingenuity and a lot of patience your images just might have more worth in them than just sitting on your hard drive.