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Where to sell Drone Pictures?

66427cobra

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Looking for references on the best sites to sell drone pictures?
First of all, do you have your Part 107 certification? This is required to engage in any commercial activities (sell, barter, etc.) related to drone use including photography, video, site inspections, and more.

There is a cost associated with obtaining this FAA certification. You can self-study for the test or pay for classes. Plenty of info on this forum on how to obtain certification.
 
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Kml100

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First of all, do you have your Part 107 certification? This is required to engage in any commercial activities (sell, barter, etc.) related to drone use including photography, video, site inspections, and more.

There is a cost associated with obtaining this FAA certification. You can self-study for the test or pay for classes. Plenty of info on this forum on how to obtain certification.
I have my part 107 license
 

CanadaDrone

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It's not quite that simple.

First you need to make sure you're legal in your area in terms of using your drone for business purposes - sounds like you probably are. This may also include insurance - I am not sure what the rules are for your area.

Second, you need to have images worth buying (equal or better to what is already being sold by existing professionals) and a platform to do so, which means putting in the effort to market yourself and setting up a site such as Smugmug which allows for print sales. People aren't going to just randomly visit your website and buy prints, and the market in general for people looking to buy other people's photos online is incredibly small.

Another option you have is something like stock photos, but you are paid pennies and it's extremely difficult to many any kind of meaningful money this way without being very good and having an enormous catalog of photos that don't get rejected by the service (such as Shutterstock).

Not to be discouraging, but everyone and their dog wants to sell their photos, so it's extremely rare that something like this is worthwhile unless your work is somehow offering something that nobody else is and you're willing to put in the effort to market it.
 

Jafo28

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You could also upload to sites like, Society6, Redbubble, and Fine Art America. If you really wanted to, you could also open your own Etsy shop. Probably not going to be a lot of return on investment, but with time and self promotion, anything is possible. Good luck to you.
 
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66427cobra

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I have my part 107 license
Congrats on getting your 107.

Regarding where to sell your photos, I'm not sure there is a definitive (or good) answer. Your target audience and the sites they frequent will vary with the subject matter of your photo (wildlife, nature, breaking news, etc.). Plus, you will be competing with a lot of free stuff on the internet. For example, you can go to the 2021 Audubon awards site and capture any of the images to your computer without charge.

If you look at photography in general, I suspect most are making money by providing a service (weddings, special events, sports photos, real estate, etc.) rather than selling pics they happen to take. Difficult to consistently capture compelling content on the fly that no one else can/has and then monetize that content. Zapruder did it but it's uncommon. And there weren't hundreds of security cameras out there 55+ years ago looking at everything around us.

You might want to check out this sub-forum on the Mavic Pilots site for some possible ideas:


Good luck...
 

SethB

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Hmm, discouragement :(
Granted, initial excitement & buzz is long since past. Yet, some may succeed!

I am not affiliated in any way with Doug Jensen of Vortex Media, but have read many of his posts elsewhere. He offers training on uploading/listing with a stock agency such as Pond5:

I’ve not taken the course, but I’ve read of the experience of a few people who felt they benefitted from it. I’d guess that marketing marketing drone footage is similar to marketing conventional video stock footage.

I won’t link to another forum here… pm me.
 

Meta4

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I’d guess that marketing marketing drone footage is similar to marketing conventional video stock footage.
Post #5 summarised the situation with stock agencies fairly well.
 

SethB

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Post #5 summarised the situation with stock agencies fairly well.
That’s one view. My view is different.

As with many creative endeavors some fail and some succeed. Succeeding with stock is an uphill trudge, for sure. Yet, some do it. I understand that Shutterstock doesn’t offer the opportunities it once did, but, there are others such as Pond5 where there is potential to make it work. It takes tenacity. Not every stock agency is the same.

I fail to understand the “don’t try this” messages. I feel it’s important for people to follow their inspiration. “Many may fail” doesn’t mean nobody succeeds.
 

Meta4

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That’s one view. My view is different.

I fail to understand the “don’t try this” messages. I feel it’s important for people to follow their inspiration. “Many may fail” doesn’t mean nobody succeeds.
Should others who have experience and feel they have some understanding to share, just keep quiet if it's negative?

Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could?
 

JimWest

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I agree with most of the above. I've been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. Much of what I do now is "stock photography"--images shot at my own expense, intended for editorial markets such as textbooks and magazines. I love being my own boss, shooting what I'm interested in. I made a good living at this for some years, peaking in about 2012. Since then, three things happened. 1) Everyone got a digital camera, and so the supply of stock photography has exploded. As a consequence 2) prices crashed. And then 3) my main photo agencies cut commissions from 50% of the sale to 40%. So, I'm still making some money, but not so much. But I have 40,000 well-edited, well-keyworded images with various photo agencies. I would not advise a young person to get into this business. But if you insist: 1) Don't quit your day job. Do it part time for a while and see what it gets you. 2) Pick a subject you care about, and one that is in the news but that not everyone else cares about. My specialty is in labor and social issues. Shooting pretty pictures of the fall colors is fun, but lots of other people think its fun, too, so sales may be rare. 3) Find one or more photo agencies that suit the kind of work you want to do, but also try to develop contacts with organizations or publications that need the kind of photography you want to do.
 

Kml100

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It's not quite that simple.

First you need to make sure you're legal in your area in terms of using your drone for business purposes - sounds like you probably are. This may also include insurance - I am not sure what the rules are for your area.

Second, you need to have images worth buying (equal or better to what is already being sold by existing professionals) and a platform to do so, which means putting in the effort to market yourself and setting up a site such as Smugmug which allows for print sales. People aren't going to just randomly visit your website and buy prints, and the market in general for people looking to buy other people's photos online is incredibly small.

