The question we get asked more than almost any other here at 500px is a deceptively simple one: “What kinds of photos sell?” People want to take advantage of our marketplace to start making cash from their photography, but they don’t want to waste their time submitting work that doesn’t sell, so they ask us great questions like, “What do buyers actually want?” and “How do I capture photos that sell?”

Simply Sellable is our attempt to answer these difficult questions weekly. Each week, one of our expert Content Editors picks their favorite photos that have sold recently, and explains exactly WHY they sold—what makes those photos “simply sellable.”

In this latest edition, we’re sharing tips for the most important step in your uploading workflow to 500px: Keywording! Ask any photographer who generates income through licensing, and they will tell you that effective keywording is crucial to their success. Without keywords, buyers can’t find your photos. And this is not just about tagging any keyword. Relevant and suitable keywords are absolutely essential to getting your work discovered! Here are a few tips from our Content Editor Heather Balmain to get you started. Read on!

1. Stick to the facts
Outline the most obvious attributes and use words that accurately describe who, what, when, where, and why. Describe what you see. Your keywords should truthfully represent what’s going on in the image.

2. Use conceptual keywords
Once you’ve covered the basics, consider any concepts reflected in your photo. Concepts convey an idea or a feeling, although they must be evident to everyone viewing the photo. Avoid ambiguous or abstract concepts.

3. Think like a buyer
Buyers generally search by subject matter or themes. They search for broad subjects, as well as more specific ones. So be sure to include a range of words to describe the content in your photo.

4. No spamming please!
There is no benefit in tagging your photos with words or information that have no relevance to the subject matter. Doing this will only clutter search results with unsuitable images, which is a frustrating experience for buyers. For example, a photo of the Eiffel Tower should not be keyworded with “New York” or “NYC” or “America”.

Below, are three best-selling photos that were a hit with our buyers. One thing they all have in common? Each photo was tagged with effective keywords.

Skateboarders by Marko Mastosaari on

Keywords: Father, Dad, Son, Child, Boy, Toddler, Parent, Man, Family, Helsinki, Finland, City, Street, Outdoors, Skateboard, Skateboarding, Urban, Bond, Bonding, Connection, Cute, Holding Hands, Kid, Love, Moment, Together, Day

Climber Rappelling Into Cave by Jared Carlson on

Keywords: Blue, Cave, Caving, Climber, Glacier, Ice, Mendenhall, Glacier, Abseil, Abseiling, Rappel, Rappelling, Rope, Adventure, Alaska, Extreme, Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier, Travel, Silhouette, Cold, Frozen, Active,

Dreaming by Maja Top?agi? on

Keywords: Carefree, Field, Girl, Happy, Relaxed, Freedom, Fun, Outside, Pink, Playful, Shoes, Carefree, Flower, Idyllic, Landscape, Lying Down, Meadow, Nature, Summer, Outdoors, Rural Scene, Scenic, Selective Focus, Young Adult, Woman, One Person

And that is why these photos are “simply sellable.” These photographers have effectively tagged their keywords, and it got their work in front of buyers. Don’t skip this critical step! If you have any more questions for Heather about her tips, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below. And don’t forget to check back in next week for the next installment in the series.