20 Useful Tips To Sell Stock Photos Successfully

Selling your photos to stock libraries as an art form in its self. It’s well worth knowing everything you can before you start to improve your chances of selling your photo successfully using this method.

Below are 20 tips for selling your stock photos to stock libraries. There’s a lot more to learn about using a stock library successfully than simply submitting a photo. Below I have covered several useful tips for submitting your photos to your library to get the best from them.

When you sell stock photos there are lots of things that you need to know to sell them successfully. Your stock library should cover all of what they need from you in detail. It’s well worth reading through their requirements so that you stand the best chance of success. These tips will help you to know what to look for and to do to get better results.

20 Useful Tips For Selling Stock Photos

Don’t Keyword Stuff

Keyword stuffing is when you stuff every type of keyword that you possibly can into the keyboard area or document. It’s actually an old-fashioned technique that was used years ago by marketers to get their work to the top of the search engines. These days it’s not necessary and it’s frowned upon regardless of whether it be a document or your stock photos.

The stock library will usually limit you to the number of keywords that you can use anyway. It’s a disadvantage to using too many keywords for the reasons mentioned above and it’s not necessary.

However, Use Enough Keywords

The other extreme is that people might not use enough keywords that’s as bad as keyword stuffing as it will be difficult to find your picture if there are no keywords.

If you have a picture of a beach, for example, you could have just type beach period however this is not nearly enough. You need to also put in Sandy, landscape, Blue, Sky. If there are any people in it, bucket and spade if there’s one, etc.

Know Which Keywords To Use

It’s not always easy to know which keywords to use. Sometimes it’s obvious as if you have the picture of a beach. However other times it’s not so obvious. Make sure you cover things like the place name, item, main color, if they are doing something ie. Drinking tea, woman, teacup, Edwardian, etc.

Keyword Alternatives

Think about what alternative keywords someone might enter in the search box. Someone from the US, for example, might put in slightly different wording than someone from the UK. While Google is very good at picking up alternatives e.g. leash or lead, canning versus preserving, etc. I have noticed that not all stock libraries are as good at picking out alternatives. So in your keywords put in both options. An easy way to tell if options are needed is simply to do the search yourself.

Fill Out The Description Box Properly

You should have a description box as well as the keywords for you to enter the description of your photo. It’s vital for you to fill this in properly.  Make sure that it covers what the photo is about including your main topic keywords.

Should You Leave All The Work To The Stock Libraries OR Market It Yourself?

There are two schools of thought on this. One is that you should leave all the work to the stock libraries as they are the professionals and that is what they do. They can promote your work sufficiently. The other is that you should promote it yourself because it’s very easy to get lost in amongst thousands of pictures.

If you take the advice and tips in this article you will give your pictures the best chances possible of being seen in the stock library.

I believe it’s essential to promote in more than one area.  However, if you promote yourself as a photographer you could link to your portfolio in your stock library.

Don’t Waste Time With Saturated Areas

This is a mistake I made when I first started. I enjoy taking pictures of flowers and had some pictures I thought were suitable. So I submitted them to a stock library. Boy, was I in for a shock.  They all got rejected.

There was nothing wrong with them. It was I had not done my homework and figured the more the merrier. The stock library had thousands upon thousands of pictures of flowers. They really did not need another daffodil shot, probably not ever.

This is where knowing your stock library comes in. I made the mistake of thinking because they accepted flower shots that they would want more. They just didn’t.

However, having said that, that’s not to say if you get something that’s amazing and truly unique not to submit it. After all, it’s worth your time if they accept it could become your best-seller.

Just be aware that some areas are saturated even though they’re popular the libraries might not need them.

Allow For Different Image Shapes

One of the things we do as a photographer is to compose or pictures the way we like them. We might crop in tight because that’s what we’ve been taught to do. However, when it comes to selling to stock libraries people wanted them for different reasons. This can be to use on their website or blog, as a Pinterest subject, or they might want to use them in a magazine.

