Saturday, January 31, 2009

Making Money by Buying Photos

One of the most overlooked aspects of stock photography and it's potential to generate money is the actual use of royalty free images. I think a lot of people concentrate on the benefits of micro stock photography as they relate to photographers. Although that is one important aspect, MSP (micro stock photography, if i may) offers buyers great opportunities to cash in.

Web Page Pzazz
Need that perfect photo to add some pzazz to your blog post? The most common use of MSP is for online websites. Professional looking images can translate to very professional looking web pages. Believe me, readers will notice high quality images, especially images where staging appears to look very complex. Because the library of royalty-free images continues to grow, the chance of you not finding what you're looking for is very slim. With images going for just a few bucks, stock photography is a great investment for any website.

Creative Merchandise
Most sites offer an Extended Use License (EUL) or some equivalent. These licenses lets you use the image more than once, like printed on a product or in a book. Of course reselling the digital image itself would be a violation of the terms of the EUL. Greetings cards, mugs, t-shirts, stickers, these are just some of the things you can create using images. Spice up a good picture up with the right solgan and you've got a great product. Add some original poetry to a related picture and create your very own greeting cards. The possibilities are endless.

Have any idea of your own that I didn't share here? I'd love to add to this list. Use the comments sections or email me with your ideas please.

Need to get started? Check out my list of Stock Photography sites on the right side of this page.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Officially My Favorite

If you google "stock photography" you will find there are roughly 28 million results. Although, the majority of that is fluff, the fact still remains there are an exorbitant amount of stock photography sites to choose from. I have tried out a good many of them. Most of them are good, quality sites. However, one site in particular stands out in my book, Fotolia.

Fotolia is fairly new in comparison to other big sites like ShutterStock and iStockPhoto, but they are quickly making a name for themselves. Launched in 2005, their website offers a great, user-friendly interface with a pleasant, simple layout for strikingly easy navigation. Like any smart company, they are continually changing with the times. They have recently begun accepting video footage to be offered for sale through their website.

The one thing I think makes Fotolia exceptional is the time and effort they put into evaluating your images. Unlike some of the other large sites, Fotolia lets you submit all the images you want and does not penalize you for submitting photos that eventually get rejected. Some sites suspend your account if you have some photos that don't make the cut, or expect you to submit your best photos and if they don't like them, you're done! Fotolia takes the time to look at all your photos and if they choose to decline your photo, they provide a specific reason for each and every rejection.

Fotolia is also a great place for buyers. With a subscription (like a monthly or annual plan) you can download images for just 30 cents! Regular downloads are very reasonable as well, starting at $1. Fotolia is constantly growing and the quality of images is great, but the selection is even better. Their library is full of so many great, creative images, that there is no way you can't find what your looking for.

How I can use stock photography? Stay tuned for our next post on how to cash in as a buyer.

This is a personal favorite of mine and not a representation of any kind of analytical comparison. I was neither paid, nor asked by Fotolia to write this post.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stock Photography: The Basics

I don't claim to know everything there is to know about stock photography or photography for that matter, but I hope I can be of some help. This post is to introduce stock photography to anyone unfamiliar with the industry.

Stock photography has existed for some decades now, however the concept of micro-stock photography (low priced, royalty free images) is a relatively new industry. These companies run websites that let users interface directly over the internet to upload and download images. Therefore, in order to submit images they will have to in digital form.

With the explosion of high quality digital cameras, companies have realized the potential in the amateur photographer. This means that anyone with a good quality digital camera (usually a digital SLR is necessary to achieve the quality of photographs these sites are looking for) and some basic knowledge of the camera can take advantage of these sites and make a little money.

Here is the basic process for contributing to these websites:
  • Sign-up to become a contributor/ photographer. The sign-up process ranges from a simple form to length verification and qualification checks. I will explain the specifics of this process as I introduce you to the individual sites in a future post.
  • Upload your images. Your images will have to be already on your computer and should have been edited. I should note that most sites also take illustrations and vector art.
  • Describe your images. Once uploaded you will need to add details to help identify your image. This will normally included an image title and descriptors that will be used as search terms when customers search for images. "Tagging" as it is call, is a crucial step. Without the proper "tags" your image will be difficult to find, resulting in low sales.
  • Image evaluation. Most website have a review process in which your images are evaluated for quality (both aesthetically and technically) and for customer demand. One of the biggest challenges is to submit photos that are unique and whose category has not already been exhausted. For example if you were to upload a picture of a flower, more than likely the website already has thousands of images of flowers. Your image will probably get rejected, regardless of quality.
  • Image Indexing. If you image is approved it will be added to the sites collection. Most site let you track how many times your images has been view. Once a customer finds an image they like, they select a size and purchase your image. Your image is then immediately available for the buyer to download. Then you get your cut of the sale! The more images your upload, the greater your potential for increased revenue.
Of course purchasing images are a bit less involved, nevertheless here are the steps:
  • Sign-up to become a buyer. This usually involves entering payment information such as a credit card.
  • Image search. Remember, just like with a search engine, the more specific you get with your search terms the fewer and more relevant your results will be.
  • Size and license selection. Almost all sites offer their images in varying sizes. As expected the larger image will translate to a larger price. Although sites call it different things, most offer an Extended Use License. These licenses are specifically for people who are going to use the images over and over again like on a greeting card or print it in a book. Although the price may seem outrageous, keep in mind that you would pay hundreds if not thousands of more dollars to get the same use out of a professionally designed/photographed image.
  • Payment and download. Once you have checked out and paid for your image, it's time to download the image to your computer. Sites offer different options, some let you email the image to yourself, some only allow direct download to your computer from the site. If you prefer a certain method be sure to read their FAQs or Terms section to make sure that method is available.
There are list of sites in the sidebar of this site to get you started. Good luck!

Welcome to Stock Photographer Resources!

It is our hope, with this blog we can share useful tips on the ever growing online stock photography business and how you can benefit from the increased accessibility to stock images. We invite you to join in our discussions and hopefully share some of your own tips.

Online stock photography sites are making it easy for amateur photographers to make a few extra bucks by uploading and offering their photos for sale. If you have a large number of high quality images, the potential to make substantial income is there. However, most amateur photographers will find that supplemental income is more realistic. Nonetheless, if you love photography, this is a great way to up support your hobby.

There is also the other side, buying stock photography. With the explosion of online video and blogs (such as this one), there is a great need to find relevant images that can legally be used to enhance our own work. Stock photography sites not only make finding these images relatively simple, but they keep the prices very affordable, with some offering images for as low at 30 cents!

The every growing world of stock photography is ever changing, which makes it even that much more exciting. We hope you'll continue to visit us! Thank you for stopping by!