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How To Get Paid to Sell Pictures Online [9 Options For (2024)]

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Do you like selling stuff online but don’t know a flexible gig that doesn’t require too much investment in time and equipment?

If you like photography, you can turn your hobby into a profitable side hustle by selling digital images like stock photos or interesting images for editorials and companies. You can even sell your unique photo books if you’re a photographer.

However, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to sell pictures online. Many people use their smartphone cameras to take pictures and sell them online.

If you want to learn how to get started, this guide will walk you through every step and offer nine stock photo sites you can try.

Can You Get Paid to Sell Pictures Online?

Yes, there’s high demand for photos, especially stock photography.

Many companies lean towards using stock photography websites for their images as they produce content for their marketing efforts.

Stock photography refers to images with a specific photo license based on their purpose.

The global stock images market was $3.3 billion in 2020, and data projects that it’ll grow to a value projection of $4.8 billion by 2028.

The expected contributing factors to its growth include blockchain technology, AI, machine learning, and animation production.

How Much Can You Make by Selling Pictures Online?

Stock photo websites generally give an average rate of $0.25 to $0.45 per sold photo. However, the exact amount depends on the site’s royalty rates and pricing system.

Meanwhile, royalty-free photos can sell from $0.10 to $99.50, and photos with an extended license can go up to $500. You can also start a photography business by selling original, high-quality photos.

These rates make stock photography one of the most lucrative side jobs from home.

What You’ll Need to Get Paid to Sell Photos Online

Whether you’re selling stock photography or a photo collection at your own photography website, here are some things you need to prepare to get started.

  • Smartphone: Many smartphones make it easy to capture photos at high resolutions. Consider using your smartphone to take pictures of your subject.
  • Digital Camera: You can also invest in a digital camera to play with the settings and have a more professional feel with your photos.
  • Photo Editing Software: Use software like Adobe Photoshop or Canva to edit, enhance, or polish the quality of your photos.
  • Payment Channels: Prepare your PayPal, Payoneer, or Skrill account, as some platforms only accept digital payment methods.
  • Platforms or Companies to Sell Pictures Online: Join stock photo agencies or create an account on platforms from this guide.
  • Website or Social Media Account: While this is optional, you can create a simple website or a social media page to create a portfolio and showcase your photos.
  • Print-on-Demand Platform: If you want to turn your photos into merchandise, print-on-demand platforms can help you manufacture and ship your items without hassle. 

Where to Get Paid to Sell Pictures Online

 We gathered the nine best places to sell photos on the Internet, so you don’t have to!

1. Alamy

With over 60,000 contributors and over 110,000 buyers, Alamy is a powerhouse for a wide variety of stock photo collections. They also have a mobile app called Stockimo, where you can sell iPhone photos and selfies to earn extra cash.

How Much You Can Make

Alamy doesn’t have a fixed rate per image, as it depends on the buyer and the end use. However, their average license rate is $35 or a 40% commission rate. They pay out monthly if you reach a balance of over $50.

What Makes This Option Great

Alamy is one of the best places for selling photos online due to its massive customer base, allowing your photos to have global exposure. Also, they don’t lock you in and give you a complete creative license.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Alamy takes 50% to 80% of commissions based on the contributor’s commission rate.
  • Payment Methods: PayPal, Skrill, or funds transfer

2. SmugMug Pro

SmugMug Pro is perfect for beginner and professional photographers who want to create a beautifully designed portfolio and sell their photos. They offer paid plans for more features and to help you maximize the platform.

How Much You Can Make

SmugMug’s pricelist tool allows you to set your price based on your photos, print partner, and profit margin. You can earn up to 85% of the difference between your rate and the platform’s default print prices.

What Makes This Option Great

SmugMug offers various tools to enhance images and services to produce prints, products, and digital downloads. You can also manage raw files, share photos online, and store your pictures safely.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Three monthly paid plans: Power ($13), Portfolio ($28), and Pro ($45).
  • Payment Methods: PayPal

3. Shutterstock

If you want to sell photos online, Shutterstock is the leading micro-stock platform of royalty-free stock photos, selling to millions of users worldwide. However, their rates are usually lower since they’re a micro-stock website.

How Much You Can Make

You earn a percentage of the sales from your photos based on the number of your licensed photos. You can make from 15% to 40% based on six levels.

What Makes This Option Great

Signing up is easy, and it’s a good starting platform for beginners learning how to sell pictures digitally. Also, contributors keep their copyright, so you can still sell your images on other platforms.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Contributing images is free. Shutterstock takes the rest of your sale’s commission.
  • Payment Methods: Payoneer, PayPal, and Skrill

4. 500px

500px is a global photography network and marketplace, hosting millions of photographers and selling to over a million customers via their distribution partners. They accept various stock images from animals, portraits, landscapes, food, and more.

How Much You Can Make

You can earn 60% of the net sales of your licensed photos. Meanwhile, you can earn 100% of your net sales under the Awesome and Pro memberships.

