Sell Stock Photos

Tips To Selling Stock Images And Maximize Your Income

If you have ever tried your hand at selling stock photography, you will know how challenging it can be to make consistent sales. It is a long process that requires dedication, patience, and hard work, but it can be worth it in the end.

The tips I am about to share have allowed me to go from making no sales to $550 per month in 5 years, and these same tips could help you do the same.

These tips range from researching popular topics to understanding the buyers of stock photography which can help turn a hobby into a successful side hustle.

By following these strategies, you will be able to increase your chances of success when selling stock photography.

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Adult King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) standing amongst a large group of nearly fully grown chicks at Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands.
Try to create something unique to distinguish your images from the masses. Photo: Adobe Stock/JeremyRichards

Be Patient And Keep On Uploading Your Content

If you want to become a successful stock photographer, the most important thing you can do is to be patient and keep on uploading new images. It takes time for stock photos to get noticed and start selling, so don’t expect your first sales overnight. Instead, study up and practice your photography skills, while also regularly adding new photos to your portfolio.

As you upload more photos, they may eventually become bestsellers – those that are regularly selling over time. As this happens, search engines will recognize them as quality images and place them higher in search results, which in turn leads to more sales.

So if you’re serious about becoming a successful stock photographer, remember that it takes dedication and hard work. Keep learning advanced techniques and shooting different kinds of photos with various lighting conditions and angles. And keep on uploading! With patience and consistency, you’ll eventually see your stock photo business take off.

Do Keyword Research on Stock Photo Sites

Doing keyword research when selling stock photos can be a great way to ensure that you can make sales with your images.

Before starting any photo shoot, it’s important to have an idea of what the supply is like for your desired subject area. You can do this easily by performing keyword searches on stock photo sites such as Adobe Stock.

By searching for keywords related to your shoot, you can get an idea of how much competition there is in the market and whether or not it’s worth pursuing.

If you find that there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of results for a given keyword, then it might be better to switch to a more niche topic. On the other hand, if your search yields only a few thousand results, it could be a good opportunity to stand out from the crowd and make some sales!

For example, if you were to perform a general search for “cat” on Adobe Stock, you would get around 2.8 million results for that particular keyword!

This one is too broad, and it would be nearly impossible to get your cat image in front of buyers’ eyes.

However, if you were to search for “boss cat,” you would get only 3000 results.

Now be creative and take a shot of your cat acting like a boss. I promise that shot will sell better than any of your typical cat images!

Don’t waste your time on subjects that are already filled up in the stock photography market.

To find out more, take a look at my post A Guide To Stock Photography Keywording And Keyword Research

big boss cat in the office
This is the first image from the search “boss cat” which gives only 3000 results. If I owned a cat, I would definitely go after this keyword. Photo: Adobe Stock/Светлана Валуйская

Think Like A Stock Photo Buyer

When selling stock photos, you can significantly increase your chances of success by understanding how buyers think.

To think like a stock photo buyer means understanding their needs, wants, and preferences so that you can create images that meet their specifications.

Think through the possible uses of your images and make sure your photos have the correct composition, lighting, and color palette. Consider whether it can be used for an ad, magazine article or website.

Focus on creating photos that tell stories; perhaps it’s an image of a family sharing a meal or someone using their laptop outdoors.

You may also want to create copy space for text in some images so buyers will be able to use them for ads and websites.

Finally, remember that buyers want to represent themselves positively with images that reflect their values and quality standards.

By thinking like a buyer when creating stock photos, you can ensure that you create high-quality images that will be in demand by potential buyers.

Read more about who buys and how stock photos are used on these posts:

Invest in Photo Editing Software

Investing in good editing software is essential for anyone who wants to make money selling stock photos. It helps you to achieve the best results and makes it easier to make sure your images are of the highest quality.

For Example, Adobe’s Lightroom/Photoshop combination is one of the most popular photo editors on the market. It gives you access to an array of powerful tools and features that can help you create stunning images for stock.

Additionally, Adobe’s Creative Cloud All Apps plan gives access to even more powerful apps such as Premiere Pro and After Effects, giving you the ultimate creative suite for editing stock videos as well.

With these apps at your disposal, you can easily edit and refine your images to give them that extra sparkle that will make them stand out from the crowd!

Edit Photos For Stock In Mind

When selling stock photos, investing time in editing can make a world of difference in the success of your images. Editing your photos will help them stand out from the competition and give them a professional look.

A thorough edit can make a huge difference when it comes to color, contrast, clarity, and composition. By investing just a little extra time into perfecting your shots, you’ll be able to attract more buyers and increase your sales.

Not only that but having edited images also helps to build trust with potential customers as they see that you’re serious about the quality of your work. Plus, editing allows you to add your own unique style and touch so that each image is special in its own way.

Editing isn’t complicated or time-consuming – there are plenty of quick fixes you can do in just a few clicks that will help take your images up a notch!

