The Ultimate Guide To Selling Your Photos Online

April 24, 2023
9 min read
The Ultimate Guide To Selling Your Photos Online

Transforming your passion for photography into a career is now easier than ever. Capture images on the go and monetize them online - learn how to turn gorgeous shots into cash today!

How to Sell Your Photos in 3 Easy Steps

1. Choose your niche

Before you can start selling photos online, you need to decide what kind of photos you will offer. Consider your style, the types of images you specialize in, and the market demand for those types of images.

You can choose from many different types of photos:

  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife and Animals
  • Macro Photography
  • Cityscapes
  • Portraits and Family Photos
  • Aerial Shots
  • Architecture Photography
  • Food Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Sports Photography
  • Abstract Photography
  • Candid Photos
  • Documentary Photography
  • Automotive Photography
  • Urban and Street photography

2. Choose a Platform

These platforms allow you to upload and share your photos and access a large network of potential buyers looking for high-quality and unique photos.

Popular options include stock photography sites, third-party marketplaces, and your own website. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to research the pros and cons before making a decision.

3. Create a Portfolio

Now it’s time to gather your best photos and create a portfolio of images you can use to showcase your work. This collection will be used to attract potential buyers, so make sure you include only your very best shots.

Additionally, it’s also important to provide accurate metadata, such as titles, descriptions, and keywords that accurately reflect the image's content. This will help make your portfolio more searchable and easier for buyers to find.

Best places to sell photos online

There are plenty of options available to photographers when it comes to selling their photos online. Here is a list of 15 great platforms to help you capitalize on your talent:

1. Etsy

Etsy is a popular destination for photographers looking to monetize their photos. The website boasts over 50 million active users and allows you to set up your own shop selling digital downloads or physical prints. With a straightforward pricing model and support for a range of payment methods, it's a great option for photographers who are just starting out.

Selling prints on Etsy is a cost-effective way to make money - you only give up 5% of your transaction price, which also covers the shipping fee. And if that wasn't enough, when using their payment system, an additional 3% + $0.25 is taken from each sale!

2. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is another leading marketplace with millions of customers and billions of downloads. Photographers have the opportunity to license their photos non-exclusively or exclusively, depending on their needs.

Offers contributors an attractive base royalty rate of 20%-30% based on gross revenue and is one of the most well-known stock photography sites. Shutterstock also offers a referral program where photographers can earn extra money by referring new customers. What’s more, the payment process is simple and efficient, with quick payouts.

3. Alamy

Launched in 1999, Alamy is one of the oldest stock photo sites on the web. It has a massive library of images available for purchase, so you’ll have no trouble finding an audience for your work. It offers a simple platform for uploading and managing your photos and various subscription plans, making it easy to find something that works with your budget.

Alamy offers a simple, streamlined payment system that makes it easy to get paid. Contributors can earn up to 50% of direct sales for exclusively licensed images and 40% for non—exclusive— without needing any long-term contracts or commitments!

4. Adobe Stock

A subsidiary of Adobe, this site specializes in stock images and vectors that can be used in creative projects. You’ll get the chance to license your photos to individuals or companies so that you can make money from multiple sources.

They offer millions of high-quality images licensed for commercial use and provide an intuitive search and preview feature. They also offer customizable pricing options and a royalty-free license agreement, making it easy to monetize your photos.

Offers 20-63% royalties depending on your level (portfolio size) and allows you to keep up with exclusive stock requests from Adobe customers worldwide.

5. iStockphoto

This popular stock photo site is part of the Getty Images family, so you’ll get exposure to a large international audience. You’ll also have access to exclusive tools and resources to help market your images better.

Photographers can look forward to a potential payout of between 15% and 45%, depending on if their photos are sold as exclusive or non-exclusive.

6. Foap

With over three million passionate creatives already tapped into Foap, there are plenty of opportunities to share what you've got with the world - and make a few bucks in the process!

The app offers multiple options for how photographers can monetize their work:

  • Individual pieces at $5 each
  • Missions (cash prizes up to $2,500!)
  • Showcase your artistry on partner platforms such as Adobe and Alamy

7. Dreamstime

Dreamstime has been a leader in the creative stock market for nearly two decades, providing high-quality images to large and small clients. With millions of registered members, over half a million photographers contributing photos, illustrations, and vectors, as well as 20 million unique website visitors every month - there's no doubt Dreamtime is an industry powerhouse!

Dreamstime is a great option for those looking to turn their photography into income, but it takes dedication and commitment. Contributors can earn up to 50% commission with non-exclusive photos or even more (up to 55%) if they commit exclusively to the site for at least six months – plus extra money through referral payouts!

8. 123RF

Another well-known site for selling photos and other digital media, 123RF has been around since 2005. It offers a wide selection of images that can be used in creative projects, so you’ll have the chance to make money from multiple sources.

