Just about anyone can make a little cash selling stock photos but it is very difficult to actually make a living doing so just because of the sheer number of available images out there. While I am light-years away from reaching the ranks of those like Yuri Arcurs I do have a few tips that might help you get a start and pick up a little extra pocket change along the way.
Learn what stock sites and buyers are looking for- the sites will usually let you know what is needed either in the basic contributor’s information, in the form of a contributor contest, posting the latest and most popular sales on their main page, or by allowing buyers to request photos via a forum.
Submit quality photos- shoot in RAW to capture the best quality that you can, do not resize your images, create a pleasing composition, take nice sharp images, keep backgrounds uncluttered and clean, if isolating objects make sure you have a true white background, (you can see a lot of my early stock photos are not exactly white) watch your exposure and don’t bother to submit anything that is over or under exposed, avoid lens flare, blur, and noise.
Avoid logos and any visible trademarks- those will get your image rejected quickly. If done carefully some logos can be removed in post; this wagon has the Radio Flyer logo on the side in bright white letters.
Get a signed model release- stock photo sites will require you to have a signed model release for photos of people (the exception would be editorial images) and I think they will all provide release forms that you can download and print. You will need release forms for all people including yourself and your own children.
Use titles and descriptions wisely- titles should be catchy and even original but still need to fit the photo’s content and/or concept. Descriptions should be short and specific; include the main object/subject, mood, concept, location, or any other important details.
Keyword- this is also an important step and another place to be specific. Instead of just saying “yellow flower” add “spring daffodils garden dew” and don’t just say “man” say “man hat happy elderly smiling” or instead of simply saying “pet dog” include “friendly german shepherd puppy”; you get the idea.
Keep uploading- bigger portfolios give buyers more choices; more choices mean more sales. (yep, I need more photos; lots more.)
Go with more than one site- uploading to multiple sites increases the chance that a buyer will find you. Some buyers will shop around at more than one site but there are also those that have a “go to site” and will shop there first. On that note; try to get the same user name on every site you submit too so once they find you it will be easier for them to find you again.
Promote yourself- if you don’t do it, who will?