How to make money with photography: Top 10 insights from the 500px Content Team

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We’ve pulled together the Top 10 insights from our 500px Content Team on how to make money with photography.

If you’re interested in licensing your photos with 500px and selling them through our distribution partners, these tips will tell you everything you need to know to get started.

1. Keyword, Keyword, Keyword

Keywording is a theme that usually comes up when advising photographers on how to improve the discoverability of images for buyers.

The main points to keep in mind are:

-Without keywords, nobody will find your work.
-Use at least five keywords for your photos, but the sweet spot is between 15 and 20.
-Make your keywords relevant—irrelevant keywords will dilute your image.
-Do your research. See what photos come up for different keywords. If you were a buyer who wanted your image, what would you be searching for?
-Incorporate both conceptual and literal keywords.
-Include location details in your keywords.
-Include details about any people in the photo, including age, gender, ethnicity, etc.

2. Adding the location where a photo was taken is key

Make sure to always include the location information when submitting photos for Licensing. This helps buyers find the photo they are looking for and makes it clear what destination or place is in the photo.

3. Confirm your contact information and your payout setup when licensing your photos

One of the issues the Content Team runs into time-after-time is users forgetting to confirm their contact information and not completing their payout setup. As a photographer contributing to Licensing, you are required to submit your primary phone number and email address. If you make a sale through one of our distribution partners, providing and completing this information is crucial to requesting payment.

Update your contact information and complete your payout setup, so you’re easy to reach when the time comes.

4. Keep your Licensing portfolio fresh by adding new images frequently

The quality of your images is important, but it is also a good idea to upload batches of photos every week, or every other week. Trends are constantly changing, and buyers are always looking for fresh content. Your Licensing portfolio should reflect changing trends and should not be seen as static. We understand that photographers want to test the waters with a couple of images before they submit more content to Licensing, but this may not be the right approach, as the more images you have on your portfolio, the more chances you have to make a sale.

Keeping an eye out on our trend related blog posts and staying on top of different articles that are shared in our Contributor Newsletter is key. Also, remember to keep an eye on different galleries and the different Licensing Quests that are available to find out what type of content is selling.

5. Do your research, and “shoot and upload stuff that nobody else is shooting”

Our Content Team at 500px is always advising Licensing Contributors to do their research and keep up with advertising trends and what’s selling on Getty Images.

Pay attention to the kind of images you see in different types of ads, billboards, and posters. Analyze how these images are used and how they are composed. Think about a way to replicate and adapt what you see to your photography.

Stand out, get noticed, get sales—easier said than done, but crucial, nonetheless.

6. Always check your photos at 100% for quality

We will, so you might as well do it first. Zoom in to 100% and make sure you’ve got a sharp photo that is free from the issues that only really become obvious when you get close, such as dust spots or noise. You don’t know how large the buyer wants to blow your photo up, but you want to make sure they can go as big as the file’s resolution allows.

When inspecting your images, look for:

-Chromatic aberration
-Dust spots
-Tiny logos
-Digital noise

7. Exclusive photos can help you earn more

Exclusivity has many different advantages. Not only will the photographer earn a royalty of 60% of every license purchased, instead of 30% with non-exclusive photos, but they are usually featured more on the 500px website.

8. Push beyond the cliché—buyers want authentic imagery and real moments

Buyers want real photos.

The stock photography of today depicts real and diverse moments and people, creating authentic and relatable content. These photos are not posed or staged. Consider the moments you encounter in your day-to-day. What does diversity mean to you? Shoot that.

If you’re already taking real and diverse photos on your travels or in your everyday life with your friends or clients, make sure you keep model releases handy so that you can license those photos later on. For added convenience, especially when traveling, you can always download a model release app like Easy Release, Model Release Pro, or Model Release X.

9. Know Licensing submission requirements

When you submit a photo to 500px for Licensing, make sure you’re submitting a photo that is at least 3000px on the longest side and does not have any watermarks or logos. Also, make sure there are no dust spots or other technical issues, and go easy on the HDR. A good tip is to always keep an eye on your histogram to make sure things are looking good.

10. Know what “royalty-free” means

Royalty-free means a buyer pays a larger, one-time fee to use your photo multiple times on multiple types of media. That way, they can use it in multiple campaigns without coming back and re-licensing it every single time.

Not on 500px yet? Click here to learn about Licensing with 500px.

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