Why Do Royalty Free Stock Photography?

Several "Microstock" agencies are looking for you! They want photographers to submit images under the "Royalty Free" stock photography arrangement. There is not a lot of money in individual image sales from Royalty Free, but volume sales make up for it. A recent issue of Popular Photography tells about this new way to "rent" your images. You keep all copyrights.

I would never have thought twice about this a few years ago, but the Stock Photography Market has changed. New digital camera users have flooded the market with millions of digital images.

Sample Successful Stock Photo


Getty Images just bought one of the largest Royalty Free stock agencies for $50 Million Dollars USD. The Orphan Works Act before Congress stands ready to limit our ability to sue for copyright infringement. Most big stock agencies (non-Royalty Free) require exclusive contracts and are VERY difficult to get into.

The solution is Royalty Free stock sales, where you maintain the copyright, get paid a small fee per sale, and submit a LOT of images for recurring commissions. There is NO exclusivity requirement, so you can submit your images to MULTIPLE stock agencies! You can go exclusive for higher commissions, if you'd like.

Old Stock Photographers are gonna scream at me about this, but I'm having fun and have already started making money. Now, instead of just me looking at all my "beautiful" pictures, I'm doing something constructive with them. I'm going to make microstock photography finance my new camera hardware purchases. That 600mm AF Nikkor is calling me.

Since I've always wanted to get into the business, I've read a bunch of books on stock photography. Most all the books I've read say that an old-style "rights-managed" stock agency will provide about $1.00 USD income each year per image. So if you want to make $10,000 USD per year, you'll need 10,000 images in the agency. Most of us don't have that many images lying around.

However, with the new Royalty Free "microstock" agencies, you can submit as little as three to ten images for approval. Then just feed them images as you make them. In my first month of microstock experience, the agencies had accepted about 150 images, and I made about 250 sales. By the end of the month, I had made about $120.00 USD. Those 150 images didn't make me a lot of money initially, but figure that on 500 images or 5000, and I expect to be making some serious money within a year or so of feeding them stock. Plus, I am now submitting to eight different agencies, with the SAME IMAGES!

The Pop Photo® article (25-Cent Fortunes) tells the story of a woman who is making some serious money after starting her microstock business. The owner of ShutterStock® says that the "sweet-spot" for his regular committed submitters is from $500 to $1000 USD per month. He also tells of some who are making as much as $4000.00 per month. Well, dagnab it, if somebody else can do that, so can I. I have a Nikon, some great lenses, the know-how, and now the excitement and willigness.

I just read this article over, and it sounds like an infommercial. Well, sorry, I guess it is. But, I am really excited about this. I've wanted to shoot stock since I got my first SLR back in 1980. If you've been shooting a while, I bet you feel the same. Microstock is the way to go for many people! I'd bet you that if I stay at this consistently for a year or two, I'll be pulling down just as much as the rights-managed agency guys who've been at it a LOT longer than me.


Sample Successful Stock Photo

Check it out! If it's not for you, that's fine. But, if you have HUNDREDS of beautiful images sitting on your hard drive, why not make some money with them? Or, go shoot fresh stuff!

The 'Royalty Free" aspect of this is misleading. It's not Royalty Free for you the photographer. You get your royalties, although at a lower commission rate (20-25%) compared to big "rights managed" stock agencies (40-50%). The Royalty Free aspect is for the user of the image. Once they buy the use of the image, they can use it freely within their company.


The buyer cannot claim that they created the image, sell it themselves, or even give it away. But they can use it internally in whatever way they'd like.

MILLIONS of website creators and freelance graphic designers are screaming for images. Churches, small businesses, and others who have never bought a stock image before, are now buying Royalty Free microstock like crazy.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Hurry...thousands of new photographers are joining the ranks of microstock shooters each week. They won't need lots of new photographers much longer, I'm afraid, and will get very selective. Right now it's still pretty open, although I am seeing a new strong interest in very high quality images. Can you make high-quality images? They want full-size JPEGS with no compression, and you can upload them from your computer.

There is significant money to be made in microstock if you have at least several hundred great images. If not, you can submit a few (3-10 minimum), then go out and create new excellent images and submit them over time. Shoot the type of images YOU like to shoot. There's a market for all types.

I go out shooting stock regularly with a couple of friends. We're having a great time by taking monthly trips into the Smokies for landscape shots. Even my wife has signed up. If you later decide that you do not want to continue doing microstock, all the agencies have a termination feature in their terms that allows you to notify them and they will remove your images within 90-days. Microstock is not for everybody; however, it might be for you!

Open your accounts now while they're still accepting photographers. At the bottom of this page are several agencies I'm dealing with personally. Hope to see YOUR images selling soon!

NOTE: Below are a few microstock agencies that I can recommend.

Use the Sign Up to make $$$ now! link under the login at the bottom of the ShutterStock webpage:
For Fotolia, use the Sell Stock Images link at the top of their webpage:
Sell Your Stock Images at Dreamstime.com. Click the link here to open your account.
BigStockPhoto - Use the Submit Your Photos Link on the right side of the page:
Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Photography, Photo Search
Use the Photographer Submissions Link at the bottom right side of the 123RF page:
Download Stock Photos & Illustrations. As low as $1 at 123RF
Very Simple Sign Up Form and Image Submission. To open your account click here.