If you don’t believe me, you probably have seen that meme of a guy looking at another girl while his girlfriend looks shocked behind him.
That is a stocked photo people have turned out into a meme, but that stock photo has become so famous that its producer has made quite a bit of money.
The best part all that money is passive, that’s right, he didn’t have to take one picture after another to earn a payday.
He just needed to take the right picture at the right time to capture the right moment and he’s pretty much good to go for many years to come.
Do you want to know something else? You can be in his position, you probably won’t make as much money as him, but here is the awesome thing about selling photos online,
you don’t have to do it directly.There are many platforms that already exist that will sell your photos for you, just like a music composer or musician you continue to earn royalties as long as people buy your image.
In this short guide, I will step you through the process of selling your photos online so you can earn a passive income.
Why would people pay for photos, they can easily get on the internet?
You probably are thinking that since pictures can easily be found through google images and other sources that it doesn’t make sense for websites and businesses to buy photo rights.
Here is the problem, if you just take any random image from the internet and you do not have the copyrights to that image you can technically get sued, you can technically be made to pay a hefty fine or even large monetary damages by a court.
I say the word ”technically” because for the most part a lot of these small scale thefts or improper use of intellectual property are not prosecuted.
However, if you own a business or you work for a legitimate organization everything that you’ve worked for and the organization that you like working for can get sued it also creates a really bad impression for your organizations’ name or brand.
This is why businesses and other institutional players pay good money for royalties they just don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law.
While consumers rip off images from the internet like it’s going out of style that is not the way to go for businesses that is why there will always be a market for royalty-free stock photos.
What are royalty-free stock photos?
Royalty-free stock photos are picture collections available on the internet that people can download on an individual or group basis for their own use.
Maybe its commercial use, maybe they are going to modify the image, whatever use they have in mind they would have to pay to use that photo.
This gives them the legal right to use it for commercial purposes as well as to modify it.
The one-time fee that they pay is very different from a royalty fee.
If you are a composer and you create a piece of music that is played on the radio or is featured in movies, every time your piece of music is played or presented to the public you get paid this is called the royalty.
Royalty photos, on the other hand, can be used many times by whoever you give rights to. And they don’t have to pay, you a fee every time they use it, this is why these photos are royalty-free.
Still, they have to pay a fee to get the right to show, use or modify the image that you shot.
Do all pictures on royalty-free stock photo sites make money?
Technically speaking, all of these photos stored in royalty-free stock photo collections have the potential of making money.
They all can make money the problem is some images are a higher demand than others.
Still, even if your photo isn’t used all that often the moment somebody decides to use it you get paid it may not be much but still you will get paid.
Type in royalty-free stock photos and you will get a nice list of paid advertisers as well as the most well-known brands on the internet.
Places like shutterstock.com and others have created big-time businesses using the royalty-free stock photo model.
The great news is you only need to upload your photo to as many of these platforms as possible so you can earn passive income every time somebody selects your photo for use.
What kind of photos makes the most money as stock photos?
You have to take the right pictures to make a decent income-producing stock photo.
That’s the secret of this game, you can’t just take your camera and take pictures of everything under the sun make sure it looks good and then upload that stuff to stock photo sites.
You are more than welcome to do that, but let me tell you given the huge amount of photos those websites already have your images are probably not going to be selected all that often.
I am not saying that you’re not going to make money at all, what I am saying is that you probably are not going to make as much money as you thought you would.
You didn’t have a play you’re basically just using a shotgun approach to take random pictures and hoping for the best.
That is not the way to go if you want to maximize the amount of money you can make for every second that you spend taking pictures listen up.
Take model images
The first thing that you need to understand is that a lot of the companies using stock photo sites are looking for model images.
I’m not talking about supermodels here I’m talking about people that can pass for everyday people doing certain things in certain settings that cover the line of that business.
If you ever notice that there is a very attractive mixed-race, biracial half Asian half Caucasian female model or who looks vaguely Latina that you keep seeing in ads that’s because she is a stock photo model.
Her photographer understood that her distinct look can apply to many different countries and the photographer made sure to take photos of the model doing many different things in many different contexts.
In one set she is in an office, in another set she is in a meeting, in another set she is at the beach sitting on a bench or a beach chair.
This highlights the fact that when it comes to brochures, corporate materials buyers are looking for models that can stand in for the widest number of people as possible.
What’s really interesting about this popular model is the fact that she can pass for Asian, Latina, and American she has that exotic look to her that covers many demographic groups and many geographic areas.
Keep this in mind when taking model photos, while you may think that a particular model look is really hot or is really attractive you might be painting yourself in a corner, pay close attention to demographic crossover appeal.
Another popular category of photos are images that evoke a mood these types of photo content is very popular with bloggers, blogs are under a lot of pressure to set themselves apart, that’s why a lot of the free image databases on the internet are simply too saturated.
If you go to the typical image database, like pixabay you probably have seen half of their photo collection as you browse the internet.
You probably would say to yourself “I’ve seen that before, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ve seen that image at a website I browsed through before.”
This is the biggest challenge with blogs and online publishers they have to come up with images that haven’t been seen before but they also have to evoke an emotion or feeling this is the gray area and that’s why a lot of photographers who are able to capture a mood and a moment with an image stand to make a lot of money.
