Most professional photographers have an online store or page to showcase his/her creation and sell those to customers. Even a beginner can use stock photography sites to earn money through it. However, the entire process might seem a bit overwhelming to you the first time.
If you have been looking for ways of how to sell your photographs online, you probably know some basic information regarding this. Although there are many websites for stock images, not all of them are worth trying.
Now, if you are to make the most out of your photography skills and effort, you should definitely check these top sites out where professional photographers also upload stock images for money. You will also get a basic idea about those sites and their payroll policies.
Is Selling Photos Online Profitable in 2023?
For a full-time business, no, it’s not. But if you are considering it for your pocket money, stock sites can get you a decent amount of money if you are consistent in uploading images and your creations are bought frequently.
Businesses take a while to bring profits, and the photography business isn’t any different.
You may not get responses as you would expect even if you keep uploading new images consistently. But after 6 months or later, you should be able to earn a decent amount of pocket money. However, for a full-time living, you will have to wait for at least 1 year or more.
Your uploaded images on stock sites will get you more than $0.10 per photo sold. This can go up to $99 depending on the agencies. However, the average earning per photo would be around $0.35.
Different stock image sites offer as little as $0.05 to highest $0.25 for uploading images on their sites. So, from uploading alone, you will get some amount of money.
As a beginner, you should focus on how much money you can earn just by uploading on different sites.
If you have a targeted amount to make, then calculate how many photos you will have to upload per month to meet that target. Don’t aim for anything overwhelming too soon.
If you stay consistent, you should earn around $200 after 6 months or more. Earnings will be in four figures if your photos get sold on a regular basis, but for this, you will have to wait for at least 1-2 years or more.
What Types of Photos Get Most Sales Online?
Blog sites, small to medium-sized websites, as well as different brands buy stock photos from photography sites. When it comes to getting more specific on what type of photos people mostly purchase, the list is pretty long.
And knowing the niches is extremely important because you want to make money out of them. If you shoot photos that people show less interest in, then all your time, effort, and money will be wasted. Some of the most downloaded photography niches are –
The internet is loaded with mouth-watering and delicious foods. Various recipes, food-related utensils and accessories, kitchen decor, food blogs, food-based app services, online-based food and catering services, food nutrition, fitness-based sites use images of this particular niche.
This niche even accepts empty unwashed plates. So, this particular niche is a high-potential one. If you are really good at night or food photography, you may opt for this category and upload food images to your stock image site.
But keep in mind that as the niche is very popular, it’s highly competitive as well. You will have to be really good at food photography and wait a bit longer to start earning from it.
I personally collect a lot of different stuff. From various sources, I always see a lot of photos of cities, towns, buildings, and people commuting. Capturing cityscapes isn’t that difficult. So, if you are a beginner photographer and want to sell photos online, you can dive into this niche.
Although the competition is high for this one too, if you choose attractive locations and spots, it won’t take much time to start earning from city photography. You can sell your photos through websites or online marketplaces easily.
Pets and Animals Photography
If you randomly scroll on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or other similar sites, you will find 1 pet photo out of 10 without a doubt. Photos of cats, dogs, birds, and other pets are pretty much everywhere. People find pets adorable, and can’t resist giving love or like react, or doing double-tap.
Whether you already have pets in your house or you are an animal lover, you can take advantage of it and learn how to take stunning and great-looking pet photos. Impress the world by uploading those images to your preferable stock image sites.
The pet niche is one of the most competitive ones. So, it may take a while for you to get the revenue out of it.
It’s a no-brainer that nature photos hit people the most. If you search for Wallpapers on Google, there will be multiple nature wallpapers on the first page. And the demand for nature photographs is increasing.
If you take great landscapes and nature photos, you should opt for this niche. Not everyone can capture great-looking landscapes. If you are above average, you can use websites for photographers to sell photos and earn a great amount of money from it.
You may have guessed it. People take nature photos when they are on a trip, which is a common scenario. Images from around the world at most demanding and popular places and spots always have high demand in this photography industry.
There is a lot of outdoor, campaign, hiking, and backpacking sites that seek quality travel images related to their contents.
Similar to pet photos, kids’ photos are extremely popular and have a lot of demand for quality images. There are tons of parenting and child-related sites that look for baby photos.
