Featured Publication: Three Hot Microstock Sites

Today’s Featured Publication gives a short profile of three microstock sites where you can start selling your photos for cash.

In a survey of 550 designers, art directors, and other photo buyers at Photoshelter.com, 60% said their photography budgets will remain the same or increase in 2009. And our very own Shelly Perry (editor of the weekly photo tips I send you every Wednesday through this newsletter) says the past few months have been her best in terms of sales at the stock site she uses to sell her photos.

Scroll down to find out more. Tomorrow I’ll send you more step-by-step details…

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

Happy Easter!  And don’t forget to scroll down for today’s Featured Publication…

April 9, 2009

Featured Publications:

By Bonnie Caton in Portland, Oregon

Selling your photos as microstock is fun and easy. For one thing, there isn’t any marketing involved. You upload your photos in your spare time and then they sell while you’re off doing other things.

Buyers pay the website. You receive a cut of sales. And any of your photos can sell hundreds… even thousands of times over.

Selling on microstock sites can be very lucrative. Lise Gagne, who spoke at our Ultimate Money-Making Photo Workshop in Austin last year, is raking in six figures a year selling microstock photos… and Jani Bryson, who spoke at this year’s event, is making as much as she did in her best years as a real estate broker (and having a lot more fun while she’s at it).

In general, microstock sites are happy to work with amateurs -- but they do expect near-perfect photographs, so it helps to have a good digital camera and an eye for composition.

Here's a quick profile of three major microstock photography sites -- all places where you can sell your images quickly and easily for extra cash…

Submission guidelines: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/sell-your-images.html

To sell your photos on bigstockphoto.com, sign up for a free account. Then, read the tutorial and take Bigstock’s “photographer test.” Once you pass (it’s easy if you read the tutorial), you can start uploading photos right away. Wait to see which ones are approved, then you can add keywords, titles, and descriptions.

Each time one of your photos sells on Big Stock, you’ll make between 50 cents and $3. You can collect up to $60 for some downloads if you agree to put your images into a "special license" category, which gives buyers certain extra photo usage rights for things like t-shirt printing, art prints, etc.

You can request payment (which comes through Paypal or MoneyBookers) once you make a minimum of $30. Big Stock will send you a check (also upon request) once you reach $50 in sales.

Submission guidelines: http://www.istockphoto.com/sell-stock-photos.php

Once you’re signed up for a free account and you read the “Stock Photographer Training Manual,” you’ll need to fill out the application and pass a quick test, based on the training manual. Then, upload a photo of your government-issued ID and send in three test shots. If they’re rejected at first, don’t despair. They’ll tell you why and give you another chance.

If you get rejected twice, stop uploading photos and look to one of our programs for help. You’ll find the best, most recent advice on selling to stock at our live workshops.

If you get rejected three times, iStock will stop you from uploading more photos for several months before you can try again. Don’t wait till the third try to get help.

When you first start out with iStockphoto.com, you’ll make about 20% of the image download price. This means you keep anywhere from 26 cents to $5.20 per download, depending on the size at which an image is purchased. Once you’ve reached 250 image downloads, you can apply for “exclusivity.” If you’re accepted, your royalties increase, depending on how many image downloads you have.

You can request payment by check or Paypal once you reach $100 in sales. If you have a bank account in the U.S., iStockphoto.com can pay you by direct deposit, too.

Submission guidelines: http://submit.shutterstock.com/guidelines.mhtml

Begin by signing up for a free Shutterstock account. Most of the image requirements and submission guidelines are given in the sign-up pages, and there’s no tutorial or test. You do have to upload a copy of a government-issued ID or enter your credit card information.

Once you’ve accepted Shutterstock’s terms and conditions and they've verified your ID, your account will be in “review mode.” To gain full uploading and selling privileges, send in your 10 best photos. If at least four are accepted, you’re good to go. If Shutterstock accepts three or fewer, you have to wait a month and try again. (See the links above on getting help from our live workshops and our workshop recordings.)

Since buyers subscribe to a membership that allows them unlimited downloads, Shutterstock.com pays just 25 cents per download. However, due to the nature of the membership, you can probably expect to sell a relatively higher number of images every month. When you’ve made a total of $500 you’ll begin to earn 30 cents per image downloaded.

Shutterstock issues payments through Paypal or MoneyBookers once you’ve hit $75 worth of downloads… and by check once you’ve accumulated $300.


1. All three of the above microstock agencies list photo subjects that they currently need and/or ones that they do NOT need. You’ll increase your chances of getting accepted and selling your shots if you steer clear of the photos they don’t need -- often things like flowers, pets, snapshots, photos with no clear subject, etc.

2. If your photos feature recognizable people, you must have a signed model release for each and every person in them before selling them as stock. And if you’re taking pictures of kids, you’ll need their parents to sign for them.

3. Make sure every photo you submit is free of all logos and brand names, or they’ll be rejected.

And again, if you don’t get accepted right away, don’t get discouraged. Chances are, you’re just doing one or two things wrong that can easily be fixed. Come back to our programs for help.

Happy Shooting!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]