The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about microstock photography.
Can I make much money selling microstock photography?
YES. Some professionals make over $100,000 a year. Some amateurs make easily over $50,000 a year. You don’t get paid much for each picture sold, but when a picture sells a thousand times or more and you have lots of pictures, the money adds up quickly.
Is it hard to get started?
Getting started in microstock is easy (unlike getting started in traditional stock photography). If you can take good pictures and have a digital camera, you are on your way. There is no need to have a lot of pictures or have your own Web site or pay fees to someone to get you started. You can approach this as a hobby where you are making a little extra money with your photos or as a full time business. The chose is yours. You don’t even need a professional camera. For more information, see Getting started with Microstock.
How can I improve my photography skills to be a better microstock photographer?
You can learn by studying what others have done on microstock photography sites. Look at the best sellers or the popular downloads and see what they do. You can also learn by practicing and critiquing or having other critique your pictures. Also, there are lots of great books out there that can help you with your composition and technical skills. For more information, see Books to help you with your microstock skills.
How do I choose a camera that will work well for microstock?
There are so many options on camera. At minimum, you need a digital camera that can hopefully provide at least 4 megapixerls of data (preferably 8 megapixels or more to give you a good size picture if you need to crop). The camera needs to have good optics. If you plan on submitting indoor pictures, you need a camera that is low on noise. For more information, se Tip – Choosing a Camera for Microstock.
Which microstock sites should I work with?
There are hundreds of microstock sites. Choosing the wrong one can lead to disaster. Choosing the rights ones can lead to success. We hale not worked with all of the microstock sites out there, but we have worked with all of the biggies. Based on our own experience and feedback from other microstock photographers, we have come up with a list of sites we recommend:
Results with each site vary, based on the photographer and the type of pictures you take, but they are generally considered the best ones out there. For more information, see The Fab 5 Microstock Sites.
Can I upload to more than one microstock web site with the same picture?
Unless you are exclusive to a particular web site, you can upload to multiple sites and most people do. Many people feel that they do not want to put all of their eggs in one basket or bet the success of their microstock business on one site. All of the sites we recommend do not require you to be exclusive with them. Some give you the option to be exclusive, but do not require it. For more information, see Should I be exclusive to a microstock site?.
Are there any fees or costs to get started?
Some sites might have a fee to sign-up of to store your pictures on their site, but none of the top microstock sites do this? So, if a site tries to charge you, go somewhere else. With the top site, you have no sign-up costs, no fees, no costs. You pay them nothing. They will be paying you for the opportunity to sell your pictures. For more information on getting started, see Getting started with microstock photography.
Do I need a large portfolio to get started?
NO. You have to have a few photos for the initial review process (some sites require 10, some sites 3, and some sites 1 or none), but you can upload as many or as few as you wish. You can also upload every day or every year. It is up to you. Obviously, the more active you are in adding new pictures, the more money you can make, but it is up to you. For more information on getting started, see Getting started with microstock photography.
What requirements do microstock sites have for pictures?
Each site will have different requirements, but in general:
- Pictures should be about 3 megapixels or larger (the minimum varies greatly between microstock sites).
- If the picture contains recognizable people, you will need a model release.
- Pictures must be sharp and in focus.
- Pictures must have little or no noise.
- You must own the copyright on the photograph. In some cases, you need to be the photographer and own the copyright.
- Pictures cannot contain trademarks or copyrighted items, such as company logos.
For more information on getting started, see Getting started with microstock photography.
Where can I get more information about microstock?
See Microstock Links.