Adult images also have demand in this industry, but not similar to kids photographs. Images of people of different cultures, races, backgrounds, and religions are some of the most downloaded ones on stock photography sites.
People walking photos have great demand in businesses. Someone walking with a laptop, writing on a desk, speaking, having group conversation, etc., type photos are very popular and widely found.
Automobiles photography is trendy, interesting, and challenging. A good part of commercial photography covers automotive, which includes vehicles and their different gears and parts. Thus, this can help enliven the product.
Such photography needs some insight and observant skills of the photographer so that s/he can understand what the target customers want to see and know. Also, being creative and working out of the mainstream will pay your hard work off.
Some automotive photographers collaborate with manufacturers to capture their products’ features, special attributes.
How to Sell Photos Online? Step-by-Step Guide
If you don’t know where to start, this section will help you to understand the entire process.
1. Identify Your Niche
When it comes to choosing a niche, you have two options – either go for the niche that you find the most interesting or pick a profitable niche even though you aren’t much familiar with it. If you go with the second option, you will have to learn some basics of shooting photographs of that particular niche.
- Follow the Niche You Find Pleasure to Work on: If you belong to this photography industry, you should already have a preferred photography style and niche where you find pleasure. Do some research on that niche if it’s potential and profitable or not. If yes, half the work is done.
- Research Different Niches: However, if you haven’t figured out which particular niche you have the most interest in, it’s time to decide on which niche you will be working for.
- There are several niches you can choose from – foods, pets, people, sports, nature, travel, fashion, business, architecture, etc. If you have read the previous section, you must have got a brief idea of those niches.
- Follow Professional Photographers Sites: Also, you should follow famous or popular photographers and see how they themed their online photography store or page.
- You will notice that they all are pretty consistent when it comes to photography. There will be no one well-known photographer who showcases photographs of different niches. Meaning, you will have to only work on a particular niche to sell stock photos.
- Use Keyword Research Tools: Be sure to get help from online Keyword Research tools to know the demand of a particular niche. Keywords Everywhere, SEMRush, etc. are the most popular tool for keyword research.
2. Start Photography
Once you’ve selected the niche, it’s time you roam around different locations and places to capture photos that reflect that niche. If you are a beginner, it would be better to learn how to capture the best photos, be it watching tutorials or working under a professional photographer.
3. Select Your Best Stock Images
Obviously, you aren’t going to upload all the photos online. It’s really important that you make a good impression on the customers or whoever visits your online store or page. Be sure to set certain standards for your niche, and only select those photos that meet those standards.
Once you start to sell photos for money, consider yourself as a brand, and act accordingly. Just like professional photographers, keep up the consistency while producing high-quality stock images that make an appeal to customers.
4. Create an Account
This step is pretty straightforward and self-explained. Open an account on the website from where you will get the most benefit. You may have to submit sample images to get approval. Again, select one of your best photos.
The process may take some time. Once you get the approval, you are ready to upload photos online.
5. Integrate Ecommerce into Your Portfolio
Apart from showcasing your creation on any third-party stock image site, you should also consider opening your own website or portfolio and turn it into an e-commerce site to get the most out of your time, effort, and investment.
This will help you to establish your work as a brand. You will have control of making your own website or brand logo, how you would like to showcase your works and target your preferred customers.
If you already have a portfolio, you can use digital tools that turn the portfolio into an e-commerce site. Also, there are options like Shopify to help you with building an e-commerce platform. Use tools to make your store more appealing and attractive to quickly sell photographs online.
6. Keep up with Trends
As you will have to compete with the best professional photographers out there, staying on top of the latest trends in the world of photography is a must. The sooner you will identify the changes and catch up with the trend, the better you will be able to compete with others.
So, don’t just focus on your work. Keep your eyes open to how others are doing and what changes are coming in the stock photography world.
7. Use Multiple Platforms
Not all stock photography websites would demand uploading your images exclusively on their sites. This is a huge plus for you to sell photographs online. You can showcase your creation on multiple stock sites. Upload images on multiple sites, the number of total downloads will increase, thus your earnings too.
Even if you don’t feel like uploading images on different sites and want to stick with only one site, you will still have to do some marketing to promote your stock photography platform. It can be done using Instagram or other social media channels.
Where to Sell Photos – The 10 Best Places to Sell Photos Online in 2022
These are the stock photography sites with the most views and downloads. The price policy might be different depending on the factors such as the number of visitors, popularity, and competition level.