Set of various spices and herbs with copy space
Food images is a popular niche, but also very competitive. Editing images well like in this image will give you better chances for sales. Notice the beautiful use of colors and the copy space for text. Photo: Adobe Stock/karandaev

Use Descriptive Captions

When crafting captions for stock photos, aim for simple, descriptive captions that accurately describe the content of the image in a concise manner.

Not only will this make your images stand out in search engine results, but it can also help to increase visibility by targeting relevant keywords that people are searching for.

Google indexes images based on the included words – so optimizing them with well-chosen phrases is a great way to boost sales!

Make Your Stock Photos Easy to Find With Keywording

There are various keywording strategies you can employ to make sure your photos are discoverable by potential buyers.

Start by coming up with a list of relevant keywords related to the image that accurately describe what it’s about. This will help search engines display your image when someone searches for something specific.

When selecting keywords, be as detailed as possible and avoid words that are not specific to the image, as this could lead to your images dropping down in search rankings.

Make sure that the most relevant keywords show up in the caption or title of the image as well, as this can also have a positive effect on the visibility of your photos in search results.

Furthermore, consider the buyer’s viewpoint when creating keywords – what emotions, ideals, or traits might they be looking for? When you have these questions answered and apply them to your keywording process, you should start seeing more sales traffic directed toward your photos.

Finally, take advantage of any keywording tools offered by stock photography sites when uploading images so that you can get additional help in finding good keywords.

Read THIS post to find out more!

Photograph People Doing Everyday Things

When it comes to stock photos, photographs of people doing everyday things are some of the best-selling subjects you can find.

With a focus on authenticity over staged-looking images, buyers are increasingly looking for images that portray real people doing real activities in their everyday lives.

From hiking to exercising or simply working around the house: any activity that is relatable to most people can make a great photo

If you want to take your photography skills up a notch and start selling stock photos professionally, then photographing people is definitely something to consider.

You can start by shooting friends and family members and if you want to go further, you can also hire professional models. Just remember, though, whatever your approach, always obtain model releases from your models!

Doing so will help ensure that any legal issues related to privacy are avoided when selling your photos.

Teamwork. Business meeting of partners in cafe.
People images are always top-selling images. These days buyers are looking for authentic-looking people doing everyday things, like the man and woman working together in this image. Photo: Adobe Stock/bnenin

Get a Signed Release for Recognizable Buildings and People

When selling stock photos, getting a signed release for recognizable buildings and people is absolutely essential. There are certain laws that need to be abided by, and intellectual property needs to be respected.

If you take photographs of recognizable buildings or people, you must obtain written permission from both the individual(s) as well as the owner of the building in order to use your work commercially.

Failing to do this could result in serious legal repercussions, so it’s important to understand the gravity of the situation.

When used properly and ethically, stock photography can provide tremendous value – so make sure you’re aware of all applicable regulations before putting your photos up for sale.

Don’t Overlook Selling Editorial Stock Images

When selling stock photos, don’t overlook Editorial Stock Images. Not only do these images sell, but they can often be more useful than commercial photography because of the increased focus on newsworthy topics, places, and events.

Editorial images can add a lot of value to projects such as travel guides and magazines because they can help to illustrate important stories or moments in time with a more realistic feel.

While it’s true that editorial stocks may not sell as well as commercial stocks, there is still a market for them and many photographers have had success with this type of photography.

So, don’t overlook editorial stock when it comes to selling stock photos—it could be the key to finding success in the industry!

Read also this post to find out more: Commercial or Editorial Stock Photos? What’s the Difference?

Figure Out Your Image Orientation

Taking a photograph in the right orientation can drastically change its overall appearance, whether it’s turning it on its side to make it appear in a horizontal or vertical layout, or even flipping it upside down.

When you usually shoot using the 3:2 aspect ratio, why not switch things up and try using 16:9 or 1:1? You’ll be amazed at how much a different orientation can change the look and feel of an image. Experiment with angles, perspectives, and lighting until you get the exact effects that you are looking for.

Additionally, don’t forget about shooting in portrait mode rather than landscape mode as well. You might find out that this style lends itself better to certain images and concepts. With portrait mode, you can make a subject look larger than life or focus on something in the background that’s often missed.

As with anything else, don’t be afraid to experiment with different orientations when taking your stock photos. You never know what kind of cool effects you might find until you try them out!

Aerial view of tourists on the sand beach of Navagio Zakynthos Greece.
Also new perspectives of familiar subjects such as drone photos of a beach, for example, may have more potential to sell than shooting on the ground. And you don’t need model releases for unrecognizable people. Photo: Adobe Stock/Calin Stan

Upload New Images Regularly And In Small Batches

It is better to upload small batches of new images weekly than to upload one big batch once a month.

Uploading new images in smaller batches on a regular basis is the best practice when submitting stock media. This method ensures that your uploaded images are always on the search results of the newest content, getting more visibility and higher chances of being sold.

