How to photograph photos that would sell on Shutterstock
knowing future trends is huge.
Dec 17, 2019
A lot of photographers know that they can sell their photos on Shutterstock, but never take the time to build their profile, thinking- ‘what are the odds that I’ll make actual money?’
But the truth is that Shutterstock is motivated for you to sell. When you sell a photo- they make money, giving them the motivation to help you sell your photos- and as they know what sells- so will you!
How to sell photos on Shutterstock?
If you want to sell your photographs on Shutterstock- you need to sign up as a Shutterstock contributor!
Once approved, you’ll be able to use the Shutterstock dashboard to upload photographs and illustrations for people to buy.
There are several ways for people to purchase items on Shutterstock. While some people go to Shutterstock to buy 1-2 photos, others invest in a monthly subscription- allowing them to download more photos for a cheaper price than buying them individually. These different buying methods affect your commission per sale. Click here to view how much money does Shutterstock pay for photo.
Next up- you got the uploading part of this process- uploading the photos you have to Shutterstock and submitting them for approval.
Shutterstock does not approve all photos. In fact, for a lot of beginners- there will be more photos rejected than photos approved.
Wanting their photo database to be good and appealing to potential buyers- Shutterstock rejects photos in bad focus, grainy photos, photos submitted in the wrong category, and photos submitted with tags that are spelled incorrectly.
How to predict Shutterstock trends?
I don’t know what “world” you’re coming from,
but my niche in the past few years has been ecommerce.
There’s a saying – to every thing- there is a season (great, now that song will never leave my head..).
And that saying is crucial for anyone in the online business, especially ecommerce. I mean, when will you see a Mother’s Day discount on an Etsy shop? When will you see discounted Valentine’s Day gifts on AliExpress?
– a month or so before these holidays!
Seasons, holidays, and other major events are often super predictable- and they are written right in your calendar!
While it’s true that people might be searching for snow and winter photos all year long, you can assume that “winter snow” photos would be mostly searched a couple of weeks before winter actually starts, as well as throughout the winter, in a larger volume than, for example, in June.
The same logic applies to Christmas, Thanksgiving, beach photos, Valentine’s day photos, photos of soldiers or the US flag (searched more on dates like July 4, and veterans day), etc.
Now, as the process of uploading photos can take time, and more time to be approved- mind these dates on the calendar to decide the order in which to upload your existing photos.
For example: If you’ve been traveling for 2 years and taking photos,
it’s more than likely you have several seasons photographed.
If the time right now is December- upload your winter photos first, spring second, etc.
If you have 1000+ photos from different countries-
try and write down the names of these countries- and their independence day dates;
as people are more likely to search for photos of that country on the days before that country celebrates their independence.
shutterstock will also tell you what to photograph!
In the beginning of every month, Shutterstock sends all it’s contributors an email- telling them what is going to sell in the following month!
Shutterstock can pretty much predict which photos would sell next month, that aren’t related “just” to seasons and holidays.
This prediction comes from trend research, mostly algorithms that search the net for rising trends, as well as things that are now starting to trend on Shutterstock.
Or – even knowledge they have from items that were trending in that month- over the past few years on Shutterstock.
On December 6th I got an email from Shutterstock- predicting the trends for January!
That email takes you to a page on Shutterstock called The Shot List, and on that page you’ll see things that are likely to be searched for come January.
You might not have the ability to photograph these photos.
You might see that some of these photo categories are things that you CAN create.
Or you might just remember that once upon a time- you photographed photos that could now be relevant!
This is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to become a Shutterstock contributor.
important things to know when selling on shutterstock
Before you start uploading and submitting photos going 300 miles per hour, here are some things you should remember (or even realize) to have better chances of selling your photos:
- Shutterstock, like any other ecommerce website- works on the same principles as common Google SEO. That means you have to write down tags for your photos- and that is probably the most important thing to learn – if you want to sell photos on Shutterstock.
Photographer & Youtuber Nicole Glass had an excellent video on how to find keywords for shutterstock, earlier this year:
- Shutterstock has a blog. As they have all the motivation in the world for you to sell photos- their blog posts include valuable tips and information, along with success stories and special offers.
- You cannot sell photos on Shutterstock that include a logo of any kind.
If you want to take a photo of a dumpster, and in it are Coca Cola cans- the photos will most likely be rejected.
- You cannot advertise photos of people – without having their permission to do so. You can find all the information about that on Shutterstock’s submission guidelines page!
- You can mark your photos as fitting for personal use, or for commercial use… That decision will affect how often will your photos be featured on Shutterstock’s search result page.
- If you’re new to Shutterstock- don’t upload all your photos just yet.
Find 12 very different photos- and upload and submit them. Wait for your approval/rejection notice- and see which photos got rejected before proceeding to uploading everything you got.
- When Shutterstock rejects a photo you submitted- they will tell you WHY! Sometimes- there’s nothing you could do about it, but in other case- these rejection notices will allow you to know which photos to upload and submit from now on- and which not to.
- Go out and explore! There are places in your city that would make for great photos- and you might not even know it!
- Even the most boring city can have beautiful clouds in the sky, and while you might take your everyday view for granted- people accross the world who need pictures from that city- would find your photos extra valuable!
- Find photos in unexpected place- get closer to certain objects and create a background texture photo- people are still searching for good backgrounds.
- Get several photos of the same thing! For example, if you discover a small tulip garden in your city- take several photos of it- focusing on one tulip, 2 tulips, the entire patch, a photo from above, below, etc.