Selling your photographs online will help you make some supplemental income doing something you love to do. Here are some tips on how to sell your photographs online:
Take some great photographs that can be easily used as stock photography. It is best to think of a conceptual photo. For example, create a shot that represents victory, romance, family, friendship, innovation etc. Conceptual photos are very marketable and will more likely be accepted to stock photography websites (microstocks). Be creative!
Submit your work to a microstock website to see if you can become a contributor. The top microstock websites are: istockphoto.com, shutterstock.com, and bigstockphoto.com. Submit your highest quality conceptual photographs because the websites can be highly selective. The competition is fierce so don’t get discouraged if your photographs are rejected at first. Browse magazines and websites to get a better feel for what’s selling. Take some stronger pictures and resubmit.
When you are accepted as a contributor to a microstock website you are essentially selling the right to use your photographs. As the photographer you still retain the copyright to your image, so you can have your image on different websites at once. The microstock websites usually charge a certain amount per download of each picture and charge more for larger sizes. You usually earn between 20%-40% per download (.25 to .40 cents). Most offer an exclusivity agreement where you can earn up to 80% of the download price if your photos are exclusive to their website (as much as $3.00 a photograph with bigstockphoto.com). These numbers can add up if you have one of the more popular images!
The photographs you submit to the microstock websites should be shot by you only. This will help you avoid copyright issues down the road. It is also best to provide a model release form if you are submitting photographs with people. You will not be able to sell the photograph for commercial purposes without a release form (only for news-related).