Make Money Selling Your Pictures
If you believe photography is an expensive hobby, you’re correct, it can be. But that doesn’t mean you need pro-quality equipment to generate money from your photos! Make Money Selling Your Pictures
In fact, if you’ve got a decent phone cam and a steady hand, you are 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 bag, there are 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 celebration for yourself!
If you have 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 photographs (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 inventory libraries are catering for mobile snaps, plus you still have a shot at the other biz thoughts below. Continue reading!
It helps to have…
Some kind of editing program can help buff your pics for the best results, so it is well worth sniffing out a decent package (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 bucks! 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 tools for tweaking colors, curves and more.
- PIXLR is a persuasive alternative to Photoshop, and even recognises the very same shortcuts directly out the bag. You can run it straight from a browser / through the app for free.
- GIMP can do much of what Photoshop excels at, though some users reckon it’s a more demanding learning curve.
- There are tons of phone editing apps to be had for free or a couple of pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) always makes the best-of lists.
- Do not overlook the bloatware image software bundled into your’puter, telephone or laptop. Many can make light work of the basics.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries buy’n’ sell digital photographs to use on websites, in books, on products as well as in advertisements, together with the photographer getting a cut of the sale every time.
Selling photographs 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 have to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) before you may become a stock library contributor. After that, some sites will keep on reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they do not think meet standards.
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, though; join multiple sites and post pics to them to get 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 need to be part of this scheme, but loads of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Make Money Selling Your Pictures
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 are not a student, or your uni isn’t registered, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo app (iStore only) provides you a 20% cut.
Other Websites to Check Out:
- Picfair has a twist: you decide to what extent your images 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 but, if you wish to earn more than’likes’, you can also pimp your pictures through the market. EyeEm split 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 web or phone.
- Foap is constructed around telephone 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 per pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you are able to submit photos 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 longer it’s downloaded: newbie images start at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you’re shooting on a phone, begin with the free Dreamstime app (Android, iPhone).
IStock hands 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 sort of licence 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 programs, but say you’ll 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 a picture…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Earning 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’ll need to upload a great deal of quality pics to a number of sites.
- Photos of people are always in demand, but anyone you pap may need to signal a model release form to say they’re OK with you with it (your stock library will have template forms you can print, sign and submit).
- Check the accounts terms! When are you going to 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 state in how clients use your photographs, so in case you don’t want your selfies turning up in advertisements for STDs or benzoyl peroxide, don’t upload’em!
- Sign-up for contributor newsletters, as they can 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 people find (and hopefully buy!) 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 income earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch publish your holiday snaps, there’s a little more to it. While you can run off photos on your home printer or at a high-street laboratory, better quality means higher profits! Make Money Selling Your Pictures
That means using a proper printing laboratory (one which specialises in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or even selling limited or signed editions. Seems 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 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 website, they also take a cheeky cut from each sale — and that is 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 money: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
As an alternative, you can always get your own site or Etsy store and hang onto more of your profit!
Getting prints or gifts to market is also super straightforward; 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 networking giants will wise-up and start letting us market photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, take a hint from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he provided Instagram followers the chance 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 the portfolio, and you’ve got a massive 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 actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you can advertise tons of products, none of them actually exist until someone buys’em — so there is no inventory to store, lose, or fall over. Even better, there are sites out there that do all 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 pictures — and you’ll be able to sell your finished 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! Make Money Selling Your Pictures
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photo on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothes and PJs; and you don’t even need a glue gun to begin!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photographs (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 opt to have your own online store and add a mark-up into the cost (which you get as your royalty) rather than It is free to set-up and run a shop, 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% and 99 percent 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 harder 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 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 shop is low-fuss and low-cost — if you’re contented with the occasional sale, it can be a nice way to generate money on the side for relatively little work.
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 making an effort!
Selling photos 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 freelance photographer:
- Know your market . When it’s individuals, pets, food or something completely left-field, it’s easier to market yourself if your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take the 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 not afford to chance it if someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Work out 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 photograph 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 favorite 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 choose alternative promo shots for brands, then tag them to get noticed.
- Get in contact with picture editors at magazines, newspapers or websites and ask if you can submit photos or pay local events.
- You may have more chance of getting 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’ll want to apply each time (or become a member of the National Union of Journalists) but, once you’re in, you’ll get plenty of saleable photo opps!
While everybody with an Insta account seems to reckon they’re a pro photographer, the truth is that being a freelancer may be 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 images for free when you first begin to get noticed. If you are in it for the career, don’t give up. 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 only when you are doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of businesses and brands are after photos of daily life and often it is the simple things that make 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).
- As soon as you start getting sales, get to grips with tax and the freelancing fundamentals. It will 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 comprise 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.
- Don’t just do the same-old or what everybody else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in vogue. Amen to that! Make Money Selling Your Pictures