If you are trying to decide if microstock photography is for you, maybe the following can help:
- Can you take well composed, clear, and clean photos? You do not need to be a professional or one of the best, but a blurry snapshot of your dog or a shot of the family will not do. The nice thing about doing microstock is that you don’t need to be a professional. It is a great way to get started and it is well within the reach of many photographers.
- Do you enjoy photography? If you are only in it for the money, you are in for a huge challenge. To make a significant amount of money, you will need to put in many hours of work shooting pictures, processing pictures, preparing them for upload, and uploading them to stock sites. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it will be reflected in your work and sales.
- Do you have the right equipment? The easiest way to do stock photography is to use a digital camera. Preferably one with 4 or more megapixels. A digital camera allows you to take a lot of pictures and experiment without having to pay a lot of money for film and film processing. With a digital camera, you can go on a photo shoot and take several hundred pictures, experiment with exposure, angles, and composition, and not spend any money. If you are using a film camera, this might cost you several hundred dollars to do each time. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a film camera, it just means that each picture you take will cost you. You will also need to have a good enough scanner to scan your photos, which is an additional processing step. Whether you go digital or film, you will need software to process your photos. You can spend hundreds of dollars on software or find some free photo editing software, but you will need something and a knowledge of how to use it.
- Do you have the time?
Stock photography, regardless of whether you go with microstock or macrostock sites, take time, at least to begin with. After you get sore photos uploaded to the sites you want to work with, you can sit back and just make money, but over time, your sales might drop, and if you want your sales to grow, you will want to continue to work at it. This doesn’t mean you have to put in lots of hors if you don’t want to, but it will take time and if you don’t have it, doing stock photography will be difficult.
- Do you want to earn money selling your photos? There are many good photographers that could easily sell their photos, but they really aren’t interested in making money selling their photos. Their photos are for them and their friends and that is as far as they want to go. This is fine.
- Are you bothered by making only a few dollars or cents when you sell a picture?
Some feel that selling your pictures for so little money is selling yourself way short. They also feel that photographers that are willing to do so are ripping themselves off and hurting photographers everywhere. Not to get into a philosophical debate about this, but if you feel this way, microstock sites might not be for you.
- Are you already an established photographer?
If you are already an established photographer, maybe with a Web site and a large portfolio, you might not want to go the microstock route. You might meet the requirements to sell on macrostock, as they are sometimes called, or traditional stock photography sites. These sites are much more restrictive on the photographers they accept, but they also pay a lot more for each picture sold. Instead of making a few cents for each photo sold, you can make several hundred dollars or more. Of course, you will still need to decide whether to go the high or low price route. Some photographers go both routes. They sell some photos on macrostock and some on microstock. Just be sure that the sites you align yourself with do not require you to be exclusive with them. Some of the macrostock sites do not require exclusivity, but they prohibit you selling any photos through microstock sites. Do your homework before you sign-up with anyone.