Are you into stock photography, but unhappy with your income? Time to change! I'll tell you what.
How to increase your stock photography income?
- If you're not a professional photographer, start now to improve your photographic skills.
- Upload new images regularly. If only three, but daily / every other day (better uploading a little more often than rarely a lot)!
- Study the already on the stock photo site and try to create better ones!
- Find the niches you are able and like to fill!
- Take photos in your home town! Traveling photographers are not even close to a local photographer.
- Avoid oversaturated topics if possible.
- Use only relevant terms when entering your title and keywords. The title should be objective, descriptive, never poetic!
- For building and landscape photos, include the exact location (country, town, and street, if applicable), and include the continent, country, and town (if relevant) in your keywords. This is not necessary for general images.
- For animal and plant photos, be sure to include the Latin name in addition to the common English name!
- Enter also the local names of typical buildings, sculptures, institutions besides the English ones! Buyers often look for local names.
The point is that the buyers have to find your images (title + keywords) and if they find them, choose them instead of the others (quality photos, unique themes and settings).
A more detailed guide to increase your stock photography revenue
In my experience, many people venture into stock photography without having a past in photography and have just had a taste of the art of photography. If you’ve also found stock photography as a beginner to make some money, it’s time to expand your knowledge.
You can find a lot of free tutorial videos on Youtube, yet I suggest you spend at least a minimum amount on a course or a book. In the long run, you’re better off learning from pros. The free videos will add to the basic knowledge you have gained in this way.
Stock photography is a profession, and if you look at it as a job and take the advice of experienced photographers seriously, your sales will also show an upward trend.
Regular uploads = regular sales
I’ve heard from quite a few photographers that the success of stock photography is based on the consistent and regular uploading of new photos. Most stock photography companies will simply push your images back on their search pages if they find that you rarely upload new images.
What do you call rare? If you have 10-20 new pictures a week, that's still good. If you put up 10-20 pictures a month, that's definitely not enough. If you increase your portfolio with 1000+ photos a year, you can be satisfied with yourself.
It is important that you upload these 1000+ images as often as every day or every other day. Many buyers hunt for new images, and they also set a time limit for their search. In my experience, they regularly come back with the same search keyword to see if there is fresh content.
How to stand out from millions of images?
Every photo is about something, it has a clear subject. Every photographer has certain opportunities and locations, so s/he is limited in what s/he can take pictures of.
One way to get customers’ attention to your photos is to take better, prettier, more up-to-date photos than the ones already uploaded.
Another way is to look for areas, topics that few contributors have worked on so far, so your portfolio may be the largest in that area. Photograph the buildings, streets, events, etc. of your home town. Or shoot the tools, tricks, people of a profession.
Some specialize in airplanes, some specialize in marine creatures.
If you search the stock photo site for a topic you like and you find that the search engine shows tens or hundreds of thousands of results, you will have a very difficult task with selling. Therefore, I do not recommend photographing oversaturated subjects. If you still feel good in the field, be the best! Find new perspectives, be creative, let your imagination go. You can also photograph a dog or cat in a new approach, which can be saleable. If you find your own style, you can even achieve more success.
The point is always to strive for high quality.
Relevant keywords, exact, descriptive title
Newbies often think that a stock photo can be likened to a work of art, so it needs an artistic title. Just imagine, if a customer is looking for a specific topic, would s/he find your image with an abstract title? Of course not. Stock photography is unfortunately not at all an uplifting work.
Stock photography can often be a relatively dull profession that is about meeting customer needs as accurately as possible. So in contrast to a photo exhibition, the visitors are not admiring your artistic work, but rather you are trying to find the subjects that interest them.
In other words, you are trying to figure out in advance what there will be in demand, and you just shoot it.
Because the focus is on searching and finding, any data you provide with your photo should serve that purpose.
What is the subject of your picture? What time of year was it made? Where did you take the photo? Who is in the picture? What mood did you display? Think about these questions when you add a title and keywords to your photo.
It’s a good game to try to find your own pictures. You remember sometime a year or two ago you uploaded a photo about something. What words come to your mind about it? Type those words in the stock photo site's search bar. Did you find your picture? If not, why not? Maybe you forgot ti include an important keyword with your photo? You can also add it to your photo at any time afterwards.
It's also a good way to expand / refine your keywords by looking at the statistics. The stock photo company Alamy has a great service for its contributors. Alamy Measures show the statistics on customer searches for a certain period (but not more than the last year). You can find out how many of your images were found, and what keywords were used ('Your Images' link). On another chart ('All of Alamy' link) you can find out what keywords are usually searched for by customers.
Typos and variations of phrases
It is advised to check your title and keywords against typos. The search engine of stock photo sites are net so sophisticated as Google, therefore they cannot recognize the root words. If you only include 'playing' as a keyword with your photo, a search for 'playin' will not return your photo.
The same applies to synonyms. You should have all the possible synonyms or variations of an important keyword. Typical examples are the country names, such as US, USA, America etc.
The quality of your images is important
Of course, your sales are also significantly affected by the quality of your images. I write about the basic rules of shooting stock photos and the common mistakes beginners make, for the sake of completeness.