Selling Your Photos on iStock

Stock Photography - Selling Your Images on the Internet - Photo Redesign

You've decided it's time to start passively earning income from your passion.  Submitting photos to a stock photography site like iStock can be a great place to start.  We decided to kick off this article with iStock because we've had some individuals write to us in the past weeks about them specifically.  

Selling images on Getty or iStock means you'll be giving Getty Images, Inc. permission to provide a royalty free copyright to their customer, purchased via a one time fee.  This keeps the often complicated subjects of licensing and copyright simple. 

iStock and Getty Images fall under the parent organisation Getty Images, Inc.  When you apply to become a contributor with Getty Images, the editors at Getty Images, Inc will decide which platform, be it iStock, or Getty Images, is right for your images.  Although the competition will be fierce, the good thing here is that when you succeed on a stock photography website, that stock photography website also succeeds; meaning they have a vested interest in ensuring the images that are submitted to their sites are placed appropriately within the website.  

It's free to apply and list your images, and you're only paid if one of your images sells.  The payment amount depends on a few things, but for photographs royalties begin at about 15% of the sale value, with most images selling between $30 - $40 USD.  When one of your images sells, iStock or Getty will pay the royalty to you via Payoneer or PayPal, in USD.  Getty also offers a higher royalty fee for exclusive contributors.  The exclusive royalty ranges from 25% to 45%.  That's a huge difference than the normal 15%.  Consider if it's worth providing a stock site with exclusivity, or if spreading your images across many platforms will be more advantageous; it's going to vary from image to image, not to mention what the other platforms royalty rates are.  

In terms of exclusive contributors, iStock determines the royalty rate by the number of downloads your image receives.  All exclusive royalties start at 25%, but can require 330,000 downloads to reach the 45% royalty.  That being said, think about the dollar value behind the royalties earned in getting to that point.  Enticing.  

But what are some other stock photography websites, is iStock the best one?  That depends a lot on your photography style.  Some websites tend to receive more traffic for different types of images.  It's best to take a look at each of the sites and see what type of images are trending.  Take a look through Google Trends with keywords of your images and the name of stock photography websites.  Which sites are getting more attention than others from customers in your niche?

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Adobe Stock offers a competitive non-exclusive royalty at 33% per image.  Much like iStock and Getty, Adobe Stock also runs an additional stock site, Fotolia.  Similarly, Adobe Stock also pays out via Payoneer and PayPal.  Also they have recently added Skrill as a payment option.  The nice thing about Adobe Stock is if you're already on Behance, or using an Adobe Portfolio, it's super easy to port all your images over for their stock program.  Anyone can apply, just checkout their page on how to become an Adobe Stock contributor.  While we're on the topic of Behance, if you don't already have a profile, it's a great way to get some exposure, or even hired by some pretty cool employers.  

Shutterstock had a much different system.  Offering a starting royalty of only $0.25 per image download by their subscription users.  Although they do offer a 20% royalty on images sold in their enhanced package, which sounds a little more exclusive.  The initial royalty offering, and requirement to move to the enhanced package is likely in place to help prevent their library from becoming saturated, resulting in more serious inquiries from their customers, less time searching, and more sales.  

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Stocksy is awesome.  They pay some of the highest royalties in the industry.  They have an interesting take on things; Stocksy wants to make the contributors co-owners, like a co-op.  Stocksy pays up to 50% - 75% in royalties on the images they sell, which is borderline unheard of.  Being part of a co-op means you have a say with the company, including voting power, and the ability to attend their annual meetings.  It's great to see an artist driven service like this.  The only caveat of Stocksy, they require exclusivity; you can't sell those images elsewhere.  With their high royalty payout, it could be worth it.  If you're interested, you can learn about Stocksy and being a contributor.  

There are plenty of other stock photography platforms that we haven't covered yet.  Whichever route you take, make sure you read through the terms and conditions of your agreement.  You don't want to accidentally lock an image into an exclusive contract if you have other plans for the photo.  At the end of the day, many of these platforms offer great compensation and reasonable contracts.  

Are we missing your favourite stock photography service?  Let us know in the comments!

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