How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures
If you believe photography is an expensive hobby, you are correct, it can be. But that doesn’t mean you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your own photos! How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures
In actuality, if you’ve got a decent phone cam and a steady hand, you are already in with a shot.
But you get your clicks, there are an increasing number of opportunities to monetise photos you’ve already taken. And when photography’s already your luggage, there are heaps more ways to develop your skills, and income; from selling your Insta inventory to pulling a Brooklyn Beckham (famous parents optional).
You know the drill: read, learn, and give it a celebration for yourself!
If you have got a digital camera (or fancy picking up one to get a sneak ), you’ll have more options for selling pics to stock libraries, to sites for prints, or for print-on-demand products. This is because cameras will generally produce larger file photos (although some camera phones are trumping digi cams these days so this isn’t necessarily the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing amount of stock libraries are catering for cellular snaps, and you still have a shot at the other biz thoughts below. Continue reading!
It helps to have…
Some type of editing software can help buff your pics for best results, so it’s well worth sniffing out a decent bundle (and learning how to use it!) So you can make more money with your photos.
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are industry standards for photo editing. But they cost bucks! Don’t crack open your wallet until you’ve checked out the freebies:
- FastStone Image Viewer can open RAW files straight out of your digital camera and save them as JPG, TIFF or PNGs. OK for basic edits such as color correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of resources for tweaking colours, curves and much more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even simplifies the very same shortcuts right out the bag. You can run it straight from a browser / through the program for free.
- GIMP can do a lot of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it is a tougher learning curve.
- There are tons of phone editing programs to be had for free or a few pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) consistently makes the best-of lists.
- Do not forget the bloatware picture software bundled into your’puter, telephone or laptop. Most can make light work of the basics.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries buy’n’ sell digital photos to use on websites, in books, on goods as well as in advertisements, with the photographer getting a cut of the sale each time.
Selling photos through a stock website is a top way to browse passive income streams: you can upload a photo once and sell it over and over again, pretty much forever!
You may need to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) until you can become a stock library contributor. After that, some websites will continue reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they don’t think meet criteria.
What that means is you’ll always need to be on the ball about picking your best shots. Do not get too hung up about rejections, however; combine multiple sites and post pics to them to get the best possible coverage.
Which Websites Pay Most?
Swing by Alamy first. Their pupil contributor scheme gives you 100% of the sales price of your images for two years. Total win! Your uni will need to be part of the scheme, but lots of UK and US institutions are already on the books. How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures
Alamy reckons images typically sell for $90 (USD) each, but you could get anywhere from $20 to $500 depending what it’s used for. If you are not a student, or your uni isn’t enrolled, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo program (iStore only) provides you a 20% reduction.
Other Websites to Check Out:
- Picfair comes with a twist: you decide to what extent your pictures sell for. Picfair then add 20% on top for their cut, but the sales price you set is what you get if your image sells.
- EyeEm: if Instagram and Alamy had a love child, this is what it would look like. EyeEm is a photo sharing site butif you wish to earn more than’enjoys’, you can also pimp your images through the market. EyeEm divide every sale with you 50/50, with photos selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to articles, themed missions run by large brands, plus you’ll be able to upload pics via the net or phone.
- Foap is built around telephone photographers, with everything handled through the program (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells photos for $10 each and splits it 50/50, so you will make $5 per pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you can submit photographs on a theme to be in with a chance of winning extra cash and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime provide up to 60% for exclusives. How much your photograph sells for also goes up the more it’s downloaded: newbie images start at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you are shooting a phone, start with the free Dreamstime app (Android, iPhone).
IStock palms over 15% of a picture’s sales price, but guarantee a bigger cut if you make the pic exclusive to the site. Photos typically sell for #7 or #20 a go, but the type of license or subscription plan the customer buys determines how your slice is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most common subscription plans, but say you’ll find a larger cut as your life earnings pass different levels. To put that into context, once you’ve earned $10,000, you’ll be bumped up to the heady heights of 38 cents an image…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Earning money with stock photographs can involve a significant cash-in, but there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind…
- Stock photography is a numbers game: if you want sales, you’ll need to upload a great deal of quality pics to several sites.
- Photos of people are constantly in demand, but anyone you pap may want to signal a model release form to say they are OK with you with it (your inventory library will have template forms you can print, sign and publish ).
- Assess the account terms! When will you get paid, and in what currency? What happens to your photos if you want to cancel your account in the future?
- You often won’t get a say in how customers use your photos, so if you don’t need your selfies turning up in ads for STDs or benzoyl peroxide, do not upload’em!
- Sign-up for contributor newsletters, as they could clue you in on what sells, what to snap next, as well as how to improve your camera or editing skills.
- Add loads of keywords when you upload your images. It helps folk find (and hopefully purchase!) your pics.
Promoting Your Prints
There is loads of freedom in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photos). You decide what to take, who to market to, and for how much and, like selling through stock libraries, it can be a nice little passive income earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch publish your holiday snaps, there is a little more to it. While you can run off pictures on your home printer or at a high-street lab, better quality means greater profits! How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures
That means using a suitable printing laboratory (one which excels in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or perhaps selling restricted or signed editions. Seems like a drag? Not necessarily; there’s inspiration below to get you started.
