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There are many ways to make money. All you need to do is put in a little effort, and you can earn anytime and anywhere. Any passion you have can help you to make money, so if you are interested in taking photos, then what about entering into the stock photo business? 

One great way to earn some extra income is through stock photos. You might have seen royalty-free photos online and you click around one and download. If that doesn’t work, you would pay a small fee to use those professional photos on your website.

You will know about the best-selling photos and if you are not sure where and how to become a stock photographer then you can get some clues through this article while learning how to take stock photos to sell. 

What are stock photos? 

It is visual content for which users buy a license for creativity and commercial use. Simply it means images that buyers use for their visual content in new stories, blogs, websites, design materials, posters, promotions, and more. 

It is generally sold through a platform specialized in keeping a large library full of such images so buyers will have a number of options to choose from. This is actually cheaper than hiring a photographer. 

Stock photo business

For example, if you want an image of a mother working from home while handling her children for your promotion,  you need to spend for the models, a place, lighting, a photographer, and more, which is quite expensive. But more than that, you can find plenty of stock photography sites and pay anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars and get them, which would also be far easier and cheaper. 

It is licensed directly to the client depending on copyright status and they are original works created specifically for the client’s purpose. It is more time-consuming when you do not have to spend time creating the original content instead choose an image, you want from a photo site to use appropriately. 

How can you make money from the stock photo business? 

According to statistics, the stock photo business industry has a Growth Rate of  5% annually. Therefore you too have a chance in making a good amount of money. 

On average, stock photographers make $0.02 per image through the stock photo business and professionals make between $0.05 to $.025. The royalty-free sales earn between $0.10 and $99.50 and moreover, the extended licenses make up to $500. 

You can make money but anything is not definitely easy. There are plenty of photographers who make a decent amount while some do not. Earlier, it is much easier to earn enough income through selling images because there weren’t many and the market was not filled with photographers. 

But now it is different because the industry has got matured and images are supplied vastly improving the demand. So in order to succeed, you need to work harder and smarter to stay out of the crowd. 

You might not make a full-time living, but for sure you can get to a place to earn a few hundred dollars a month. It will take time and you will need to upload a lot of images, with a bit of perseverance and dedication. 

How to do stock photo business? 

Taking photos

Take photos for stock photo business

First, you need to observe people when they are in their natural settings like sitting in a coffee shop, being at a party, working in the office, and more. If you observe people’s interaction with each other and objects like phones, coffee mugs, and books you can get good planning on how to capture photos. 

You can use models, your friends, or people who are interested in posing for photos. You can picture yourself with friends and family, or in a socially acceptable location, like a parade or outdoor area. Assuming everyone signs model releases, candid photos can work.

To be in the trend, and find topics that have a huge demand is to read the news, be active on Reddit, or find sources where you can be informed about them. As soon as you find a promising topic, you need to be quick in uploading photos of the emerging topic, ideally within a couple of days. If not, your competitors will take their place. 

Editing of images

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, photos that you hated would be picked for a full spread in blogs, while the photo you loved would have been rejected altogether? What you need to know from this is, that no matter good or bad, upload more photos because what you think is bad could be perfect for some. 

More than artistic shots, less edited and natural-looking photos sell better. And sometimes by over-editing photos, you can quickly degrade their quality. This includes crushing highlights and shadows, oversaturation, too much contrast, and introducing a halo. 

Keyword your photos properly 

One of the most important things is keyword your photos because that is how people are going to search for your images. So it is important to get it right. 

You need to make your keywords as descriptive as possible. For example, “food” is a generic word. But you need to use the more specific word “ burger” in front of the generic word because the more specific the keyword is, it would be better. 

If there is more than one burger in the image, you need to indicate the word “Burgers” while including any object in the image. If there are any actions, list them too, like “Jumping”, “running”, or “Singing”. Illustrations like “hope”, “peace”, and “simplicity” can also be included if the image has them. 

It is best to be careful and make sure you are not missing any keywords and to arrange them in order of relevance. You can even find some of the great keywording tools out there that make this process easier. 

According to some experts, 20-25 is the ideal number of keywords, but they have to be relevant because spam keywords can actually hurt your photos.

