Want to earn a little extra and have fun doing it?
One fun way to make money with your model photography is through a microstock agency. These agencies market your photos for you, and then pay you a portion of the proceeds.
Photographs of models are one of the best selling image types in stock photography.
Have 500 great images?
Selling through microstock is a game of volume, so you need to have the time to produce and upload a great many images (typically 500 or 1,000) that will sell well. But if you are dedicated, skilled, and patient the rewards are there. According to a June 2007 article in the New York Times, one top photographer earns $70,000 and another more than $100,000 per year selling photos via microstock.
The “Big 4″ microstock agencies
(listed with the highest paying first)
Part of the fun of selling stock is that after you upload your photos, enter some keywords and other data; you can check back and see how your sales are doing. Watching earnings increase, even just a few cents, is enjoyable. And with no further effort the earnings from a great photo can continue for years.
Improve your work
The feedback you get from your uploads can reveal volumes about your work, both technically and image impact. Which of your images sell the best? How about that “great image” that you find out suffers from chromatic aberration or pixel noise? Even if you don’t make a ton of money, I can almost guarantee you will learn something from the process.
Upload when you feel like it
Nobody from the microstock agencies will get on your back if you stop uploading. Just do it when you feel like it.
Micro vs. Big Guys
Microstock agencies are distinct from large photo stock agencies, in that they address a different kind of photo buyer. The customers of microstock agencies have budgets that are on a smaller scale and typically have never purchased a photo from the high-priced agencies.
A Word of Warning
Getting onto a microstock site is not child’s play. Based on the feedback I get, I would estimate that only 10% or fewer of photographers who attempt actually are able to get into the business. Take your time, and research the process; read all the instructions on each site before you submit; scrutinize your work. Your equipment and your technique must be professional grade. There is a portfolio review process, so make sure you do your homework and know exactly what they are looking for before you take the plunge.
Some sites have much higher standards than others. If you get rejected from one site, try some others before resubmitting to the first one. And read the rejection reasons carefully, they contain important clues to improving your photography and selling some winning images.
Getting on Shutterstock
Shutterstock is one of the more lucrative sites, and it took me a while to get accepted. I did learn a trick that I suggest you try. Choose your sample images carefully and submit no more than the required amount. How you size them is important, downsizing your images to the minimum requirement will help you hide flaws. Downsizing to the minimum requirement is how I got accepted. You only need to do this until your account is approved. If you get rejected (any you will the first couple of times) keep reapplying (with the same account but different images.) Look carefully at your rejection notice, replace only the images that were rejected until you get accepted. It will happen if you keep at it, and don’t forget to resize your images to be close to the minimum size requirement.
Before you start, you can get advice from microstock veterans and participate in discussions at the microstock forums here:
Banner Links to the agencies