How To Make Money Selling Stock Photos 2020

Updated: April 24, 2020
how to make money selling stock photos 2020

How To Make Money Selling Stock Photos 2020

Did you know you can make money with hundreds of unused photos lurking in your photo gallery? If you know what it takes to click amazing photos or create top-notch vectors, you can surely make money by selling stock photos. 

The internet is bustling with the articles on how you can make $500 a month with stock photography. Yes, it is true you can make real money from stock photography, but the competition is super tough. One needs to follow a precise and proper approach to make stock photography business work and harness profits. 

Continue reading to find out how… 

What is Stock Photography?

Wikipedia defines Stock Photography as, “supply of photographs, which are often licensed for a defined purpose.” In Simpler terms, it is the repository that buyers use for the visual content, be it websites, books or blogs.

In contrast to hiring a professional photographer, stock photography is much cheaper. Stock Pictures are usually sold via a platform maintaining a large digital warehouse of such images, wherein buyers have an option to choose from. 

For example, you need a high-quality photo of a family decorating a Christmas tree. Hiring a professional, putting up Christmas tree, engaging lighting and finding suitable models would turn out to be an expensive deal.

Under this scenario, it would be a lot more economical to find a similar photograph on the Stock Site. The former option would need hundreds of dollars, however, with the latter option, a decent high-quality image would be available in a few dollars. 

Need a website to put your photos on? Check out my free 6 step guide here.

What are the different types of Stock Photography?

Stock Photography is broadly classified into three types:

  1. Macrostock
  2. Midstock 
  3. Microstock

Macrostock: It is the traditional type of stock photography, wherein, organizations sell high-priced exclusive pictures. Such pictures are directly licensed to the clients/customers by the seller agencies. Under this scheme, photographers earn from royalties. Any agency which sells copyright-licensed photographs fall under conventional stock photography. The most common platforms are Adobe, Getty, etc.

Microstock: It is better known as Micropayment photography, wherein small agencies, photo hobbyists sell images on a royalty-free basis. Under this module, each agency may have different pricing structure, such as the same image may have different price. The most common platforms are ShutterStock, Fotolia, Dreamstime and many more. 

Midstock: It is a combination of both Macro and Micro hosting both Managed-rights images and royalty-free images. 

Payment Plans

Different portals different pricing structures. A stock photographer’s earnings depend on the end-user’s payment or subscription plan. The cost of the stock photo depends on the agency chosen. Below is a basic compilation of the price of 2 different stock photo agencies. 

Shutter Stock

The plans can be classified into 3 categories, Basic, Professional and Team. Under basic plan, buyer can download a decided number of images for a set amount, say 2 images for $29. The professional plan allows buyers to download a set number of images with monthly subscriptions. The team plan allows multiple users to download images with monthly subscriptions, say 3 users for $399 a month.


The plans can be classified into 3 categories, Pay Per Download Credits, Essential Subscriptions and Signature Subscription. The pay per download credits allows buyers to download a set number of images for a set amount, say 12 credits for $115. The Essential and Signature Subscription is a monthly plan with different variations, say 10 images a month for $99.  

What can we achieve from Stock Photos?

To put out straight, if you have a good command over photography, you can make money by selling Stock Photos. Why is this idea so alluring? Because

  • Anyone with high-quality exclusive images to upload can dive in
  • It is up to you to decide if you want to pursue as a full-time job or part-time gig
  • No strong portfolio is needed to get in
  • How much can you earn with Stock Photos? To earn around $400 a month (passive income), you ought to upload at least 5,000 images. Earnings on stock are directly proportional to how many images you upload onto your portfolio. Well keyworded images always draw better attention od the potential buyers. So, this concept of making money with Stock Photo is not about becoming rich quickly. There are a few things a photographer needs to take care of to stand out. 
  • Avoid Cliché Styled Images:

Nowadays, people are not fond of stilted images, they are fascinated with believable imagery. Users are more likely to download natural images over Cliché styles. 

  • Use the Basic Devices

10 years ago, who would have thought smartphones would be capable to shoot high-resolution photos/videos. New generation phones can help the photographers to capture high-quality images without any need to invest in heavy-duty Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras.

  • Learn about the current trends

The stock photos are supposed to fill the commercial needs. The pictures available on the stock repository are used to describe a certain emotion, point or subject. It is advised to learn about the current trends of the market while capturing pictures. Take time to browse top stock websites for research. The hot topics of the year 2020 are social issues, fashion, nature and tech advances. 

  • Understand the number game

In every business quality is a quintessential aspect, but the number game is also important in stock photos. It is highly recommended to set a monthly goal to gain momentum in the business. The basic objective is to build a portfolio by uploading more and more images for a consistent revenue stream. 

  • Try to target universal audience

It is always helpful to create generic work, as targeting certain demographic limits your business. 

  • Learn from portfolios of other photographers

This is not about doubting your abilities, it is about learning what others are offering. Evaluating portfolios is the best way to learn about the current trends. 

  • Associate with Social Media Platforms

Advertise your portfolio on social media platforms, Insta, Facebook, etc. to reach the targeted audience. No matter how good your pictures are, it goes unnoticed if there is no proper advertising, social media platforms help to overcome this hiccup. 

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