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How to get more sales on Stock Photography Sites

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Stock photography sites are a good source when it comes to making some extra cash online. If you’re in photography, no matter if a beginner, a hobbyist, or a professional, having some knowledge about stock sites and how to get the most from them will not hurt.

I have tried many of them, but I get stuck with only three: Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Adobe Stock. I experimented, I uploaded the same 100 images on many sites (I will not give names, as I am not here to mess with other people’s work), and, in a month, I only had sales on the three sites mentioned upper.

I have to say that I don’t have professional photos with models, in-studio or fashion, etc… I only uploaded landscapes, macro, wildlife, night shoots, and some illustrations.

So for these topics, I worked best on the mentioned sites, Shutterstock being the top one. I am now for a few years with these sites and cashed out a few hundred dollars. See my portfolios 

I didn’t have many sales in the beginning, so I started to research that. This is the purpose of today’s post to share with you what I’ve learned to increase sales.

Guide for better selling on photo stock sites

This guide is not for a specific site, and it applies to all stock sites.

Let me start with the beginning: creating an account, uploading images, and filling in the best picture name, description, and keywords.
Account creation is pretty similar to stock photography sites.

You have to give them accurate data (this is very important to make payments possible) and upload the requested number of pictures for review.

What does that mean? It means that to have an account on a stock site and sell your photos, you’ll have to pass first a quality test for your images. Nothing to worry about. They want to be sure that you have minimum knowledge and gear for capturing excellent photos.

What you have to submit:

  • Your work
  • Excellent image quality and size
  • Image subject to be in focus
  • As sharp as possible

For recognizable people or properties, brands, etc., you have to provide them a ‘model release form,’ like an acceptance from the owner, which gives you the right to sell it.

If you want to know more about how this works, I have written a guide about selling photos online for free. Today will be focusing more on it.

How to get more sales on Stock Photography Sites?

Having success, having a better sales rate on a stock photography site consists of only three things: a tremendous and unique image title, the best possible description, and relevant keywords.

Let’s go through all of them for a better understanding of how to get more sales on stock photography sites:

A tremendous and unique image title

Why is this important? Let’s explain it. Say you just uploaded a photo with a butterfly. The image is excellent. You looked around, google it for pictures with butterflies, and conclude that your picture is better than others. This should give you lots of sales.

Yes, it is correct. You deserve it just because your image is one of the best out there. The issue here is that a much weaker image with a butterfly can have tens of times more sales than you because it is more findable.

So this is why you need to follow this guide step by step to make your image findable and win with quality.

So, how to do that? We’ll have to go a bit more technical, but no worries. As soon as you start researching and using the method, I will show you shortly, and it will become effortless.

It is all about the keywords

The image title is a keyword. In the description, you’ll use at least two keywords, and, finally, in the keywords section, you’ll be able to add (like in Shutterstock’s case, for example) another 50 more keywords.

And this is how your image will become findable.

Please look at this example:

flying butterfly in lavender field for stock photography sites

Now, let’s say that you will name your photo ‘butterfly.’ This will never be enough. You’ll have to be more specific. As you see in the image, this is a flying butterfly in the lavender field. A better name would be a flying butterfly in lavender field.

Get Jaaxy

How did I get to this one? I just used my inspiration and a keyword research tool named Jaaxy. This is a tool for Google organic search, but it is pretty similar. You will not fail by using it. People on the stock site are using their search engine, and the principles are the same.

As you can see in the below image, the keyword ‘a flying butterfly in lavender field’ has less than ten searches per month, which will possibly give you less than ten customers per month.

Let me explain in a few words what avg, traffic, and QSR means. This is all you care about because you are not researching for google, so you don’t need to watch how these keywords will act in time. They will not get a rank, which is everything else in that table.

AVG in the average searches people do per month for that keyword; Traffic is expected customers per month you’ll possibly get, and QSR is the number of competing users for the same keyword.

Assaying before ”the keyword ‘, a flying butterfly in lavender field’ has less than ten searches per month, which will possibly give you less than ten customers per month,” which is no big deal.

But if you look a bit lower, you’ll see that the keyword ‘in the lavender field’ has about 700 searches per month… I will let you get the conclusions, as I trust you get the idea here.

a flying butterfly in lavender field keyword research

The best possible description

The description is fundamental to use a few keywords with high search volume, but at the same time with low competition – low QSR.

I would describe this photo as a close-up of a swallowtail butterfly flying over a lavender field in springtime.

As you see here, I named the butterfly and used more keywords: swallowtail butterfly, swallowtail butterfly flying, lavender field, and lavender field in springtime. People searching for any of these are more likely to find your image.

Relevant keywords

In this section, you’ll be able to add a lot of keywords like animal, beautiful, swallowtail butterfly, swallowtail butterfly flying, blossom, blue, butterfly, closeup, color, flower, garden, insect, iphiclides, lavender, lavender field, macro, meadow, nature, plant, podalirius, purple, scarce, spring, summer, swallowtail, white, wings, yellow, etc.

Now, look at what I bolded. This is the catch with getting your images found in searches, having the same or almost the exact main keywords (see bolded) in the title, description, and keywords section. Other keywords are helping too, but unfortunately, this is the way stock sites work.

If you don’t get a bit technical, you’ll not get sales even if you have the best images. Following my guide will also help you to get deals even if you don’t have the best pics, which I bet is the case for most of us 😉


Having the best photos out there on stock sites is not enough to bring you a consistent amount of cash. It would help if you did keyword research, and only then you’ll succeed.

Here’s another guide to microstock photography, which will help you better understand everything. I recommend reading all the chapters.

I hope this will prove helpful in your photography journey, both for your satisfaction and wallet. Please leave your success stories in the comments below and ask if you need further advice. Good luck!!!

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