Selling Photography Using Social Media
If you think photography is a costly hobby, you are right, it can be. But that does not mean you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your photos! Selling Photography Using Social Media
In fact, if you’ve got a good phone camera along with a steady hand, you’re already in with a shot.
But you get your clicks, there are an increasing number of opportunities to monetise photos you’ve 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 bash for yourself!
If you’ve got a digital camera (or fancy picking one up for a steal), 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 usually produce larger file photographs (although some camera phones are trumping digi cams these days so this isn’t always the case).
Got a camera phone? A growing number of stock 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 kind of editing program will help buff your pics for best results, so it is well worth sniffing out a decent bundle (and learning how to use it!) So you can earn more money with your 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 straight 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 tools for tweaking colors, curves and more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even recognises the 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 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 overlook the bloatware image software bundled into your’puter, phone or notebook. Most 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 and even in ads, with the photographer getting a cut of the sale each 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 may have to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) until you may become a stock library contributor. After that, some websites will keep on reviewing all your submissions, and will gladly bounce any they do not think meet standards.
What that means is you will always have to be on the ball about choosing your best shots. Don’t get too hung up about rejections, however; combine multiple 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 provides you 100% of the sales price of your pictures for 2 years. Total win! Your uni will need to be part of the scheme, but lots of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Selling Photography Using Social Media
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 is not 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 comes with a twist: you decide how much 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 site butif you wish to earn more than’likes’, you can also pimp your images through the marketplace. EyeEm split every sale with you 50/50, with photos selling from $20-$250. EyeEm Bonus: regular how-to articles, themed missions run by big brands, plus you can upload pics via the web or phone.
- Foap is built 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 a pic. They also run monthly Missions, where you can 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 percent 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 on a phone, begin with the free Dreamstime app (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 type of license or subscription plan the customer buys determines how your piece is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most common subscription programs, but say you will find 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 a picture…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Earning 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’ll need to upload lots of quality pics to a number of sites.
- Photos of individuals 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 will you get paid, and in what currency? What happens to your photos if you want to cancel your account later on?
- You often won’t get a state in how customers use your photos, so in case you don’t want your selfies turning up in advertisements for STDs or hemorrhoid ointment, don’t upload’em!
- Sign-up for contributor newsletters, as they could 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 purchase!) your pics.
Promoting Your Prints
There’s loads of freedom in selling prints (i.e., printed copies of your photos). You decide what to shoot, 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 is 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! Selling Photography Using Social Media
That means using a suitable printing laboratory (one which specialises in art or framed prints), opting for specialist paper, or even selling limited 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 (which means you can show’em away ) and shopping tools (so you can sell prints, downloads and wall art).
They even take care of the printing and any stamp each 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 profit!
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 networking giants will wise-up and start letting us market photos and other content right from our profiles.
But until then, take a tip 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 generate moolah from mouse mats, keyrings, t-shirts, bags, books and much more — often using zero setup costs.
The real beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise a great deal of goods, none of them actually exist until somebody buys’em — so there is no stock to shop, lose, or fall over. Better still, there are websites out there that do all of the printing, printing and submitting for you, so all you have to do is take the photos!
Blurb lets you create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you’ll be able to sell your final book on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You could also advertise books on your website (if you’ve got one), but have Blurb/Amazon manage the payment. Easy! Selling Photography Using Social Media
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 begin!
Most print-on-demand outfits allow you to upload your photographs (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 can choose to have your very 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 each month, up to a $10 max.
- Zazzle lets you set your own royalty rate between 5% and 99% 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 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’d like.
Running a print-on-demand store is low-fuss and cheap — if you’re contented with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to generate money on the side for relatively little work.
The word from successful sellers is that, to make proper bucks, you’ll need to put in the hours (so just like a project, sadly). We’re talking uploading lots of photos or layouts, getting the word out, and generally try!
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. Whether it’s people, pets, food or something totally left-field, it’s a lot easier to market yourself if 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 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!
- Offer to photo events, portraits or parties 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 networking account with your best pics, let folk know you’re available, and tell’em how to get in touch. Get cheeky and choose 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 may have more chance of being adopted by Madonna than obtaining a press pass, but it’s like a golden ticket that could 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’re going to get plenty of saleable photo opps!
While everyone with an Insta account seems to reckon they’re a pro photographer, the reality is that being a freelancer may be the toughest route you may take.
You’ll need tons 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, do not give up. 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 everywhere — and not just when you’re doing something or going somewhere special. Loads of companies and brands are after photos of everyday life and often it’s the simple things that make the best pics — think streets, 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).
- 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 could save you cash on your tax bill.
- You might not be able to sell photos if they include 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.
- Do not just do the same-old or what everyone else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in fashion. Amen to that! Selling Photography Using Social Media