Selling Stock Photos 2017
If you believe photography is a costly hobby, you are correct, it can be. But that doesn’t mean that you need pro-quality equipment to make money from your own photos! Selling Stock Photos 2017
In actuality, if you’ve got a good phone cam and a steady hand, you are already in with a shot.
But you get your clicks, there are a growing number of opportunities to monetise photos you have already taken. And when photography’s already your bag, you will find 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 up one 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 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 mobile snaps, plus you still have a shot at the other biz ideas below. Continue reading!
It helps to have…
Some kind of editing software will help buff your pics for the best results, so it’s well worth sniffing out a decent package (and learning how to use it!) So you can make more money with your own photos.
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are industry standards for photo editing. But they cost bucks! 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 colour correction, straightening, cropping and contrast.
- Raw Therapee is a Lightroom-like editor with loads of tools for tweaking colours, curves and much more.
- PIXLR is a convincing alternative to Photoshop, and even simplifies the same shortcuts directly out the bag. You can run it straight from a browser / through the app at no cost.
- GIMP can do a lot of what Photoshop excels at, though some users guess it’s a tougher learning curve.
- There are loads of phone editing apps to be had for free or a couple of pence, but Snapseed (iPhone, Android, free) consistently makes the best-of lists.
- Do not forget the bloatware image software bundled into your’puter, telephone or notebook. Most 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 goods as well as in ads, together with the photographer getting a cut of the sale each time.
Selling photos 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 need to submit a choice of pics (and be accepted) before you can become a stock library contributor. After that, some websites will keep on reviewing all your submissions, and will happily bounce any they do not think meet standards.
What that means is you’ll always have to be on the ball about choosing your best shots. Do not get too hung up about rejections, though; combine multiple websites and post pics to them to find the best possible coverage.
Which Websites Pay Most?
Swing by Alamy first. Their student contributor scheme provides 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 loads of UK and US institutions are already on the books. Selling Stock Photos 2017
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’re not a student, or your uni isn’t enrolled, the pay-out’s still a fairly decent 50%. Selling phone pics through their Stockimo program (iStore only) earns you a 20% cut.
Other Websites to Check Out:
- Picfair comes with a twist: you decide how much 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 but, if you want to earn more than’likes’, you can also pimp your images through the market. EyeEm divide every sale with you 50/50, with photos 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 managed through the app (Android, iTunes, free). Foap sells photos for $10 each and divides it 50/50, so you will make $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 cash and perks.
Big Name Websites
Dreamstime provide 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 a phone, start with the free Dreamstime program (Android, iPhone).
IStock hands over 15% of a picture’s sales price, but guarantee 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 licence or subscription program the customer purchases determines how your piece is calculated.
Shutterstock coughs up $0.25 (USD) per sale on the most frequent subscription programs, but say you will find a bigger cut as your life earnings pass various levels. To put that into context, as soon as you’ve earned $10,000, you’ll be bumped up to the heady heights of 38 cents an image…
Playing the Stock (photo) Market
Earning money with stock photos can involve a substantial 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 several sites.
- Photos of individuals are always in demand, but anybody you pap might need to sign a model release form to say they’re OK with you with it (your inventory library will have template forms you can print, sign and submit).
- Assess 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 say in how customers use your photos, so in case you don’t need your selfies turning up in ads for STDs or benzoyl peroxide, 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 plenty of keywords when you upload your pictures. It helps people 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 income 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 photos on your home printer or at a high-street lab, better quality means greater profits! Selling Stock Photos 2017
That means using a suitable printing laboratory (one that excels in art or framed prints), opting for expert paper, or even selling limited or signed editions. Seems like a drag? Not necessarily; there’s inspiration below to get you started.
Use a Photo Host
Photographer-friendly website hosts provide you with a safe place to store your digital pics, a portfolio (so you can show’em away ) and shopping 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’s not everyone’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 website or Etsy store and hang onto more of your profit!
Obtaining prints or gifts to sell 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 sell photos and other content directly from our profiles.
But until then, have 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 your 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 set-up costs.
The real beauty of print-on-demand is that while you may advertise a great deal of products, none of them really exist until somebody buys’em — so there’s no inventory to shop, lose, or fall over. Even better, there are sites out there that do all the producing, printing and submitting for you, so all you have to do is take the photos!
Blurb enables you to create photo books just by importing your Facebook or Insta pictures — and you can sell your finished novel on Blurb or Amazon.co.uk. You can also advertise books on your website (if you have one), but have Blurb/Amazon manage the payment. Easy! Selling Stock Photos 2017
Gifts and Goodies
Turns out you can slap a photo on pretty much anything, from shower curtains to pet clothing 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), choose 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 market, but you may opt to have your very own online store and add a mark-up to 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 monthly, 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, keep in mind that your cut is added to the sales price: go OTT and you may find it more difficult to make sales.
- With Spreadshirt you can 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 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 low-cost — if you’re contented with the occasional sale, it can be a wonderful way to generate money on the side for relatively little effort.
The word from successful vendors is that, to earn proper bucks, you will want 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 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 . When it’s individuals, pets, food or something totally left-field, it is a lot easier to market yourself if your portfolio showcases what you do best.
- Take time to learn your craft. You may get lucky selling stock if you don’t know your aperture from your elbow, but you can not 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 gear!
- 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 hunt out your favourite 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 take 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 photographs or cover local events.
- You might have more chance of being adopted by Madonna than getting a press pass, but it’s like a golden ticket which could 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) however, once you’re in, you’ll get loads of saleable photo opps!
While everyone with an Insta account appears 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 tons 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, don’t 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 only 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 make the best pics — think roads, food (street food?) , facial expressions, loved ones, pets, sports… anything!
- Back-up your best pics (or any you would hate to lose): maintain copies on an external drive or in cloud storage (Dropbox provides 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 may not be able to sell photos if they include trademarked products, brands or even specific buildings. Check out the terms with your stock library, or contact the company involved and ask if you need permission to hawk your own snaps.
- Do not just do the same-old or what everybody else is doing. Quirky, cute or weird is always in fashion. Amen to that! Selling Stock Photos 2017