Consider the end user

Learn what the end users like bloggers, marketing agencies, magazines, and businesses are expecting in order to make a better stock photo business. 

Find what are they looking for? Because image content helps to illustrate the concept or complements created in the content. It can be about everything and anything, but some things are in higher demand than others. For example, businesses will need images like family, teamwork, and trust, and so the more images you put together would bring these kinds of concepts to life with more sales. 

Stock images in website

In general, you might have seen ad posters, where they choose an image with some empty spaces so that they will be able to fill them with their texts.  So you can create such images to cover up them. 

If you are taking an image, you need to consider, who will buy these, and what and how will they use for. If you compose the images by considering these things, you will have a better chance to sell.

Create your own style because people always look out for fresh, authentic imagery, so having photography that stands out is key to a successful sale.

Upload regularly

It is more important to upload regularly because the more photos you have will give you the better chance to make sales. Moreover, it keeps the images up front and center in the search results of most platforms. Uploading regularly gives another benefit whereas the trend is regularly changing a photo that is popular today will not be popular tomorrow. So uploading new photos every day will give you a chance to provide you with more sales.

If you don’t keep uploading new content, you will find that amount of your income dropping as the months go on. Going a full year without new uploads will make your amount go down. For some, it can be still a great passive income, while for some, it won’t.

Your old photos will still be sold, as there would be many buyers looking for photos that were popular years ago. But you will sell better by keeping your content fresh to make a successful stock photo business. 

To avoid time decay, you will need to keep uploading new high-quality content to keep your images more findable in current searches, and also it will be relevant to changing trends.

What kind of photos do people want? 

Learning what stock photos people look for, will help your stock photo business to go on the right path. You can find some sites that show what popular stock photos get downloaded the most. 

They would include landscapes, product photography, portraits, and much more. You need to keep an eye on the competition, no matter what your artistic expertise style is. This will help your work to make lists of popular stock photos. 

To find out the most searched images online,  a simple search on google will also result in some of the best-selling stock photos on the internet. Search engines are a great place to start if you are looking for examples to set the stage for your next stock photo shoot. 

What do you need to do? 

stock photo business with hight quality photos

Here are a few tips for selling stock photos that will sell and help set you on the right path to creative success. Before taking stock photos, familiarise yourself with these tips. 

Do have a concept 

Why you are shooting and what you are trying to capture? This should be in your mind when shooting. It is crucial to know your mood. Usually, you are probably shooting a variety of subjects and capturing full of flowers, beaches, sunsets, pets, and foods. If so then you will find it hard. Because these are very common subjects and you will find thousands of these types of images on just about every stock photo site imaginable.

To make money in stock photography, you need to focus on developing certain niches, ideally, those that are in demand and that aren’t flooded. The more individual and specific you can be, the easier it is to really stand out. 

Make a better thumbnail

On a stock photo site, people will see your stock image as a thumbnail. It is by your thumbnail, they judge your image. So your stock photo should be clear and easy to understand, as they will only glance at it. 

Take photos that allow text or design, so they can be used for a brochure, an online ad, or a website cover photo.

Be ready

Amazing and authentic moments can happen around you at any time. So it is always important to be prepared. Have a camera with you always and make sure that you are ready to capture anything that looks good and authentic. Because they could be your best-selling stock photo. 

What you should not do? 

There are a few things that you need to be concerned about, as they may reduce the chances of your stock photo sales. 

Recreating the same stock image

make money from stock photo business

Don’t keep recreating the same stock image photography over and over.  Instead, try something new to create that should look unique while obtaining the attention of buyers. 

Find a cool angle or out-of-the-way location for your photography and try something unusual. Try to take different shots and think of ways to make your photo stand out without being overly controversial.


Stock photo business is something done for commercial use, so there is no need for logos. You want to make sure the logo is not the focus of the image. When a company is shopping for photography, it won’t want a competitor’s logo in it. 

Don’t upload everything

Even when you don’t feel inspired, it is important to keep capturing a photo, but that doesn’t mean you should upload everything. Make sure to have a good shot, so that it will keep selling because a bad shot will just lower the quality of your online body of work.

Try a new kind of photo subject or even a new editing style. Don’t upload whatever just because everyone else is.

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