Microstock: Make Money Selling Photos & Vector Art

Why Microstock?
Do you have a passion for illustrations or photography? Now with Microstock you can make an extra income just by selling your photos or illustrations online.

Selling at Microstock can work for you if you have the necessary skills for photography or illustrations. It may take months to see the results, but imagine a photo that can continue selling for years. That’s the power of passive income!

What’s Microstock
Microstock is quite a new industry based on traditional photography. Photographs used to sell at retail stock sites at a exclusive price. With Microstock, it is now possible to sell your photos for very small prices, on a “royalty free” basis. Not only do they accept photos and illustrations, videos and Flash are also welcomed on some sites. Whether you are a hobbyist, amateur or professional, you can join the program by uploading some samples for approval. Once you are accepted as a contributer, and you can start selling online.

Which Microstock should I join?
Many new players are stepping into the Microstock industry. There are now dozens of sites selling stock photos. So which agency should you join? Below I will recommend the 6 most popular agencies which the Microstockers named it the ‘Big 6’.

Total Size:200 million photos
Commission: 25 cents for each download
30 cents once you reach $500 in earnings
Payment:Paypal, Moneybookers, Check
Description:Shutterstock is the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world. With its relative huge size of photos and vector art , it is one of the fastest growing stock agency. Many contributors chose Shutterstock for it’s high earnings.
Conclusion:Shutterstock is the highest performing websites. Contributors tend to have the highest earning in this program due to the high volume of downloads. If you are looking into submitting into multiply websites. Shutterstock is certainly the top in the list.
Total Size:124 million photos
Commission: up to 60% Commission
Pricing:Credit Packages or Subscriptions
~$1 for 1 credit download (Photos start from 1 credit)
Payment:Paypal, Moneybookers, Check
Description:Dreamstime is one of the better known Microstock agency with the highest payout of 50% commission. Their innovative business model makes it stand out in the competitive market.
Conclusion:With the highest payout of 60% commission it is definitely worth joining this program. Many contributors have good results in Dreamstime.
Total Size:Millions of photos
Commission: From 20% to 40% for non-exclusive submissions (additional 5% for exclusive members)
Pricing:~$1 for 1 credit download
(Photos start from 1 credit to 10 credits)
(Illustrations start from 1 credit to 25 credits)
Payment:Paypal, Moneybookers, Check
Description:Being the founder of microstock, istockphoto is now one of the leading microstock agency. Being the major player in the industry, it is acquired by Getty Images in 2006.
Conclusion:If you browse through their portfolio, you will realise the quality is comparable with the ones found on Corbis or Getty Images. They have high standards for contributors and this make them naturally the first choice for buyers. The commission of only 20% may sound a bit low for new contributors. But once you reach the gold level, you can earn up to 45% commission and even earn yourself a Getty Images contract.
Total Size:201 million photos
Commission: From 20% to 47% for non-exclusive submissions
From 50% to 64% for exclusive submissions
Pricing:From $1 to $5.
Payment:Paypal, Moneybookers
Description:Fotolia has the largest image base although it is young. They are the first in the stock photography industry to implement a ranking system where photographers are rewarded with higher commissions and the ability to set higher sales prices upon the success of their portfolio. Portfolio sales volume determines a photographer’s rank and success.
Conclusion:Fotolia is another program to try if you are uploading to multiple sites.
Total Size:Millions of photos
Commission: 50% for credit commission
36 cents for subscription commission
Pricing:~$1 for 1 credit download
(Photos start from 1 credit to 10 credits)
(Vector files for 3 credits)
Payment:Paypal, Moneybookers, Check
Description:123RoyaltyFree is a subsidary of Inmagine which deals with traditional stock photography business. They have the latest and refreshing images at an affordable price.
Conclusion:Some contributors have pretty good results with 123RoyaltyFree. Compared to competitors, it is still not as popular, but it is still definitely worth selling here.


I suggest you try out the various programs to see which fits you better. My advice is that you either upload your entire portfolio to multiple sites or you just focus on one and remain exclusive in that program. If you are trying to sell on multiple sites, I would definitely recommend you to Shutterstock, Dreamstime and iStockphoto. If you are not so confident in your work, I suggest you try out Shutterstock and Dreamstime first before stepping into iStockphoto. Contributors tend to see fast results in Dreamstime and Shutterstock when starting out, whereas iStockphoto takes time to build. Whatever program you choose, you definitely need patience and good works to survive in the Microstock business.

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