There are a very few images that do a good job conjuring up emotions of gratitude, uncertainty, tension, and conflicted feelings as you can well imagine the emotional states that I described can’t look like many things to many different people this is why images that capture these emotions in a clear concise and portable way.
Tend to be picked over images that are black and white in terms of their emotional appeal.
Take photos that capture concepts
What if I told you that a lot of the concepts in many different industries aren’t adequately captured by photo images.
You probably would think that this is weird because photographs are supposed to be worth a thousand words.
Well, here’s the problem a lot of the concepts that are often discussed in many industries are not really accurately or fully expressed by industry standard photos there’s always room for improvement its as if there’s always a gap in meaning or narrative from photo to photo.
This is where you come in, if you specialize in a particular industry, let’s say cryptocurrency you know that there are many different concepts out there and a lot of those concepts are badly represented on the internet in fact, in many cases the online publishers producing all sorts of blog post and article regarding cryptocurrency concept would just use vector graphics.
In other words, they’re just using cartoons in many cases, they would spell out the concept in front of you they would say the uncertainty in the crypto market and they would show pictures of people
looking sad that’s the closest they can get to certain concepts within the market.
What if you specialized in that? Where your images don’t resort to superimposed text but adequately capture the full parameters of the concept with one clear image, you would own that market.
And unfortunately a lot of people who try to make passive income taking photos and uploading them to stock photo platforms are completely clueless about this, they take pictures of cats, dogs, a sunny day,
well, I’m telling you anybody can do that, anybody with a high-quality digital camera from all four corners of the play can take those types of pictures and that’s why they don’t sell.
The secret to making money with online royalty-free stock photo sites
I’m going to spill the beans on how to make a passive income with online photo platforms.
Adapt as many of these tips as possible so you can increase your chances of taking photos once, but making money many times over with them.
Upload your photos to all the royalty-free stock photo platforms you can find
As much as possible go beyond the big boys, the big platforms for royalty-free stock photos are actually quite a few you can count them with two hands, but there are many specialized or smaller or lesser-known platforms you should hit those too.
The key here is to get your content all over the place, think of it as having many different hooks in the water while you’re trying to fish.
Your chances of catching a fish with just one line and one hook is going to be way less than if you had many different hooks and lines located all over the lake.
Shoot photos that have wide commercial appeal
This is very tricky, you’re probably thinking the wide commercial appeal means you take a photo that people regularly order, we are talking about pictures of families sitting together and eating together, a person in a business suit shaking hands, here’s the problem if you take those types of pictures you’re going to get beaten every single time.
Why? There’s just so many of those pictures already by wide commercial appeal I’m talking about business verticals that face shortage regarding certain types of photos.
For example, how do you convey a certain emotion? Look for a complicated emotion and search through the databases of the major royalty-free stock photo sites, you’ll come up empty-handed or the ones that you find aren’t all that good. You have to think along these lines there has to be a wide commercial appeal, but can’t be saturated, that is the secret.
This means looking for exotic models, this means looking for business verticals that deal with a lot of concepts that aren’t portrayed enough on the major platforms.
Master the art of tagging
I’m sorry to say this, but regardless of how awesome your photos are if people can’t find them, you’re not going to make any money that is the bottom line.
How do you maximize searchability or visibility? You have to research the business categories that you’re going to be shooting photos for.
How do photographers that cover those areas tag their work? You should start there, but I suggest that you should go deeper you should look for key phrases, keywords, or specialized terms that your competitors are not using.
This is how you get an edge because let’s face it if an online publisher that focusses on a very specific topic is looking for a concept photo, they probably are going to use really targeted terminology.
You get a tremendous competitive advantage if you know what these terms are. Avoid common tags that’s what everybody is shooting for, you’re not going to make much headway if you just tag at the same tags everybody is using instead look for uncommon tags.
Here is a quick warning though, do not mislabel your photos. If people get the impression that you are just using very specific tags so you can spam your photos, you’re going to lose credibility.
You’re not going to sell in fact your photos might get recategorized and retagged by the platform this could be the kiss of death. Why?
Nine times out of ten the people who run such platforms are fairly lazy, that’s the bottom line, so what do you think they’ll do? That’s right, they’ll use the most generic terms for your tags, again kiss of death.
What do you need to get started as an online stock photo seller?
To get started you need a very basic list of equipment. First, you need a decent quality digital camera, you don’t have to jump in with both feet and buy the very best camera equipment on the planet.
That comes later once the passive income starts rolling in save some of that and reinvest it in your business by buying really great gear.
However, if you’re just getting started just shoot for a middle of the line camera.
The worst thing that you can do is to take the picture with your smartphone, that is not going to work.
Next, you need the right editing equipment great stock photos are edited to maximize their value.
I am not talking about filtering your pictures to the point that they look unreal you can save that for Instagram.
I’m talking instead about making sure that your photos are edited just enough so that they pass a minimum level of professional quality.
Remember, people who buy stock photos regularly develop an eye for what is professional and what is substandard.
The final word on making passive income selling stock photos online
This is a great way to earn a passive income you just have to know what you’re doing.
This means that you have to have a plan, you have to zero in on a specific industry or specific type of photo, you have to know your tags, once you get all these right then you can expect a nice steady stream of passive income.
Want to make even more money online?
Check out this list of 25 free online money making methods I’ve listed in my post. You’re bound to find something that you like!