Sell Your Photos
If you think photography is a costly hobby, you are correct, it can be. But that does not mean you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your photos! Sell Your Photos
In actuality, if you have got a decent phone cam and a steady hand, you’re 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, you will find heaps more ways to develop your skills, 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 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 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 these days so this isn’t always the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing amount of inventory libraries are catering for cellular snaps, plus you still have a shot at the other biz thoughts below. Continue 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 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 color correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of resources for tweaking colours, 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 program at no cost.
- GIMP can do a lot of what Photoshop excels at, though some users guess it is a tougher learning curve.
- There are tons of phone editing programs to be obtained for free or a couple of pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) always makes the best-of lists.
- Don’t forget the bloatware picture software bundled into your’puter, phone or laptop. Most can make light work of the basics.
Selling Through Stock Libraries
Stock libraries purchase’n’ sell digital photos to use on websites, in books, on goods as well as in ads, with the photographer getting a cut of the sale every time.
Selling photos through a stock website 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 selection of pics (and be accepted) until 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 standards.
What that means is you’ll always have 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 all of them to get 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 pictures 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. Sell Your Photos
Alamy reckons images typically sell for $90 (USD) each, but you could 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 program (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 website butif you wish to earn more than’enjoys’, you can also pimp your images through the market. EyeEm divide 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 can upload pics via the net or phone.
- Foap is built around telephone photographers, with everything handled through the app (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells photos 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 longer it’s downloaded: newbie images begin at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you are shooting a phone, begin 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 website. Photos typically sell for #7 or #20 a go, but the sort of licence or subscription plan the customer buys determines how your piece is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most frequent subscription plans, but say you’ll find a larger cut as your life earnings pass different levels. To put that into context, once you’ve earned $10,000, you’ll 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 couple of 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 individuals are always in demand, but anyone you pap may want to sign a model release form to say they are OK with you using it (your stock 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 state 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 images. It helps folk 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 take, who to market 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 print your holiday snaps, there’s 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! Sell Your Photos
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 site hosts provide you with a safe 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 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 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 money: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
As an alternative, you can always get your own website or Etsy shop and hang onto more of your gain!
Obtaining 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 sell photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, have a tip from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he offered 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 strong fanbase, but if you have talent (and the right 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 your 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 with zero setup costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you can advertise a great deal 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 websites out there that do all the printing, printing and submitting for you, so all you’ve got to do is take the photos!
Blurb lets you create photo books by simply importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you can sell your finished book 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! Sell Your Photos
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photograph on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothes and PJs; and you don’t even need a glue gun to get started!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photos (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 very own online shop and add a mark-up to the price (which you get as your royalty) rather than It’s 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’s tempting to dial it up to full whack, remember that your cut is added to the sales price: go OTT and you might 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 start your own store and grab 20% commission.
- Redbubble starts with a product base cost 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 store is low-fuss and cheap — if you’re happy with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to generate cash on the side for relatively little work.
The word from successful vendors is that, to earn proper bucks, you will need to put in the hours (so the same as a job, sadly). We’re talking uploading lots of photos or designs, getting the word out, and generally making an effort!
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 freelance photographer:
- Know your market . Whether it’s individuals, pets, food or something completely left-field, it is a lot easier to market yourself whether your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take the time to learn your craft. You can get lucky selling stock in case you don’t know your aperture from your elbow, but you can’t 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 profit. And get insurance to your gear!
- Offer to photograph events, parties or portraits for friends and family to build up 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 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 contact with picture editors at newspapers, magazines or sites and ask if you can submit photographs or pay local events.
- You might have more chance of getting adopted by Madonna than getting a press pass, but it is 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) however, as soon as you’re in, you’ll get loads 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 is probably the toughest route you can take.
You’ll need a great deal of patience, perseverance, good shoes and adequate pics — and you may well have to give away images for free when you first begin to get noticed. If you’re in it for the career, do not 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 anyplace — and not just when you are doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of businesses and brands are after photographs of daily life and often it is the simple things which make the best pics — think streets, food (street food?) , facial expressions, loved ones, 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 cash on your tax invoice.
- You might not be able 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 everyone else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in vogue. Amen to that! Sell Your Photos