Photography is not an easy job. Capturing the best shots takes not only skill, but sometimes bravery and some innate artistic talent.

Yet smartphones have made everyone think they’re a photographer these days. So it’s entirely possible that the shots you take on that smartphone (or with your digital camera of choice) could put a little money in your pocket, whether you consider yourself a pro-photog or not.

I’m not talking about active photography jobs like shooting weddings, sports, food, fashion, babies, or pictures of tech products. Leave that to the pros. I’m talking about passive income, where you monetarily benefit from digital pictures that would otherwise just be taking up space on a digital drive. The best way to do that: sell your images as stock photography.

What Is Stock Photography?

Since the 1920s, stock photography has been around to provide photos for all sorts of media: print publications, websites, newsletters, you name it. Generally, the person who publishes the photo pays a fee for a license to use the image, be it a few cents or several hundred dollars. It was a lot cheaper than having photographers on staff back in the day, with all the overhead they’d need for developing photos. (Unlike today when you take a shot and can edit it in seconds.)

Publishers used to find images in catalogs, then on CDs; now all the stock photography providers are online.

While there are a few major stock photography outlets—Getty Images is the 800-pound gorilla in this space—there are also plenty of what’s called microstock outlets. These sites are hungry for new content that meets its needs, and…

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