You don't have to be a professional photographer to make money from your photos. You can sell stock photos through one of the many online stock photography websites. When someone buys one of your images, you get paid an amount based on what size image the buyer purchased. The amount you are paid may not seem like much, but your photo stays on the website and can be sold time and time again. Once you have done the initial work of taking and submitting your photos, they can continue to earn residual income with very little added effort on your part.
The best thing about microstock photography is that you keep the copyright to your photo. This means you can continue to use it for your own projects, remove it when you want and even add it to multiple stock photography websites to increase its exposure. Some websites even give you the option to sell your photo outright, giving the buy exclusive rights to use it however they want.
Most stock photography websites have very strict guidelines about what kinds of photos they will accept. Once you submit a photo, it will go through an extensive review. Don't take it personally if your photo is rejected; this doesn't mean it is a bad photo. Each website has their own criteria, so if your photo isn't right for one, try submitting it to another. Some of the reasons your photo may be rejected are because it is not commercial enough, it is not of high enough quality or the microstock website simply has enough of that subject already.
Before you submit your photos, look at them objectively. Microstock websites only sell stock photos that have commercial value. Your pictures must have a clear subject or message. Think about what your pictures could be used for and why someone would want to buy them. Browse through the microstock website to see what they already have and what stock photos sell well. Pictures of people are always popular, but make sure you get a model release before you sell them.
Zoom in close to your picture and look for any unintentional blurriness or noise. You can only sell stock photos that are very clear and sharp. Also check to make sure your picture is not over or under-exposed and that the colors are true. Sometimes, you can fix small problems with a high quality graphics program.
When you submit each photo, you will also need to add a title, description and keywords. These keywords are used to index your photo on both the microstock website and in search engines. Choose your keywords carefully because you won't be able to sell stock photos, if people can't find them. Think about what a buyer would search for if they were looking for your image. Include keywords that describe the subject of your image, the dominant colors, what it could be used for and even feelings or ideas portrayed by the image. Keep your keywords appropriate because they will also be reviewed.
You won't get rich by selling stock photos, but over time, you can build up a portfolio of images that will earn you a significant residual income.