1. ShutterStock – Most popular stock photo websites around
The reason why I enlisted Shutterstock at the top is because of its impressive payouts of $500 million in the last 15 years. That means this website allows you to earn a significant amount of money selling photos online.
Even though the photos on this website are non-exclusive, meaning it allows photographers to upload the same images on other sites as well.
Shutterstock doesn’t always charge customers for downloading photos. Customers only have to pay when they need photos of large quantities. That’s why images on this site get the highest number of views. The chances are high that people will like your work and want to purchase in larger quantities than other stock images websites.
But, don’t expect to earn anything overwhelming from this site unless you are getting a good number of regular viewers. Shutterstock offers 20% to 30% commission per image, which is quite low. But again, if it picks up a lot of traffic, you can earn a great amount of money from this site alone.
Factors like the number of times your images get downloaded each month will affect your earnings too.
Additionally, they also offer an affiliate program where you can earn even by bringing new customers and photographers for them.
One of the benefits that this site offers for photographers is that you will still have the copyright of your creation, meaning you will be in control all the time.
As a beginner, you might have to face difficulties to make it to their site. Popular stock images sites make it difficult for new and aspiring photographers to make money through their websites, and Shutterstock is no exception.
But, as they don’t limit you to selling your creation exclusively to them, it’s worth giving it a try.
- Relatively easier and user-friendly to sell your photos
- Being the most popular stock image site, it picks up a huge traffic
- Professional photographers and designers trust and get images from Shutterstock a lot
- Shutterstock sell photos while giving you the copyright and control to use images somewhere else
- Relatively low pay rates
2. Adobe Stock – Best for high demand digital assets
If you use any of Adobe products for your photo editing or designing purposes, Adobe Stock can be the most convenient place to showcase your creativity and sell photos online. You can easily add images, illustrations, and videos to Adobe Stock from the Lightroom CC as well as Adobe Bridge.
Since Adobe also owns Fotolia, your images will be added there as well to get the most attention from the audience. If you upload images on this site, those will become a part of the Adobe Stock library. You can access those images from any Adobe product.
Adobe doesn’t mind if you also showcase the images somewhere else; you will always have the copyright. Plus, they will give you 33% profits selling stock photos. However, the earning percentage range would be between 20%-60% depending on the quality of images and skills.
All you will need to do is to open an Adobe Stock contributor account, and you’re all set.
As Adobe is the place where the world’s most talented photographers upload their images, it will be tough for you to sell pictures online if you’re an average photographer. This would need a lot of hard work to get attention from visitors around the world.
- Great support from the company
- The largest photographer community
- Ideal website for photographers to sell photos
- Images can be accessed from any Adobe product
- Trusted and reliable plugin used by professional photographers
- Competition is quite hard as the world’s best photographers will be there
3. Getty Images
With 1.5 million users from different brands and publishers in over 200 countries, Getty Images is one of the higher-end stock photo sites in this industry. For its huge audience, most prestigious photographers get the chance to show their creations and sell photos for money.
You must be above 18 to upload images, videos, and vectors in Getty Images. To become a contributor, you will have to download their mobile app and fill the application with 3-6 sample images. They will review the application and accept if your creations meet their standard.
Since Getty Images owns iStock as a microstock photography site, you will have the advantage of reaching the audience of both sites.
Once the application is accepted, you can upload images. For royalty-free photos, Getty Images provides 15%-20% commission. Photos on Getty Images can be sold for hundreds of dollars. So, even though the percentage is low, the total profit will be much more compared to other stock photography sites.
You can also license the images. The most exclusive images will get you money from the site when a customer buys the copyright of your images.
- Audience from iStock will also view your stock photos
- Higher profit even after cutting commission for stock images
- Chance to reach out to most prestigious stock photography customers
- High competition
Photographers mostly use stock photography sites to sell photos multiple times. But, if you have targeted a fine art niche, and you want to limit the number of times your photos sell, Zenfolio would be the right option to go for. It’s basically a third-party eCommerce site that sells photos at a good price range.
You will have to create your own online store and showcase the stock images. Also, the site offers integrated credit card payments, auto order processing through a print house, and digital downloads.
Zenfolio charges $7-$49.99 per month, depending on the features you would like to opt for. The amount you can make selling photos online will be enough for you to pay the monthly subscription fee of this site, and you will still have a good amount of money left.
