When I started in 2009 with Digital Art I did my Artwork just for myself. Digital-Art was more a Hobby then a serious business for me.
After a few years of just doodling around I made my first attempt to submit my images to an Image Agency after some fails passing the qualification
process I finally passed and I had my first image online at an Image Agency. I submitted a few more and I thought wow now I can lean back and make money but I was far from that.
After much more Uploads and signing in to more agencies I finally made my first sale. After the first sale the next one did not wait long to happen.. and so on, and so on.
Nowadays I am not far away to make a living only by selling my Artwork and cover the costs of production. But it was a long hard way to go.
How does it work?
In summary it is not really difficult but you have to follow some rules. One and the most important rules is – keep your artwork clean – That means at first you should be able to create clean renders or photos. Second an even an important rule is you have to transport a message.
A good example for that is one of my bestsellers on Shutterstock.com
This Image is made in Blender. It is just the standard cube with a black Diffuse material.
But it is clean and it transports a Message. It explains in a few simple words what meaning of “BIG DATA” is.
At the time I created that image I never expected even one sale, but I have sold this image a few thousand times on different Image Agencies. I have seen it on several really big Websites like IBM, Phillips or Microsoft. So we can call that image an “Lucky Shot”. But if you want to make some money, one “Lucky Shot” is not enough, but if you follow some simple rules you should be able to make some serious money with your artwork.
Seven Rules to Start your Business as an Image Contributor!
1.) You have to be of legal age
You have to be of legal age, because you are entering a contract that you have to fulfill.
2.) Sign up as contributor to at least 3 Agencies
Sign up at to at least 3 Agencies. Don’t sign at the start an exclusive contract. Try to distribute your Artwork as much as you can(But don’t overdo it). I started for example with Fotolia(Adobe), Dreamstime and Shutterstock. After you have passed the application your are free to contribute your first images.
3.) Keep your Artwork clean
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post it is really necessary to keep your artwork clean. That means there should not be any JPG artefacts, noise or if you use photos – sensor dust is a NoGo. High Quality and a high resolution is key to get accepted as Contributor by the Agencies and Customers.
4.) Transport a message
Your Artwork should transport a message.
In this image you see just a bunch of spheres, but it has a very specific message.
Think a second about what message this image transports…. right.. think different, be different, stand out of the mass and so on.
So as you can see even a really simple image can transport a message. Keep that in mind while your are creating your Artwork. Write down your ideas, make a list and do some research whats the best way to transport your message.
5.) Keep it simple
The image above even fulfills the “Keep It Simple” rule as well. Just a few spheres and three colors. For sure this image is a real simple example. Simple does not mean necessarily just a few object, it means that you should focus on your message, avoid unnecessary stuff in your images which are only there to confuse the viewer.
6.) Work fast and hard (Feed the Beast)
One key to success is to keep always in mind, you have to Feed the Beast. That means that if you contribute only one or two times a year you will never ever get some real money out of your Portfolio (expect you have a lucky shot). You should contribute at least once a month a minimum of 20 to 30 images. The more the better. So you have really to work hard and fast. But don’t forgot you have to deliver high quality and high resolution images. NO PAIN NO GAIN!
7.) Don’t forget the Tax
If you make some money by selling your Artwork at Image Agencies and you think you can make a living with that please don’t forget the tax. I know that sound like I want that you pay taxes, but if you don’t you will get in trouble and your money is gone. But paying tax is not the only costs which are important if you want to make a living out of your Artwork. You always have to keep in mind that producing artwork will produce costs like energy, hardware, tax, your time and so on. This is somehow the Dark-Side of making money but keep it in mind!
Agencies you should know!
The following Agencies are the ones which are working the best for me. I know that out there are much more agencies but you should be aware that the more agencies you have the more you have to work. Because you have to Create tags, titles and descriptions. You can use a Image Metadata tool to put your title, description and tags into the image file but nevertheless you have always to choose the categories manually on the Contributor Dashboard/Website of the Agencies.
Follow the rules Padawan and remember there is no shortcut or magic button. Earning money has always to do with work. Even if you follow the rules I can not promise that it will work for you. But it is like always “Nothing ventured nothing gained”
I hope this article will help you a little bit to get started.
Have nice, creative and successful day!