How To Sell Photos Online – Comprehensive Guide for 2020

Do your friends and family rave about your photography skills and think you should try to sell your photos online? Think they’re right but not sure how or where to get started?

Today, you can easily sell photos and make some extra cash. If you’re good and you know how and where to sell photos online, you can even turn it into a full-time income and a new career. It can eventually become a passive income should your photos get used again and again.

The truth is there has never been a better time to be a photographer. Photographers of all skills levels are in high-demand, and the ones with the right skill, resources, and know-how are raking it in.

In this guide, we’ll break down selling photos online for beginners and professional photographers alike in step-by-step form.

Not only will we cover who buys stock photography and the type of photography people are buying right now, but we’ll also dive deep into the best places to sell photos online, how to sell photos online for money, what you need to do to maximize your earnings, and a lot, lot more.

So, if you’re finally ready to make money doing what you love, pay attention.

Disclosure: When you purchase a product or service through some of the links on this page, we earn commission. This helps us to keep this site running. There are no extra costs to you at all by using our links. The products that I link out to are ones that I’ve personally used and tested.

How to Sell Photos Online – Step-By-Step

Step One: Know Your Buyer

If you want to sell photos online, you need to know your customer base. Today, the largest stock photo buyers are bloggers and small-medium website owners.

Larger companies and corporations buy plenty of stock photography as well, but they often have in-house photographers, so you should focus on catering to other buyers.

Step Two: Know What’s Selling

In addition to knowing who you’ll be selling your photos to, if you’re wondering how do I sell my photos online, you also need to know the types of photos people are buying.

In general, the types of photos selling the best include:

• People (at home, play, and work)
• Nature
• Food
• Travel
• Cities
• Tools

Tip – Browse through the different categories in some of the stock photo marketplaces we’ll be talking about below. This will give you a solid idea of some of the most popular, in-demand types of images being sold today.

Step Three: Find Your Niche

It’s never been easier or more difficult to sell photos online for money. On one hand, there are limitless possibilities to gain free exposure. On the other hand, there are tons of photographers just like you trying to make money sell photos online too. To stand out, you need to find your niche.

Every successful photographer has their own niche, style, or theme that consistently runs through their work. To sell photos online, you need to find your own niche in the marketplace and develop your own style as well.

Whether your thing is food, travel, nature, fashion, or anything else, you need to find your own slice of the market to corner and stay true and consistent to it.

Sounds easy, right? However, if you’re here wondering how do I sell my photos online for money, you probably have no idea where to start.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Typically, to sell photos online, finding your niche is something you sort of just feel your way into. You simply experiment with the types of photos and styles that resonate with both you and your audience.

That said, you can also take a more analytical approach and evaluate the demand for certain photography genres by doing a little keyword research. The greater the search volume for “dog photos,” “food photos,” and so on, the greater the profit potential.

Any niche with more than 1,000 monthly searches is something worth pursuing.

Step Four: Grow Your Audience

If you’re looking for ways to “sell my photos online for money,” you’re going to need to network and find people looking for the photos you have to sell.

Like YouTubers, bloggers, and artists in general, photographers must invest in growing their audiences. After all, they’re the building blocks of the business and ultimately the ones who decide whether or not you’re able to successfully sell photos online.

Whether you’re selling prints online or freelancing weddings, graduations, and the like, you need to network, expand your reach, and increase your credibility in order to sell photos offline, online, or anywhere else and make money.

Visual-heavy social media sites like Instagram with built-in audiences are great places to start. However, when learning how to sell photos online and make money, it’s also worth checking out one of the many photo-sharing sites, where you can connect with fellow photographers, begin growing a following, and even sell licenses allowing others to use your photos for a fee.

Linking all of your different photo-sharing accounts may make managing them easier as well. It’s also a great way to boost your visibility. By linking your accounts, you can publish your pics on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and more with a single click and a single post.

For example, to do this on Instagram, you would simply go to Options->Settings->Linked Accounts. It’s as easy as that.

On Instagram, you might consider using the Hashtagify tool to help boost your visibility even more. With it, you can discover a heap of active, relevant hashtags to get more views, likes, comments, and overall engagement.

This is how you grow your audience – by creating good work and constantly publishing it via social media and other outlets. By growing your audience and creating a name for yourself, you’ll not only find it easier to sell your work at any of the marketplaces below, but you’ll also be able to charge more. It’s a win-win.

Step Five: Embrace Ecommerce

If you landed here by typing “sell my photos online for cash” into Google, odds are you don’t want to learn to sell photos online for free. Since you want to earn money for your photos, you need to maximize your earning potential by embracing ecommerce and integrating it into your portfolio.

Most photographers have a website to showcase their portfolios and land clients. However, many fail to integrate ecommerce into their portfolio sites. This is a big mistake.

By adding ecommerce into your main portfolio site, you’ll be able to seamlessly accept payments and add other forms of monetization, like selling courses, services, and physical products.

