With all the cat photos on the internet, how can you make serious money with a photo of a cat? If it is as cute as this one, $2919 and counting! I’m sure you are thinking that is impossible, but thanks to stock photography I have transformed my hobby into a nice source of regular earnings that cover the cost of my equipment and much more besides.

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Although I started in microstock photography through agencies like Shutterstock, iStock and Adobe Stock about 8 years ago, it is still possible to make reasonable money from your photos as long as you remember a few key things.

#1 They have to be technically perfect. No blurry shots, no dust spots, no poor exposures – everything about a stock photo should say – professional.

#2 They have to be interesting to someone so much that they are willing to pay to use it. Yes a photo of a cat on a sofa can be interesting, but I’m sure you can imagine the cat shot here on cat food, a vet’s website, a magazine about pets, perhaps even a calendar.

#3 Taking the photo is only half the battle. You must be willing to take the time to properly describe and tag it with up to 50 keywords. A photo with a poor set of keywords might as well not exist.

#4 You need to accept rejections. The agencies won’t like all your submissions, so look at their reasons and do better next time.

My second best seller is just a household object – a bag of ice! Not as easy to photograph as you might think, but this well executed, but simple shot has earned almost $1500.

Photos for vacation and sports websites are in big demand and don’t have to be complex. The surfboards were snapped on a vacation in Hawaii (although it could be anywhere) and this simple shot has earned over $1300. With a bit of Photoshop work, that same basic image can earn its keep in many different ways as the variations below show.

The bottom line is that I have turned a hobby into a nice steady stream of income which should reach $30K this year. Getting there is not easy and I have almost 10,000 images for sale now on the various agencies, but it is possible if you are really keen on photography and are willing to take what people want to license and use. Another sunset – no, but an unusual shot of the World War 2 Memorial in Washington DC can catch the attention of a graphics professional.

I blog about stock photography regularly on BackyardSilver.com. Who knows, it might be something you would enjoy!

More info: backyardsilver.com

My personal best selling stock photo – Lily

My second best seller – yes, a bag of ice

Vacation anyone?

This one – almost $600!

Different views of well known monuments are always popular