Selling Personal Pictures
If you believe photography is an expensive hobby, you are correct, it can be. But that doesn’t mean that you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your photos! Selling Personal Pictures
In fact, if you have got a good phone camera along with a steady hand, you’re already in with a shot.
However you get your clicks, you will find a growing 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 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 one up to get a sneak ), you will have more options for selling pics to stock libraries, to sites for prints, or for print-on-demand products. This is because cameras will generally 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 stock 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 type of editing program will help buff your pics for best results, so it is well 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 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 very same shortcuts right 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 guess it’s a more demanding learning curve.
- There are tons of phone editing programs to be obtained for free or a few pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) always makes the best-of lists.
- Do not overlook 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 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 site is a top way to browse passive income streams: you can upload a photograph once and sell it over and over again, pretty much forever!
You might 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 gladly 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. Do not get too hung up about rejections, however; combine a number of sites and post pics to all of them to get 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 two years. Total win! Your uni will have to be part of the scheme, but lots of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Selling Personal Pictures
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’re not a student, or your uni is not registered, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo program (iStore only) provides you a 20% cut.
Other Websites to Check Out:
- Picfair has a twist: you decide to what extent 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 want to earn more than’likes’, you can also pimp your images through the market. EyeEm split every sale with you 50/50, with photographs selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to articles, 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 photos for $10 each and divides 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 cash and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime provide up to 60 percent for exclusives. How much your photo sells for also goes up the more it’s downloaded: newbie images start at between $0.34 and $2.38 (USD). If you’re shooting a phone, begin with the free Dreamstime program (Android, iPhone).
IStock hands 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 sort of license or subscription plan the customer purchases determines how your slice is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most frequent subscription plans, but say you’ll find a bigger cut as your lifetime earnings pass different 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 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 will need to upload lots of quality pics to a number of sites.
- Photos of people are always in demand, but anybody you pap may need to signal 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 ).
- Assess the account terms! When will you 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 photographs, so in case you don’t want your selfies turning up in ads for STDs or hemorrhoid ointment, don’t 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 pictures. It helps folk find (and hopefully buy!) your pics.
Promoting Your Prints
There’s loads of liberty 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 wonderful little passive revenue earner.
Now, before you leg it down to Boots to batch print your holiday snaps, there’s a little more to it. While you can run off pictures on your home printer or at a high-street lab, better quality means higher profits! Selling Personal Pictures
That means using a suitable printing lab (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 site hosts provide you with a safe place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (so you can show’em off) 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 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 money: try Zenfolio or Smugmug.
Get Your Own Photo Shop
Alternatively, you could 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 not shift it!) .
Sell on Social Media Platforms
Eventually the social media giants will wise-up and begin letting us market photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, have a hint from street photographer Daniel Arnold: he offered 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 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’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 more — often using zero set-up costs.
The actual beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise tons of products, none of them actually exist until someone buys’em — so there’s no inventory to store, lose, or fall over. Even better, there are websites out there that do all of the producing, printing and posting for you, so all you have to do is take the photographs!
Blurb enables you to create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you’ll be able to 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 handle the payment. Easy! Selling Personal 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 let you upload your photos (or illustrations), select which products you wish to sell them on, and then give you a cut of the profits if they sell.
- CafePress pays you 10% if your products sell in their marketplace, but you can opt to have your own online shop 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 shop, but CafePress take 10% of your royalties monthly, up to a $10 max.
- Zazzle lets you set your own royalty rate between 5 percent 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 might find it harder to make sales.
- With Spreadshirt you may add a mark-up of $1 to $20 on items sold through the marketplace, or you can open your own shop 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 like.
Running a print-on-demand shop is low-fuss and cheap — if you are 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 make proper bucks, you will need to put in the hours (so just like a project, sadly). We’re talking uploading plenty of photos or layouts, 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 customers 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 completely left-field, it is easier to market yourself whether 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 know your aperture out of your elbow, but you can not afford to chance it when someone’s paying you for wedding pics!
- Work out your rate and make sure it covers your time, your costs and leaves you a little on top for gain. And get insurance for your equipment!
- Offer to photo events, parties or portraits for family and friends to build up 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 networking account with your best pics, let folk know you are 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 touch with picture editors at magazines, newspapers or websites and ask if you can submit photographs or pay local events.
- You might have more chance of being adopted by Madonna than getting a press pass, but it’s like a golden ticket that can get you into sports, fashion and other exclusive events. You’ll 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 loads 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 pictures for free when you first start out to get noticed. If you’re in it for the career, do not give up. If you’re 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’re doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of businesses and brands are after photographs of everyday life and often it is the simple things which produce the best pics — believe streets, food (street food?) , facial expressions, family, pets, sports… anything!
- Back-up your best pics (or any you’d hate to lose): keep 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 term, and can save you money on your tax bill.
- You might not have the ability to sell photos should 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 require 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! Selling Personal Pictures