What exactly is Microstock?
Basically you sell your photography, illustrations and videos as stock graphics over the websites of different agencies.
Wikipedia has this to say:
“Microstock photography, also known as micropayment photography, is a part of the stock photography industry. What defines a company as a microstock photography company is that they (1) source their images almost exclusively via the Internet, (2) do so from a wider range of photographers than the traditional stock agencies (including a willingness to accept images from “amateurs” and hobbyists), and (3) sell their images at a very low rate (from US$0.20 to $10 in the US) for a royalty-free (RF) image.
A number of microstock sites also sell vector art, and some sell Flash animations and video as well as images.”
I would say Wikipedia is too pessimistic about the earning range. In my personal experience it’s more US$0.33 to $25 per sale. (And don’t forget that some images sell thousands of times. You always keep the rights of your work!)
Getting Started as a Microstock Contributor
First of all you should create accounts at a number of different agencies, where you will sell your work. It’s free to sign up at all of them and you don’t have to fear any hidden catches.
Here is a list of my best selling agencies:
What should I take care about?
- Read the Contributor’s Agreement if you want to be a hundred percent sure of the details. Basically they all state that you will retain the copyright of your work and that you agree to their sales and royalty system.
- Check that you don’t accidentally sign up as an Exclusive Contributor.
→ Article: Exclusivity vs. Non-Exclusivity
- Some agencies will ask you for some example work (for example Shutterstock) or to pass a simple test (iStock). These agencies are the ones with the biggest clientele and are usually the ones I earn most money with. It’s definitely worth the additional effort! Most agencies just ask for a regular registration with e-mail, username and password. After that you’re good to go!
- Once you have successfully joined an agency , don’t forget to pay the contributor’s forum a visit. By signing up you gained access to it and usually they are filled with news, tips and explanations of the agencies specialties. Plus you can get an impression of your new colleagues!
Ready for Step 2?