If you’re a photographer, you likely have thousands of pictures stored on your computer. Instead of letting them sit there and collect “dust,” why not instead use them to make money? One of the best ways to do so is to sell photos online.
If you worry that your forte is in photography and not technology, there’s no need to fear. We’re here to help you start selling your photos online. After reading this article, you should have a firm understanding of how to sell photos online, allowing you to make money as a professional photographer in no time. We’ve outlined a few of the essential things that you need to know, as well as some of the best photography websites for uploading and selling images.
Before we jump into the photography websites that you can use to sell your photos, it’s best that you first understand how the process works.
When selling online, most photographers will participate in stock photography. According to Shutterstock, stock photos are “images that anyone can license for creative projects.” Webopedia elaborates, saying stock photos “are professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.”
So, essentially, there are two ways to make money as a photographer. The first is a custom photoshoot, where a client requests specific pictures. Someone like a wedding photographer would fall into this category. The second option is to upload high-quality images to a stock photo site, where anyone can then buy and use them. Bloggers who need specific photos for their SEO content are an example of one such group who would use stock sites.
Ownership rights are non-exclusive. Stock photo websites are much like purchasing a T-shirt from a clothing store. Although you love the T-shirt, so too will dozens of other people who also buy the product. Thus, when a client buys an image from a stock photography site, they understand that they are not the only ones who will have access to the picture.
In the past, photographers were limited to using microstock photography sites, such as Adobe and Fotolia. These stock photography sites buy photos at low prices. Photographers first needed to submit an application to the sites and be accepted before they could upload their stock images.
Unfortunately, the profits associated with microstock photography are quite low. Microstock sites are known to take up to 70% of each sale, leaving photographers were a mere 30% of the commission.
However, while microstock sites still exist, they are growing outdated. More and more websites now exist to help photographers make money. Below, you’ll find some of the best options available to help you sell photos online.
When it comes to image availability, Shutterstock is one of the best companies out there. The site has paid photographers more than $500 million to-date. Shutterstock also pays more for more successful photos. In addition to photographs, Shutterstock also accepts HD and 4K video formats. Shutterstock pays in tiered formats. The more lifetime earnings, the more you’ll earn per image. For first-time sellers, an on-demand image can yield up to $1.88.
2. Your Own Website
Another way that you can sell photos online is by setting up your own website. Taking the time to set up your own website could be worthwhile. You can set your own prices, allowing you to maximize your returns and receive fair value for your digital downloads.
Although you could take the time to set up your own website through WordPress, you could also consider using something like SmugMug. SmugMug is a platform for photographers designed explicitly to meet their needs. Not only can you sell photos on the site, but you’ll also receive access to features such as unlimited storage as well. Note that SmugMug utilizes subscription plans. You’ll pay a monthly or annual fee for the right to be able to upload an unlimited number of images.
Another excellent platform to help build your own photography website is PhotoShelter. Like SmugMug, PhotoShelter is a subscription-based service. You can connect directly to your WordPress and social media sites via plug-ins. PhotoShelter also comes with editing tools, allowing you to make changes directly to your photos online. Best of all is the fact that you’ll keep up to 92% of the selling price that you set.
Dreamstime operates as both a stock and microstock website. If you’re looking to sell non-exclusive photos, the base commission for the sale will be 25%. However, if you’re interested in selling exclusive content, you’ll receive 60% per download.
One of the other exciting things about Dreamstime is the fact that the company will pay you to upload your material, regardless of whether you make a sale. You’ll receive 20 cents for each upload that’s accepted. It’s not much, but if you plan to upload hundreds of photos, the amount could add up quickly.
The price per download ranges by file size from 34 cents to $2.24. Dreamstime also allows photographers to upload pictures from their iOS or Android smartphone.
4. Fine Art America
Fine Art America is unique because you can sell a variety of goods, not just digital photo downloads. For instance, you can sell things such as phone cases, apparel, and lifestyle products with your image on them. The site allows photographers to set their own prices. The site acts as a marketplace so that you can post your listings on your own website and social media pages. You’ll keep 100% of your asking price. The company adds a 30% markup on your asking price, which it keeps.
There is no fee associated with selling on Fine Art America. If you wish to use the site’s cloud-based storage solutions, you can subscribe to a premium plan.
Etsy doesn’t operate as a stock photo site. Instead, it is an online marketplace geared explicitly toward entrepreneurs and inventors. The site allows you to sell your photos to buyers directly. In addition to digital downloads, you can also sell physical prints to buyers as well. However, you are responsible for printing and paying to ship the item to the customer. You’ll also need to pay seller’s fees of 20 cents for every item in your shop. You’ll also pay an additional 5% of the total purchase price, which you set.
6. Adobe Stock
If you use the Adobe suite, you’ll want to consider selling your photos directly through Adobe Stock. Adobe Stock allows you to work with other products on the Adobe Creative Platform. This includes programs such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.
Adobe Stock also features an auto-keyword tool that can help connect you with buyers. You’ll only receive about a third of the final sale price, but it could be worth it to have access to so many other tools. Adobe can only pay via Skrill or PayPal. Earnings per download can range from 33 cents to $26.40 for a photo.
If you are looking to add some excitement to your photography career, you’ll want to look into signing up for Foap. Foap is a site that solicits user input for picture requests. The company then turns these requests into “missions.” People must then go on the “mission” and take a photo. They can do so using their camera and smartphone.
Foap charges $10 for someone to submit a mission request. Upon completing the mission, the photographer will receive $5. If the photographer’s photo “wins” the mission, he or she could receive up to $200 in prizes. Many Fortune 500 companies use Foap to find pictures for marketing campaigns.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Alamy site is that there are more than 100 million images available. Alamy has a monstrous database that can connect you with a wide array of buyers. If you are a student selling on Alamy, you’ll receive 100% of the commission. Professional photographers earn 50% commissions. The price for online photos on Alamy starts at $20.
Another cool feature of Alamy is the fact that the company partnered with media agencies. If you happen to be in a location when a newsworthy event occurs, begin snapping photos and uploading them to the site. Alamy will pay you for your live news images.
Like Foap, EyeEm provides “missions” that photographers can go on to capture unique photos. The site also operates as a stock photo website. EyeEm relies on artificial intelligence to find the best images to suit a customer’s needs.
EyeEm also has straightforward Model Release forms, making it one of the most accessible sites for you to start selling your photos. Photographers can earn $20 to $250 per photo, depending on how the customer intends to license the picture.
Looking to Earn Passive Income?
If you have a hobby, why not use your skills to help you earn extra cash? No matter whether your hobby is photography or gaming, you could turn your skills into something that provides you with a quick payout.