In late 2012, I was still trying to recover from a nasty divorce—one that had left me floundering under a mountain of bills, desperate to figure out a way to support myself… fast.
One night, while surfing the internet, I stumbled across the Breakfast Stock Club. It claimed to be more than just a free weekly newsletter filled with tips on how to sell stock photography—it was also a community of people who loved photography, just like I did. And many were successful at making money with stock photography.
It was just what I needed to hear. I signed up for the newsletter right away, determined to learn a lot from Bonnie Caton and her knowledge of how the business of stock photography worked.
The thought of taking a photograph, listing it on a stock site, and letting it work its magic, appealing to buyers all over the world, seemed intriguing.
A few weeks later, I learned that Great Escape Publishing was hosting The Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop in Miami.
You better believe I scraped enough money together to book that trip. I felt it in my bones—this was going to be epic. Sure, I was nervous about the cost, but I was investing in myself, in making my life better.
Somehow I knew the benefit from three days of intensive training would outweigh my fear of spending money I really couldn’t afford to. And boy did it ever!
Here are some of the top things I learned from being an active member of The Breakfast Stock Club and how it led me to upload thousands of photos in just a few years.
1. Think like a buyer
You’ll find stock photography everywhere you look: on highway billboards, in restaurant menus, and between the pages of high fashion and travel magazines, to name a few. Personal and professional blogs buy stock images, too.
It’s up to us to figure out what buyers are looking for, so we can start building a healthy, sought-after portfolio. When you start to see the photos everywhere around you, you start seeing what buyers want.
2. Take photos of things that interest you
I’ve always loved taking images of landscapes, portraits, flowers, and pets. Learning that buyers were looking for those images all the time was a relief.
Practice composition, different angles, and lighting every chance you get. Doing this increased my chances of having my pictures accepted on stock sites.
3. Take photos of things that don’t interest you
Instructors at the workshop reviewed many different kinds of photos with stock potential. Historic architecture, food, exhibits at museums, antique cars, and editorial pictures were needed every day.
I’d never taken any of these subjects but later found that I enjoyed them all.
4. Accept constructive criticism
There will be times when an image is not accepted. Don’t take it personally. Read why it was rejected and learn from it. If possible, re-take the photograph and upload again. Nine times out of ten, you’ll get a “yes.”
5. Join photography groups
One of the best things I did was join The Breakfast Stock Club. It’s important to be around like-minded people. We can share ideas and challenge each other to be better photographers. There are all sorts of Facebook pages geared toward photography and learning the craft.
6. Take photos of the mundane
Surprisingly, some of my very best sellers are of everyday things I upload. A bowl of fresh berries, leather seats in a neighborhood diner, row upon row of seasonal flowers at the town’s garden nursery, and Adirondack chairs on a front porch sell all the time.
7. Be consistent
Upload images every single day. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 minutes or an hour to work on your stock portfolio: anything is better than nothing. Consistency matters. My personal goal was to upload 10 at a time. Sometimes I had the free time to do that. Other times I had more or less time and submitted accordingly. Before I knew it, my portfolio was growing and so was my bank account.
8. Have a blast
The most important thing I can share with you happens to be what instructors at the workshop shared with me in 2013. And what I learn every day from being a member of Breakfast Stock Club.
Have fun! Photography is an art form, a way we express who we are through the images we capture. Try it—besides earning a nice little income with your camera, you just might find it’s the most fun you’ve had in years.