- Instant payment collection
- Photographers can set prices for images
- Chances of getting a high price for stock images
- Most suitable for limited edition fine art pictures
- Commission rate is high
So far, this stock photography website has made more than $180 million in payouts for photographers who upload photos on the site. Alamy contains more than 215 million stock images, videos, vectors, and 360-degree panoramic images in a wide variety of niches.
Even though Alamy isn’t one of the largest stock photo websites, the commission rate is significantly higher than what other sites offer. You can earn up to 50% commission for images that you will upload exclusively in Alamy. For images that are not exclusive, you can get a 40% commission for each image sold.
To become a contributor in Alamy, you will have to fill up an application along with 3 sample images. Keep in mind, similar to top stock photo sites, Alamy has a very strict image quality control process. You better check out the existing images on the site and see the requirements for images carefully.
Once you get the approval, you can upload around 500 digital images at a time. You can cash your payrolls when it’s $50 or more.
- Cashout when the payment is $50 or above
- Images can be uploaded both exclusively and non-exclusively
- A professional photographer can get a 40%-50% commission on every sale
- Wide variety of categories, including panoramic images, videos, and vectors
- Community isn’t quite large
- Site doesn’t get much traffic
If you have an entrepreneurial mindset for the photography business, Smugmug can be the ideal stock photography site to use as a portfolio or a sales platform. Smugmug also offers a number of useful tools to meet your goals.
This is one of those sites that allows you to set the price of your stock photos with up to an 85% commission rate. However, there’s a twist; you will have to buy their monthly $40 or yearly $200 Pro subscription to start selling stock images. So, yeah, there’s no free option available for this stock photo site.
You can also take custom orders for putting your images for mugs, t-shirts, pillowcases, and many other designs. With an impressive storefront, you can showcase your creativity and manage orders in the most efficient way possible.
So, even though they charge quite a high price, the tools and features they offer are truly remarkable for any professional photographer.
- Easy to set up
- Higher commission rate
- Can be used as a portfolio or e-commerce site
- Useful tools to make the most out of stock photography
- Opportunity to take customer orders for different purposes
- No direct access to the customer
- Time-consuming order fulfillment process
- Requires to buy a premium subscription, no free service
With more than 30 million users, Etsy is one of the largest marketplaces for buying and selling unique and handmade products. Although it’s not specifically a photography site, you can get the most out of its huge viewers, which is quite more than most photography sites out there.
Apart from digital images, you can also sell printed images. But, you will have to consider factors like printing, packing, and shipping. One of the characteristics of Etsy is that all items are exclusively available on Etsy, which is something other sites can’t guarantee you.
You will have control over your stock photos. Etsy leaves setting the price for images up to their users. So, you can set whatever price you like.
Etsy charges 20 cents for listing each image for four months. If any of your stock images remains unsold after this period, the list will automatically renew with the same fee. For each item sold, they take 5% of the transaction fee, including the shipping cost.
As this isn’t entirely a stock photo site, not every traffic on this site will look for photos. So, you will have to invest time and money in marketing.
Therefore, even though it might be a bit difficult for you to get sales from this site, for its low price-cut, it won’t bother you much. If you are really good at digital marketing and stuff, you will get sales pretty soon.
- Website gets a huge traffic
- Low price-cut on each sale
- People know this site for exclusive items
- Pretty straightforward to set everything up
- Full control over your images and price policy
- You will have to do the marketing stuff
- Not all traffic is for the photography niche
- Might take a bit longer to start getting revenue
This site is one of the largest community-based platforms for stock photographers out there. Not only can the users upload images, but their creation will also get likes and comments from others, which gives a bit of competitional vibe.
There are photography contests to participate in. You can also share your own photography workshop and earn from it.
Every image you share from your profile will be listed for sale. You have the option to sell stock images both exclusively and non-exclusively. 500px offers 30% for non-exclusive images and up to 60% for exclusive licensed images.
Also, 500px introduces a ‘Pulse Algorithm’ that allows its users’ images to appear on the ‘Discovery’ page. This page alone gets views from thousands of visitors per day.
You can also use their analytical and tracking tool to see from which region your photos get the most views and likes, how many clicks your images get, your rank among peers, and competitive stuff. The stats provided by 500px will significantly help you to plan for selling photos online more efficiently.
