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Be Smart to Profit When Selling Stock Photography

Online marketers (info-preneurs) often talk about just how important it is to find what the market wants, then sell them what they want. In other words, find out what people really want, and then provide the solution. I've no doubt that this approach will work just as well with selling stock photography.

Let's say you've created a hundred photos that, although they make great eye candy and tell a unique (photo) story, no stock agency wants. They may have said we have too many of this type of images already, and have their reasons. At this point you can choose to see this as a learning experience and try a new approach, or continue creating similar stock photography that you hope will be accepted, one day.

However, I'm sure you'd agree, it's better to work smarter than harder. This means that with stock photography you'll need to get flexible and bend your creativity a little, perhaps shaping it towards a more profitable approach. And the good news is that this is very do-able. After all, you are in charge with what the camera sees and what it doesn't. You decide on what pictures you want to take.

So, maybe it's obvious, but if you want to sell more stock photos, find out what the stock agencies want (and need). Believe me, they'll tell you. Most, if not all, of the stock agencies or micro stock agencies out there will have a 'needs list or wants list' at their website. Make that your first destination. Be diligent in your research and you will have better success selling stock photography.

Your next step would be to create a theme of photographic work that's tailored exactly to the stock photo agencies needs and wants and then submit these specific images to them. Obviously there'll be themes that you won't be able to shoot, but there will be some that will fit well with your own lifestyle, environment, location and photo style. This should increase your chances of making photo sales.

A quick search on a few stock photo agencies web sites revealed that they are keen for photographers to "...provide something more unusual, or sought after... and it might make the most downloaded page." In other words, don't create photographs too similar to every other photographer. Just make sure your unique, individual style makes your images stand out, and at the same time be aware of what the stock agency really needs.

Another simple way to realize selling stock photography success is by going to photo agency or stock libraries web sites and looking at what types of images they have, promote, use and sell... often. You're looking for the type, and styles of images that they prefer. Is there certain image themes that get downloaded (sold) often? What styles seem to sell regularly?

Check to see if there are images similar to what you create, or check the downloads section... the micro stock sites will usually show you how many times an image has been downloaded... of course, the more the better, that means it's more popular (more money for the photographer). And then you can ask yourself "can I create images similar to this...?"

Being honest with yourself and your abilities as a photographer is important... It's a huge time decision to submit images to stock photo web sites... you really do need to ask yourself how likely will it be that I can make sales through this website? And also, is it the best use of my images and time?

If you can stay open minded about what themes you shoot (especially with the great flexibility of shooting digital photography), and focus on moulding your passion into 'what the market wants' then you might find that your unique little approach to selling stock photography keeps photo buyers happy and you in profit. Go for it.


Thanks for reading! To see what crazy adventures I'm up to next, visit me at Martin Hurley Photography I'm a modern day explorer in pursuit of the good life who loves to travel, photograph, be in nature, hang out with animals and do the occasional extreme sport.

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