Five Steps to Better Stock Photo Sales

It took me a year and a lot of encouragement from my wife and a friend to get over my first stock photo rejection.

Today it's kind of funny, because the same agency that rejected me is the one that now provides the biggest chunk of my stock photo income.

In the beginning, I took photos of everything. Inside my house... outside my house... just about anything that could be photographed.

And by the end of the first year, I was selling 200 to 500 photos a month. I could see the potential, but also felt like it would take forever to make a good income.

With time, and a lot of trial and error, I've learned what it takes to go from getting photos accepted into an agency to actually earning a good income from your photos.

Here are my top five tips for doing just that:

1. Research. Go beyond taking photos and submitting them. Look through magazines and books. Look at ads in fliers and on the internet and see what the trends are. Take a glance at the top 50 best-selling photos at the stock site where you submit. Don't make direct copies of those photos, but come up with a better angle or something close but with your own style of lighting or twist to a subject that is selling well.

2. Shoot what you know. If you work in an office, photograph your coworkers doing what they do best. If you work in construction, get shots on the job site. Whatever you do best or know best, look at that subject on your stock site and see what the most popular photos are that are selling and try to come up with an idea that is better than the ones you find.

3. Expand on what you have. When you find a subject that starts selling well for you, expand on that shoot. Go out and take different angles, change up the lighting, composition, etc., until you get a larger group of photos that sell most of the time.

4. Keep experimenting. Even when you find what works for you, keep experimenting and trying to find new subjects that have not been shot to death. And if you do have an idea for a photo that has been done 100,000 times, just go out and make yours better.

5. Don't give up. This is the number one best piece of advice I can give. Don't give up if you want this to work for you. As you may have heard before, success in stock photography is not a fast race to the finish, but a slow and steady marathon. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll find success.

After that first rejection, I almost gave up for good. Today, I'm so glad I decided to give it another go. I'm not uploading nearly as many photos as I did in the beginning, but I still collect monthly checks from my photo sales.

Just goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it and put in the time.

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From Steven Bade: All... The forum approvals were done. My apologies for not having automatic registration properly set up.

From Theresa St John: Catering photo shoot tomorrow for restaurant in town. :o) Cannot wait, Got sooooooooooo many stock photos last time there, looking for more stock-worthy ones this time, too. Loving the jobs that pay. Gotta keep dreaming big, right? Have a great day!

From Bob Morace: Hi all. I just put together my new Nikon D3100 package and signed up for iStock, Shutterstock, Fotalia, and Dreamstime so I'm VERY new. I'm excited to start a potentially great new way of life. More as it unfolds. Fingers crossed.

[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.]