“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”— Ansel Adams
If photography is your hobby, your side gig, or full-time hustle, there are a plethora of ways to make money from your images; from stock photo sites, arts and craft marketplaces, to social media platforms. Below are the most popular websites that can help you turn your photos into cash.
1. Sell Photos on Your Own Website
The number one best option to sell photos online is on your website. The advantages of selling your work on your own website are:
- You can fix your competitive prices.
- No need to give fees or commission.
- You have 100% control over your content.
- You can define your terms and conditions.
However, there are other associated costs, such as web hosting, themes, and marketing.
If you don’t have a website, you can use platforms such as Shopify, Wix, and Weebly to start. WordPress is a great option for photographers to create their own website. With more than 55,300 plugins, it’s easier than ever to set up a store to sell your own work without sacrificing the prestige of your brand by selling on other stock photography websites. After creating your website, you need to showcase the photos beautifully to attract visitors and convince them to buy your images. To sell your photos on your own website, you should be already fairly well-known and have built up a community around your work.
Shutterstock has been a popular site for over 15 years to buy stock photos online. 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, but you keep the copyright so you can sell elsewhere. You can also earn as an affiliate by referring to other photographers or customers to the site, and earn each time they sell or buy images.
3. Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock (formerly Fotolia) is a stock photo marketplace by the creator of the most popular photo editing software, Photoshop, and Lightroom. This microstock website was initially released in 2015. The thing you’ll like most about Adobe Stock is their royalty share, which is higher than other online shops. Adobe Stock offers a royalty of 33 percent for photos and 35 percent for vector art. You can deposit these royalties into your bank account after you’ve reached a threshold of $25. Adobe Stock is integrated into Adobe’s apps, making it more likely your photo will get noticed.
Alamy is another great platform to sell your stock photos. It offers quality images at much higher prices than microstock sites such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Furthermore, commission rates are some of the best in the industry at 50% for exclusive images, and 40% for non-exclusive images. In addition to the lucrative commissions, Alamy partners with several media agencies that allow you to sell live news images. If you happen to be where breaking news happens, you get to be paid live news images too.
5. iStock Photo
iStock is the micro-stock offshoot owned by Getty Images. It is a popular photo library that sells photos to more than 1.5 million customers worldwide. The main benefit iStock offers is the lack of exclusivity; photographers can upload their images to iStock, and still sell them elsewhere. iStock has a base payout of 15% for photos and 20% for videos and illustrations. You can earn up to 45% for each sale as an exclusive contributor.
6. Getty Images
Getty Images is one of the world’s largest photo agency. It contains unbelievable quality images and has an impressive range of clients. You’ll often see Getty Images used in news articles. The best thing about them is the photo sale price is fantastic, even for small resolution images. So even though the commission is only 20%, you can still make a decent amount. However, images are exclusive, so you cannot sell images anywhere else if they have been uploaded to Getty Images. Another plus is that the approval process for photos is considered more lenient than some other sites.
This site has over 110 million files on offer, with almost 100,000 more added every day. The royalties payable vary between 30 percent and 60 percent depending on your level of contribution. This means that the more photos you upload, the higher your payout. If you upload less than 999 images to the site, you’ll earn 30 percent, which equates to $0.216 per download. If you upload over 1 million images, you’ll receive 60 percent, which equates to $0.432 per download.
In the stock photography world, Dreamstime is a reputable player. Dreamstime lets you sell photos, illustrations, videos, and even audio clips. The base commission for non-exclusive photos is 25%. For exclusive photos, you will earn 60% per download and also get paid 20 cents for each accepted upload allowing you to make money before you even make your first sale! As an added incentive, Dreamstime also offers photography and design contests that allow you to win prizes for your work. To make uploading photos easy, you can also use the Apple and Android apps to upload photos on the fly.
Bigstock is a fast, easy-to-use marketplace for quality stock images. It offers over 92 million royalty-free photographs and illustrations from talented photographers and artists around the globe, available for almost any purpose. BigStockPhoto was founded in 2004 and it was acquired by Shutterstock in 2009. BigStockPhoto adopted a fresh new look and a shorter name, Bigstock, in 2010. Bigstock Photo lets you sell your photos online and earn anywhere from 50 cents to $25 per photo and 30% of the commission for images purchased on a partner website. It’s possible to sell images for almost every image category.
10. Can Stock Photo
Another excellent place to sell photos online is Can Stock Photo. This platform offers relatively cheap prices for images. Contributors, however, are paid generously with a 40% retention for each image sold. Moreover, there are no submission fees or monthly costs. To submit photos, users must complete a simple application and submit 3 images. It should be noted, however, that contributors can only withdraw earnings when they have a balance of more than $50. In addition, users retain full rights to their images–they can be freely redistributed to other platforms. Can Stock Photo has just under 1 million active members, and boasts an easy-to-use platform and submission system.
The 500px website is both a photography community and a platform from which to sell photos. Getting started on 500px is pretty simple. Just set up a free account and add your images. Also, watch out for contests to help you earn more and gain additional exposure. Moreover, users can sell their images directly through licensing. There are no submission fees, and the commission is split between exclusive, and non-exclusive images. The rates are 60% for exclusive image rights, which is quite attractive. Even the lower rate of 30% for non-exclusive photos is comparable to other stock sites. The 500px community is thriving, and images submitted are also distributed through Getty Images.
Depositphotos — is a commercial platform that brings authors of high-quality licensed stock photos, graphics, vectors and videos together with appreciative buyers. It was founded on 2009, has 145+ billion files and clients over 192 countries. It’s free to sign up and can begin selling after you pass their exam. Your royalty payments are based on how many photos you sell each month and it can range from 34% of the selling price for entry-level sellers and up to 42% for the most successful photographers.
13. Social Media
Social media is not only for entertainment but also a powerful business platform for selling products and services. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are all ways with which you can sell photos online. Facebook has a myriad of options, such as Facebook Marketplace, and even Facebook business pages. In select countries, Instagram allows businesses to create shopping feeds on their pages. Plus, you can always direct interested buyers to your own website. The possibilities are endless with the potential to reach millions. Moreover, the cost to promote and sell photos through social media is low compared to the commission rates on stock sites.
Selling photography can be a small side hustle you do for passive income. Or it can morph into your full-time gig. It really depends on your goals, and the type of photographs that you work with.