What Makes This Option Great

Aside from being a platform to sell digital photos, it’s also a community-based platform where you can follow other photographers, list your images in their virtual marketplace, and join competitions.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: It’s free to contribute photos. They offer two paid memberships: Awesome ($3.99 per month) and Pro ($7.99 per month).
  • Payment Methods: They pay via eCheck, local bank transfer, ACH, wire transfer, and PayPal. Note that payment methods vary per country.

5. Etsy

Etsy is a global marketplace known for finding and selling unique items, but you can also use it to open an online photography shop. With over 30 million users, it’s a good avenue to showcase your photo collections.

How Much You Can Make

Selling on Etsy can help you earn at your desired rate. You get most of the sales since Etsy takes a significantly small percentage of your sales.

What Makes This Option Great

Since Etsy is an online marketplace, they don’t charge high fees, so you receive most of your sales. Plus, you can set your own prices.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Etsy charges different fees, including listing fees ($0.20 for each listed item), transaction fees (6.5%), and an optional subscription fee ($10 monthly). 
  • Payment Methods: Etsy Payments, direct deposits, and PayPal

6. iStock Photo

A screenshot of the istock photo homepage

iStock Photo is another micro-stock platform similar to Shutterstock. To start uploading and selling your stock photos, you need to submit three to six images and pass the quality test. Note that iStock is under Getty Images.

How Much You Can Make

Non-exclusive rates for photos allow you to earn 15%. Meanwhile, exclusive contributors make 25% to 45%, depending on specific download targets.

What Makes This Option Great

The platform doesn’t have strict guidelines, making it an ideal platform for photography newbies. iStock Photo also includes forums and resources to help you sell your photos online. Plus, you retain your photo’s copyright and can share them on another photo-selling site.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: It’s free to contribute to the platform.
  • Payment Methods: PayPal and Payoneer

7. Getty Images

A screenshot of the getty image homepage

Getty Images is a popular, high-end library of creative stock photos. The platform mostly accepts high-quality and unique exclusive images since many brands and publishers buy or subscribe to Getty Images. It’s also a trusted and long-time stock photo site, making it a reliable option for many.

How Much You Can Make

With Getty Images, you can sell photographs online and earn 20%. Licensed photographs cost around $300 to $500, so you can make 20% of the value of your images monthly.

What Makes This Option Great

Getty Images is suited for photographers who produce high-quality work since the platform has high standards. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to see your photos used by big brands since many large companies use Getty Images.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: A Getty Images contributor must complete their tax and payment information before receiving payment.
  • Payment Methods: PayPal and Payoneer

8. Stocksy

A screenshot of the stocky homepage

Stocksy is an artist-owned photography and cinematography co-op that caters to big brands worldwide. Since it’s artist-owned, contributors have a say in the company’s direction and can receive profit-sharing via patronage returns.

How Much You Can Make

When you sell photos online via Stocksy, you can earn 50% on regular purchases of $15 to $400 and 75% on extended licenses costing $100 to $10,800).

What Makes This Option Great

They offer one of the highest rates in the stock photo industry and put artists first by making members co-owners. Plus, you’ll remain a free agent and still have full ownership and copyright of your images.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Contributing to Stocksy is free.
  • Payment Methods: Payoneer, PayPayl, and cheque

9. Adobe Stock

A screenshot of the adobe stock homepage

Formerly known as Fotolia, Adobe Stock is another popular micro-stock platform. Adobe repurchased the stock photo website and integrated it into its creative cloud service. Because of this integration, you can access your photos on the marketplace using other Adobe products.

How Much You Can Make

Adobe Stock pays you 33% of royalties, depending on your earnings per download and the buyer’s plan. So you can earn from $0.33 to $3.30 per month. Meanwhile, you can earn $26.40 per month from buyers with an extended license.

What Makes This Option Great

Besides the exposure your photos get from brands, you receive your royalties immediately, while others require you to wait after a month to send your payment.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: You can join Adobe Stock using a free account.
  • Payment Methods: PayPal, Payoneer, and Skrill

Why You Should Consider Selling Pictures Online As a Side Hustle

What makes selling photos online attractive for many side hustlers? Here are some perks you may want to consider.

  • Flexible Work Schedule: You’re paid per output, so you can do this around your schedule, making it a great side hustle for students and full-time workers.
  • No Need for Costly Equipment: Many use their smartphones to take photos and edit them, so there’s no need to invest in professional equipment and software if you don’t have the means.
  • Many Platforms Available: You can find countless stock websites that pay for photo submissions, starting with the nine websites listed above!
  • High Demand: The high demand for quality photos by companies, publishers, magazines, and more makes this a lucrative side hustle.

Problems With Selling Photos Online 

Although selling photos online can be easy and profitable, it also comes with challenges. Here are some of the problems or difficulties you may encounter.

  • Strict and High Standards: Most of the highest-selling images are well-thought-out, high-resolution photos, so simple and low-quality photos may not sell. Plus, some platforms are strict image guidelines when you upload images.
  • Fixed Rates: Platforms or agencies often have a fixed rate for each photo, so you usually can’t set your price.
  • Copyright Laws: Copyright can be tedious and tricky, and breaching them can cause serious legal issues. Conversely, you could also become a victim of copyright infringement.
  • Finding a Good Platform or Stock Agency: Each company and platform have different protocols and rates, and depending on what you need, it may take time to find the right one and sell well.

