Microstock and POD Options for 2022 – Sell Your Photos Online

How to sell your photos online in 2022 without stocking inventory

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There are so many digital options for selling your photos online in this day and age.  However, there are also a lot of incredible images already up for sale to having a production and promotion plan is important for success.  While there are quite a few ways to sell your photos online this article will focus on two main areas: Microstock and Print on Demand services.  Using a combination of these services for different types of images is the key to success.  Not all platforms excel in the same areas so it can be a good idea to test the waters at a few different sites and see what fits your niche best before focusing in.


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Microstock photography sales have become incredibly popular in the last 15 or so years.  The key players have remained on top while several smaller platforms have also gained ground.  Generally speaking, when selling royalty free images on microstock sites you will make very little per sale, but can sell the same image countless times.

While the concept of microstock is great the execution isnt quite as easy.  Despite a simple sounding entry into the world of photo sales for new artists it is an incredibly saturated industry.  The past 10 years have seen image prices drop drastically as subscription plans came into favour.  This means that you truly do need to sell in volume and the trend for making money in microstock has become less about quality and more about quantity.  On the bright side, microstock sales cover such a wide range of topics and uses that you don’t need to be a brilliant professional photographer to produce a lot of saleable images.

The world of microstock oftentimes doesn’t actually require a top notch image, and you may find that what you consider your best work isnt actually what is most profitable on those platforms.  It is important to note, however, that the quality control is strict and basics of photography will still apply when it comes to getting your photos reviewed and accepted onto these websites.  While having high quality images definitely increases your potential for sale you have to keep in mind that the return per image will often not be very high so copious amounts of editing time into microstock images may not pay off quite as well as other avenues.  Uploading a lot of images may be a better use of your time when it comes to increasing downloads.

The initial submissions require a fair amount of work (naming, categorizing and keywording each image) while building your portfolio.  It is important to remember that it takes time to build up a large and accurately labelled portfolio on these websites.  Thankfully, once each image is posted it remains there for potential sales in the future.  Regular uploads definitely contribute to your success, however, you can still make money off of old photos for years to come.  The benefits to your work are there, just not necessarily immediate.  Those images can’t make any money unless they’re uploaded, so if you have appropriate photos that follow the submission rules and guidelines why not get them on a website – something online is better than nothing on your hard drive!

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Print On Demand

If selling a lof of photos for a minimal amount per sale isn’t really your thing, but neither is a huge investment in inventory and time are art shows, then maybe a Print On Demand model is for you.  The print on demand model allows you to upload and keyword your images while another company completes all of the order fulfilment (printing, packaging, shipping, customer service and returns).  Finding a service that provides good customer service and excellent print quality is very important when sourcing out where ot uplaod your photos.  Another thing to keep in mind is that you will likely need to promote your store/work to gain enough traffic and sales.  The upside being that you can generally set your price so the return per sale is much more appealing.  As you are offering products for print in this model it is important that any editing or retouching be done prior to upload, and that you provide high quality photos that are suitable for print.  Thankfully, most of these companies will look at the resolution of your photos to help determine what sizes it is suitable to print in.

Interested in buying some prints? Check out our shop at Fine Art America!

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