How to sell Microstock?

A lot of my friends, when hear that I sell my images online, start asking me how they can do the same. So, I decided to write this short article about how and where you can sell microstock:

1. What is microctock?

Microstock companies (also called photobanks, or photostocks) are companies that

(1) source their images almost exclusively via the Internet,

(2) do so from a wider range of photographers than the traditional stock agencies (including a willingness to accept images from “amateurs” and hobbyists),

(3) sell their images at a very low rate (anywhere from $.20 – $10) for a Royalty-Free (RF) image. (RF imageis the one wich is non-exclusive and can be sold many times).

Yet, despite the fact that microstocks sell cheaply at the expense of a large number of sales and a large choice of microstocks, this kind of money could bring a decent income.

A number of microstocks also sell Vector illustrations, Video, Flash, and Audio files.


2. Which microstocks I upload my images to?

(1) My favourite one is ShutterStock. I earn the most from it.

In order to have a stable growth in sales, try not just to draw quality images, but also to upload at least 10 images per week. And in general the tendency is: the more you upload into it, the better the sells are.

You are paid 0.25$ per download, 1.88$ on demand download, and 28$ per enhanced download. After you have reached 3000$ in total, you are paid 0.33 per downoad.

To get accepted as a contributor, you have to:

– go here to create an account, where you fill in the form with your full name, address,  payout method (for example, PayPal, Moneybookes, or check by postal mail), payout email address, etc;

-send the copy of your ID;

– send 10 images for the exam (.jpg files if raster images; or .jpg + .eps if vector, where the names of .jpg and .eps of the same image have to be the same).

(As far as I remember 7 images of 10 have to be approved for you to be concidered to be a new ShutterStocker! :) And if you need some help with which images to chose, or some critics, feel free to ask me!)

You can find a tutorial on how to easily sign up ShutterStock here.


(2) My second choice is VectorStock (for vector artists only).

Once signed up, you need to submit a .jpg preview of your vector designs for inspectors to review. If the work is accepted you may start uploading:)

Prices here are:

if your status is Rookie (which will be in the beginning, 0-499 downloads), it will be 25% per download price. (So 1 credit image costs 1$, and you earn 0.25$; 3 credit image =3$, you earn 0.75$); if you are a Bronze contributor(500- 2499), then it is 30%;  Silver (2500 – 9 999) – 35%; and so on..:)

What I like about VectorStock is that if you have 100 images to upload, there is no need to upload .jpg and .eps, and write down all keywords and description! You just send 100+ .eps files by FTP, and everything will be done for you! :)


(3) is the most famous and the first among microstocks.

It has a very strong exlusive programme, so if you work exclusively for Istock, you are much better promoted and sell better.

Istock inspectors are very demanding in approving images, be those photos or vectors.

The image has not just to be of a perfect quality and composition, it also is to be in the correct colour pallete, with nicely drawn details, correctly used gradients, etc. Istock also has a list of types of the images they need, or don’t need. Those they don’t need are backgrounds, textures, texts, frames – all those that sell perfectly on other stocks; but as Istock has too many of the above mentioned, inspectors wouldn’t approve any of these anymore.

To get accepted you have to:

– fill in the form with the standard information about yourself, and send the copy of your ID;

– read a tutorial about how and what to draw for Istock;

– pass the test, based on the articles from the turotial;

– send 3 images for inspectors to review (all of them must be approved. If some are not, you are given 3 days to resubmin a new image. If it is not approved again, you have 1 week to resubmit. If no luck again – 1 month).



I signed up to Dreamstime ages ago, but started uploading images only in May 2011, and to my surprise with quite a small profile the sales are constantly growing. For me, over the last 3 months, it shares the 3d places with Vectorstock and DepositPhotos by the level of sales.

To register, go here, fill in the form with your nickname, email and password, click “I Agree” and press “Submit”. Shortly after this you will receive an email with confirmation link which you will have to click to continue the registration process. You will have to write down your name, family name, e-mail, and full address; some of the fields like “hobbies” and “equipment” are not necessary to fill in.

To upload files go to Contributors Area => Upload files. Note, that  only JPG files, RGB, at least 3 Megapixels, saved at the maximum quality are accepted.

There is no exam to be passed so Dreamstime is a good stock to start up you microstock career.

There also are monthly contests for contributors which are very good to stimulate your designing skills.

You can be payed via check, PayPal or Moneybookers (Skrill), the minimal payout – 100$.


(5) DepositPhoto is another fast growing photobank which has a very nice promotion for new contributors who have large portfolios and constantly upload images.

To register go here, click on the gree button ‘Register as Seller Now’, read the brief rules > ‘Continue’ > ‘Agree With the Membership Agreement’ > Enter your personal information like Login, Password, Email, Name, Address, How did you know about Us (ID=1169275 Anastasiia Kucherenko) > ‘Continue’ >

Now to get accepted you will have to upload five images you feel represent your best work. You’ll also need to include a scanned copy of your driver’s license, passport (either domestic or international) or other document(s) proving your identity.

If you are already contributing to other microstocks, you better provide links to your portfolios as well. Professional experience in microstocking can also increase your rating when getting accepted to DepositPhotos.