Make sure when you take your picture that you allow for the fact that when people are going to use them they might want them in different shapes. A good place to look to see the kinds of shapes that are popular is canva.com this site caters for people wanting to create things from their photos.

Less Isn’t More. Go Quantity — The More The Merrier

When it comes to stock photography less isn’t more. You need to submit a huge quantity of pictures to your stock libraries. This gives you more chance of having your picture seen and used.  Popular pictures rise to the top of the search in a stock library. This gives you an even greater opportunity of being seen.

Half a dozen pictures just does not cut it. In fact, a few hundred isn’t really enough either. Submit as many as you possibly can. To start with the library won’t let you submit huge quantities. But once this is over you can submit a larger quantities of pictures. Of course, they all have to be of high quality as well.

Don’t Break the Copyright and Ownership & Release Rules

There is a huge array of rules and protections for people that can be a bit of a minefield to navigate sometimes. Make sure of that you do not infringe on any of these. To begin with it won’t matter too much because all or most of your pictures will be checked manually to make sure they are up to standard in every way.

And it’s likely that the person checking them will pick up on this. However, as you become more of a trusted member of the stock library it becomes more automated. So it’s vital that you know that you’re not infringing on any copyright or intellectual copyright rules.

Be Creative

Creativity is vital. Try looking at things from a different perspective. Use a different light. If you’re using props try find something that’s a bit different.  Basically, think outside the box or ideally drop the box.

Make Certain Your Images Fit The Libraries Quality Standards

Each library will have its own quality standards for submission of photos.  Along with the obvious things like exposure picture & quality, it will include things like the shape, size, quantity of pixels etc.

Don’t Prejudge What Will Sell

While it’s important for you to know your market, your customer and to create high-quality pictures it’s vital that you don’t prejudge what type of pictures will sell.

This almost seems contradictory to knowing what will sell and the saturation rules. However, if the picture meets the criteria it’s worth putting in the stock library. It’s surprising what types of pictures people will buy. You can’t always prejudge that. So simply make sure your pictures are up to standard and enter them.

Go Large

Some stock libraries supply different sizes of pictures for different prices. Obviously, the larger pictures sell for more money than the smaller ones.  So make sure you submit your largest size of the picture. As you should be shooting your images in RAW and converting to JPEG anyway there shouldn’t be a problem.

Check Your License

Make sure that you submit your pictures under a license that you are happy with. Some stock libraries will have different licenses that you can use which allow people to do different things with your photos. For example, some licenses will give exclusive use to the buyer these are more expensive. However, they may limit your long-term sales.

Know Your Market

Know the markets that you are aiming your photos at, what will sell in those particular markets and what they are looking for in style, substance, and quality.

Be Unique!

You need to be unique in your approach and the types of pictures that you are creating while not being so off-key that it puts people off of buying your work. In stock libraries you want your picture to sell lots of times so it needs to appeal to the majority of people.

Know What Sells In THAT Stock Library

Check what type of pictures are right for your particular stock library. While those stock libraries deal in a variety of subjects and you can sell almost any subject within that library you may find that your stock Library does better with particular types of pictures. If it does do better with a particular thing its well worth knowing that before you start.

Think Outside the Box or Drop the Box

Try new things to keep your pictures fresh. A new way of looking at things can help your picture to sell.

Should You Go Exclusive or Not?

One of the things you need to decide is whether you are going to give all of your photos exclusively to One Stock library or whether you are going to spread them out among several.

You can either put different photos into different stock libraries, or you can put the same photo across each of the stock libraries that you’re deciding to submit to.

However, you do have the option to go exclusive in some photo libraries. This means that you can only submit that particular photo to that particular photo stock library.

In addition, you have to think about the rights of the photo on each site and whether one set of right supersedes another.  

Overall most people submit to more than one site as it gives them greater exposure for their photos online. Check your contributor agreement.

Note however that some stock libraries insist on exclusivity for all the stock in their library.

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