Joining the community is free. You will have to create an account, submit sample stock images, authorize your virtual photography store, and do other stuff related to uploading images.
But to be able to get the most out of this competitive stock photography site’s features and tools, it would be better if you opt for a paying membership.
- High commission for exclusive stock images
- One of the largest photography community sites
- Fairly easy to set everything up for a photography store
- Chances of participating and winning photography contests
- Option for uploading images without giving them the copyright
- Competition is quite high
- Low commission for non-exclusive photos
For those who are highly creative and can shoot photos with any given pre-requirements and conditions, Foap would be the right photography site to sell photos online.
Foap is the house of over 3 million creative photographers. There are two ways to get money from selling photos. Photographers can use it as a regular stock photography site and get a certain percentage of commission for every image sold.
Also, Foap offers mission-based earning opportunities. Most big brands use stock photos from this site, and Foap takes full advantage out of it. Based on the given requirements by a specific brand, Foap arranges contests where photographers all around the world submit or upload their photos trying to meet those requirements.
Depending on the brand reputation and money investment, winners get $100-$2500 from the contest.
Brands like Sony, MasterCard, Heineken, Nivea, KraftHeinz, Volvo, etc., use this stock photography platform. So, this site has a lot of potentials.
Therefore, you are not only limited to monetizing existing images; also, you can show your creativity to reach out to brands to get higher prize money up to $2500.
Apart from uploading photos, you can also make videos matching brands’ requirements and win the prize money.
For both company and professional photographers, Foap offers a great opportunity to earn a significant amount of money.
- Trusted by major brands out there
- Can also be used as a regular stock photography site
- Decent amount of commission from regular image selling
- Amateurs can also join the site and participate in contests
- Ideal for creative photographers who can work meeting requirements
- Offers photographers to work and earn a huge amount of money from popular brands
- Contests are highly competitive
- Not widely popular as other stock photography sites
10. Can Stock Photo
Among this list of stock photography sites, Can Stock Photo is the last pick. Even though the site has 92,000 active photographers, which is pretty low compared to sites listed above, various payout policies are quite appealing.
Can Stock offer $1 for one small image file and $2.5 for a full-size or extra-large image. If someone wants to buy the copyright, you will get 50 cents and $2.5, respectively. Additionally, you can earn a fixed amount and earn $5 from 50 referral photos sold.
Typically, uploading stock images on microstock agencies end up with frustration. Many professional photographers don’t find the process efficient enough. Plus, creating keywords for every single photo requires a huge amount of time.
Unlike other sites, Can Stock Photo comes with a SpeedSubmit system that allows you to attach keywords, description, etc. to a batch of stock images. The system even allows you to upload a txt file with images.
This saves a lot of time by adding keywords manually. You can quickly make money uploading images without wasting much time preparing photos.
All stock photos that you upload on this site also get listed on Fotosearch, another stock image agency. So, your creation will get attention from other places as well.
- Attractive prices for each image sold
- Earnings by referral image downloads
- Customers can buy copyright paying extras
- Stock photos get listed on Fotosearch as well
- Less time-consuming photo uploads for the SpeedSubmit system
- Doesn’t get huge traffic
- May take a bit longer to start earning money from this site
FAQs about Photographers Sell Photographs Online
How to sell stock photos and make money?
You can sell your stock photos on third-party agencies like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Getty Images, Smugmug, Etsy, and many other sites. Also, there are eCommerce platforms like Zenfolio for you to sell your photos. You can also make your own site and sell through it.
How to sell photos on Shutterstock?
First, you will need to make an account on Shutterstock’s contributor platform, which is free of cost. Then, they will ask you to attach your sample images along with the application. If your application is approved, you can start uploading images. You can get up to 40% commission per image sold.
What is the best place to sell photos online?
Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, Alamy, Etsy, Getty Images, Smugmug, etc., are the most popular stock image sites to sell photos online.
How much money can I make selling photos online?
For per image sold, you can earn between $.30 to $99, depending on the stock photo website. Also, you can earn $0.05 to $0.25 per photo upload.
To sum up the entire article, select a profitable niche, showcase your content on multiple sites, be consistent on your niche, regularly upload images, and try to go with the trend to make the most out of your photography skills.
Hope the above information helped you to know how to sell your photographs online in the most effective way possible.