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I Sold My First Photo on a Stock Photography Website: Here’s What I Learned

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I indeed sold my first photo on a stock photography website. So being a blogger, the next thing I decided to do is share my experience with the readers.

You may be a subscriber or just landed from a search engine or social media site, it’d be a huge honor for me if you subscribe to this blog so that I could share my next successes and failures with you.

It’s just the beginning on the stock photography website, and I haven’t made hundreds of dollars yet, but that’s not the point. I’m writing this blog post because I want to share what I learned right at the beginning of selling stock photos on the internet.

Some of you would come across this blog post and after reading it, you’d think it’s possible to make money from phone photography, or maybe a few of you would dust off your DSLR camera and get back to work.

I want to hear such stories down the road. I did this stock photo selling experiment because I try out different things that interest me. Most of them don’t work out and while a few turn things around.

You should be very clear on something: this isn’t a get-rich scheme whatsoever.

You should read this blog post for two reasons:

1. You’re passionate about photography, and you have expensive camera gear, but you have no idea that you can make money off of selling photos on the internet.

2. You’re a phone photography enthusiast and it’ll be fun to earn some money through your photography side hustle.

Before I share three of the best lessons I learned about selling stock photography, here’s a brief story of selling my first photo on a stock photography website.

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I Sold First Photo on a Stock Photography Website: Here's What I Learned

Selling the First Photo on a Stock Photography Website

I signed up for the Shutterstock Contributor account to start selling stock photos on the internet. As a beginner photographer, it was exciting yet scary for me. What appealed to me, though, was the opportunity of selling phone photography on Shutterstock.

As soon as I signed up for the program, I started taking pictures with my phone. I knew that there would be some mistakes on my end, but I wasn’t afraid of making mistakes. You’d read about the mistakes later on.

It took me a couple of weeks and three or four attempts to get my photos on the Shutterstock website because of the formatting, but it got sorted out afterward.

The best part was that I didn’t have to use my DSLR camera or buy an expensive lens for photography. I chose the phone photography section on Shutterstock. So I was all set to put my phone photos out there.

Almost 5 to 6 weeks in, I got a notification that you’ve sold a photo on Shutterstock. Even though I only made $0.20 on the sale, but that little ROI was a big deal. It was an affirmation that it could become a passive income stream for me.

Later on, I started taking random photographs for uploading to the Shutterstock Contributor account. I’ll update you on this in a future blog post regarding stock photography. Make sure to subscribe to this blog to get more updates on this.

Now, it’s time to share some important lessons I learned from this experience.

Without any further ado, let’s get right into the cream of this blog post.

3 Lessons I Learned from Selling My First Photo on a Stock Photography Website


Here we go:

1. Sell Stock Photos Only If You’re Passionate About Photography

Keep in mind that it may take a while before you start making money with stock photos. So hang in there. It might only be possible if you don’t care about the money. All you need is to be excited about taking good photos and put them out there.

I’ve seen Instagrammers who don’t make money from photography, but they enjoy what they do. So they keep going forward. That’s the kind of spirit you need to pull this off.

Therefore, get into selling stock photos selling only if you’re passionate about photography. If you’re here just to make quick cash, you’d end up frustrated at some point because it doesn’t happen on a whim. It does take some time before you cash in on a stock photography portal.

2. Photos With a Shallow Depth of Field Get Rejected

I have no idea about other stock photo websites, but Shutterstock didn’t approve some of my photographs that were taken with a shallow depth of field.

It turns out, if you blur the background in post-production or use portrait mode on your phone, the background will blur out, and some stock photo sites may not accept those photos.

I had to remove such photos from Shutterstock because they didn’t accept those photos. I learned this lesson the hard way. So don’t waste your time taking such blurry background photos for selling on the stock photography websites.

3. You Can’t Make Money With a Single Photos Category

One of the lessons I learned is that you should never stick to just one photo category. Instead, try to explore as many photo categories as possible. I took a bunch of photos of the plants and greenery and thought that I’d dominate the space. Bloggers often try to go deep into a niche and target a sub-niche — I was trying the same thing in stock photos selling.

Turned out, it doesn’t work in stock photos selling. Therefore, I learned that I should consider multiple photo categories and come up with an improved plan. Once I get back to selling stock photography, this would be the first thing I’d do.

Let’s End This

A long time ago, I wrote about writing my first blog post.

Now, I shared what I learned as a beginner in phone photography.

I always try to help starters because I know “starting” is the key to winning.

I’m confident that I’ll be adding phone photography as an income stream.

If you have an interest in photography, you can do the same thing.

Try out the Shutterstock Contributor program for getting started with phone photography selling.

If you have any questions regarding selling your phone photography on Shutterstock, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll try to help you out.

All the best.

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