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Make money selling your digital photos online

Do you have a digital camera, computer and Internet connection?

Can you take simple, clean photos?

If you answered yes to both of these questions then you could be earning a passive income by selling your digital photos through microstock agencies.

How does it Work

It's really quite simple:

1. Shoot photos

2. Describe the photos and add keywords

3. Upload your photos to the various microstock agencies

4. Watch the money roll in

The best part: You keep your photos! They sell royalty free, so you retain ownership and sell each photo over and over again.

For more detail, see this guide on how to microstock.

How Much can you Earn?

It depends on the quality and quantity of the photos you create. As examples, these two simple images earn more or less US$200 each per year. Each time it sells I earn only 20 - 80 cents, but as they sell many times it adds up over the year.

About this image
About this image

I'm an amateur photographer with a portfolio of 600 photos. My monthly earnings are between US$400 - US$600.

If you're serious, you can earn large amounts of money. Yuri Arcurs has made a business out of microstock and earns US$24,000 per month (though a small portion comes from non-microstock sources). Lise Gagne earns US$100,000 per year contributing exclusively to one agency, and Andres Rodriguez likely earns similar amounts. Established photographer Ron Chapple has adopted microstock as an additional source of revenue for his photographer business and is now earning a substantial passive income to complement his other sources.

How do I Ensure my Success in Microstock?

1. Shoot photos that will sell well. You can research what sells well at each microstock website by following the Most Popular links at each agency.

2. Improve your technical photography. Learn from your experiences and feedback, and ensure your images are in focus, well composed and noise free.

3. Persist. It's difficult to get started, especially when the microstock agencies don't accept all your photos and your earnings seem small. Look at my earnings chart since I started with microstock and you'll see that the first few months weren't very encouraging. Those who find success with microstock persist through the first six months before the money starts flowing with its own momentum.

4. Streamline your uploading process using ProStockMaster, a tool which will automatically manage the process of uploading all your photos to all the agencies where you're registered. This will save you lots of time leaving you free to take more photos and increase your earnings potential.

For extra tips, see this list of 6 ways to increase your microstock earnings.

My blog about the microstock market is Microstock Diaries. Subscribe to my RSS feed to get all my tips and insights automatically delivered, or simply bookmark Success with microstock is as easy as taking good photos and following the steps. Microstock Diaries provides assistance and insights for microstock contributors.

If you like the sound of microstock, you could also find a job in the market with Microstock Jobs.

Which are the Best Agencies?

Microstock is a hot space, so there are lots of new agencies popping up all the time. As you'll be investing your time to register and upload your photos, you need to ensure they have enough buyers to make it worthwhile. If you upload 200 photos and only earn US$5 per month, you're better off using that time to shoot more photos. The better agencies will earn you between US$0.10 - US$1 per photo per month, depending on the quality of your photos.

The following list are the agencies I use that earn me respectable earnings each month. You can see the exact figures on my microstock earnings posts.

iStockPhoto - the first and most respected microstock agency. iStockphoto review

Shutterstock - unique subscription model high sales at one commission rate. Shutterstock review

Dreamstime - good earning agency with a vibrant community. Dreamstime review

Fotolia - fast growing and controversial agency which performs well in Europe. Fotolia review

LuckyOliver - new and fresh agency making great progress and doing things differently. LuckyOliver review

StockXpert - another young but solid earning microstock agency. StockXpert review