How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself
If you think photography is an expensive hobby, you’re right, it can be. But that does not mean you need pro-quality equipment to generate money from your own photos! How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself
In fact, if you have got a decent phone camera along with a steady hand, you’re already in with a shot.
However you get your clicks, you will find a growing number of opportunities to monetise photos you’ve already taken. And when photography’s already your bag, you will find heaps more ways to develop your abilities, and income; from selling your Insta stock to pulling a Brooklyn Beckham (famous parents optional).
You know the drill: read, learn, and give it a bash for yourself!
If you’ve got a digital camera (or fancy picking one up for a steal), you will have more options for selling pics to stock libraries, to sites for prints, or for print-on-demand products. This is because cameras will usually produce larger file photos (although some camera phones are trumping digi cams nowadays so this isn’t necessarily the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing number of inventory libraries are catering for mobile snaps, and you still have a shot at the other biz thoughts below. Keep reading!
It helps to have…
Some kind of editing software can help buff your pics for the best results, so it’s worth sniffing out a decent package (and learning how to use it!) So you can earn more money with your photos.
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are industry standards for picture editing. But they cost dollars! Do not crack open your wallet until you’ve checked out the freebies:
- FastStone Image Viewer can open RAW files straight from your digital camera and save them as JPG, TIFF or PNGs. OK for basic edits like colour correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of resources for tweaking colors, curves and much more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even simplifies the same shortcuts right out the bag. You can run it straight from a browser through the program at no cost.
- GIMP can do much of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it’s a more demanding learning curve.
- There are loads of phone editing apps to be had for free or a few pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) consistently makes the best-of lists.
- Do not overlook the bloatware picture software bundled into your’puter, phone or laptop. Many 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 photographs through a stock site 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 have to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) before you may become a stock library contributor. After that, some websites will keep on reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they don’t think meet standards.
What that means is you will always have to be on the ball about picking your best shots. Don’t get too hung up about rejections, however; join multiple websites and post pics to them to find the best possible policy.
Which Websites Pay Most?
Swing by Alamy first. Their pupil contributor scheme provides you 100% of the sales price of your images for 2 years. Total win! Your uni will have to be part of the scheme, but loads of UK and US institutions are already on the books. How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself
Alamy reckons images typically sell for $90 (USD) each, but you might get anywhere from $20 to $500 depending what it’s used for. If you are not a student, or your uni is not 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 images sell for. Picfair then add 20 percent 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 website but, if you want to earn more than’likes’, you can also pimp your pictures through the market. EyeEm split every sale with you 50/50, with photos selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to articles, themed missions run by big brands, plus you’ll be able to upload pics via the net or phone.
- Foap is built around telephone photographers, with everything managed through the program (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells photos for $10 each and divides it 50/50, so you will earn $5 a pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you can submit photographs on a theme to be in with a chance of winning extra money and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime offer up to 60 percent for exclusives. How much your photo sells for also goes up the longer it is downloaded: newbie images begin at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you are shooting a phone, begin with the free Dreamstime app (Android, iPhone).
IStock hands 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 sort of license or subscription program the customer buys determines how your slice is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most common subscription programs, but say you will get a bigger cut as your life earnings pass different levels. To put that into context, once you’ve earned $10,000, you will be bumped up to the heady heights of 38 cents an image…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Earning money with stock photos can involve a significant cash-in, but there are a few things worth bearing in mind…
- Stock photography is a numbers game: if you want sales, you will need to upload lots of quality pics to several sites.
- Photos of people are constantly in demand, but anybody you pap might want to signal a model release form to say they’re OK with you using it (your stock library will have template forms you can print, sign and publish ).
- Check the accounts terms! When will you get paid, and in what currency? What happens to your photos if you would like to cancel your account later on?
- You often won’t get a say in how clients use your photographs, so in case you don’t want your selfies turning up in ads for STDs or benzoyl peroxide, don’t upload’em!
- Sign-up for contributor newsletters, as they could clue you in on what sells, what to snap next, and even how to improve your camera or editing skills.
- Add plenty of keywords when you upload your pictures. It helps folk find (and hopefully purchase!) your pics.
