How to Sell Photos in Multiple Stock Agencies

Marbles on Wood Table

We occasionally talk about “playing the field,” or submitting photos to multiple stock photo agencies. Doing so can increase your sales – but it also offers a bit of protection in case one agency becomes more successful than another.

A lot of readers have sent in questions about submitting to multiple agencies. Here are some answers to help if you’d like to start doing the same…

Do you have to get accepted stock agencies, first?

Yes. To submit photos to an online stock photo agency, you usually have to get accepted as a contributor, first. Depending on the agency, this can mean passing a test, sending in sample images, or both. Remember that it’s normal to get rejected on your first — or even second or third! — try. Don’t get discouraged. (iStock rejected me three times, and Shutterstock rejected me once.) Read through the rejection reasons, correct your photos or choose new ones, and try again. As professional stock photographer Shelly Perry says, almost everyone gets rejected on their first try. Don’t give up!

Can you use the same username in different agencies?

Yes. You don’t have to use your name — some people make up “screen names” to go with their account. You will need to sign up for an account under your real name, but then you can choose a screen name which may be the same or different across different sites. It’s up to you.

Can you send the same exact photos to different sites?

Yes. I send the same exact photos to all of my agencies. However, some agencies may differ, so check the contract before you sign up.

You’ll start to notice that different agencies will accept different photos. I may take 10 photos that have already been accepted into iStock and submit all of them to the rest of my agencies. However, it’s rare that all of the agencies will take all of the photos. Each one has different standards and preferences. On the other hand, if a photo is rejected at iStock, maybe Bigstock, Dreamstime, or another agency will take it. As long as it conforms to their guidelines, it’s worth a try!

As a beginner, can you really make money at this?

Yes. While stock photography no longer provides a full-time income to many folks out there, it’s still a viable and fun way to make a passive side-income. Here at the Snap & Sell Photo Club, our first goal is just $20/week. It sounds easy (and when you compare it to most other professions, it really is) but when you’re just starting out, it takes time. In the beginning you don’t have many photos out there working for you so it’s hard to rack up big checks. But after you get a couple dozen in a couple different agencies, things get easier. One week you’ll only have five images out there earning you royalties but the next week it’ll be 10 to 15 and the next it’ll be 20 to 30. You’ll pick up speed as your portfolio grows.

Here are a few resources to help with the first steps:

  • Find approachable agencies and get step-by-step instructions on submitting to them: The Quick and Dirty Guide to Stock Photography
  • Get the quickest, easiest way to build a portfolio of saleable shots and start making money: The Lazy Man’s Guide to Stock Photography
  • iStock’s Photographer Training Manual – You’ll need to know this by heart to pass the test. 
  • Dreamstime’s “Stock Rank” game — You have to sign up as a member to play and it’s a great way to start identifying what’s saleable. Watch out — it’s addicting. 
  • Great Escape Publishing’s Turn Your Pictures Into Cash program — Improve your overall picture-taking skills and learn to sell your shots as stock, as well as in other markets like fine art and editorial. 

Keep up the momentum — if you haven’t started yet, scope out some agencies… if you’re just getting started, try applying to a few… and if you’re already going, keep submitting!

Why? Because traveling and taking photos is what we love to do! And when there’s an opportunity to make a living doing something we love, those of us who go for it are the ones who will be successful.

What’s your goal this week? Share it on the Snap & Sell Photo Club Facebook Page.

Here’s to more sales!