Do you offer your photos from Colorado Portraits for sale on sites like iStockPhoto.com? Another nice way to make some k’ching! I am working on organizing my bizillion photos to sort out the good from the mediocre so I can start uploading. I have recently been approved as a photographer that can upload photos to sell! Yay!
Never really thought about selling my photographs online, actually, though I’ve been approached a few times and now that I just got a shiny new Nikon D80, I’m sure that I’ll be taking a few more thousand photographs in the next few months.
What I wonder is the average payout for a typical photographer who offers pictures on a stock photo site like iStockPhoto, so let’s just dig into the terms of service and see what we can extrapolate.
From the perspective of buying a picture, that’s pretty painless, $1 for a small image you can use to adorn a blog entry, web site, HTML-formatted email or even brochure is about as painless as it can get, and what I like is that the purchase is a contract between iStockPhoto and the buyer, so there are no questions about whether it’s a violation of copyright to use the image as you often have with so-called royalty free sites.
According to their FAQ, however, you as the photographer only get 20% of the royalty for a sale, so that $5 payment for a full page version of one of your images actually breaks down to be $4.00 to them, and only $1.00 to you.
As I suspected, it’s actually pretty hard to even make “soda money” through stock photo sales, especially when you consider that even your best images are competing with over 1.2 million other images. That’s why I find it hard to get enthused about selling my images as stock photographs.
On the other hand, when I get a professional assignment, it’s quite reasonable to charge $500 or more to spend an hour or two shooting a party or event, so one or two of those and you’ve just paid for your latest gear. Realistically, it’d take over 500 individual photo licensing sales through iStockPhoto or similar sites to equal that simple revenue stream.
Maybe I’m being a bit too pessimistic here, however. If you have experience selling your photographs through a stock photo agency like iStockPhoto or similar, please share how you got involved, how carefully they screen individual images, and what kind of money you have been earning on a per-sale and monthly basis.
Me? I’ll stick with taking pictures for fun rather and accept the occasional professional assignment rather than worry about uploading images for others to utilize or purchase.