How To Get Paid to Sell Pictures Online: Step-By-Step Instructions

Here’s how to sell your photos online in just five steps.

STEP 1: Choose a Niche

Start by choosing a niche so that you can narrow down your market. Specializing on specific photos also makes it easier to sell photos online as you have a defined target audience that needs your images.

If you don’t know which niche to cover, you can begin with your interests. Do you like food, fashion, nature, or architecture? Food-related photos are popular on stock photography sites since they’re in demand by businesses and publishers.

Also, you can conduct keyword research to see topics and terms with high search volume. Then, take photographs related to these keywords. Ubbersuggest and Keywords Everywhere are free keyword research tools you can use.

STEP 2: Join a Platform to Sell Photos Online

After identifying your niche, the next step is to choose stock photo sites to upload high-quality images. You can start with the nine websites listed above.

If you can’t find a suitable platform, you can find more platforms by searching online. You can also choose non-stock photography websites, where you’ll have more control over your price, branding, and images.

Always read their term and conditions, especially their image guidelines, rates, and payment methods.

Do their terms work for you? Do you feel well compensated with their rates? Consider these carefully, and join the platform that answers your needs.

STEP 3: Review the Legalities

Before you upload and sell photos online, always read your platform or agency’s image guidelines, copyright protocols, and other related legalities. Moreover, it’s best to research copyright infringement and how you can prevent breaking the law.

When you sell stock photos to the public, you still have copyright over them as the creator, but you’re giving people the license to use your photos in specific ways. 

Overall, knowing the law prevents you from committing serious copyright infringement. Plus, it’ll help you take action if you become a victim of copyright infringement.

STEP 4: Market Your Photos

Once you’ve uploaded your stock images on stock photo sites, you can promote them via your own website or social media account. When creating a website, you can create an online portfolio to showcase your work or set up an online store to sell them directly.

If you’re using social media, consider creating a separate account or page for your photos so that you can apply proper branding and marketing. Also, It’s better to join Instagram and Pinterest since these are visual-oriented platforms.

You can also promote your photos on creative social platforms like Behance, so other creatives can use or buy your photos and even collaborate with you.

Finally, if you have an extra budget, why not invest in digital ads to boost your website or social media page for more traffic and sales?

STEP 5: Turn Your Photos Into Merchandise (Optional)

If you want to expand this side hustle, you can add your stock photos on merchandise, like t-shirts, mugs, photo prints, and more.

Print-on-demand services, such as Printify, Printful, and JetPrint, make this step easier since they can produce the items, add your images, and ship them to your customers.

All you need is to upload your images, select the items you want, upload them on the platform, and wait for sales. It’s a good strategy if you don’t make much from a stock photo site. Plus, selling merchandise is both marketing and sales for your stock photos. 

Things to Consider When You Sell Pictures Online

Before becoming a photographer as a side hustle, consider the following to see if it’s right for you.

Time and Effort

Even if you don’t take professional photos, you still need time and effort to capture your subjects and make them attractive for people to buy them. For example, if you shoot nature-related photos, you must take the time, money, and effort to travel to locations.

Not an Overnight Success

Earning money from selling photos online takes time, especially if you’re using a stock photography website. Unless your photos are in-demand, desirable, and high-quality, then it can take time before you earn a good amount from this side hustle.

Copyright

Copyright is a serious issue, so you should know what photos you can and can’t upload. So, be aware of the legalities you might face in case of any infringement issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Site to Sell Photos?

The best site to sell photos online depends on what you’re looking for since each stock photography website has different rates, photo guidelines, payment methods, and protocols.

So you must first identify what you need in a stock photo platform and find websites that cater to them.

What Kind of Photos Sell Best?

The majority of the top Shutterstock contributors sell photos of people, events, and vector artwork.

Meanwhile, 500px says their best-selling photos with people consist of images with a single subject, candid poses, wide shots, a person looking away, and unidentified subjects.

Similar Ways to Get Paid

If you don’t think you can sell photos online, why not explore these other online selling options?

  • Sell Clothes Online: Sell used clothes, start a clothing boutique, or create your own clothing brand online.
  • Sell Used Books: Tap into the billion-dollar market of second-hand books by selling them in an online marketplace or your own online shop.
  • How to Sell on Craigslist: Sell a variety of items quickly and easily, from household clutter to rare collectible items.

Wrapping Up

Because of its flexibility and high demand, selling digital photos has become an attractive side hustle for many. However, if you want to sell photos quickly, remember that you must allot time and effort to make your photos unique, desirable, and high-quality.

Hopefully, this comprehensive guide gave you an idea about how to sell your photos online and make a profitable side hustle with this method.

Do you think this side hustle is for you? Let us know in the comments if this was helpful, or share this guide with others if you found it helpful.

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