Everyone who dabbles in photography will at some point search for ideas on how to monetize their creative work. While stock content libraries are always a viable option, it’s not always all that easy anymore. In truth, just like any other creative work you set out to do, it requires effort and proper analysis of the trends and popular keywords buyers are looking for. That’s what we’re going to be getting into here.

Focusing on quality before quantity is a key component of being successful on 123RF. It’s also a lot easier to get a clear path through our reviewing system. But of course, you’ll be thinking that while you’re creating 10 cool watercolor vector designs, there are 100 other artists creating and submitting the same thing. Here’s where you get to compete against everyone else, and that’s what makes it challenging. In every niche or subject you can find in our library, you’ll see the contributors that dominate the market.

Let’s talk about a popular keyword that appears regularly on the top searches worldwide: health and fitness. How can you tell if that’s a niche you should get into? Simply run an all-image search through our stock library, and you will find thousands of available content at the ready. There are already 100 great images or vector illustrations on the first page of your search. And multiply that by 10,000 pages. By this, you know it’s an evergreen sort of stock content because buyers will look for it every year.

How can my content stand out from the crowd?

While there’s no right or wrong technique to doing this, keep in mind that buyers wants and needs will fluctuate. There will be a lot of factors coming in to play here, and the search keywords will vary from month to month and year to year. For example, let’s say in 2014 the top searched fitness-related keyword was six-pack. Of course there would be a decent number of images centering around that topic. But in 2019, maybe the top searched keyword would be body positivity. All these are relevant to trends factored from current worldwide news and movements. It’s important to stay current and keep yourself in the loop to create the type of content you know there’s a market for.

That being said, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t create images that aren’t currently trending. It just means there’s a slightly lower chance of it being purchased unless a buyer is specifically looking for it. Let’s get into that. Producing creative content for smaller and more niche topics will be a much easier feat than in large ones. In short, you just need to figure out which topics lack a good quantity on 123RF and create content for those.

But, how do you tell what’s very popular or what’s lacking in content? Run a quick search before you begin creating your content in our library. It’s easier to make creations focusing on topics that produce 100,000 or less search results compared to topics that have 2 million. Check out the circled area in the image below to get an idea where to look for this sort of data.

So a search on the fitness keyword alone crawls up to almost 2 million related images. You can definitely choose to add to that, or find another niche to get into. Following the top predicted stock content trends for 2020 below just might be an easier option for your creations.

Health, fitness, healthy lifestyle

Yes, this set of keywords are popular, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into it. Narrow it down to something you are good at, for example photos of people working out doing pilates moves. You see a lot of women only on the first few pages, right?

There are only a few men that appear in this search. That’s sad – it doesn’t mean men don’t do pilates or yoga.

This is great. As a creator, I see this as an opportunity. So I’d move forward by narrowing my search further to only males doing pilates or pilates workout men. It’s awesome – my search came up with only 8,218 matches at this time of writing.

Time to dominate this content section then! Stuff you don’t usually see in stock libraries are perfect to start with (like men working out doing pole dancing). In short, sports or events which are more female or male dominated can be switched up to portray a more balanced lifestyle theme. Rare topics are always great niches to dominate. Chances are your content will be easier to locate and appear on the first page in searches too.

Scandinavian and loft style interiors

The rise of mini homes, simple interiors and minimalist living continues to be a popular trend. Just run a search on Youtube and you’ll come across a ton of content on van life, tiny homes, or small but functional spaces. There are a broad variety of keywords you could use for these searches – minimal, clean, living spaces, loft, interior. Mix and match to discover which ones you can start creating with.

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has these down pat with their marketing videos on making tiny spaces fully functional. With the rise of micro homes and less spaces in city life trending globally, it’s no wonder this trend is popular. Nordic styles in homes, offices, and living spaces are definitely in.

Modern furniture in retro style in bright, eco apartment

What do people want? People want to own less. They want to be more portable. They want to see the world, not get held down by their stuff. They’ll gladly exchange physical stuff for experiences. Okay, so maybe not all of them, maybe most millennials do. There are millennials who want to collect and hoard stuff, too, like boomers. Boomers can continue living with their hoards of materialistic things – it’s subjective really. Whether you are a photographer or a graphic designer or an illustrator (or perhaps a bit of all three), interiors, minimalist living, clean living and micro spaces are expandable topics and have sweet niches to get into.

Ecological issues

Climate change, natural disasters, wildlife preservation, zero waste living, clothing landfills – these are all trending keywords to consider. Reducing carbon footprints, as well as our own on Earth so we have less of a negative impact on the planet is a trending topic. We can fight climate change by making small changes in our daily lives.

