Start your Own Microstock Photo Library

Although Microstock Photography is without any doubt the biggest growth market for your photographic images many of you may be put off selling your photography through the libraries because of the small returns per sale.
The business model for the Microstock Photography market is ‘Royalty Free’ images at a very low price. You are looking at around a dollar per download from the library less the libraries fees of up to 80%. So this leaves you with as little as 20 cents per sale. It doesn’t sound good but when you consider multiple sales of all the photographic images you have submitted to various libraries, you can still create a regular income.

However, you have to get you image accepted by the libraries. With so many subscribing to the Microstock Market, the required quality of the images that are accepted has rocketed over the past year or so. So it’s getting even harder to get accepted with the Big Boy’s. What’s even worse is when you get a photograph reject for ‘No Commercial Value’. It’s happened to me on a number of occasions only to be a regular seller with another agency.

The obvious answer is to set up your own on-line photographic library where you can upload what you like, set the price and even enrol more photographers on your fully automated site. If you were to specialise in a niche you would be able to charge more per download. You can set up the website and sell prints, mugs and tee shirts etc. All automatically whilst you concentrate on your photography.

To bring you back down to earth with a bang I’ll let you into a little secret.. That’s the easy part of the business. The hard part of this and most other on-line businesses is the small overlooked fact of marketing. Getting your well stocked website into the marketplace takes time and money along with bags of commitment. Of course it can be done, as many photographers already have.

Apart from your photographic talent you need persistence. Persistence to see the whole project through, not just for the next few weeks but months or even years before you see the true value of your work. Of course, whilst you are building your photographic empire you can still submit to the Big Boys and continue giving away 80% of your income. But that 80% that they take is for administration, marketing and promotion.


If you do think that you could set up your own library selling your images whilst you keep 100% of the income then go for it! I can assure you that when you make your first sale through your website that was down to your marketing and promotion, you will feel totally fulfilled. You will need to be fully focussed on your goal throughout. You will need to invest in marketing your site. You may decide to enlist other photographers to submit their photographs to your site. But whatever you decide to do, Microstock Photography is a long term investment of your photography, time and money.
From the age of sixteen I have worked in the construction industry developing an eye for design and an appreciation of fine architecture. But, my first passion is photography! I gained my Licentiate with The Royal Photographic Society way back in 1988 – A passion that has grown, over the years, into an obsession. 
It was inevitable that at some point my two main interests would become one.

Because of my love of buildings, architecture and furniture and drawing on my experience gained in the construction industry feel that I am in a position to take images that fully justify the subject and show a knowledge and commitment of creative photography. However, I do shoot other subjects for my personal use.
I now publish a newsletter aimed at the Microstock Photographer who wants to sell their photos online.