A part-time freelance writer who is trying different ways to earn money online.
You can surely make a full-time income by selling photos online. You don't have to be a professional photographer to be accepted or earn money this way even though it helps. The best part is that you can earn a passive income. You just have to click original photos and upload them to relevant websites. Once you have a nice collection of images, you will get paid without doing anything.
Disclaimer: This article has one or more affiliate links that may allow me to earn a commission if you join through them. You will not be charged anything extra for joining through the affiliate links.
Here are the best places to sell photos online.
Shutterstock is a very trustworthy site when it comes to selling photos and earning money online. You can earn up to $120 per image, but you will not earn so much in most cases. You can earn $120 only when your lifetime earnings are more than $10,000 and the customer chooses the Enhanced license. The Enhanced License is for those people who are looking to use an image for merchandising and high-viewing commercial uses.
Most customers will just go for the Standard license instead of the Enhanced one. The Standard license pays much less, as the highest you can earn is $2.85 per image download. You can still earn a significant amount of money by having a lot of images that get downloaded often.
iStock by Getty Images
iStock is surely one of the best places to sell photos online. It is owned by Getty Images, Inc. So, your work may be displayed on either iStock.com or gettyimages.com. The best work is displayed on both websites providing you additional visibility and earnings. This website has been around since 2000, so they have a really good reputation and a large customer base.
The payment depends on the website that the content is licensed from. Content licensed via iStock will get you 15% royalty for photos and 20% for videos and illustrations. These are the rates for the non-exclusive contributors. You can apply to become an exclusive contributor and earn more. As an exclusive creator, you can earn 25% to 45% royalty on photos, videos and illustrations.
The non-exclusive rate is 15% for photos and illustrations while the exclusive rate is 20% for the same on Getty Images. The non-exclusive rate for videos is 20% while the exclusive rate is 25%.
Adobe Stock was earlier known as Fotolia. It has millions of buyers and the pay is better than most websites for selling photos online. You will be paid 33% commission on photos and vectors and 35% commission on videos. The minimum payout amount is $50, and you can get it through PayPal or Skrill. I don't think that you will have any issues in getting started if you are above 18 years of age.
This is a decent option because it is backed up by Adobe. You will get a lot of exposure, and you can also upload the images somewhere else to earn even more money.
Can Stock Photo
Can Stock Photo is one of the older websites for selling photos online as it has been around since the year 2004. This website requires you to submit 3 images before you can get accepted and earn money. They should get back to you on the same day. You can earn as much as 50% on custom licenses. I recommend taking a look at the payment schedule to understand the entire picture. In my opinion, the earnings are pretty good. This website is certainly not as well-known as some other websites, but it can still provide you a decent source of income.
The advantage of this website is that your photos will automatically be shown on Fotosearch. You will get more exposure and any sales will be shown in your account on this website. It is always better to have your photos show up on more than one website. They also boast a fast upload system allowing you to upload up to 20 images simultaneously.
Alamy has already paid $190 million to the contributors, and they allow you to submit a wide variety of images. The commission is very good as they pay 50% on every sale. They are non-exclusive as well, so you can use the stock photos on other websites as well. You just have to make sure that all of the websites that you work with are non-exclusive if you are uploading to multiple websites.
Alamy doesn't have a very large customer base when compared to some other websites, but they have a broad collection of photos. Their Quality Control checks are only related to technical criteria, so you can upload almost anything and still get approved. They allow you to sell images through their global distribution network, but the commission is 30% because of the involvement of a third party.
Dreamstime is one of the best websites to sell your stock photography. It seems to have a complicated pay structure based on your image downloads, the type of the image and your status as a contributor. There are exclusive contributors that earn 60% share in the revenue and $0.20 per approved submission. If you are not an exclusive contributor, then your revenue share should be in the range of 25-50%.
When your uploaded image gets approved, then it will be included as a 1 level file. As your downloads increase so will your file level. When your image is moved to a higher level, then you will earn more from it. You need to have more than 25 downloads to reach the highest level.
The difference in the earnings between different levels is significant. I like this pay structure because it rewards those who do well. Exclusive images pay a little bit more, but I think that uploading to several websites would be much better.