Contributors can gain exposure from over five million buyers across 44 countries and 17 languages, giving them unique opportunities to earn revenue on their work. Non-exclusive content makes it easy for contributors to monetize their images through other platforms, with potential profits ranging between 30% and 60%.

9. 500px Prime

500px Prime is ideal for photographers looking to make money from their work without sacrificing quality. The website provides access to millions of high-resolution images and offers royalty-free licensing options that make it easy to monetize your photos. They also offer competitive commission rates and customizable pricing models.

This site offers photographers a 70% commission rate for their work sold through this platform’s marketplace.

10. Getty Images

Photographers will have access to the world’s leading photo agency with a global network of customers and buyers. Getty also provides an exclusive collection of curated images only available through their site.

With Getty, photographers can sell their photos on a non-exclusive basis or grant exclusive rights. Not only that, but the submission process is streamlined and simple with high-speed image uploading.

Contributors should be aware that the standards to become a partner are more rigorous than other stock photo sites, yet rewards include up to 45% commissions on qualified images.

11. Can Stock Photo

Can Stock Photo is an online stock photo marketplace that offers hundreds of thousands of high-quality images from over 50,000 photographers. It provides a range of customizable pricing options and royalty-free license agreements, making it easy to monetize your photos.

This platform can be an incredible financial opportunity for stock photographers! You earn a generous $5 reward each time your referral sells 50 photos. Any photo you sell is also listed on Fotosearch – one of the top industry-leading agencies in stock photography.

12. Stocksy

Stocksy is a great option for photographers who want to get maximum value out of their work. The company specializes in high-end stock photography and offers competitive commission rates, customizable pricing models, and royalty-free license agreements. It also provides access to millions of photos licensed for commercial use.

This unique stock photo site offers publishers and creatives a reliable source of high-quality images that are 100% exclusive—so you can be sure the photographs will never appear anywhere else on the internet!

Contributors get an attractive payout, too; 50% royalty with standard licenses and 75% when extended licenses apply. Discover how rewarding turning pro can be by becoming part of this popular mid-range platform today!

13. SmugMug

SmugMug allows photographers of any level to turn their passion into profit. With an easy-to-use portfolio and sales platform, you can keep 85% of each sale - plus have access to valuable tools designed specifically for growth within the industry. It's time to start selling those stunning shots!

14. EyeEm

EyeEm is an amazing platform for photographers and videographers to share their vision with the world while having a shot at international recognition. Not only can you use EyeEm as a marketplace to license your work worldwide, but big brands like Airbnb and Spotify also book photoshoots through it!

With over 25 million artists from 150 countries ready to purchase photos or videos they desire via 50% commission offers - this space has become one of the best places online to sell stock photography today.

15. Zenfolio

Zenfolio offers photographers an easy and effective way to show, manage, and sell their photos online. All you need is a monthly subscription plan starting at just $5 per month – with this comes the ability to build a professional website in no time!

You'll be able to attract new customers and offer both digital and print options for your photography work while earning a 7% commission on every sale.

Different Licensing Rights to Photos

Owning your photography's copyright gives you the final say on how it can be used. When selling online, instead of exchanging ownership for cash, license the right to use your photo in specific ways dictated by you!

Editorial use

Permission to use in any type of publication, including magazines, newspapers, newsletters, websites, blogs, or books.

Commercial use

This license allows customers to use the photos for product marketing, promotions, advertisements, and other commercial purposes.

Retail use

Retail use grants permission to reproduce and sell a physical product using the photo. Examples of this type of use include prints, posters, and other items like pillows, mugs, or t-shirts that feature the photo.

Exclusive rights

Exclusive rights are the most expensive type of photo license. It provides exclusive photo usage to the person who purchased it, and no one else can use it.

Non-exclusive rights

Non-exclusive rights generally have no set time limits so that you can sell the same photo repeatedly. The buyer is usually granted a limited license to use the image for specific purposes like websites, presentations, marketing materials, or other commercial purposes.

Royalty-free

This is the most common license for selling photos online, and it grants a non-exclusive and perpetual right to use the image without paying additional royalties. It's great for customers who want to use an image multiple times in different types of media or projects.

Rights managed

A one-time fee unlocks exclusive use of an image with certain parameters – but if more extensive distribution or other purposes arise, additional licenses are available to ensure that you get exactly what you need.

Turn Your Photos into Cash

Taking and selling photos is a great way to make some extra money on the side. With so many different ways to sell your photos online, there's no excuse not to give it a try.

If you're passionate about photography and have a knack for taking good pictures, then selling photos might be the perfect online business idea for you. Who knows, with enough effort, you could even turn it into a full-time gig. So what are you waiting for? Start snapping away and start making some cash!

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