Plenty of eateries worldwide have begun to swap out plastic straws for biodegradable ones or those made of recycled paper. What used to be an eco-conscious backpacker trend of bringing washable steel straws while traveling now has a worldwide following. Fast fashion stores have less of a desirable impact on teens and young adults with spending power as they look more toward sustainable apparel and accessories. Fashion brands that have ethical, eco-friendly visions are high in favor for the rising generations with a strong focus on sustainability. Digital thrift shopping is an ever-evolving trend, with thrift-gifting being one of the holiday season’s best practices. No one wants to dive headfirst into a store with a massive crowd of holiday shoppers – they want to do this from the comfort of their own home, with a green-conscious mind. Cue thrift swapping sites like Poshmark and even Goodwill in the United States.

Diversity in a multicultural world

Look out for boundless inclusivity regardless of gender labels and the limiting norms of society’s green light for sexuality. LGBTQ+ inclusivity and racial acceptance will be one of the top trending content searched for in stock throughout 2020 and beyond.

Diversity in society that covers all aspects will be a top trend you can jump on as a content creator. Whether it’s the color of one’s skin, the gender one identifies with, the uniqueness of an expecting couple or the major events in one’s life. Things like gender-neutral hairstyles and party ideas are one of the top trends on Pinterest. Even if it is real or perceived, diversity is an important factor when it comes to promoting ethnic cultures in photography. Perhaps socio-cultural dynamics and sensitivities can be some of the main points in capturing this photography theme.

Natural beauty

Barefaced and natural is in. Photographers and makeup artists across the globe will be taking on a ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to beauty trends in 2020. Makeup-free, naturally textured faces in all its glory, even with acne – more and more photographers like Peter DeVito are embracing this trend.

This goes for men and women alike with natural skin conditions such as albinism, freckles or vitiligo, like world-famous models Shaun Ross, Winnie Harlow and Souffrant Ralph. Noticeably sizable birthmarks on the face, for example, are also one of the things that photographers are capturing as the essence of natural beauty.

Why does society shun people with facial differences? Why are wrinkles so actively loathed? It’s part of being a human. This is the year where people strive to just live and let live, because beauty standards in the eye of society is so passé. Adopt these small changes when it comes to human photography and you might just be able to stand out from the airbrushed crowd.

Instagram friendly

While this social media platform giant has always been a center for self-expression, particularly in photography, 2020 will be the year Instagram’s aesthetic shifts. Less edits, more authenticity will be a rising practice, though we’ve seen some glimpses throughout 2019.

Stunning styles and perfect layouts that look like a professional stylist was in the house will still be on trend. Creating photos that are ready to be posted on Instagram without much resizing or editing necessary will be a practice that most stock content creators are embracing. Try adopting a more square sized approach to your Insta-prepped image creations in 2020.

AI, AR & VR

When you hear these terms, most people tend to visualize something of Terminator style proportions and immediately assume it is somewhere in the distance. However, it is important to realize that AI, AR and VR are all around us and refer to any machine or device that has an understanding akin to a human. A subset of AI is an application known as computer vision which has become prominent in accelerating the world of photography over the last few years.

Tech and creativity collide in a harmonious blend this year. While artificial intelligence and virtual reality aren’t exactly a new approach, we’ll see photography trends lean heavily on these two topics. Extended reality has been a developing trend for a while now, and will be even more prevalent in 2020. By simply downloading an app to a mobile device, children are able to learn and discover from AR-connected picture books. Shifts in digital consumer behavior have pushed brands to blend AI with AR to better connect with customers.

If you are looking to create content around this theme, it’s a great opportunity! This is an untapped sector that has a lot of potential to be explored in stock photography and vector illustrations. Topics centered around education and e-learning will be easy to rank in search results as fresh content for our stock library.

Body positivity

As if this wasn’t a big enough trend in 2019, 2020 will see a major growth in this aspect. Much like diversity in a multicultural world, different bodies will come in different shapes and sizes. Stretch marks, cellulite, acne-prone skin, skin conditions, amputees, wrinkles, flab – they don’t make up a person’s personality. Natural is in and so are our body insecurities. It’s no wonder celebrities and social media moguls have been spreading body positivity throughout the span of the previous year.

As seen on Mindy Kaling’s ‘gram, ‘wear a bikini if you want to wear a bikini’. She reminds us that body shaming is way too passé, and that every body is a bikini body. 😉 Model Iska Lawrence’s movement celluLIT reveres cellulite on social media, where thousands of fans have joined in on the action.

Inspiring others with their achievements despite being physically disabled or suffering from chronic illnesses, these humans deserve to have a stand in the spotlight. This is what the body positivity movement is all about too. Broaden your photography and image creating scope with these various themes.