Use a Photo Host
Photographer-friendly site hosts provide you with a secure place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (which means you can show’em off) and purchasing tools (so you can sell prints, downloads and wall art).
They even handle the printing and any stamp every time you make a purchase. Hashtag hallelujah, right?
But the big catch is, not only do they charge for hosting your site, they also take a cheeky cut from each sale — and that is not everyone’s cup of cocoa! If you wish to give it a whirl, be aware of free 14-day trials until you pony up the cash: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
As an alternative, you could always get your own website or Etsy shop and hang onto more of your gain!
Obtaining prints or gifts to sell is also super straightforward; go for print-on-demand and you won’t have to store any stock (or be out of pocket if you can’t shift it!) .
Sell on Social Media Platforms
Eventually the social media giants will wise-up and begin letting us sell photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, take a hint from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he offered Instagram followers the chance to order prints from his feed — and made $15k in a single day. Obviously it helps if you’ve already got a solid fanbase, but if you have talent (and the ideal hashtags) it’s worth a shot!
The best thing about selling on social media is that you don’t even need a website: your feed is the portfolio, and you’ve got a enormous potential audience!
Print-on-demand is a brilliantly simple way to make moolah from mouse mats, keyrings, t-shirts, bags, books and more — often using zero set-up costs.
The real beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise tons of goods, none of them really exist until someone buys’em — so there is no stock to shop, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are websites out there that do all of the printing, printing and posting for you, so all you have to do is take the photos!
Blurb lets you create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you’ll be able to sell your finished novel on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You can even advertise books on your own website (if you have one), but have Blurb/Amazon handle the payment. Easy! How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photo on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothing and PJs; and you do not even need a glue gun to begin!
Most print-on-demand outfits let you upload your photos (or illustrations), choose which products you wish to sell them on, and give you a cut of the profits if they market.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their market, but you may choose to have your very own online store and add a mark-up to the price (which you get as your royalty) rather than It is free to set up and run a store, but CafePress take 10% of your royalties monthly, up to a $10 max.
- Zazzle lets you set your own royalty rate between 5 percent and 99 percent but, while it’s tempting to dial it up to full whack, keep in mind that your cut is added to the sales price: go OTT and you may find it harder to make sales.
- With Spreadshirt you can add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the market, or you can open your own store and grab 20% commission.
- Redbubble begins with a product base cost and lets you add on a mark-up — the default is 20%, but you can tweak it as much as you like.
Running a print-on-demand store is low-fuss and low-cost — if you are happy with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to make money on the side for relatively little effort.
The word from successful sellers is that, to earn proper bucks, you’ll need to put in the hours (so just like a job, sadly). We’re talking uploading lots of photos or designs, getting the word out, and generally making an effort!
Selling photographs anonymously online is simple enough. But if you want to build a rep, get more glory or just have customers of your own, here are some tips to get started as a freelancer photographer:
- Know your market . When it’s individuals, pets, food or something completely left-field, it is a lot easier to market yourself if your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take time to learn your craft. You may get lucky selling stock if you don’t understand your aperture from your elbow, but you can’t afford to chance it if someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Workout your rate and make sure it covers your time, your costs and leaves you a little on top for profit. And get insurance to your gear!
- Offer to photo events, parties or portraits for friends and family to develop a portfolio, and ask them to spread the word for you. Or hunt out your favourite bloggers and pitch them your pic ideas!
- Batter your social media account with your best pics, let folk know you are available, and tell’em how to get in touch. Get cheeky and take alternative promo shots for brands, then label them to get noticed.
- Get in contact with picture editors at magazines, newspapers or sites and ask if you can submit photographs or pay local events.
- You may have more chance of being adopted by Madonna than getting a press pass, but it is like a golden ticket that can get you into sports, fashion and other exclusive events. You will need to apply each time (or become a member of the National Union of Journalists) however, once you’re in, you’re going to get plenty of saleable photo opps!
While everyone with an Insta account appears to reckon they’re a pro photographer, the truth is that being a freelancer is probably the toughest route you may take.
You’ll need a great deal of patience, perseverance, good shoes and decent pics — and you may well have to give away pictures for free when you first begin to get noticed. If you’re in it for the career, do not give up. If you’re in it for the money, get your game on with the other ideas on this page in the meantime!
Bonus Tips for Aspiring Photographers
- Carry your camera everywhere — and not just when you are doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of businesses and brands are after photographs of daily life and often it’s the simple things which make the best pics — believe streets, food (street food?) , facial expressions, family, pets, sports… anything!
- Back-up your best pics (or any you’d hate to lose): maintain copies on an external drive or in cloud storage (Dropbox provides you 2GB of space for free).
- Once you start getting sales, get to grips with tax and the freelancing fundamentals. It’ll save you stress in the long run, and can save you cash on your tax bill.
- You may not have the ability to sell photos should they include trademarked products, brands or perhaps certain buildings. Check out the terms with your stock library, or get the company involved and ask if you need permission to hawk your own snaps.
- Do not just do the same-old or what everyone else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in vogue. Amen to that! How To Make Money Selling Dirty Pictures