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Where To Sell Photography Online?

Posted By Admin: 10/4/2011 6:36:43 PM To Photographers

 

If you talk to a lot of photographers about where to sell photography the standard suggestion is probably going to be that you sign on with one of the Microstock libraries. However, if you're serious about selling photographs online, you'll usually find the best returns are made when you stop following the crowd and think outside the box.

The demand for stock photography has increased dramatically in over the last 20 years, starting with the advent of desktop publishing and more recently with internet publishing.

These days virtually every business on the planet is both a publisher and a potential photo-buyer.

Not surprisingly a host of budget-priced stock libraries, the Microstocks, have sprung up to cater to those markets with vast images collections at heavily discounted prices. Publishers can buy images of every imaginable subject for a couple of dollars, or less, with many Microstock photographers happily accepting as little as 25-50 cents per sale.

With the advances in digital photography, virtually any photographer with the basic skills and consumer equipment is able to supply images to these Microstocks. And for better or worse, there's no shortage of photographers prepared to deal on those terms.

In fact, for a long time there were a lot of photographers swearing there was big money to be made giving their images away for less than a dollar, but these days they've gone very quiet.

I'm hopeful we might have come the full circle now. I'm hoping the competition has reached a level that makes it tough for the average photographer to generate consistent returns with Microstock and those with real talent might start looking for other options when deciding where to sell photography.

Now I'm sure there are some photographers still doing quite well with Microstock, but you can be sure they're going to be very talented photographers with massive image collections, who are constantly creating new and unique material.

They'll be putting real time and effort into researching new markets, and they're probably investing seriously in shooting new material. The days of any photographer just submitting thousands of average images to a stock photo library and making big money are long gone and the super low Microstock payouts mean it's only going to be harder there.

Another big problem that's emerged in recent years with the Microstock libraries is, as soon as a savvy photographer does come up with a stock photo concept or idea that actually sells well, it's almost guaranteed to be copied by hundreds of other less creative photographers.

The libraries facilitate this, publishing live lists of photos that are being downloaded the most, so the lazy photographer can just throw together a quick copy, upload it and cash in on the other photographer's creativity. The library won't care ... it's just more marketable content for them, but the photographer who did all the work has to be left wondering why they bothered!

So even if you do the hard-yards and find some untapped market, then put in the time and effort to produce high quality, original commercial content, chances are you won't have the niche to yourself for long.

If it works, it will be copied. Guaranteed!

So the question has to be asked: if you have to put that kind of time and effort and money into creating new stock images, does it really make sense to give them away for a few dollars each?

Wouldn't it make more sense to sell stock photos where you face less competition and you actually get paid a fair and reasonable price, every single time someone uses your image?

A lot of photographers are starting to think so, and more and more, when people ask where to sell photography online, the answer is 'find a rights managed library'.

With rights managed you license the image for a specific use for a specific period of time. The photo buyers only pay for the rights they need, so it's a better deal for them. And you're getting a real paymentso it's a better deal for you as well.  Instead of making 50 cents or less for someone using your image, you might make $100-$200 or more. Sometimes a lot more!

Since you control the usage terms as well as the sales, you can offer the photo buyers a history of the image, and offer those who need it, first rights, exclusive use, and all the other assurances the high-end users insist on for the best paying jobs.

So if you're serious about selling photographs online, you really need to decide what sort of photography business you want...

One where you compete with millions of other photographers to mass produce images for a market that expects to buy your photos for a few bucks each?

Or one that caters to a less crowded market that actually values your skills and creativity, and is prepared to pay well for quality images that really speak to their audience?

Either way, you have to do the work if you plan on selling photographs online. The business has changed and the stock photo sales are going to go to the savvy photographers who research their markets and create high quality original material.

So in the end, isn't it just a question of choosing what you want to get paid for all that work?