There are lots of sites with free images (like this one) but what a lot of people are not aware
is that you can buy great quality images for use on a website or a blog for just $1.
These low cost images come from websites known collectively as ‘Microstock’ image agencies.
Microstock for Image Users (buyers/designers)
A few years ago to buy an image for use on a website would have cost at least $50,
if not more,
and you would have to go to a stock photo agency or commission a photographer to do it,
the only other option was cheap nasty looking ‘clip-art’
Then along came a site called istockphoto, it opened up a whole new market of users,
users who were not designers or web developers, they were just ordinary people with a blog or
website that wanted a few simple but high quality photos to use.
The market place now has many better microstock sites jockeying for buyers and driving low costs
and new contributions from photographers.
The word microstock is just a combination of ‘micro’ (small) and ‘stock’ (ready to use photos from a library).
Some of the sites offer a subscription access to their images, but most also allow you to buy credits which you can exchange for images,
e.g. you can buy 10 credits for 10 dollars, this could buy you 10 small images, or 5 larger sized images etc.
Image Users Recommendation
For image buyers we recommend (external link) dreamstime, they have a large selection of images and their prices are excellent value. They also offer some free sample images. There is no charge to join the site or to browse, you only pay if you see an image you want to download and use. Many of the images are licensed not just for web and printed use, but also for use on products like mugs or t-shirts. They have a huge range of photos, backgrounds, illustrations, icons, buttons etc to choose from.
Alternatively you can view a list of microstock libraries and a (external link) comparison of prices on popular microstock sites
Microstock for Images Producers (Photographers)
As well as a new market for image users, microstock has opened to door for photographers and graphic designers to sell some of their work to earn money. In fact it’s not just for designers or photographers, if you can take photos, draw icons, flash animations, vector illustrations etc. then you can sell them on a micro stock site and take a commissions from each sale. The amount you earn depends on the quality and amount of work you put up for sale.
Best Places to Sell your Photos
Obviously if each sale is only a total of $1 and you earn perhaps 50% then you are not going to get rich quick from a single photo or illustration. But if you have a catalogue of a few hundred good images, or have a great image that sells frequently then the money soon ads up. You can read more about selling images online, which sites offer the best commission and sales, and some great tips for beginners and experts alike at (external link) microstock:insider.com
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