How To Sell Photographs Online
If you believe photography is an expensive hobby, you are right, it can be. But that does not mean you need pro-quality equipment to generate money from your photos! How To Sell Photographs Online
In fact, if you’ve got a decent phone cam and a steady hand, you are already in with a shot.
But 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 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 bash for yourself!
If you’ve got a digital camera (or fancy picking up one for a steal), 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 nowadays so this isn’t always the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing amount of inventory libraries are catering for mobile snaps, plus you still have a shot at the other biz thoughts below. Keep reading!
It helps to have…
Some type of editing software will help buff your pics for the best results, so it is well worth sniffing out a decent bundle (and learning how to use it!) So you can make more money with your own 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 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 tools for tweaking colors, curves and much more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even simplifies the very same shortcuts directly out the bag. You can run it directly from a browser / through the app for free.
- GIMP can do a lot of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it is 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) always makes the best-of lists.
- Do not forget the bloatware picture software bundled into your’puter, phone or notebook. Many can make light work of the fundamentals.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries purchase’n’ sell digital photos to use on websites, in books, on products and even in ads, with the photographer getting a cut of the sale every time.
Selling photos through a stock site is a top way to surf passive income streams: you can upload a photograph 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 may become a stock library contributor. After that, some sites will keep on 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. Don’t get too hung up about rejections, though; join a number of 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 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 Sell Photographs Online
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 isn’t enrolled, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo app (iStore only) earns 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 site but, if you wish to earn more than’enjoys’, you can also pimp your images through the marketplace. EyeEm split 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 can upload pics via the web or phone.
- Foap is built around telephone photographers, with everything handled through the app (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells pictures for $10 each and splits it 50/50, so you’ll make $5 a pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you are able to 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 photo sells for also goes up the more it is downloaded: newbie images start at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you’re shooting a phone, start with the free Dreamstime app (Android, iPhone).
IStock palms over 15 percent of an image’s sales price, but promise 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 licence or subscription plan the customer purchases determines how your piece is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most frequent subscription programs, but say you’ll find a larger cut as your life earnings pass different levels. To put that into context, as soon as you’ve earned $10,000, you’ll be bumped up to the heady heights of 38 cents a picture…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Making money with stock photographs can involve a substantial 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 always in demand, but anybody 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 accounts terms! When are you going to 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 clients use your photos, so in case you don’t need 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, as well as how to enhance your camera or editing skills.
- Add plenty of keywords when you upload your pictures. It helps people find (and hopefully purchase!) your pics.
Promoting Your Prints
There is loads of liberty in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photos). You decide what to take, who to sell to, and for how much and, like selling through stock libraries, it can be a wonderful little passive income earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch print your holiday snaps, there is a little more to it. While you can run off photos on your home printer or at a high-street lab, better quality means higher profits! How To Sell Photographs Online
That means using a suitable printing lab (one that excels in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or perhaps selling restricted or signed editions. Sounds like a drag? Not necessarily; there is inspiration below to get you started.
Use a Photo Host
Photographer-friendly website hosts give you a secure place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (so you can show’em away ) and purchasing tools (so you can sell prints, downloads and wall art).
They even take care of the printing and any postage each time you make a purchase. Hashtag hallelujah, right?
But the big catch is, not only do they charge for hosting your website, they also take a cheeky cut from each sale — and that’s not everybody’s cup of cocoa! If you want to give it a whirl, be aware of free 14-day trials before you pony up the cash: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
Alternatively, you can always get your own website or Etsy store and hang onto more of your profit!
Getting prints or gifts to sell is also super straightforward; go for print-on-demand and you won’t need to store some stock (or be out of pocket if you can’t shift it!) .
Sell on Social Media Platforms
Eventually the social networking giants will wise-up and start letting us sell photos and other content directly from our profiles.
But until then, have a tip from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he provided Instagram followers the chance to order prints from his feed and made $15k in one 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 generate moolah from mouse mats, keyrings, t-shirts, bags, books and more — often using zero setup costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you can advertise a great deal of products, none of them really exist until somebody buys’em — so there’s no stock to store, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are sites out there that do all of the printing, printing and posting for you, so all you have to do is take the photographs!
Blurb lets you create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta images — and you can sell your finished book on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You could also advertise books on your own website (if you’ve got one), but have Blurb/Amazon manage the payment. Easy! How To Sell Photographs Online
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photo 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 photographs (or illustrations), choose which products you want to sell them on, and then give you a cut of the profits if they sell.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their market, but you may opt to have your own online store and add a mark-up into the price (which you get as your royalty) instead. It’s free to set up and run a store, 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 percent but, while it’s tempting to dial it up to full whack, remember that your cut is added to the sales price: go OTT and you may find it more difficult to make sales.
- With Spreadshirt you can add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the marketplace, or you can start your own store and catch 20% commission.
- Redbubble begins with a product base price and allows you to add on a mark-up — the default is 20%, but you can tweak it as much as you like.
Running a print-on-demand shop is low-fuss and cheap — if you’re happy with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to generate 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 plenty of photos or layouts, getting the word out, and generally try!
Selling photographs anonymously online is easy 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 niche. Whether it’s individuals, pets, food or something completely left-field, it’s a lot easier to market yourself if your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take the time to learn your craft. You can get lucky selling stock if you don’t know 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 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 photograph events, portraits or parties for family and friends to build up 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 tag them to get noticed.
- Get in contact with picture editors at newspapers, magazines or websites and ask if you can submit photos or cover local events.
- You may have more chance of getting adopted by Madonna than obtaining a press pass, but it is like a golden ticket that could get you into sports, fashion and other exclusive events. You’ll need to apply each time (or become a member of the National Union of Journalists) however, as soon as you’re in, you’re going to get loads 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 can take.
You’ll need tons of patience, perseverance, good shoes and decent pics — and you may well have to give away images for free when you first begin to get noticed. If you are 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 companies and brands are after photographs of everyday life and often it is the simple things which produce the best pics — believe roads, 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 gives 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 cash on your tax bill.
- You may not have the ability to sell photos if they comprise trademarked products, brands or even certain buildings. Check out the terms with your stock library, or get 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 fashion. Amen to that! How To Sell Photographs Online