For example, in addition to showcasing your wildlife photography, you can also sell prints, calendars, and more right from your very own photography store.

You may have just been interested in learning how to sell photos online, but why stop there? You can easily create a portfolio store using Shopify and start selling your photography directly through one main portal.

There are even several “Art and Photography” themes to choose from and a ton of apps to make your site a highly functional, stunning display of your work.

Creating a website or Shopify store is actually pretty easy, but there are plenty of other places to sell photos online too.

Where Can I Sell My Photos Online?

1. Sell Photos on Your Own Site

A lot of people looking for the best place to sell photos online to make money turn to stock photo sites likes Shutterstock and several others we’ll get to in a moment.

However, continuing on what we were just talking about, the best site to sell photos online is actually your own website.

Why? Well, here are a few reasons:

• You can set the prices
• You don’t have to give up a percentage of your payout profits
• You have complete control over everything!

Don’t have your own website yet? Don’t worry; creating a website isn’t as difficult as it seems. From WordPress to Shopify, I’ve created dozens of websites on every platform and have written guides for using each.

That said, most professional photography websites are made with WordPress. Not only is WordPress easy to use, but there’s a bevy of plugins available to make your photography site look great and work even better.

I recommend using Bluehost

Getting up and running with your photography website is very simple with Bluehost.
You get a FREE domain, high quality hosting and email for just $2.95 pm ( that’s just 0.09¢ a day! ) Use this link to get your free domain.

I have a super easy Make A Website guide that will help get online, looking great and making money from selling your photography.

Next up is the gallery plugin…

I use the Envira Plugin for my image sites.

The Envira Gallery plugin is particularly useful for creating stunning image galleries. With this plugin, you can also create photo albums with wonderful, customizable Lightboxes to better showcase your photos, categorize them, and make them stand out.

To top it all off, the plugin features a WooCommerce add-on as well, which makes selling your photos a breeze.

2. Adobe Stock

Formerly Fotolia, Adobe Stock is a marketplace for selling stock images created by the makers of Photoshop, Lightroom, and several other of today’s top photo editing solutions.

This popular photo-selling platform has been around for over a decade and actually has the unique distinction of being the very first marketplace to sell digital photos online.

Adobe Stock also has a higher royalty share than other online stock photo marketplaces, and uploading photos to the platform is super easy. Plus, once you uploaded them, they become available in other Adobe applications, so you can expand your reach to millions of Adobe users.

With Adobe Stock, contributors can earn from 20-60 percent. Not only is their take a little below average, but they also don’t force contributors to provide them with exclusive selling rights. This means you can sell your photos on Adobe Stock and other platforms as well.

Best of all, given the size of Adobe and its position as a leading software giant, Adobe Stock isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It will continue to be a popular destination for stock photography buyers and sellers for quite some time.

3. Shutterstock

Like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock has been around for a lifetime and is incredibly popular with stock photo buyers and sellers alike. In fact, the platform is home to over 200 million images and videos available for purchase royalty-free.

However, this doesn’t mean they don’t receive their cut. As a Shutterstock contributor, you can earn 20-30 percent of the sale price of your images, which is slightly lower than Adobe Stock but about on par with other stock photo marketplaces.

As a microstock site, Shutterstock photos are typically priced lower than similar photos on other marketplaces. However, with the volume of daily buyers they receive, it’s all about quantity. It’s a numbers game.

Like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock is also non-exclusive, so you’re free to sell the same photos elsewhere. Plus, your copyrights are protected and you receive credit for your images to help market your brand.

More information on selling your photos with Shutterstock

4. Getty Images

If you’re wanting to learn how to sell photos online and make money, Getty images is worth checking out. This higher-end stock images site allows you to sell photos to major brands and publishers on the lookout for high-quality images to license.

Licensing rates for Getty contributors begin at 20 percent, but given the higher fees their images fetch, becoming a contributor and getting the okay to sell photos on their site is well worth the effort.

5. Alamy

Many professional photographers consider Alamy the best website to sell photos online. While it doesn’t attract as many buyers as Adobe Stock or Shutterstock, they allow sellers to earn as much as 50 percent.

Alamy also has fewer rules. They allow photographers to sell photos online without ay copyright or licensing issues. To date, Alamy has paid out over $180 million to photographers, and this figure just continues to grow.

6. Stocksy

Stocksy is another pretty well-known place to sell photos online stock. This mid-range stock photo site is popular with publishers, but they require exclusive images.

As such, Stocksy has higher standards on who they accept as contributors. Once accepted, however, you can expect generous payouts of 50-75 percent.

7. Etsy

Etsy probably isn’t the first place to come to mind when thinking about how do I sell photos online. After all, it’s better known for selling unique handmade goods. That being said, Etsy has over 30 million users and provides several different ways to sell photos, so their platform is definitely worth considering.

In addition to offering a wider audience than many other stock photo sites, they also let you keep a bigger chunk of each sale. Plus, you can sell both digital and physical prints, and you have complete control over how you display your photos and how much they sell for.

