How Much Money I Make From Selling Stock Photography.

Armchair Detective
4 min readSep 14, 2020
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

I started selling stock photography back in 2010. I had just purchased my first DSLR and a friend had told me about stock photography. Wow, easy money, I thought, so I decided to give it a go. After all, I had a fancy new camera, what could go wrong? The first sites that I uploaded to were BigStock and Fotolia (now Adobe Stock). At first, most photographs that I submitted were rejected. I did not really know what I was doing and looking back now, I was a pretty terrible photographer.

Unbeknown to me, there are all sorts of requirements that you have to meet as a photographer. Images have to be in focus at 100%, and there are differences between creative and editorial content. You also need a model or property release for recognisable people and some properties. I had a lot to learn.

For the first few years, I was uploading on a very ad-hoc basis, perhaps only a few images a year. It was not until around 2015 that I started to take selling stock a little more seriously. My photography was improving and I had upgraded my camera. I started to read articles and watch YouTube videos of what images sold, and I took the time to learn the differences between creative and editorial content and when you needed model and property releases. In my enthusiasm, I expanded to selling my images on iStock, Shutterstock, Deposit Photos, 123RF and Dreamstime.

So, ten years on, how much money have I made. The honest answer is, not much. Across all the platforms that I sell my images on, I have made about $1000. Shutterstock has been the best selling site, followed by Dreamstime. I have the most images on Dreamstime (1600) as it is the easier of all the stock sites in terms of image acceptance. I have stopped uploading to 123RF, Deposit Photos and I do not always upload to Big Stock as those are the sites where my sales were the slowest.

I have read a lot of posts and seen a lot of videos about how people have made thousands by selling stock. Is it possible? Yes. However, I only do it part-time. If you are doing it alongside a full-time job, then it is almost impossible to make decent money until you have a substantial amount of images online. Some photographers have 20,000 plus images on sale. However, it’s more about quality than quantity.

Armchair Detective

Amateur writer and photographer. I mostly write about passive income, history and crime.

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