What is this article about?

This article’s goal is to give information about selling photos on stock photography sites for the beginners by sharing my personal experience.

What does this document cover?

How did I start?

The idea of having an off income is tempting, cause we are constantly paying for other services. Having at least one service paying me instead of taking would be great. I didn’t have big ambitions and simply planned to earn ~$200/month. I already had a small portfolio, so all I needed to do is to learn the process.

Things I have learnt

How much did I earn?

Little. Very little to be honest. First of all, I have uploaded my photos to 3 sites, you can see my portfolios below:

Yes, you can sell photos on 500px as well, but so far I have no data to share with you, so I am skipping it for now.

Note: Fotolia and Adobe Stock photography are the same things. Getty images and iStock photo are also the same things.

I have started to upload on June 2017.

It took 6 months for my photos to start to appearing on iStock photo. I made $0 in total so far. Even though 60+ photos are accepted, only 10 of them are showing up in my portfolio.

As of February 2018, (7 months later) I sold 48 photos and earned $14.32 in Shutter stock out of 116 accepted photos.

As of February 2018, (7 months later) I sold 16 photos and earned $11.73 in Fotolia out of 123 accepted photos.

Remember I upload the same photos to all 3 sites when I upload. Also you should expect a 50% success rate of getting your photos accepted in the beginning (maybe even less). You can get a better rate in the future after you learn the rules of course.

The calculations in the beginning is a bit deciveving though, I agree. Because first of all I still couldn’t get appearing on iStock photo, secondly the rates you earn is different (less) then a professional. The beginner’s commision rate is %15. But after you make your first $200, your rate will raise up to %25. So in a more positive scenario

This means, to earn $250 per month, I need to upload:

250/0.0543 = 4604 photos in total. Well, that is a lot of work, I know. And remember this is a good case scenario. If you are an American or a European, this amount probably doesn’t make sense to you at all. But if you are “anywhere else in the whole world”, that is a very good amount of money. Especially if you are not employed and got lots of time.

The good thing about selling stock photography is that your photos will continue to sell even after 10 years and you will continue to make money from a single upload for years. Other contributors report that your income per photo reduce in time but that is probably true for trending photos. If you are taking pictures of lanscapes, stars, nature, those subjects are not trend-related.

Taking photos, arranging them and uploading is a time consuming job. It would be realistic to assume to upload 50 photos/weekend if you are devoted person. It means it will take 4604/50 = 92 weeks to upload the goal amount. This is 92/52 = 1 year 9 months of continues photo shooting and uploading.

Which site does what?

I still didn’t understand what is the process of getting published on iStock photo, so it’s sitll a mistery to me. Their upload interface is ok-ish, but their acceptance rate is very low. They ask for the dates of the session to match with the model release date, they are very picky about the acceptance process.

I like shutter stock, they have the highest sell rate. Their acceptance rate is also good, they are not as picky as iStock. But god knows they have the most horrible UI among all. It’s really makes it hard to lose data in the process, hard to enter keywords etc.

Fotolia has the best UI, they are the pickiest one, they refuse easily. Their sells are less in terms of numbers, but income per sale is much bigger compared to shutter stock.

How does the process work?

Things you need to know before posting

I think that’s everything that I can share with you, wish you the best on your stock photography journey.