Do Pixabay and Freerangestock Really Generate Passive Income? (Can Your Photos Make Money Online?)
Ways to Earn From Uploading Your Photos
- Sell your masterpieces to newspapers and magazines. (Too few buyers and too many sellers makes this a tough option.)
- Post your photos on your blog or website and earn from referral links or adverts. (But it takes time to build the traffic and quality content needed to earn.)
- Upload your pictures to Wikimedia Commons and tag as free to use. (Mark the photos as Public Domain and give away your creative efforts.)
- Use a photo-sharing website like Pixabay or Freerangestock. (You have the opportunity to earn from voluntary payments by downloaders or from adverts adjacent to your pictures.)
Pixabay and Freerangestock Are Free Photo-Sharing Websites
Designers, writers and other creative people use images and photographs in their work. They do not always have the time or ability to create their own photos so they search online for high-quality images they can use. There are many commercial websites that charge for these, but there are also sites offering free downloads. These free photo-sharing websites have the explicit consent of the original photographer for their pictures to be released with a Creative Commons or a Public Domain license.
Some examples of sites with free downloadable photos are Wikimedia Commons,
Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, and Freerangestock. The video below shows some of the other popular sites with pictures that you can freely download and use.
10 Websites With Free Stock Photos and Images
What is Passive Income?
One definition of passive income is money that continues to accrue even after you have stopped actively working for it. For example, an author writes a book and then continues to receive royalties from its sales for years afterward. The royalties are a form of passive income.
If you have a regular job you are paid for the time worked or for the service provided. This is active income. The amount of money you receive is directly related to the hours and effort you put into your job. When you leave that employer or stop providing a service, then your income stops too.
Payment for Your Photographs
Image-sharing websites make money by either charging fees for photo downloads or by selling advertising space on their site. A professional photography website pays photographers for the pictures it uses and sets a high bar before you can join. There may be a fee to register or a requirement to produce a portfolio of quality images before your application is accepted.
Amateur photographers may want to make money from their pictures but are not able to meet these requirements. There are plenty of free photo-sharing websites that allow anyone to upload images. But few give the chance to earn from your images. Pixabay and Freerangestock are exceptions. They provide a platform for you to make money from your photographs.
Key Differences Between Freerangestock and Pixabay
Method of payment
A "cup of coffee"
Maximuim size of photos
Minimum size of photos
2400 x 1600
Total number of uploaded images
Community vote and then editor
Active and helpful
Earn Passive Income From AdSense or “A Cup of Coffee”
Pixabay and Freerangestock use different methods to provide you with an income from your photos. Pixabay with nearly 1.5 million uploads asks visitors to make a voluntary donation of “a cup of coffee” to photographers. Cups of coffee are donated via PayPal and the amounts paid and their frequency are not tracked by Pixabay. However, by checking out the forum discussions, it seems very few downloads generate these voluntary payments. Several forum users quote a ratio of around 10 “coffees” of US $1 per 25,000 downloads. Not enough to give up the day job.
Freerangestock is tiny by comparison having less than 50,000 photos on display. You will receive 100% of the AdSense income generated when someone clicks on an ad with your ID. Adverts with your ID are placed next to your pictures. Your ID is also rotated through the main site in proportion to the number of images on your account. This sounds great until you realize 1,000 clicks are needed to generate US $3 to $5. To get 1,000 ad clicks, you will need upwards of 100,000 views. This is going to be a s-l-o-w process. Occasionally a picture goes viral and then the views notch up quickly. This is a rare event and happens once in a blue moon.
Your Photos Must Meet a Need
Successful (money generating) images are ones that people are searching for. They want pictures that can be used for their own projects. Your photos should capture a mood or colorful scene that could be downloaded “as is” or adapted to suit a particular venture.
Take a look at the “popular downloads” category on photo-sharing websites to get an idea of what is in demand. For example, many e-book covers are created using a free image download. Business people may search for pictures to enliven a PowerPoint presentation. Teachers need photos to illustrate natural science and geography lessons.
The video below highlights current design trends and gives you some idea of the kind of images people want to download.
15 Trends in Graphic Design for 2018
Quality Submission Guidelines
Before appearing online, your photographs go through a quality approval process. Pixabay’s system is rigorous. They want high-quality images that are not only interesting and unique but are also technically perfect. They have a two-stage process; a picture must score well in a community vote and then it is checked by staff editors. This creates a strong community spirit as well as building a huge library of exceptional images.
Freerangestock’s submission process is less clear. An editor vets the pictures and rejects any that do not meet their standards. However, no reasons for rejection are given and there is no forum to ask for advice from other contributors. Looking at the number of uploads from individual contributors, it seems as though many start off enthusiastically uploading but then stop when they get no feedback.
Is This Income Really Passive?
A truly passive income is one where you need put no more effort into your product once the initial work is done. However, the internet is a competitive place and unless you keep your photographs “fresh” they will slip down the search results. Google appears to favor new, high quality, relevant, material. You can improve your chances of appearing on the first page of results by doing the following.
- Add new pictures
- Reply to comments on existing photos
- Make sure tag-words are relevant so that searchers get the result they want.
Posts on Pixabay’s community forum indicate the majority of active contributors are there because they want to help others. Their motives are altruistic. They enjoy the interaction with other creative people and the public recognition of their work that Pixabay gives them. The small amount of money they receive as “coffee” donations is a nice bonus, but not the prime reason for their participation.
Can Contributors Get a Job Assessing Photo Submissions?
Both Pixabay and Freerangestock have editors who vet photographs before they are published. However very few staffers are recruited for the thousands of contributors needed to make this kind of site commercially viable. You could wait years for a vacancy to occur. Your time is probably better spent improving your photography skills. Alternatively you could try looking for offline editorial work.