Make Money Selling Photos Online
If you believe photography is an expensive hobby, you are right, it can be. But that doesn’t mean that you need pro-quality equipment to generate money from your photos! Make Money Selling Photos Online
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, you will find an increasing number of opportunities to monetise photos you have already taken. And when photography’s already your bag, 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 have got a digital camera (or fancy picking one up to get a sneak ), you’ll have more options for selling pics to stock libraries, to websites for prints, or for print-on-demand products. This is because cameras will generally produce larger file photographs (although some camera phones are trumping digi cams these days so this is not necessarily the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing number of inventory libraries are catering for mobile snaps, plus you still have a shot at the other biz ideas below. Continue reading!
It helps to have…
Some type of editing program will help buff your pics for the best results, so it’s worth sniffing out a nice 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 directly from your digital camera and save them as JPG, TIFF or PNGs. OK for basic edits like color correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of resources for tweaking colors, curves and more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even recognises the same shortcuts directly out the bag. You can run it directly from a browser through the program at no cost.
- GIMP can do much of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it is a more demanding learning curve.
- There are tons of phone editing apps to be obtained for free or a couple of pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) consistently makes the best-of lists.
- Don’t forget the bloatware picture software bundled into your’puter, phone or notebook. Most can make light work of the fundamentals.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries buy’n’ sell digital photographs to use on websites, in books, on products and even in advertisements, with the photographer getting a cut of the sale every 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 might need to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) before you can 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 will always need to be on the ball about choosing your best shots. Don’t get too hung up about rejections, however; combine a number of sites and post pics to all of them to find 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 2 years. Total win! Your uni will need to be part of this scheme, but lots of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Make Money Selling Photos Online
Alamy reckons images typically sell for $90 (USD) each, but you might get anywhere from $20 to $500 depending what it is used for. If you’re 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) earns you a 20% cut.
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 wish to earn more than’enjoys’, you could also pimp your images through the marketplace. EyeEm divide every sale with you 50/50, with photographs selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to content, themed missions run by large brands, plus you can upload pics via the net or phone.
- Foap is constructed around phone photographers, with everything managed through the app (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells pictures for $10 each and splits it 50/50, so you will earn $5 per 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 money and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime offer up to 60% for exclusives. How much your photograph sells for also goes up the more it’s downloaded: newbie images begin at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you’re shooting on a phone, start with the free Dreamstime program (Android, iPhone).
IStock palms over 15% 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 type of license or subscription plan the customer purchases determines how your piece 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 lifetime earnings pass various levels. To put that into context, as soon as you’ve earned $10,000, you will 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 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 a great deal of quality pics to several sites.
- Photos of individuals are always in demand, but anybody you pap might need to signal a model release form to say they are OK with you using it (your inventory library will have template forms you can print, sign and publish ).
- Assess the account 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 photographs, so if you don’t want your selfies turning up in advertisements for STDs or benzoyl peroxide, 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 loads of keywords when you upload your images. It helps people find (and hopefully purchase!) your pics.
Selling Your Prints
There is loads of freedom in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photographs ). You decide what to shoot, who to sell 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 publish 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 laboratory, better quality means higher profits! Make Money Selling Photos Online
That means using a proper printing laboratory (one which excels in art or framed prints), opting for expert 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 provide you with 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 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 before you pony up the cash: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
Alternatively, you can always get your own site or Etsy store and hang onto more of your profit!
Obtaining prints or gifts to sell is also super easy; go for print-on-demand and you won’t need 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 start letting us market photos and other content directly from our profiles.
But until then, take a hint from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he provided Instagram followers the opportunity to order prints from his feed and made $15k in a single day. Obviously it helps if you’ve already got a strong 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 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 much more — often using zero setup costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise tons of goods, none of them actually exist until someone buys’em — so there is no inventory to shop, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are sites out there that do all of the producing, printing and submitting for you, so all you’ve got to do is take the photographs!
Blurb lets you create photo books by simply 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 website (if you’ve got one), but have Blurb/Amazon handle the payment. Easy! Make Money Selling Photos 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 do not even need a glue gun to get started!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photos (or illustrations), choose which products you wish to sell them on, and give you a cut of the profits if they sell.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their market, but you can opt to have your own online shop and add a mark-up to the price (which you get as your royalty) instead. It’s free to set-up and run a shop, but CafePress take 10% of your royalties monthly, 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 market, or you can open 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 low-cost — if you are happy with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to generate cash 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 the same as a job, sadly). We’re talking uploading plenty of photos or designs, 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 freelancer photographer:
- Know your niche. Whether it’s people, pets, food or something totally left-field, it’s 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 out of your elbow, but you can not afford to chance it if someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Workout your rate and be sure it covers your time, your costs and leaves you a little on top for gain. And get insurance to your gear!
- 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 hunt out your favourite bloggers and pitch them your pic ideas!
- Batter your social networking 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 touch with picture editors at newspapers, magazines or websites and ask if you can submit photographs or cover local events.
- You might have more chance of getting adopted by Madonna than obtaining 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) 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 reality is that being a freelancer may be the toughest route you can take.
You’ll need a great deal of patience, perseverance, good shoes and decent 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 are 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 just when you are doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of companies and brands are after photographs of everyday life and often it is the simple things that produce the best pics — think roads, food (street food?) , facial expressions, loved ones, 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 will save you stress in the long run, and could 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 get the company involved and ask if you need permission to hawk your own 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! Make Money Selling Photos Online