Stock Photography

TL;DR? Scroll to the bottom!

Stock photos are essential for a huge number of business and hobbies. From graphic design, to personal blogs, you'll find stock photos everywhere.

One of the few ways that I have been able to make income, as a person who physically isn't able to work 99% of jobs, is through stock photography. I work on whatever I want, whenever I want.

But not all stock photography sites are created equal.

Most stock photography sites favor the customers. Which makes sense - they are businesses, they need to appeal to customers. This means that contributors don't recieve 100% of the income from their photo sales. In fact, they receive significantly less than that. The highest industry payouts are about 60%, for contributors who contribute exclusively - to that site, and only that site.

Exclusively working with one stock site is not a good move for most contributors. Selling the exclusive rights to your photos usually isn't a good idea, for a number of reasons.

Most contributors, myself included, work with stock photo sites on a non-exclusive basis. This means that I can upload my photos to a number of different sites, and I keep all the ownership rights to them.

This also means that sites will significantly cut my payout. The highest payout in the industry for non-exclusive contributors is on sites like Pond5 and Shutterstock, which offer between 30% - 50% of the sale to the contributor.

In exchange for stock websites listings your photos & doing the marketing to buyers, you will be giving up at least half of the profit from each sale of your photo.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Having the buyers come directly to you, with nothing to think about other than properly keywording your photos, is why people like me will sell their photos on these sites.

The big problem is when these sites get greedy, and treat their contributors as though they aren't essential to their business.

For example? iStock. iStock is owned by Getty Images, and is one of the most popular stock photo sites out there. After working with them for a while, it's easy to see why. They offer photos and videos at extremely competitive prices, which attracts a lot of buyers - which in turn attracts a lot of contributors.

But iStock is well-known in the stock photography world for not giving half a crap about their contributors. Non-exclusive contibutor? You will receive only 15% of the sale price of your photos.


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