Selling Stock Photos With a Twist!

Making Money on the Internet

So awhile ago I presented 18 Ways You Can Start Making Money on the Internet – I was going to go in order from 1 to 18, but decided to jump to #4 – Making Money on the Internet Selling Stock Photos.

This post is intended to give you a good high-level review of exactly what stock images are – I will delve into more detail to exactly how YOU could make money selling stock images on the internet.

So what exactly are stock photos?  Quite an easy question to answer – simply put they are images that other photographers have taken that they are willing to sell to others.  Let me give you an example of how stock photos are used in everyday print publications.

You’re in the doctors office, flipping through a medical magazine and notice an advertisement for medication.  Part of the advertisement is a team of doctors and nurses who are “promoting” the product – but what you probably don’t know is that the image of those doctors and nurses are stock images.  Hiring actors can be expensive for any size of company – so why not use stock images instead?  They produce the same results and cost you a fraction of what it would cost to hire a company to do the same with real actors.

There are all types of stock images – from scenic holiday locations, to the perfect family, or animals in their natural setting, and even food — like the perfectly cooked gourmet meal!  You name it, you can find stock photos on virtually any topic – here is a list of some types of images from a popular stock photo website:

  • Abstract
  • Animals/Wildlife
  • The Arts
  • Backgrounds/Textures
  • Beauty/Fashion
  • Buildings/Landmarks
  • Business/Finance
  • Celebrities
  • Education
  • Food and Drink
  • Healthcare/Medical
  • Holidays
  • Illustrations/Clip-Art
  • Industrial
  • Interiors
  • Model Released Only
  • Nature
  • Objects
  • Parks/Outdoor
  • People
  • Religion
  • Science
  • Signs/Symbols
  • Sports/Recreation
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Vectors
  • Vintage

Now the title of this post is selling stock photos with a twist.  I will get into the twist because in all honesty, competing in stock photography websites will be a challenge due to some of the big boys involved — but with my twist, you can do it — easily!

I will even go so far as to draw you a blueprint on what needs to be done… but not all in one post!  I will be saving the blueprint for a post later on – but I am confident that if you follow the blueprint it will make you money (I can’t guarantee you anything since making money on anything is really dependend upon your skills, how much effort you put into anything — so eventhough I say “confident” – I can’t promise or guarantee you anything).

So before we can delve into making money with stock images there is some background information you need to know about so you understand the industry and how it works.  Ready?

What are Stock Images or Stock Photography?

Let me provide you with the Wikipedia definition of stock images.

Stock photography consists of existing photographs that can be licensed for specific uses. Publishers, advertising agencies, graphic artists, and others use stock photography to fulfill the needs of their creative assignments.

A customer who uses stock photography instead of hiring a photographer can save time and money, but can also sacrifice creative control. Stock images can be presented in searchable online databases, purchased online, and delivered via download or email.

A collection of stock photography may also be called a photo archive, picture library, image bank or photo bank. As modern stock photography distributors often carry stills, video, and illustrations, none of the existing terminology provides a perfect match.

Stock images (or stock photography as it is more commonly called) comes in two flavors – RF or royalty free stock images and photography and RM or rights-managed stock images and photography.   The differences are pretty simple.

Royalty-free (RF)

“Free” in this context means “free of royalties (paying each time you use an image)”. It does not mean the image is free to use without purchasing a license or that the image is in the public domain.  Public domain images is a whole other story.

  • Pay a one-time fee to use the image multiple times for multiple purposes (with limits).
  • No time limit on when the buyer can use an image.
  • No one can have exclusive rights of a Royalty-free image (the photographer can sell the image as many times as he wants).
  • A Royalty-free image usually has a limit to how many times the buyer can reproduce it. For example, a license might allow the buyer to print 500,000 brochures with the purchased image. The amount of copies made is called the print run. Above that print run the buyer is required to pay a fee per brochure, usually 1 to 3 cents. Magazines with a large print run cannot use a standard Royalty-free license and therefore they either purchase images with a Rights-managed license or have in-house photographers.

Even with royalty free images, pricing on many sites is broken down into web, print or a combination of both.  For some of the better image catalogs, you need to be prepared to pay A LOT.  You really need to look at the terms and conditions for any of the stock photography websites to know what is and is not allowed.  I could go into all the details – but they vary widely from one site to another so it really doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Besides if you decide to work towards selling stock photography, you’ll need to do some research on your own.

The other type of image licensing available is called rights managed images.

Rights managed stock photography is priced or licensed under several different methods:

  • Usage: (eg. Advertising – “Above the Line”, Corporate – “Below the Line” or Editorial – “News Media”)
  • Specific Use: (eg. Billboard, Annual Report, Newspaper article)
  • Duration: (eg. 1 month, 2 months, 1 Year, 2 Years etc)
  • Print Run: (eg. up to 10,000, up to 1m)
  • Territory: (eg; USA, Europe, UK, Germany, or whatever combination of territories are required)
  • Size: (how big is the image to be used – 1/4 page, 1/2 page, full page, or double page spread)
  • Industry: (Industry type – eg. Consumer Electronics, Marine Engineering, Financial Services etc)
  • Exclusivity: (Exclusive, or Non Exclusive)

In addition to the types of restrictions there are several other factors that define rights managed images (or licensed images):

  • The terms of the license are clearly defined and negotiated so that the purchaser receives maximum value, and is protected in their purchase by a certain level of exclusivity.
  • Rights-managed licenses provide assurance that an image will not be used by someone else in a conflicting manner. The agreement can include exclusivity, and usually recognises that this represents added value. Not all Rights-managed licenses are exclusive, that must be stipulated in the agreement.
  • A Rights-managed image usually allows a much larger print run per image than a Royalty-free license.
  • Editorial is a form of rights-managed license when there are no releases for the subjects. Since there are no releases the images cannot be used for advertising or to depict controversial subjects, only for news or educational purposes.

Whew!  That was quite a mouthful for todays entry.  In about a week or thereabouts, I will continue with this post and delve into some of the top sites on the internet that are stock photography havens plus give you some links to free sites and continue in the general stream of how you could make money on the internet with stock photography.

Stay tuned!

About Rob 'n Mo

I'm a man of mystery. I like anonymity, but on the WWW there is not much of it...
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