You don’t need a fancy camera or an expensive DSLR to make money with stock photography. You just need your smartphone and the right attitude.
This guide will show you how to start earning as a microstock photographer using just an iPhone or Android device—and provide tips for how to improve every aspect of your photos along the way.
Do your research.
Once you’ve decided to start selling stock photography, the first thing to do is to do some research. There are many ways you can go about doing this:
- Read blogs and websites
- Search the internet for answers to common questions you have
- Join forums or groups where people discuss stock photography
- Check out platforms like depositphotos.com/stock-photos/happy-easter.html for inspiration
You’ll quickly learn that there are many different approaches to selling stock photography. Some people choose to sell their photos as digital downloads, while others choose to license them so they can be used by clients in a variety of ways (like on websites or in printed publications).
It’s up to you to decide which approach is best for you.
Use the free time you have.
One of the best times to start stock photography is when you’re already doing something else. If you’re watching TV, take a break from your show and pull out your phone. If you’re commuting to work, try shooting some photos as the bus or train moves along.
While housework is something that needs to be done each day, take advantage of those moments in between chores when it feels like there isn’t anything else pressing on your schedule (and maybe even make yourself a little game out of trying to capture something interesting).
If this sounds like too much work, consider taking a day off from work once in a while and using that time for stock photography instead. You can also make stock photography a part-time job. If you’re already doing something else, add some time to your schedule to work on it. The more time you put into it, the better your chances of success.
Learn to edit your photos.
The next step is to learn how to edit your photos. This can be a tricky process, but it’s worth it. Plenty of online resources will help you edit your images for free or for very little money—just do some searching and see what works best for you.
It’s also important that you know the difference between editing and retouching:
- Editing refers specifically to adjusting brightness and contrast levels and color temperatures (white balance). After editing, you would also consider this step if there was still too much noise in the image from shooting in low light or if certain parts of the image needed more detail than others.
- Retouching refers specifically to removing blemishes from the skin and generally making people look their prettiest through Photoshop filters such as “Clone Stamp” or “Heal Tool.” It isn’t recommended unless absolutely necessary since this will change how someone looks permanently instead of just temporarily, like when they take photos themselves.
Be prepared to work hard.
It’s going to take time. And that’s okay.
It’s all about being prepared for anything and everything that comes your way as a photographer. For instance:
- When clients ask for something outside of their budget
- When they give feedback on images after they’ve been edited
- When they request changes in the middle of a job (and we all know how frustrating those last two both are)
The best thing you can do is be ready to handle anything that comes your way. You’ll never know what might happen during a shoot, so it’s important to be prepared and ready for anything. Always keep an open mind and be willing to adapt your plans when they don’t work out exactly as expected.
Maintain a strong mobile stock photography portfolio
Your website is the anchor of your business and should be the first place to direct potential customers. It’s important that you set up your site with the right tools for success, so make sure that it’s functional, easy to navigate, and looks great on any device (phone, tablet, or desktop).
From there, think about how you can build trust by creating content that educates people about what they can expect from working with you or subscribing to your newsletter.
An excellent way to do this is by sharing informative articles related to mobile stock photography and advice on how photographers can succeed online. If people see that you know what you’re doing and are an expert in this field, they’ll be more likely to hire/follow/subscribe/like/buy from you.
Once you get started, it can be hard to stop. What you can do with stock photography is practically limitless, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot. You don’t need fancy equipment or expensive software—just a smartphone and the willingness to learn.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and shoot some photos.