Another option you have is something like stock photos, but you are paid pennies and it's extremely difficult to many any kind of meaningful money this way without being very good and having an enormous catalog of photos that don't get rejected by the service (such as Shutterstock).

Not to be discouraging, but everyone and their dog wants to sell their photos, so it's extremely rare that something like this is worthwhile unless your work is somehow offering something that nobody else is and you're willing to put in the effort to market it.
Thanks for the information, very helpful.
 
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Robert Prior

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Shooting pretty pictures of the fall colors is fun
My third-biggest sale was fall colours. I wasn't trying to sell, but a web designer looking for images found my panorama on Flickr and contacted me.

My biggest sale was a photo of messy desk, again on Flickr. Contacted by Getty because a customer wanted it. A few years after that sale Getty changed their fee from 20% of the price to 80% of the price, so I dropped out – wasn't going to work so venture capitalists could take 80% of the income from my images!

I've sold a 360° panorama that a designer found on Roundme.com (which is basically kaput now — they contacted me directly to make the purchase and I'm glad they did because I doubt Roundme would have forwarded any sales to me).


So basically I agree with Jim — find a niche that fewer people do, try multiple agencies/platforms do get your work out there, and don't quit your day job.
 

SethB

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Should others who have experience and feel they have some understanding to share, just keep quiet if it's negative?

Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could?
As the last 3 posts show, there is some positive experience as well.

What I’m perhaps sensitive to is the general practice of creating truth out of what one has read on the internet. Experience counts for a lot. And, one experiment is worth a thousand internet opinions.

Everybody knows there is no money in stock anymore. That’s a suspect statement, because, actually, some people are making money in stock. A little more fact, a little less opinion.

Was there experience represented in posts 1 through 12? That wasn’t clear to me from comments that seemed to be: OP, you’re asking a bad question.

I’m not familiar with what success looks like on SmugMug, Society6, Redbubble, and Fine Art America. As far as I know those are user-generated content sites for artists to sell direct to consumer, not stock agencies, but again, I could be wrong, I’m not that familiar with them.

What I am most familiar with is buying and selling for advertising and marketing purposes with the agencies that cater to that very profitable market. Which agencies also serve editorial markets. As far as I know, that’s where business gets done, and is where the money is.

My own experience is in 35 years of professional photography, video, sound, and more recently emerging digital media technology like drones, 360 photo/video, VR, etc. I’ve transitioned to college teaching in these subjects, where it’s important that I stay up to date on employment trends so as to best advise students and help steer our curriculum towards their gainful employment.

My info from my experience, from practicing professionals, and from program graduates I speak with very much echos what @JimWest wrote above. The stock media markets aren’t what they used to be. Some people still make money in them. Yesterday’s stock agency isn’t today’s. Building significant income from this source takes time and takes skill. By its nature, it’s more of a side job that can work with some other filming / photo job that you have.

I would never advise a student to choose stock as a job or career. Getting to a family wage income is unlikely in the extreme. For those who are visiting places and doing things with drones (or still/video cameras) who learn the ropes of stock and create excellent imagery? It’s potentially good supplemental income.

What’s your experience been?

In my opinion:
Inspiration is a delicate thing. We should have a care about crushing it.
 

sweetcraver

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You will more likely make be
Should others who have experience and feel they have some understanding to share, just keep quiet if it's negative?

Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could?
I attended a stock photography seminar for beginners years ago. You need to have lots and lots of saleable images on file in order to generate a decent revenue stream. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will be constantly refreshing your inventory with new work as you replace weak sellers with stronger shots while getting a grip on the kind of of work that sells. No need to rule out work done on the ground for boosting your offerings. If you love what you’re doing, just jump right in and start sending in those pictures. Gotta start sometime. Oh, always be on the lookout for additional markets for your work. Good luck.
 
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Meta4

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You will more likely make be

I attended a stock photography seminar for beginners years ago. You need to have lots and lots of saleable images on file in order to generate a decent revenue stream. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will be constantly refreshing your inventory with new work as you replace weak sellers with stronger shots while getting a grip on the kind of of work that sells. No need to rule out work done on the ground for boosting your offerings. If you love what you’re doing, just jump right in and start sending in those pictures. Gotta start sometime. Oh, always be on the lookout for additional markets for your work. Good luck.
Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could by following that simplistic advice?
 

SethB

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I don't think such a thing exists.
Post #5 summarised the situation with stock agencies fairly well.
Should others who have experience and feel they have some understanding to share, just keep quiet if it's negative?

Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could?
Have you succeeded with stock agencies, or just imagine you could by following that simplistic advice?
What's your experience been? What informs your skepticism?
 

Meta4

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What's your experience been? What informs your skepticism?
My experience has been that stock agencies aren't a viable way to make money.
After trying for two years, I made my first "sale", the princely sum of US$0.73c.
I removed all my work in disgust.
I think the advice in post #16 is not much better than suggesting that one can win the lottery, you just have to keep buying tickets.

btw ... I've made quite good money directly selling to clients
 

sweetcraver

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I attended a stock photography seminar for beginners years ago. You need to have lots and lots of saleable images on file in order to generate a decent revenue stream. It doesn’t happen overnight. You will be constantly refreshing your inventory with new work as you replace weak sellers with stronger shots while getting a grip on the kind of of work that sells. No need to rule out work done on the ground for boosting your offerings. If you love what you’re doing, just jump right in and start sending in those pictures. Gotta start sometime. Oh, always be on the lookout for additional markets for your work. Good luck.
 

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