Also, by uploading new images regularly, your portfolio looks alive and appealing to potential buyers.

Find Focus Inside Big Topics

When you start selling stock photos, it is important to focus first on specific, less-covered topics instead of trying to compete with millions of results.

Finding a niche inside a larger topic can help you stand out and generate more income.

For example, if you search for “transportation” on Shutterstock, you will find 8.7 million results. While it may feel overwhelming to compete against so many images, narrowing down the search can help you find a less crowded niche with fewer competitors and more potential customers.

If you search for “transportation, cargo, finland” instead, the number of results drops to 1800, which is much more manageable for someone who specializes in Finnish cargo transportation images.

Focusing on a smaller niche within a larger topic broadens your portfolio and helps buyers easily find exactly what they are looking for. Plus, investing time into researching and filling these niches allows photographers to take advantage of market opportunities that have yet to be discovered or fully explored by others in the same field.

The truck runs on the highway. 3d render and illustration.
Transportation is a huge and popular niche. Unless your images are the best of the best, I don’t recommend competing against the masters in this niche. However, if you can find focus inside the big niches like this one, then go for it. Photo: Adobe Stock/phaisarnwong2517

Understand The Image Search Engines

Understanding the image search engines is essential for the success of selling stock photos.

Image search algorithms typically show the most widely viewed and sold images at the top of their search results. This means that your best-selling images will appear at the top if they continue to be popular, which increases the chances of making more sales.

In order to get more views and clicks, you can use a combination of strategies such as social media promotion or creating a personal blog, etc.

It’s also important to remember to keep producing high-quality images and tagging them well, as this is the key to your work being seen and, in turn, increasing your chances of making more sales.

Study The Trends

As a stock media contributor, it’s important to stay on top of the trends in order to create content that will sell.

By staying informed about what’s happening in the world and producing images that tie into those events, you can maximize your sales. You don’t have to be an expert in every topic or event, but it is important to do some research and keep up with current topics that people are interested in.

One way to stay on top of the trends is by reading news sources, such as newspapers and magazines that cover a variety of topics from politics and business to sports and entertainment.

Keeping tabs on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube can also be helpful for finding out about new trends quickly.

Additionally, you can visit websites like Google Trends which provide data about search terms that are heavily used around the world. This can help you find trends related to popular topics quickly so that you can get ahead of the competition before everyone else jumps in.

Always pay close attention to current affairs and try to capture moments or create concepts related to them, as this will make your work stand out even more.

Brexit chess concept
Focusing on trends or events such as Brexit may increase your sales for the time the event is on the headlines. This here is an excellent concept image of the game between EU and UK on Brexit a few years back. Photo: Adobe Stock/Pixelbliss

Upload On Multiple Stock Sites

When it comes to selling stock photos, it’s important to remember the importance of uploading on multiple stock sites in order to maximize potential sales.

Uploading your photos on multiple sites will give them greater exposure and a larger potential customer base to purchase from.

Additionally, by having multiple sites, you are protected from any issues that may occur with an individual site, such as the site’s financial problems or low sales.

When choosing which stock sites to upload on, you should make sure they are well-established and have a track record of providing good income.

This will ensure that your images are seen by the right people, who will be more likely to purchase them.

By taking the time to upload on multiple sites, you can increase your chances of getting more customers and making more profits down the road!

Read also these posts to find out more:

Make And Sell AI-Generated Stock Images

AI-generated images came with a boom in 2023. As a stock image contributor, you now have an opportunity to create and sell AI-generated images.

Stock media sites such as Adobe Stock, Dreamstime, and Wirestock now accept AI-generated images from contributors.

By prompting AI-generated images with AI generators such as Midjourney or Wirestock AI Bot, you can create a unique portfolio of stock images that will stand out from the competition and help increase your income.

Also, you can take advantage of AI-generated images to create collections that are more relevant to current trends. For example, you could create an AI-generated collection of holiday photos or current events happening in the world right now which could be challenging to capture with traditional means.

Overall, AI-generated images are a great way to help set yourself apart as a stock media contributor and also make sure that you remain relevant in the ever-changing world of stock media.

Read also this post to find out all the sites where to sell AI-generated images: Where You Can Sell AI-Generated Stock Images?

Wirestock is one of the best sites to sell AI-generated stock images


The world of stock photography is a competitive one, and it takes more than just taking pretty pictures to make money.

It involves understanding the supply and demand in the market, researching what buyers are looking for, and editing your images professionally.

With dedication and hard work, you can become an expert stock producer who successfully sells their shots on stock photo sites.

As you learn the tricks of the trade, remember to keep things fun by photographing what interests you as well as staying up-to-date with current trends so that your portfolio stands out from the competition.

By following these tips and investing time into growing your skillset, there’s no doubt that you will be able to increase both quality of images as well as revenue earned through sales!

Thanks for reading, and good luck on your journey!