If you want to make money online selling photos, you need to keep a few simple rules in mind:
* Your photos have to be of high quality -- a simple, if often overlooked guideline
* Your photos have to be unique -- what sets your picture of the sky above everyone else's?
* Your photos have to appeal to a real market -- don't take a picture of something that nobody will ever buy.
* You need to market your photos.
Things You Will NeedTo make money online selling photos, you'll need
a) access to the internet - this is a pretty obvious one.
b) access to a camera - your camera should be of reasonably good quality and include the capacity to upload pictures to your computer.
c) an account with a microstock photography website -this will be the mechanism by which you make money online selling photos.
TAKE QUALITY PICTURES
Your pictures MUST be taken with a decent camera, probably a digital SLR. Most microstock photography websites maintain certain megapixel minimums which your photos must adhere to. In other words, they must be of a sufficiently high technical quality to be placed on the site.
So, if you want to get into microstock photography, make sure you're working with something slightly better than a disposable Kodak.
Additionally, the photos themselves should be reasonably good. I'm not saying that you need to be the next Karsh to make money online selling photos, but you need to be able to take a decent picture every once in a while. Learn about lighting, perspective, balance, etc before you start taking pictures.
TAKE UNIQUE PICTURES
Your pictures should be unique -- and I don't mean unique in the questionable way, I mean unique in the sense that they stand above the crowd. Everyone can take a picture of a lamp, so if you're going to try and sell a photo of a lamp, make sure you've taken the standard photo of the lamp and ADDED to it in some way. You don't need to physically add to it, of course -- you need to add value of some sort.
A good tip is to take photos of the same object in a variety of different ways. In doing so, you maximize your odds of finding someone who is looking for exactly the picture you've taken. Not all your photos will be big-sellers, but the key is to make sure that there's enough of them and they stand out enough that some of them will generate revenue for you.
TAKE PICTURES PEOPLE WILL BUY
Do your research. Treat this like a business and think about who is going to buy your picture? Don't try and sell pictures that there isn't a market for. Go on some of the microstock photography websites and see what people are already buying. Or better yet, try and determine what you think people will be buying in the upcoming future. The point is that you need to consider whether or not there is a market for your photographs before going through the potentially wasted effort of trying to sell them.
MARKET YOUR PICTURES
You have to market your pictures in the same way you'd market any other product. There are two great ways to do this:
a) use relevant keywords to describe your photos, including possible themes, general ideas associated with your photo, and possible common misspellings. For example, if you've taken a picture of a pineapple, you could include not only "pineapple," but also "tropical fruit, fruits, pinapple" and so on. Think about what you would search for if you were looking for your own picture -- that's generally a good way to discover relevant keywords. You may also want to try Google Keywords, a free tool that allows you to search for keywords and see how many people are searching for them on Google.
b) setup a website to promote your photography if you haven't already done so. If you build a site and develop it into a community of readers and fans, you'll have a much easier time making money online selling photos. A community of readers = credibility and credibility = $$$.
You can make money online selling photos. It takes effort and some sensible steps, but it's certainly possible if you're willing to invest the time.
I think the potentially large returns justify the time commitment to be succesful in microstock photography. If you take great photos and know it, share it with the world and make some extra money while you're at it -- what do you have to lose?