The first time stock photography came into being was when in 1920 H. Armstrong Robert founded the first major stock photo agencies. The contents of stock libraries before were simply secondary images from commercial magazine shoots. The internet has helped in the growth of the stock photography business because today, many stock photo agencies are able to market works by both professional and amateur stock photographers.
One of the benefits of selling your work through a stock photo agency is the flexibility that it gives. The amount of time and workload that you do all depends on you. Since you are your own boss, you need self discipline despite this flexibility. That is another benefit, nobody telling you what to do, no hassling, no complaining, no cancellations etc. With flexibility you can shoot on subjects that you think will sell and then upload it in the website of a stock photo agency and then go on to the next assignment. The agency manages all the sales. Then they will ask you how you want to be paid, whether by check or often through PayPal.
The benefit that the stock photography industry provides its photographers is the ability to work from any part of the world. Wherever you are, your works can be uploaded. You can also receive funds anywhere you are through PayPal.
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Up to this point stock photography seems to sound an easy job to do. When you are just starting to build your portfolio, there is really hard work involved in it. It is usually the first sale that triggers that encouragement to do more, and then you will find yourself receiving little by little, more and more sales and you will soon find yourself creating a nice secondary income for yourself.
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You will find that some of your images sell frequently over and over again. There are some stock photography agencies who increase the value of a certain image if it sells for a certain number of time. If you image has been bought by a lot of customers then you can be receiving quite a huge revenue over it. If you are having a difficult time finding subjects for your stock photography, you can browse through the works of other photographers in a stock library. If you need help on choosing a subject, you can do search by subject too. In some site you see how many have viewed and downloaded certain photographs. These statistics will greatly help you in knowing what subject matters interest people and you will do well to take these subjects as well.