How to Sell Photos Online and Make Money – A Detailed Guide

Let me ask you a question.

Are you a photographer hoping to advance your career and support yourself?

Do you laugh at the idea of having your works of art used as stock photos?

If so, I can understand that stance—but only if you excel at selling each of your photos on your own website.

On the other hand, if you’re new to the world of photography, you must accept that selling photos online is the best way to generate income.

Today, photography, like other forms of art, serves as a means of making money online as well as being a form of expression and art.

Therefore, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, you can sell your photos online by uploading them for free to specific platforms. What could be superior? It’s not necessary to work at this full-time. Make passive income by taking and uploading lovely pictures.

The crucial query, though! How Can I Make Money Selling Photos Online? What are the greatest channels for selling your photos?

Please stick with me and read this article to the end so we can help you start your online photo selling business and provide answers to all your questions.

So let’s get down to business!

How to Start Selling Photos Online – A Three-step Guide

It’s not always a big deal to make money selling photos online. Here is a simple three-step tutorial for anyone looking to sell their photos online for the first time.

1. Decide on Your Photography Niche

The first step is to choose a niche in which you specialize so that people can learn more about your expertise. If you haven’t already, try out a few different topics and pick the one you like and are good at.

Then, carry out keyword research to gauge the volume of searches for keywords associated with the chosen niche. Upload your photos in that market and sell them for more money.

Note: Generally speaking, anything with more than 1,000 average monthly searches will probably make money.

Here are some suggestions for niches:

  • Portraits and candid photos of people
  • Corporate and office-related themes in business
  • Food – Presentations of food
  • Buildings, famous landmarks, and edifice comprise architecture.
  • Nature – Scenes from nature, including sunsets, weather, and other natural phenomena

2. Choose an eCommerce Platform to Sell Photos Online

The next step is to select a website where you can upload your photos for free or a fee and then sell them there. A lot of options exist for selling your photos online. You have three options: create your own website, work with an agency, or join a professional network.

However, it is best to start off by selling on online stock and non-stock photography marketplaces. Here is the distinction between stock and non-stock photography platforms for beginners before we discuss the areas in the next section.

  • Sites for Stock Photography

It’s simple to sell your photos on stock photo websites like Getty Images and Deposit Photos because they handle hosting, marketing, and sales for you. Once you have accrued a certain amount that the site has set as the minimum withdrawal amount, most stock photography websites pay you monthly.

The drawback is that you are limited in your options because you must adhere to the rules regarding image resolution, themes, and equipment before you can upload your photos to these websites. Additionally, these websites receive their commission from your profit, which can occasionally be a sizeable sum.

  • Non-Stock Photography Sites

On the other hand, non-stock photographic platforms give you the flexibility to manage your brand. You can use any image format, set your own prices, and sell any images you choose.

The disadvantage is that you are in charge of handling sales and promotion for your photographs. Even while it can take longer to produce sales, you will ultimately make more money. Non-stock sites compensate you each time you make a sale, in contrast to stock picture websites.

3. Build an Audience

Building an Audience is the third and final step. Anyone working in the online creative sector needs an audience to increase their online presence.

Create an Instagram or Tumblr portfolio to start. Post your best work, and then use hashtags to broaden your audience. Get hashtag suggestions and information on trending topics by using hashtags. Use Instagram Ads or Tumblr’s supported posting if you have a budget to get quick results.

Quick Advice! At the same time, link your social media accounts to multiple websites. You can connect your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter, for instance.

This brings me to the section of the article where I’ll explain how to increase the sales of your photos online.

What Type of Photographs Sell the Best?

Type of Photographs Sel

Discover the five essential elements to start taking more marketable photos yourself by scrolling down.

  • Singles Sell Better

Unless the setup specifies more, stick to just one subject. According to data gathered by 500px, only 20% of the best-selling online images featured two or more subjects, while 60% of them featured just one.

  • Candids Sell Better than Posed

It’s preferable to take unposed pictures. Try to capture objects and subjects engaged in activity and interaction in real life. Businesses prefer candid and natural photos over corny posed photos because they want to convey their authenticity (or, at the very least, appear genuine and approachable). Only 38% of the best-selling images on 500px are obviously posed; instead, 62% of them are candid shots.

Candids Sell Better than Posed
  • Go for Wide Shots than Closeups

Wide shots are much more popular and sell more quickly than close-ups. They are also preferred to mid-shots. Because 72% of the best-selling images on 500px are wide shots as opposed to 16% mid-shots and 12% close-ups, choose wide shots if you want to generate some quick sales.