To upload vectors for the exam and also later on, you will have to ZIP an .eps (or .ai) together with a .jpg (min 2400 x 1600 px). If you have large portfolios you better choose an FTP option to upload images, it will make the uploading processs so much easier and faster.

You can earn 40-60% of Royalty per sold image, depending on your ranking and the credit/subscription plan which your image was purchased with.

To read more about how to register, upload images and the sales rate go here.


(6) is a perspective and fast growing fotobank.

Fotolia is very convenient to use and I suggest it to the beginners in microstocking as it is easy to get accepted, so you have an opportunity to develop yourself from the level you have in the very beginning. Fotolia spans the globe with websites in 12 languages and offices in 14 countries.

To sign up you have to go to, click a ‘Create My Account Now’ button, write in your login, email, password and country. Then you will have to fill in the form with your name, last name, address, telephone and ‘How did you find out about us’ field (Word of Mouth; User ID=275122).

You don’t have to upload your passport when signing up; they will only ask you to do that when you have enough money to withdraw.

For every file sold, you will receive a royalty payout based on your portfolio’s exclusivity and ranking.


(7) is a comparatively new, yet fast growing microstock. I suggest you to join 123rf, as it seems to be developing quite well.

To sign up:

– follow the link and click “Sign Up” on the top right corner;

– fill in the standard form with your name, last name, email and password;

– on the same page, you have to tick “Sign up as 123rf photographer/ contributor”, and the form will expand. You will have to give the details of your address;

– answer on “How did you hear about us?” with “Friend => Other details: from anastasiiaku (Anastasiia Kucherenko)”;

– choose a pay-out method among PayPal and Moneybookers, and write down your PayPal or Moneyboobers account email and the amount of money you’d like to withdraw when you earn money.


3. What is selling best?

For me, and I guess for most of microstockers, the list of topics will be like this:

-images, that can be used for various purposes, like backgrounds, banners, textures, frames;

-lifestyle, people in different places and situations, professions;

-design elements, isolated objects;

-seasonal, holidays.


So, here is a brief info about the stocks I contributed to, and about which I know a bit. If you have some more questions, or need some help in passing an exam, or giving some advices on how and what to sell, please, don’t hesitate to ask me:)

How to upload vectors to ShutterStock? – Read here.


Are you my referred illustrator? Get a banner linked to your portfolio in this post!


45 thoughts on “How to sell Microstock?”

  1. great article
    I recently thought of selling my vector graphics,well i ended signing for Graphic river.
    But in istock are you forced to work exclusively?

  2. Hey Anastasia
    I would like to ask you
    if I can send some samples of my work to you to see if it is good start for start uploading at Shutter and Istock.
    Is this ok with you?
    If yes where can I send the samples?
    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hey Anna, thank you for your comment. Of course feel free to send me your images. Ychty.vse (at)

  3. Many thanks for posting this info. I have signed up for Vectorstock, Shutterstock and iStockPhoto so far. May give Dreamstime a go too.

    Thanks again! Your work is fab :)

    1. Hello David! Yes, it does. You can call it either way, as far as I understand:)

  4. hi, i maybe have over 1k vectors preparing to upload to vectorstock, so all i need to do is just uploading my eps and then everything is done for you by the system?no need to keyword and anything else?

    1. Hi Bobo, that s right. You will need to register first, pass the exam, and then to aupload ZIP file with 100+ eps files in it via FTP, and that s it.
      The inspectors will write keywords and description themseves.

  5. thanks Anastasiia,btw, if they take eps10?
    and i want to ask you how to pass the exam of IS, they seems like too tough to pass, thanks!!

    1. No problem Bobo! I am not sure if Vectorstock accept eps10. Shutterstock and iStock do though.
      Give me the link to your portfolio and I will help you to choose the images for the exam to iStock. Are you contributing to Shutterstock yet?

  6. Thanks again, Anastasiia! i think maybe you can leave the email, if i got some files preparing for IS test done, i can send you by email and u can provide more is more convenient way i think!
    thanks ^^!!

    1. Thank you Cherie:)
      If you need any help with signing up to microstocks or choosing images for the exam, you are welcome to ask:)

  7. Thank you Anastasiia,
    I was interested to make it also but I believe that it’s necessary to be declared as independent or freelance, isn’t it ?
    Sorry, I’m french and I don’t speak English very well… :-/

    1. Hello Juliette!
      You can sell microstock no matter what you do. You can be a freelancer, or work somewhere and sell your images on stock as a hobby. I used to do it as a hobby for 4 years, and now decided to become a full time microstocker:)

    1. no problem Juliette! if you need any assistance, please feel free to ask:)

  8. hi,again…
    i am ready to upload to vectorstock, and i have sent the mail to ask for the ftp account.
    i just wanna make sure how long they will check my files?I heard some guy missing his files after he uploading by http://ftp.i am afraid that would happen to me as well .
    btw, i just receive your email today,so sorry,because i havent checked the mail address i leave here for a while, sorry again!!

    1. Hi! It does happen that they review files for a long time. If I dont have them in my portfolio within 2 weeks, I write to the support. The guys there are very friendly and reply as soon as they get the message. So don’t you worry:)
      So are you contributing to shutterstock already? share your portfolio here!

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