How Viable is the Stock Photography Business?

I never gave much thought to stock photography until I met Jon Yau. In 2016, he was in New Delhi for the DomainX conference, and hearing him speak was a riveting experience. He talked about how he spent $250,000 on acquiring the domain name, I learned about how he turned that domain into a successful business of selling stock photographs.

Two things stuck with me from his speech:

  • $250,000 for a domain name seemed a bit exorbitant
  • And a business out of selling stock photographs… really?

Apparently, selling stock photos is an extremely lucrative business. If you’re a talented photographer, you can actually sell your photos and make a decent living. To learn more about this topic, also be sure to check out this starting a photography business guide.

That’s what today’s post is about.

Do People Buy Stock Photography?

The short answer is yes.

Not everyone does this and I am one of those people guilty of not doing it. However, after learning more about stock photography, I’ve realized that everyone should be paying for their images. Most of you reading this probably prefer searching and downloading images from Google Images, right?

Don’t do it.

You should buy licensed images. It will definitely add to the authenticity of your blog or business’ website.

Where Can I Sell My Stock Photographs?

Unfortunately, no matter how great your photography talent may be, it isn’t worth anything if there are no buyers. You can either sell your photos yourself or hire a business developer to help you out.

The allure of stock photography lies in its earning potential. You will earn money on a recurring model. An image isn’t sold just once, but multiple times. If you’re using a third-party vendor, you get a commission out of every sale of the same image. The potential to earn is immense.

Here are some Methods for Understanding How to Sell Stock Photography:

#1 Create an Exclusive E-commerce Site

Create a branded e-commerce site where you will sell niche and exclusive stock photography. You can use the e-commerce potential of Shopify to sell images. Shopify offers a pre-defined e-commerce system, complete with detailed user data and checkout methods.

Users are doing drop-shipping business through Shopify and are earning thousands of dollars every month. Your business is also entirely ‘digital’. That makes things a lot less complicated; you just have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

However, keep in mind that you will need do some marketing to generate sales. It can’t and won’t happen on auto-pilot.

#2 Modify your Blog

If you have a photography blog on the WordPress CMS, you should turn it into an e-commerce site with the Sell Media plugin from Graph Paper Press. Install the plugin, add your media, customize features such as the selling price, and put your photos up for sale.

When anyone purchases your photos, they will pay immediately and then will be redirected to download the image instantly. You can also send the buyer an email with the download link.

If the existing blog has a strong following, it will generate sales instantly. You can also do additional marketing like buying banners on other blogs or a PR campaign.

#3 Stock Photography Websites

Stock Photo, Shutter Stock and iStockPhoto are some of the more well-known options for selling stock photography online. You upload your images, define the selling conditions and licensing terms, and after an initial review, these sites make the images available online.

Since these sites perform all the marketing activities, you will need to pay them a heavy commission, ranging between 20% and 60%. So, if an image of yours sells for $1, you may only earn less than a quarter for your royalties.

If you’re comfortable with this option, go to stock photography sites.

What Types of Images to Sell?

The answer to this question depends completely on your photography skills. If you want to target the blogging industry, understand what kind of images bloggers usually use. Always have your images be high quality, and try to make them impactful and meaningful.

Search what kind of images usually sell, and you will be provided with a plethora of ideas.

Selling stock photography, directly or indirectly, could be a good way to create another income stream.

What do you think?

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  1. Ravi Chahar March 9, 2017
  2. Jitendra vaswani March 9, 2017