Before the internet, if you wanted to sell your photos, you’d probably approach a number of newspapers or magazines, or enter photo contests and hope to win monetary prizes for your shots.
Today though, the internet is an excellent vehicle for making money if you have a knack with a camera because you can sell photos online. It’s not so much about your credentials, but how good your work is.
It also gives you the freedom of working at your own convenience from the comfort of your home and the flexibility of making money on your terms.
Where To Sell Photos Online
ShutterstockAdobe Stock123RFiStockSmugMugEtsyCan Stock PhotoAlamyDreamstimePhoto Shelter500pxSnapped4UStocksyEyeEmYour own photography site
Shutterstock is a large photo library that hosts hundreds of millions of images and videos. It attracts thousands of contributors who earn money by uploading their photos to the marketplace.
Its pricing structure is fairly complicated as payouts, which fall between $0.25 and $28 per photo, based on earnings over time (“lifetime earnings”), but you keep the copyright so you can sell elsewhere.
You can also earn as an affiliate by referring other photographers or customers to the site, and earn each time they sell or buy images.
Adobe Stock (formerly Fotolia) is a microstock photography site that lists millions of photos on its Creative Cloud service using Adobe desktop apps like InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and others.
Royalties of between 20 and 46 percent are paid out immediately, unlike other sites that wait until your account balance reaches a certain threshold, or after a certain period has elapsed.
This is another good place to sell photos online and earn between 30 and 60 percent per download depending on how many are bought. You can earn more when 123RF customers purchase larger resolutions of your photos and get paid via PayPal, Payoneer, or Skrill.
iStock by Getty Images is a popular photo library that sells photos to more than 1.5 million customers worldwide.
Once you fill out your application, the iStock photo team will review, and upon approval, you can submit your photos and earn royalties from 15 percent, or up to 45 percent per sale as an exclusive contributor.
This site is a bit different from other stock photography sites as it’s subscription-based and the profit potential is much higher than payouts for other sites.
You keep 85 percent of the markup price for your photos, but there’s a catch – you have to buy a Pro subscription to enjoy this high royalty.
You probably know Etsy as a marketplace for handmade crafts and collectibles, but you can also sell your photos on the platform. With an established audience of more than 30 million users, you’re bound to make some good money from your unique photography.
You can set the prices for your images and control how you want them displayed to buyers. A helpful handbook is available so you can learn how to create your brand, market, price and sell your images, plus how to be successful on the platform.
Can Stock Photo is a stock photo marketplace that appeals to the cost-conscious buyer as its prices are slightly cheaper than other sites. To get started, you’ll submit three photos for review, and once approved, you can upload and start earning.
Payouts vary between $0.25 and $75, and you’ll be paid via PayPal once you earn $50. You can earn an extra $5 for every photographer you refer to sell their photography on the site.
Alamy has millions of images available for sale and a good commission payout to boot. Contributors receive a commission of 50 percent monthly on each sale, as long as the cleared funds are $50 or more. You’re free to sell your photos elsewhere online, which makes it one of the best choices for people looking to sell their photos online.
Alamy also collaborates with media agencies, which means you can get paid for live news images too.
Dreamstime allows you to sell photos on the site and earn royalties between 25 and 50 percent per download, plus 20 cents for each accepted photo upload. If you sell exclusively through Dreamstime though, you’ll get 60 percent royalty on all your photos.
Their vetting process is more stringent than other platforms, so upload only your best, high-quality work. Photography and design contests are also provided so you have added incentives to win prizes for your work.
PhotoShelter is an ecommerce platform that integrates into your website and various social media platforms, so you can sell your photos. It’s subscription-based that not only lets you retain full control over the display of your photos, but also lets you keep 92 percent of the selling price.
This is a community-based photographers’ platform where you can list your photos and earn between 30 and 60 percent commission payout on non-exclusive and exclusive photos respectively.
You can also participate in the Photo Quest competitions and win prizes.
This site is exclusively for portrait and event photography, so if you’re in the travel, still-life, landscape and stock photography niche, this isn’t for you.
You can create galleries for events or fundraising and a portion of your sales will be donated to charity. Its payment thresholds are lower than other sites, and are sent out on the 1st and 15th of each month after earning at least $20.
Stocksy is a favorite of publishers looking for new images to use on their content. It commands very high photography standards, and requires exclusivity so you can’t sell your photos elsewhere online or offline.
The payouts are between 50 and 75 percent on total purchases made, which is pretty generous compared to other sites.
This site focuses on advertising stock photography. If your work is focused on commercial or advertising photography, you can get your name and brand out there through EyeEm.
They provide three licenses under which you can sell images: Social, Web and Full, which fetch $20, $50 and $250 per image respectively. A 50 percent commission is charged per image sold, plus, you can enter missions and earn more money.
Your Own Photography Site
Nothing beats selling your photos on your own photography ecommerce platform. If you have the technical know-how to do this, you can save on costs and earn 100 percent profit per image sold.
If you’re not tech-savvy, you can use a free website builder that does all the backend work for you, and start selling your own stock photos. Add plugins for buyers to download items purchased and payment gateways for easy completion of transactions.
How To Sell Photos Online
Identify the market. If you can take great photographs, you can sell them online for cash.
Bloggers, website owners, stock photo sites, marketing agencies, or people searching for unique, high-quality photos to include in their content are some of the biggest consumers of online photography.
That means you have the potential to sell photos in whatever space these groups are producing content for.
Choose a platform
Once you’re done editing your images, and you’re ready to sell them, you’ll need a list of the best places to sell your stock photography to. There are dozens of stock photography sites where you can upload your photos or illustrations, and get paid every time they’re downloaded.
Each site offers different payments and perks for contributors. Before you enter a legal contract with any of them, research how they handle images, copyright issues, exclusivity terms, and other conditions so you know what you’re getting into.
There are also pros and cons of selling photos online that you need to be aware of. For example, one of the downsides is the volume of images on stock photography sites.
If your work isn’t unique or high-quality, it won’t make any traction. Plus, you’ll need to sell a lot since you don’t make a lot of money from each photo.
The advantage is that your images will be in front of many buyers who could decide to buy them.
Sell On Your Own Photography Site
Alternatively, if you’re tech-savvy, you can sell your photos online yourself by setting up a photography store where buyers come and purchase your images.
If you take this route, you can add tags and keywords for buyers to easily find your photos, or use social media networks and tell people about your photography business.
But that’s not all; you can work with sites that allow customers to print your images on physical items like customized mugs, t-shirts and canvases.
You can also sign up to be an image reviewer, and review images that other photographers submit, or list your photography as a service.
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