Microstock Photography: A Quick and Dirty Startup Guide

“Microstock photographers are reporting record earnings across all top agencies.”
-- MicrostockDiaries.com

Yesterday I promised I’d send you get-started tips for breaking into stock photography.

Selling your photos as microstock is the perfect way to make extra cash doing something you love. The time commitment is low, the overhead is small (or next to nothing if you already have a camera), and right now, the whole business is booming.

Plus, you don’t have to go anywhere to get started. You can take photos in your kitchen, garage, or back yard… your kid’s soccer game… or out having a coffee with friends.

It’s not hard to do, but there are a few things you need to know about microstock before you can start selling your photos. Here’s a quick-and-dirty three-step process for submitting your photos to microstock agencies, and upping your chances of getting in:

Microstock agencies want photos that are better than the average snapshot. Take a look at this article in our archives to find out the three key elements that every good photo must have.

Once you’ve read the above article, go through your images and start selecting the ones that fit the criteria for a good, saleable photo. As you go through your shots, ask yourself:

-- Does this photo have one clear subject? If so, is it in focus?

-- How’s my composition? Am I placing the subject in one of the outer thirds of the frame? Is there any clutter in my shot that could distract from my subject?

-- How’s my lighting? Is my subject well-lit? Is the light even and diffused? Are my photos properly exposed?

Now that you’ve selected some photos that fit the above criteria, make sure they’re the right size and file type to submit to microstock agencies.

Here are the image requirements for the three microstock agencies we profiled in yesterday’s Featured Publication.

-- iStockphoto.com
Images must be 1,600 x 1,200 pixels or larger, and they must be .jpg files only.

-- BigStockPhoto.com
Submit photos that are at least 800 pixels high or wide, and up to 25 MB in data size. Photo files can be .jpg or .png.

-- Shutterstock.com
Images must be at least 2.5 megapixels. There’s no mention of file type on the site, but you should be safe with .jpg files.

** TIP: A megapixel is 1 million pixels. To find out how many megapixels are in a photo, multiply the pixel width by the pixel height. For example, if your photo is 1,900 pixels wide by 1,700 pixels tall, it contains 3.23 million pixels, or 3.23 megapixels.

In Photoshop, you can find your image dimensions by going up to your menu bar and clicking on “image” -- then “image size.” Under “Pixel Dimensions,” you’ll see the width and the height.

When you’re ready to submit your photos to microstock agencies, you can start with the three we profiled yesterday.

Keep in mind, too, that there are plenty of microstock agencies out there… you don’t have to limit yourself to the three in the above link.

If you upload a few photos and you get rejected more than once, come back to one of our programs for help. You’ll find the best, most recent advice on selling to stock at our live workshops or in our workshop recording package, here.

Remember, each microstock site allows you only a few rejections before they stop you from uploading more pictures. Pick your best shots and don’t wait till the third try to get help.

Also remember that most beginners are rejected because of a few simple things they can easily fix so don’t get discouraged. In fact, we’re putting an e-book together now that could help you. It details the 19 most approachable sites on the web, and includes instructions for selling your photos on them. It also comes with advice from Shelly on fixing the most common mistakes new photographers make, so you won’t waste your time trying to figure it out on your own.

We won’t likely finish the guide till the end of May. But like I said yesterday: As a special Easter sale, I’ll reserve a copy in your name and send it to you without charge if you order something from our catalog page or sign up for one of our live workshops over Easter weekend, here:

** Catalog page
** Live Workshops

Take care,

-- Lori

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[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.]