  • Facing Camera isn’t the Best Choice

When taking pictures of people, try to get your subject to turn away from the camera. They may not be looking directly into the camera, but they are not looking directly at it either. Somehow, buyers don’t like that. In an astounding 85% of their best-selling images, the subject was facing away from the camera, per a 500px study.

Candids Sell Better than Posed
  • Keep Your Subject a Myth

It is more effective to keep your subject a mystery. People frequently purchase images in which the subject is obscured. If the subject is hazy, blurry, or simply unrecognizable, adjust your photograph to the circumstances. According to the data, 43% of best-sellers had the subject’s identity revealed, while 57% had an unidentified or smudged subject.

What are the Best Platforms to Upload and Sell Your Photos Online?

Let’s examine the best online photo marketplaces:

Domain NameEarnings Min Payout
Alamy50% of Sales (If images are exclusive with Alamy); otherwise, 40%$50
5OOpx 60% for exclusive, 30% for non-exclusive$30
Adobe Stock $0.2 – $3.33 per image download$25
ShutterstockAverage of $0.25 per image$35
iStock Photo15% flat rate for non-exclusive photos$100
Getty Images20% (on a high base figure)50 Eligible Credits
CanStock PhotoFrom 40%$50 for Paypal and Moneybookers$100 for Skrill and Bank Cheques
Stocksy50% for standard royalty-free, 75% for extended licensing
CreStock20% to 40% for single download, $0.25 to $0.40 for subscription downloads $50
123 RF30% to 60% depending on photo and license sold$50
Etsy Almost 90% of the selling priceNo Limit
ArtFire87.25% after valuation fee
Zibbet100% (minus monthly $5 subscription fee)
SmugMug Pro85% of the profit$5 – 10 
Twenty20Earning $2 per photo licensedEarning cash prizes from photo challenges receiving 100% commission from whatever brands hire you for scheduled shoots No limit
Candids Sell Better than Posed

What are the Challenges to Sell Photos Online?

While online photo sales can be a good source of passive income, there are a few obstacles you’ll need to overcome, especially starting out.

  • Low Payback

The majority of microstock websites offer a low commission on each image sold. It usually amounts to 15% of their earnings. This percentage might be higher if you give a specific microstock website exclusive rights to sell your images.

  • Longer Time period to Verify the photos

Certain websites take a very long time to review and publish your images, and the wait can be very annoying.

Challenges to Sell Photos Online
  • Stringent Eligibility Criteria to Become a Contributor

Microstock platforms are becoming more selective about who they accept as contributors. Acceptance as a contributor takes time. To fulfill the requirements, you must therefore be persistent and diligent.

  • AI-Based Rejection with No Option to Challenge the Decision

On occasion, it seems as though the micro stocks are using artificial intelligence to assess the caliber of your pictures. If you disagree with the justifications given for rejecting your images, there is no one you can confront and argue with.

  • Slow Selling is Discouraging

Before you start selling your images on some microstock platforms, it might take you a few months. Before they make their first sale, the majority of people become discouraged.

  • Tricky to Quantify the Growth of Portfolio

If you keep uploading photos, your earnings from selling on microstock websites should rise. However, it doesn’t entirely depend on how many pictures you have in your portfolio. Your photographs’ consistency and variety are important contributing factors. In order to create a strong portfolio for growth, you must work hard and strategically.

  • Financial Growth is Sluggish

If you keep uploading pictures, your chances of making money from selling them on microstock websites should rise. However, it isn’t solely based on the quantity of images in your portfolio. Your photographic style is heavily influenced by consistency and variety. So, to build a strong portfolio for growth, you must work hard and wisely.

  • Delayed Payments

Some microstock websites have high minimum payment thresholds, up to $100. In the beginning, getting there might take a long time. And that irritates me. If you sell photos online, you must put up with the minimum payment thresholds.

  • Higher Rejection Rate

A few microstock websites have extremely strict requirements for photo sticks. Sending images and having only 10% of them accepted is a little annoying.

  • Uploading Limits

Some microstock platforms have a cap on the number of uploads per batch. It will take longer to upload the photos in separate batches if you have more images from the same location.

Parting Shot

So why not sell your photos if you enjoy taking them and want to earn some extra money? Please let us know if you found the article helpful, if you used one of the websites we didn’t list or if you agreed with our selections. This should have adequately answered your question about how to sell photos online and make money.

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