Which is More Important for Selling Stock Photos: Quality or Quantity?

January 10, 2020

Which is More Important for Selling Stock Photos and Videos: Quality or Quantity?

In today’s post I will be breaking down the absolute most important factor in selling more photos and videos as a stock contributor.

I think the answer may surprise you.

It’s actually not quality or quantity, but a combination of these two factors plus one more: competition.

Your work needs to be good. You need to have a lot of it. AND you need to think about how much competition exists in the category you are targeting.

If you ignore any one of the three of these ideas (quality, quantity, or competition) you will be leaving a lot of potential stock sales on the table.

Let’s take a look at each of these concepts and how they work together.


This one is pretty common sense.

When a potential stock customer goes on to a stock site like Shutterstock for example, as they peruse the thousands upon thousands of options to choose from, what do you think they are going to choose every single time? Of course, they will choose the highest quality, most relevant option for their needs.

We’ll get to relevancy in a moment, but for now, you see the importance of quality.

This doesn’t mean that your work needs to be perfect. I’m not trying to discourage anyone, especially beginners, that may not feel like their work is quite up to par yet.

Instead, I want to encourage you to focus on this aspect. Make it your goal over the next few weeks or months to focus on quality with your work. As you do this, you will also built up more quantity to use in your stock portfolio, so it’s a win win!

Here are a few ideas to help you improve the quality of your photography or videography:

  1. Take an online course. Last year I took an online course that changed my work dramatically. My friends that didn’t even know anything about photography asked me what I had done. An online class is a great investment for a quick and easy way to improve your work. In case you’re curious, here’s the website I took the classes from.
  2. Check out free youtube videos about filmmaking. If you’re looking for a few free options, here are some filmmakers that I really enjoy learning from: Mark BoneMatti Haapoja D4Darious
  3. Practice, practice, practice. No matter what, you’re just going to have to get out there and try it. Remember, make sure you’re having fun. Pick topics and subjects that you enjoy.


Find all you need to start making money with your photos and videos right now.

If you’ve read my monthly income reports then you already know that I haven’t added a single clip or photo to my portfolio since January this year, and yet I’m still making hundreds of dollars each and every month from photo and video sales.

It’s the easiest money I’ve ever made.

I’m walking you through exactly how to do it, even with a small portfolio of HD clips.

For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you’ll receive a beautiful 20 page PDF filled with valuable content packed full of insider tricks, including

  • Top selling categories and genres of stock right now (exclusive content)
  • Growing your portfolio into a money making machine (literally)
  • How to find keywords that will quickly rank high in search results so that your photos and video clips sell over and over again
The Ultimate Guide to Selling Stock Bundle



It’s a numbers game. Imagine how many thousands of other stock clips and photos are out there. If you really want to increase the odds of being found in the large ocean of stock contributors, the more you upload, the better your chances will be.

To some degree, there is still some luck that goes into the equation of having a winning clip or photo that gets downloaded frequently. You will dramatically increase those odds by simply having more out there.

One easy way to quickly multiply the amount of footage or clips you have is to remember to grab 3 different angles or variations of each shot while you are out. Grab a wide shot, a medium shot, a close up shot. Or if video, grab a stationary, a dolly, and a rack focus.

If you can try and grab a handful of variations of shots each time you have a new idea, you will have 3-4x as many options out there.


Lastly, we come to the most important point - competition.

Because the thing is, no matter how great your work is or how much you have of it, you will not succeed unless you keep this factor in mind.

I might have the most beautiful sunset or flower photo of all time. But, the problem is the incredible number of other beautiful sunset and flower photos out there. If I have nothing to distinguish my work from the others, I just can’t compete.

The solution? Here are three ideas to use in order to set your work apart from the competition.

  1. What makes it unique? Think hard about what makes your photo or video different and better than the rest and be sure to use these descriptions in your keywords and description.
  2. Be specific. Include locations and other uniquely defining descriptions. See examples below.
  3. Think about current events/social issues. See examples below.

Here are a few examples to show you what I mean.

I have a couple of beautiful pictures of a sunset that sell pretty often. But again, remember how many beautiful sunsets are out there?

So in my title and keywords I made sure to include specific details about this particular photo, like the fact that it was in Mendoza, Argentina and that it’s overlooking a vineyard.

Now my photo isn’t just found under searches for sunsets. It’s also found for searches that include ‘Argentina’ and ‘Vineyards’.

The added bonus here is that usually these photos are so specific that they are downloaded by non-subscription based customers. This means someone really wants a photo of a specific location and finds it through Shutterstock (or another site) but they aren’t necessarily regular customers with Shutterstock and don’t have a monthly account. The photo is worth way more in this case and you receive a much higher payout (about $20 per download).

sunset images downloaded from shutterstock

This second example is a photo of a few cows out in a field that sells very frequently. The reason is not for the cows, as these are again nothing unique. When I studied my analytics, I found that the keywords used most often to find this photo were ‘footprint’ and ‘carbon’.

frequently downloaded shutterstock photo

Aside from these strategies, the easiest thing you can actually do is to try and target genres or categories of stock that are not already overly saturated. You want high demand and low volume for the best results.

Here are a few categories that are still great to target:

  1. Lifestyle - real people doing every day things. This is the category that I shoot and it performs really well because this is the current trend that advertisers are searching for. We as consumers have become smarter and no longer respond to forced actions from actors. We respond to authenticity in imagery. If you can capture this then you’ve found a great niche.
  2. Healthcare - another one that is hard to find out there is authentic healthcare providers that don’t look overly fake or scripted.
  3. Motion Graphics and Animation - it doesn’t have to be anything complex, but if you have some basic skills in After Effects, you can make some animations that will sell really well. If you have time to check out the included youtube video above, you’ll see some examples of simple animations that I made that sold very well this year.

A Powerful Combo

The best advice I can give as a stock contributor is to consider all three of these factors every time you shoot and upload new footage or photos. None of these concepts can stand alone, not even two of them.

Your work needs to be good, you need a lot of it, and you need to think about the competition/genre in which you are shooting.

If you combine these three concepts as you shoot and upload your stock photography and stock footage, you are going to do exceptionally well and truly maximize your earning potential as a stock contributor.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying the content. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.


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Which is More Important for Selling Stock Photos: Quality or Quantity?

Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
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