Selling Photos Guide
If you believe photography is a costly hobby, you are correct, it can be. But that does not mean that you need pro-quality equipment to generate money from your own photos! Selling Photos Guide
In fact, if you’ve got a good phone camera along with 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 have 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 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 websites 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 these days so this is not always 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 ideas below. Keep reading!
It helps to have…
Some kind of editing software can help buff your pics for the best results, so it is 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! Don’t 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 like color correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of resources for tweaking colours, curves and much more.
- PIXLR is a persuasive alternative to Photoshop, and even recognises the same shortcuts right out the bag. You can run it directly from a browser through the app 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 loads 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 picture software bundled into your’puter, phone or laptop. Many can make light work of the fundamentals.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries buy’n’ sell digital photos to use on websites, in books, on products as well as in ads, together with the photographer getting a cut of the sale every time.
Selling photographs through a stock site is a top way to surf 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 can become a stock library contributor. After that, some sites will continue reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they don’t think meet criteria.
What that means is you’ll always have to be on the ball about picking your best shots. Do not get too hung up about rejections, however; combine a number of sites and post pics to them to find the best possible policy.
Which Websites Pay Most?
Swing by Alamy first. Their student 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 loads of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Selling Photos Guide
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 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 website butif you want to earn more than’likes’, you could 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 articles, themed missions run by big brands, plus you’ll be able to 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 earn $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 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 on a phone, begin with the free Dreamstime program (Android, iPhone).
IStock palms over 15% of a picture’s sales price, but guarantee a bigger cut if you make the pic exclusive to the website. Photos typically sell for #7 or #20 a go, but the sort of license or subscription program the customer purchases determines how your slice is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most common subscription plans, but say you’ll get a larger cut as your lifetime 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 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 a number of sites.
- Photos of individuals are constantly in demand, but anybody you pap may want to sign 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 ).
- 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 clients use your photos, so in case you don’t want 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, as well as 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 photographs ). You decide what to shoot, who to sell to, and for how much and, like selling through stock libraries, it can be a nice little passive income 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 photos on your home printer or at a high-street laboratory, better quality means greater profits! Selling Photos Guide
That means using a proper printing laboratory (one that excels in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or even selling restricted or signed editions. Seems like a drag? Not necessarily; there is inspiration below to get you started.
Use a Photo Host
Photographer-friendly site hosts provide you with a secure place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (so you can show’em off) and purchasing 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 is not everyone’s cup of cocoa! If you want to give it a whirl, look out for free 14-day trials until you pony up the cash: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
As an alternative, you can always get your own website or Etsy store and hang onto more of your gain!
Obtaining prints or gifts to market 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 begin letting us market 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 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 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 set-up costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise a great deal of products, none of them really exist until someone buys’em — so there is no stock to store, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are websites 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 enables you to create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta images — and you can sell your final 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 handle the payment. Easy! Selling Photos Guide
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photo 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 let you upload your photos (or illustrations), choose which products you wish to sell them on, and give you a cut of the profits if they market.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their market, but you can choose to have your very own online shop and add a mark-up into 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 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 may add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the market, or you can open your own shop and catch 20% commission.
- Redbubble begins with a product base price and lets you add on a mark-up — the default is 20%, but you can tweak it as much as you’d like.
Running a print-on-demand shop is low-fuss and cheap — if you’re happy with the occasional sale, it can be a nice way to generate money on the side for relatively little work.
The word from successful vendors is that, to earn proper bucks, you’ll want to put in the hours (so just like 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 easy 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 niche. When it’s people, pets, food or something completely left-field, it is a lot 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’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 equipment!
- Give to photo events, parties or portraits for friends and family 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 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 label them to get noticed.
- Get in touch with picture editors at newspapers, magazines or websites and ask if you can submit photographs or pay local events.
- You might have more chance of getting adopted by Madonna than obtaining a press pass, but it’s like a golden ticket which can 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’re going to get loads of saleable photo opps!
While everybody 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 decent pics — and you may well have to give away pictures for free when you first begin to get noticed. If you are in it for the career, do not quit. If you are in it for the money, get your game on with the other ideas 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 businesses and brands are after photos of everyday 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 would hate to lose): keep 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 will save you stress in the long term, and can save you money on your tax invoice.
- You may not have the ability to sell photos should they include trademarked products, brands or perhaps specific buildings. Check out the terms with your stock library, or get the company involved and ask if you need 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! Selling Photos Guide