Selling Your Prints
There’s loads of freedom in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photographs ). 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 revenue earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch print your holiday snaps, there’s a bit more to it. While you can run off pictures on your home printer or at a high-street laboratory, better quality means higher profits! How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself
That means using a proper printing lab (one that specialises in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or even selling limited 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 give you a safe place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (which means you can show’em away ) and purchasing tools (so you can sell prints, downloads and wall art).
They even handle the printing and any stamp each 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 everybody’s cup of cocoa! If you wish to give it a whirl, look out for free 14-day trials until you pony up the money: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
As an alternative, you could always get your own site or Etsy store 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 not shift it!) .
Sell on Social Media Platforms
Eventually the social media giants will wise-up and begin letting us market photos and other content directly from our profiles.
But until then, take a tip from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he offered Instagram followers the opportunity to purchase 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 right hashtags) it is worth a shot!
The best thing about selling on social media is that you don’t even need a website: your feed is your portfolio, and you’ve got a enormous potential audience!
Print-on-demand is a brilliantly simple way to generate moolah from mouse mats, keyrings, t-shirts, bags, books and much more — often using zero setup costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you can advertise tons of goods, none of them really exist until somebody buys’em — so there’s no inventory to shop, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are websites out there that do all the printing, printing and submitting for you, so all you’ve got to do is take the photos!
Blurb enables you to create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you can sell your final novel on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You could even advertise books on your own website (if you’ve got one), but have Blurb/Amazon manage the payment. Easy! How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photograph on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothing and PJs; and you don’t even need a glue gun to get started!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photos (or illustrations), select which products you wish to sell them on, and then give you a cut of the profits if they market.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their marketplace, but you may choose to have your own online shop and add a mark-up into the price (which you get as your royalty) rather than It’s free to set-up and run a shop, but CafePress take 10% of your royalties each month, up to a $10 max.
- Zazzle lets you set your own royalty rate between 5% and 99% but, while it is 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 more difficult to make sales.
- With Spreadshirt you may add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the marketplace, or you can start 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 nice way to generate money on the side for relatively little effort.
The word from successful vendors is that, to make proper bucks, you will need to put in the hours (so just like a project, 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 clients of your own, here are some tips to get started as a freelancer photographer:
- Know your niche. Whether it’s individuals, pets, food or something totally 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 in case you don’t understand your aperture out of your elbow, but you can’t afford to chance it if someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Work out your rate and be sure it covers your time, your costs and leaves you a little on top for profit. And get insurance to your equipment!
- Give to photograph events, portraits or parties for friends and family to develop a portfolio, and ask them to spread the word for you. Or search out your favourite bloggers and pitch them your pic ideas!
- Batter your social media account with your best pics, let folk know you’re available, and tell’em how to get in touch. Get cheeky and take alternative promo shots for brands, then tag them to get noticed.
- Get in touch with picture editors at magazines, newspapers or websites and ask if you can submit photos or cover local events.
- You might have more chance of getting adopted by Madonna than getting a press pass, but it’s like a golden ticket which could get you into sports, fashion and other exclusive events. You will want to apply each time (or be a member of the National Union of Journalists) but, once you’re in, you’ll get plenty of saleable photo opps!
While everyone with an Insta account seems to reckon they’re a pro photographer, the reality is that being a freelancer is probably the toughest route you can take.
You’ll need a great deal of patience, perseverance, good shoes and adequate 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 thoughts on this page in the meantime!
Bonus Tips for Aspiring Photographers
- Carry your camera everywhere — and not only when you’re doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of businesses and brands are after photographs of daily life and often it is the simple things that make the best pics — think streets, food (street food?) , facial expressions, family, pets, sports… anything!
- Back-up your best pics (or some 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 term, and can save you money on your tax invoice.
- You might not be able to sell photos should they include trademarked products, brands or even certain buildings. Check out the terms with your stock library, or contact the company involved and ask if you require permission to hawk your snaps.
- Don’t just do the same-old or what everybody else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in vogue. Amen to that! How To Make Money Selling Pictures Of Yourself