So you’d like to earn some money
to pay for your photography habit? First, there’s the professional route – photographing wedding, events, etc. That’s beyond my scope here. For the aspiring photographer there are several other non-exclusive paths — microstock photography, personal websites & POD (print-on-demand) sites
Stock photography refers to a collection of photographs,
illustrations, and video clips that are available for purchase and use by individuals and businesses. These images and clips can be used to illustrate a wide variety of topics and themes, and are typically used in marketing and advertising materials, websites, and other types of media. Stock photography is typically provided by individual photographers and artists who have made their work available for licensing. Stock photos and video clips can be purchased on a one-time basis or through a subscription model and are usually sold with a license that specifies how they can be used. Before digital photography replaced film, this involved physically send a selection of slides to a client. The process was cumbersome & time-consuming, but artists received $100-300 or more for each sale. Except for niche markets, traditional stock photography has morphed into Microstock.
Microstock is a business model
for stock photography that involves the sale of low-cost, royalty-free images and video clips online. Microstock agencies allow photographers and other content creators to upload their work, which is then made available for purchase by customers. Customers can purchase the rights to use the content for a variety of purposes, such as in marketing materials, websites, and other commercial projects. Prices for microstock content are typically much lower than those of traditional stock agencies, making it an affordable option for individuals and businesses with limited budgets. For artists, commissions have declined significantly, with average sales in the $.10 to $.50 range with occasional sales of $50-$100
An excellent resource is Microstockgroup forum . Here you’ll find helpful discussion about starting in microstock, POD, and many more discussions. Members discuss income & sales and rate microstock agencies. A recent discussion concerns the potential effects of AI generated artwork.
But in this declining market, photographers need to look for other sources.
Selling direct seems like a great option
You set the prices and keep all the income. Downsides are costs of maintaining a website/store and a varying degree of knowledge about web design. You can either develop your own site or use one of multiple sites such as Photo Shelter, SmugMug, Redbubble and many others. They allow users to download images you upload to form a portfolio. I use Pixify, a specialized Shopify website designed to sell photography. Others use Etsy.
Most personal websites sell only digital downloads, so POD is the next logical addition. Again, from many possibilities, I’ll focus on FAA (FineArtAmerica). Here buyers can use your images to create prints, jigsaw puzzles, clothing, greeting cards, and other merchandise. The biggest hurdle for any of these options is SEO (search engine optimization) – getting recognized by search engines. The most beautiful site is useless without (paying) visitors. Placing ads is possible but can be very expensive
The best route for most is Using social media (SM).
There are many choices such as Pinterest, Instagram & LinkedIn, but here I’ll focus on Twitter and Mastodon. Proper use of hashtags [wiki, no follow] can direct potentials buyers to your site(s). But again SEO is a stumbling point. Here is where cross-promotion comes in. In the past, some of us formed an artist co-op to share information. And if a search on our site didn’t produce results, the visitor was directed to the site of other photographers. Unfortunately, after several years, this project fell victim to technical details.
A newer approach is underway thru an FFA discussion group. Using specific hashtags such as #aYearForArt . Members who are on both FAA and Twitter cross-promote each other’s work on FAA and/or their personal website. There are currently about 40 active members with twitter and/or mastodon accounts. Also, lots of great tips and suggestions. Lately a lot of talk about setting up a Mastodon account.
For anyone using FAA & who’s also on Twitter, Mastodon or with a personal website, you should check out
More details here 2023 A Year For Art And A Successful Marketing Promotion
And for bloggers, there’s also
Drop You New Blog Post Links Here! which cross-promotes blogs thru comments
An alternative to microstock agencies is to setup an interlocking internet collection .
On the personal side:
- website to download images
- POD site to provide prints & other merchandise
- A blog to attract visitors
- Twitter and other social media sites to push visitors to your other sites
And to expand your web, cross-promotions on Twitter and Mastodon
Good summary of where it’s at today. It seems Google has become the gatekeeper – we need to show up in search, either by devilishly clever SEO or by paying for “ad words”.
Very informative and nicely written! Love your tomatoes and chili peppers image!