How To Sell Photographs Online

by | November 4, 2018 | Business, Making Money


Selling your photographs online is a brilliant way to make some side income. Not many people knew you could do this, especially as an amateur…


People have been making money, sometimes a lot of money just selling photos from their camera roll online as a type of freelancer.

You don’t need a top-of-the-range camera or years of experience to do so, you could go out today, take the right photos and sell them right away. All’s you need is a good camera (even a good smartphone), a steady hand and a bit of spare time.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about selling photos online.

which websites can I sell my photos on?

There are hundreds of trusted websites where unknown artists (yourself) can publish their photos so they can be shown to an already warm audience. Licensing your photos is the most popular, and the best way to sell your photos online. This is what these websites do.

The key here is to think like you’re playing chess. Think about how publishers or brands could use your photos. Stock photos that express ideas or challenges tend to do very well.

Here are the top 6 stock photo websites.

1. Envato elements

Envato Elements is first on this list because it’s a platform we’ve personally used here at How To Make Money From Home, and was easy to use as an author and a buyer. Envato Elements has a total of 50 million stock photos and videos, with millions of monthly downloaders.

Envato is pretty simple. A consumer signs up for a monthly membership or annually, which allows them to download images from Envato. The author or the photo gets 50% of all sales, which will come out of the downloader’s monthly/annual payment.

2. Etsy

Etsy allows you to open an online shop and sell whatever you want, as long as it abides with its guidelines. Well selling some of your photos is well within their guidelines, so why not do it?

There are 39.4 million active buyers on Etsy, selling in 234 countries worldwide, so the audience is definitely there. Etsy only takes a mere 5% of the transaction price, leaving you with the remaining 95%. This is a massive upgrade from only taking 50%. This is increased a little if you take payments through the Etsy website, although you could just use PayPal.

The difference between Etsy and these other stock photo websites is that the customers aren’t necessarily there for photos. It would be helpful if you could learn some basic SEO (search engine optimization) to help organically rank your store It may also be a good idea to advertise your store on social media.

3. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a leading stock photography website for selling photos. Shutterstock photos tend to be cheaper and non-exclusive, so don’t expect to earn as much money here. Payouts range from 20%-30% of your sales, depending on how many photos you’ve sold.

Although the percentages aren’t as big as some of the others, Shutterstock has a big audience. In the past 15 years, they’ve paid out over 1 billion dollars to their photographers, and it can put your photos in front of millions of customers.

The key with Shutterstock is to upload as many photos as possible to increase the number of downloads. Quantity is important here.

4. Alamy

Alamy is one of the biggest stock photo websites in the world. With 215 million stock images, videos, 360-degree panoramic images, and vectors. With 60,000 authors and 110,000 buyers, there are more than enough people to sell your photos too.

This may sound like a competitive marketplace, but if you manage to make your photos stand out and relevant, you won’t have a problem selling your photos.

Alamy is pretty much straightforward. They will pay you your cut monthly. You get 50% if you sell Alamy exclusive photos, and 40% for any other photos. Alamy also has an app called “Stockimo”, which allows you to sell selfies and other photos straight from your iPhone.

5. Adobe stock

Abobe stock was one of the first platforms that allowed you to sell photos online. Abode stock is an absolute behemoth of a platform.

The creators of adobe photoshop and lightroom own Abobe stock. The key aspect that makes Adobe stock stand out is its higher percentage payout on sales. They tend to offer between 20%-60%. This is massive considering the number of customers Adobe stock can reach.

As well as offering a very generous royalty payout, Adobe stock doesn’t force you to give exclusive selling rights, which means you can sell your photos on Adobe stock as well as other platforms.

Other methods of selling photos for money

Now you know what websites are the best to sell your photos, now it’s time to learn how to actually sell them.

These websites are pretty straightforward. You make an account on their platform, upload your photos, and take your cut when someone downloads them or they sell.

This is a brilliant way to earn some passive income right from the comfort of your home. All’s you’re doing is taking a few photos, or using the ones from your camera roll. Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you don’t have to do anything else, the stock photo websites will do the rest.

Here are 2 tips to help increase sales:

Discover your own niche

If you develop your own niche, customers will know what to come for you. If your niche is nature, they know that if they come to your Etsy store, or click onto your profile on one of the stock image websites, you’ll have a selection of nature images they can use.

When it comes to choosing your niche, don’t make it too narrow. This may box your work off and limit your customers. For example, if your niche is only taking photos of a full moon on a Tuesday at 6:13 pm at night, this is limiting yourself too much. This may sound cool to you, but the audience really isn’t there.

A good way to find your niche is to have a look at the search volumes for certain topics. Use software such as google trends or keywords everywhere to see what people are searching for. Look for niches with medium to high search volumes, and select whichever niche you’d prefer.

Discovering your own niche also gives you the opportunity to create your own store in the future. If you’ve got your own niche, when you create your online store, you can build your store around your niche whilst having a load of stocked photos.

Create your own website

We’ve already mentioned you can create your own Etsy store, but another way to sell your photos is to create your own store from scratch. This way, you keep all the profits and don’t have to pay the middle man. This is a brilliant way to become self-employed and break out of the rat race.

Creating your own store may scare some of you, but it really isn’t very difficult. If you’re using a platform such as Shopify, it’s pretty much straightforward. You could have a website up in just a few hours. If you’d like to make a Shopify store step-by-step, click here.

The only difficult part would be is bringing the customers to your store. When it comes to bringing in potential buyers, there are only a few methods you can go with:

  1. Learn SEO(search engine optimization): This is the organic audience. If you manage to learn SEO, you can rank your store above your competitors so when people search for your niche, you will come out on top.

2. Learn SEM (search engine optimization): This is paid audience. This is usually used if you want faster results. The more money you pay, the more customers you will get. You will usually set up a google ad, or an ad on social media. If you are interested in setting up ads to reach maximum customers on social media, click the article below that relates to you.

3. Advertise on your social media: If don’t know SEO or SEM, you can always just advertise on your social media. People are making bank selling photos on Instagram, as well as advertising on their social media.

You can pay to do this (like mentioned above), or do this organically. If you’ve got a good following across your social media platforms, then that’s free custom. If not, you can grow your socials without having to pay a penny. Instagram is probably your best bet when it comes to advertising your photos since Instagram is revolved around photos.

Organically growing your Instagram isn’t very hard, you just need to learn the basics and be consistent.

what equipment do I need?

All’s you really need to sell photos is a good camera, some spare time and a steady pair of hands. You’ll need a camera will high resolution, but this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. You can pick up a brilliant camera such as the DSLR camera for cheap. The better the quality of your photos, the more you will sell.

Although, some smartphones have an extremely high quality such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, Huawei 930, and the iPhone 11. These cameras could be mistaken for expensive photography equipment.

do I need to be a professional photographer?

The simple answer is no. Anyone from a student, to a photographer with 35 years of experience can make money selling photos. The best part about these stock photo websites is that the customers don’t really need to know anything about you.

If they like your content, they will click download, and you get paid. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or if you’re a so-called “photographer”, you just need to be able to take good photos.

how much will I get paid?

There isn’t really an answer for this because it depends on what you’re selling your photos on and what they’ve been bought for.

For example, on Alamy (one of the stock websites), if someone uses your photos online, it’s £20. For a book cover, it’s £150, and for an advert, it’s £500. You get around 50% of this. Another photo website will be the same, some not as generous as others.

If you’re selling photos from your Etsy store or your Shopify store, then you’ll be setting your own prices and keeping all the profits. So there isn’t a direct answer to this question, but depending on what website or method you use, you’ll find yourself earning a good amount of passive side income.

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