Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I was reading Are stock photo sites a viable source of income? and thought I might give it ago.

However what are the things to look for when choosing a stock photo sites to sell on taking in to account:

  • Range of seller features
  • Submission Rules
  • Submission Process
  • Range of customers
  • Ease of use
  • Levels of payment
  • Feedback

Also should I post the same images to each of the sites or focus on one?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

This is hugely subjective. The 'best' for one person may be anathema to another. Personally, I would avoid micro-stock sites, that have vast collections of images from amateur photographers selling at a couple of quid each. You'd have to submit hundreds of images just to appear in searches, let alone make any sales.

I use Alamy for my photos, though I don't make regular sales. When I have sold a photo, it's usually been for about £100 or more. They will take any photo that is technically excellent (i.e. they don't filter by percieved artistic merit) and you specify when you upload the image whether you want to sell royalty-free or licenced.

A lot of newspapers get their images from Alamy - one of mine ended up in the Guardian. They do appear to have a significant customer base, however most of the time you won't know who has purchased an image. The only reason I knew of the one in the Guardian was because I came across it by accident - that was a nice surprise!

Anyway, they do pay well - they take 40% commission (though that increases to 50% for 'Novel Use', and 60% for distributor sales), meaning you get more than half of the sale price for the majority of sales, and they allow you to see views, zooms and purchases of all your images on a day by day basis, including the keywords that were used when finding your photos, which helps in getting your keywords right. You can change photo details at any point after uploading (except the licence type), and you can indicate whether you have model and/or property release on photos that require it.

Check the BAPLA website for a comprehensive list of photo libraries in the UK.

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Really good advise - Thanks –  John Aug 23 '10 at 12:05
    
You're welcome! I should add that I don't use the word 'amateur' in a disparaging way in my first paragraph. Just that the people submitting aren't looking to make significant amounts of money from their pictures and so prices will reflect that. –  Nick Miners Aug 23 '10 at 12:27

Unfortunately there is no standard licensing that you can count on, so you have to look through the options and see what is best for you. The best choice is probably to find one service and stick to it, because it will greatly simplify the licensing (some require an exclusive license).

As far as which one, that's entirely up to you. There are lots of reviews out there, so take a look at 3-4 of the top rated sites in the reviews.

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The bigger agencies, such as Getty and Alamy have a range of options that include high resolution images down to low resolution "microstock" imagery intended for web use.

Alamy have an online system that you can sign up as a contributor online, and then submit a sample batch of images, which they apply a full QA on to decide whether to accept your work.

( In the interests of disclosure, I use Alamy regularly, and have had no problems with them )

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Yes but you need a wide and diverse portfolio, you need to be researching the market constantly and you need to make sure you upload new content regularly.

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Well, after I tried what it's like to upload to both well known and less known stock agencies, I can tell that some of the newer agencies create a really time consuming upload system. This way they try to bring something new into industry, but it not always works.
So after I spent time on uploading to those "younger" agencies and haven't seen a sale, or had only a couple of sales in six months, (in contrast to more astablished agencies where I had regular sales) I gave up on uploading to such agencies and removed my accouns from there.
Of cource everyone is different and has different portfolios, but my suggestion is to upload to bigger stock agencies because even though newer agencies may offer bigger commisions, but if photos don't sell you aren't going to make money anyway.

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