There was a time when selling stock photos was a good way to make money, and during that time it was possible to go for a general walkabout and capture several stock photos you could submit to stock photography sites and actually sell. That was a few year backs now, times have changed and the stock photos bubble has burst – in a big way.
The introduction of digital cameras has not only made photography more accessible, but cheaper too. Digital photography is very popular and almost every person over the age of about twelve has the ability to take photos. Capturing awesome photographs requires skill and knowledge, but capturing photographs good enough for the average website, to submit to print on demand stores (to put on wall art, posters, postcards, mousepads, mugs etc.) and make money from can be done with a (cheap) point and shoot camera.
Modern day point and shoot digital cameras are exceptionally good and using them is stupidly easy, requiring (as the name suggests) pointing the camera at the scene and pressing the shutter button. The camera will process the digital file itself (i.e. apply the correct white balance, sort out the colours, deal with highlights and shadows, apply the right amount of sharpening etc.) and churn out a high resolution photograph.
There was a time when people looking for images for their websites, blogs, sales pages and social media pages went to stock photography sites and bought stock photos, however with today’s modern day digital cameras these people can easily capture the photos themselves.
Okay, there are some people who still use stock photos from the stock photography sites for their websites and blogs but these people don’t go to stock photography sites and use stock photos they have to pay for. Nowadays there are loads of stock photography sites giving away free photos that anyone can download, and there isn’t even a requirement to sign up. All you need to do is go on one of these sites, search for the type of sock photos you want, hit “download”, type in a captcha and the stock photos are instantly downloaded to your computer.
With these sites offering free stock photos the opportunities to earn money selling stock photos have gone through the floor. It wouldn’t be too bad if the free stock photos were poor quality and not very good, but this isn’t the case. There are plenty of amateur photographers out there who, with their modern day digital cameras, are capturing stunning high resolution images they are submitting as free stock photos. These amateurs don’t want to make money from their stock photos, and are looking for an outlet for their images. These amateur photographers provide free stock photos (for both private and commercial use) and are just happy people like, and are using the photographs they have taken.
There is still a market for exceptional photographs (what constitutes exceptional is subjective) however it is a very small market and, with so many photographers fighting for a piece of the action, competition is fierce. Traditional stock photography sites aren’t the best choice any longer and most photographers try and sell their photos through print on demand stores, such as Fine Art America.
Even though the opportunities to make money selling stock photos has gone through the floor I admit I still take photos for stock sites when I am out and about with the camera. I am selective over the types of stock photos I submit and I will do little marketing once submitted, if any at all. A few years back (i.e. when I was making money selling stock photos) I would spend many hours marketing and promoting my stock photos, however I don’t anymore because I think it is a waste of time. I do add keywords and tags for the stock photos, but that’s all I do.
Rather than selling stock photos to the traditional stock photography sites I spend more time submitting photos to print on demand stores, where I now make a lot more money. Yep, rather than spending time on the traditional stock photography sites where the return is very low I spend my time more wisely on other print on demand stores that are far more lucrative.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.