123rf has been around since 2005, and this stock photo website has more than 90 million images in its library. This is a great place to sell your quality work because content that doesn't meet the standard will simply be lost in the sea of images. The commissions are paid in the range of 30%-60% for each license sold. Your content will reach as many as 44 countries, and they don't want exclusive rights to your content.
Depositphotos has been around since the year 2009. You need to pass a test to join. Based on what I can gather, the test has a very high acceptance rate. All you have to do is upload a few decent quality images, and you should be accepted. You are paid based on your level as a contributor. There are 5 levels. The problem is that you need a lot of downloads to reach the higher levels. For instance, you need more than 150,000 downloads to reach the 5th level.
Following are the levels, the percentage of royalty paid on them and the downloads required to reach those levels.
Level 1 (Green): 34%, up to 499 downloads
Level 2 (Bronze): 36%, 500-4,999 downloads
Level 3 (Silver): 38%, 5,000-24,999 downloads
Level 4 (Gold): 40%, 25,000-149,000 downloads
Level 5 (Platinum): 42%, 150,000 downloads
This website focuses on selling subscription plans. The problem is that each file purchased via a subscription plan counts as one-third towards your level. So, you will need 3 downloads to increase your level. The good news is that the base royalty is not low, so even if you don't reach the highest levels you should be fine.
500px is not your traditional stock photo website, but it is a little more than that. It has the community aspect allowing you to participate in groups and follow works of other photographers. You can participate in Photo Quest competitions to earn prizes. You are paid 60% commission on exclusive photos and 30% commission on non-exclusive photos.
Their distribution partners are Getty Images and VCG. So, your photos will be sold on various platforms if they are approved. The quality of images sold on this platform are really high. So, you need to be really good if you want to do well.
Snapwire is a high-quality stock photo website that offers the unique ability to request photos. Clients can request photos, and you can fulfill their requests to earn money. You get to keep 100% of the earnings on requests, but it is difficult to get your photo selected because of the competition. I don't think that you will be able to do well without high-quality equipment, so you should consider other websites if you don't have the required equipment.
You can also sell your photos like a regular stock photo website. The shots in your portfolio can be sold to your network, and the best ones are sold in the stock library of the website. You can earn 50% on the sales of the photos in your portfolio and marketplace. This website doesn't want your copyright, so you can sell the same photos at other places too.
Selling Photos Through Your Website
All of us don't want to sell photos online through stock photo websites. You can sell photos through your website by using widgets, themes and tools that allow you to sell photos online securely. The advantages of selling photos through themes, plugins and tools is that you get to keep more of the profit and have complete control. Here are some of the best plugins, themes or tools for selling photos.
Fotomoto: This widget allows you to sell images through your existing website very easily. It can integrate with a wide number of websites and also offers a free plan. The free plan has a higher transaction fee, so you should go for the paid plans if you can. The good news is that there is no limit to the number of images in the free plan. This is a great widget for those people who want to offer their photos to be printed and sold directly to their customers.
Photocrati: Photocrati is a highly customizable theme for those who are passionate about selling photos. You will have no problems as they have everything that you need in this theme. All you need to do is choose one from the 60 designs and customize the website your way. You can pay a one-time fee and use this for your lifetime. However, you will not get any support or updates if you choose to avoid paying the annual fee.
PhotoShelter: I have to confess that the websites setup through PhotoShelter look amazing. You can just go to their website and look at some of the examples. They have everything built-in, so you will have no issues in getting started. You can use their mobile app for doing stuff on the go. Their website offers resources like free guides and webinars to help you understand this business if you are not experienced. The prices of their plans are affordable with the most expensive plan costing $49.99 per month.
SmugMug: SmugMug has been around for more than 15 years, so it is pretty reliable. Like PhotoShelter, it will allow you to create your own money-making photo website. It is less expensive when compared to PhotoShelter, but I personally felt that PhotoShelter was a bit better. I think a lot of features are common between the two. However, I didn't see the option to market yourself by using custom coupons, print packages and events on the PhotoShelter website.
I have shared the best places to sell photos online in my opinion.If you have some ideas, then feel free to comment below.
It would be wise to sell photos on multiple websites that allow you to sell non-exclusive photos. You will reach a wide audience and enhance your earnings. It can be difficult in the beginning, but I am sure that you will improve with experience. I wish you luck in your quest to sell photos and earn money.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Kshitiz Gaur