Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography
If you think photography is a costly hobby, you are right, it can be. But that doesn’t mean that you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your own photos! Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography
In actuality, if you have got a good phone cam and a steady hand, you’re already in with a shot.
However you get your clicks, you will find an increasing number of opportunities to monetise photos you’ve already taken. And if photography’s already your luggage, you will find heaps more ways to develop your abilities, 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’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 usually produce larger file photos (although some camera phones are trumping digi cams nowadays so this is not always the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing number of stock 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 program can help buff your pics for best results, so it is worth sniffing out a nice bundle (and learning how to use it!) So you can earn more money with your own photos.
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are industry standards for photo 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 directly out of your digital camera and save them as JPG, TIFF or PNGs. OK for basic edits such as 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 persuasive alternative to Photoshop, and even recognises the same shortcuts directly out the bag. You can run it directly from a browser / through the program for free.
- GIMP can do much of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it’s a tougher learning curve.
- There are loads of phone editing apps to be obtained for free or a few pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) consistently makes the best-of lists.
- Don’t forget the bloatware image 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 as well as in advertisements, together 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) until you can become a stock library contributor. After that, some websites will keep on reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they do not think meet standards.
What that means is you’ll always have to be on the ball about choosing your best shots. Don’t get too hung up about rejections, however; join a number of websites and post pics to them to find the best possible coverage.
Which Websites Pay Most?
Swing by Alamy first. Their student contributor scheme gives you 100% of the sales price of your images for two years. Total win! Your uni will have to be part of this scheme, but loads of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography
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 is not enrolled, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo app (iStore only) provides you a 20% reduction.
Other Websites to Check Out:
- Picfair comes with a twist: you decide how much 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 website 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 photographs selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to content, themed missions run by big brands, plus you can upload pics via the web or phone.
- Foap is constructed around phone photographers, with everything handled through the program (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells pictures for $10 each and splits it 50/50, so you will make $5 a pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you can submit photos on a theme to be in with a chance of winning extra cash and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime provide up to 60 percent for exclusives. How much your photograph 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% of a picture’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 type 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 plans, but say you’ll find a bigger cut as your life earnings pass various 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
Making 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’ll need to upload lots of quality pics to several sites.
- Photos of people are constantly in demand, but anyone you pap may want to sign 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 submit).
- 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 in the future?
- You often won’t get a say in how customers use your photographs, so in case you don’t need your selfies turning up in advertisements for STDs or hemorrhoid ointment, do not upload’em!
- Sign-up for contributor newsletters, as they can 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 people find (and hopefully buy!) your pics.
Selling Your Prints
There is loads of freedom in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photos). You decide what to shoot, who to market to, and for how much and, like selling through stock libraries, it can be a wonderful little passive revenue earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch print your holiday snaps, there is a bit more to it. While you can run off pictures on your home printer or at a high-street lab, better quality means higher profits! Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography
That means using a suitable printing lab (one which excels in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or even selling restricted or signed editions. Sounds like a drag? Not necessarily; there’s 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 (which means you can show’em away ) and shopping tools (so you can sell prints, downloads and wall art).
They even take care of the printing and any postage every time you make a sale. 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’s not everyone’s cup of cocoa! If you want to give it a whirl, be aware of free 14-day trials before you pony up the money: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
Alternatively, 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 easy; go for print-on-demand and you won’t have to store some 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 start letting us sell photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, have a tip from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he provided Instagram followers the opportunity to purchase 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 is 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 have got a massive potential audience!
Print-on-demand is a brilliantly simple way to generate moolah from mouse mats, keyrings, t-shirts, bags, books and more — often with zero set-up costs.
The actual 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’s no stock to shop, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are websites out there that do all the producing, printing and submitting 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’ll be able to sell your finished book on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You could also advertise books on your own website (if you have one), but have Blurb/Amazon manage the payment. Easy! Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photograph on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothes and PJs; and you do not even need a glue gun to get started!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photographs (or illustrations), select which products you want 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 store and add a mark-up into the cost (which you get as your royalty) rather than 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 enables you to set your own royalty rate between 5 percent and 99% but, while it is 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 may add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the market, or you can start your own store and grab 20% commission.
- Redbubble starts with a product base cost 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 store is low-fuss and cheap — if you’re happy with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to make cash on the side for relatively little effort.
The word from successful sellers is that, to earn proper bucks, you will want 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 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 freelance photographer:
- Know your market . Whether it’s people, pets, food or something totally left-field, it’s a lot easier to market yourself if your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take time to learn your craft. You can get lucky selling stock in case you don’t know your aperture out of your elbow, but you can’t afford to chance it when someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Workout your rate and be sure it covers your time, your prices 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 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 connected. Get cheeky and take alternative promo shots for brands, then label 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 might 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 be a member of the National Union of Journalists) but, as soon as you’re in, you’ll get plenty of saleable photo opps!
While everyone with an Insta account appears to reckon they’re a pro photographer, the reality is that being a freelancer may be the toughest route you can take.
You’ll need tons of patience, perseverance, good shoes and adequate pics — and you may well have to give away images for free when you first start out to get noticed. If you are in it for the career, don’t quit. 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 anyplace — and not just when you are doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of companies and brands are after photographs of daily life and often it is the simple things which produce the best pics — think streets, food (street food?) , facial expressions, loved ones, pets, sports… anything!
- Back-up your best pics (or any you would hate to lose): keep 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 cash on your tax invoice.
- 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 contact the company involved and ask if you require 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! Make Money Selling Fine Art Photography