Basically, it’s perfect if you want greater control over your photography business but don’t want to create your own site, at least yet.

8. iStock

Owned by Getty Images, iStock is a stock photography offshoot of the more professional photo selling and buying site. Here, you can sell both exclusive and non-exclusive photos and earn 25-45 percent of each sale.

9. Fotomoto

So far, when discussing the best way to sell photos online, we’ve talked about a variety of stock photo marketplaces, but with Fotomoto, we’re going back to square one – your website.

Rather than a marketplace, Fotomoto is a widget designed to integrate with your website to boost its ability to sell photos online. In fact, it manages the entire photo-selling process for you.

Similar to Etsy, the widget allows you to sell digital photos, prints, canvases, and more. If you’re selling physical photos, Fotomoto makes it super easy by handling all of the packaging too.

Fotomoto is alsocompletely customizable. You can adjust the settings to include your logo, branding information, and more. Best of all, it’s designed to work seamlessly with WordPress and you don’t have to pay anyone a cut of the profits. Although you have to pay a fee to use it, so it won’t let you sell photos online free, you get paid the total sale amount and not just a percentage.

10. Can Stock Photo

Over 70,000 amateur and professional photographers use Can Stock Photo to sell photos online. They offer a variety of payout structures from fixed amounts to percentages, and if you refer a fellow photographer to Can Stock Photo, you’ll receive $10 for every 100 photos they sell.

When you upload a stock photo on Can Stock Photo, your photos will also be listed on Fotosearch, which is a stock photography agency used by those in-the-know. So, you get double the exposure and chance for potential sales.

11. Crestock

Crestock is more structured than many stock photography marketplaces, but it allows you to earn money for your photos in a more passive way. When you set up your free account and begin uploading images, the Crestock editors will evaluate the photos, add them to your Crestock portfolio, and make them available for purchase.

While that’s really all you need to do to start selling photos and making money with Crestock, the platform lets you add descriptions and keywords for each image to make them easier to find and stand out from the crowd.

When you make a sale, Crestock will pay you 20-40 percent. The more an image is downloaded, the higher the commission you’ll receive for each one.

12. 500px

500px isn’t just another online marketplace where you can build your portfolio, sell photos, and make money.

Like many of the marketplaces listed in this how to sell photos online guide, the site is free to use and easy to get started. Just set up your free account, start loading images, and you’re good to go.

However, unlike the other stock photo marketplaces, it takes a community approach. In addition to creating a portfolio and listing your photos in the marketplace, you can follow other budding and established photographers, win prizes in Photo Quest competitions, and more.

Another neat feature of 500px is the “Pulse” algorithm, which boosts your exposure by including your new photo uploads on the “Discovery” page. The platform also provides tracking and analytics, so you can see how many clicks each photo is receiving, how you stack up against your peers, and other useful things to know.

When your photos sell, you’ll earn 30 percent and 60 percent for non-exclusive and exclusive photos respectively.

13. PhotoDune

Part of the Envato Market, PhotoDune is another great site to sell photos online. They have a few different payout structures, but like similar photo selling sites, you’ll get 30 percent for each sale. They also have a referral program where you can earn 30 percent for every first cash deposit as well.

14. Snapped4u

If your niche is taking photos of events, Snapped4u may be, well, for you. Designed specifically for photographers looking to sell event photos online, it’s the perfect digital venue for showcasing and selling shots of weddings, engagements, bar mitzvas, parties, and other events.

At Snapped4u, you can create a gallery of your images similar to a portfolio, set a price for each photo, and sell away. All photos are sold as jpeg files, and they immediately email the files directly to buyers on your behalf. Payouts are issued via PayPal once a month on the first.

The best part about Snapped4u is its ability to help you establish an event photography business, and not just sell a photo here and there. Since each seller has his or her own gallery page, customers can easily find and book you for one or multiple events.

You’ll also have a personalized URL, which you can advertise and send potential clients to rather than creating your own website. Plus, they have some of the best commission rates around.

15. PhotoShelter

PhotoShelter is also a little different. Rather than selling digital photos, it helps sell photos in print form and deliver them to clients.

Unfortunately, if you want to know how to sell my photos online for free, PhotoShelter probably isn’t for you. In order to upload photos for buyers to see, you need to rent space on their platform. There are several different monthly and yearly plans with different features to choose from depending on your budget and how much “space” you need.

16. Twenty20

Twenty20 began as a specialized tool to help Instagram photographers sell their photos to brands. Today, it’s a dynamic stock photography website where you can showcase your images, connect with potential clients, and sell photos online.

At Twenty20, you can make money three ways:

• Earn $2 for every photo licensed
• 100 percent commissions for scheduled shoots
• Cash prizes from photo challenges

17. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FreeDigitalPhotos.net provides free downloads of photos for users to purchase. When professionals buy your images for business use, you’ll receive a generous 70 percent commission.

A smaller version of each image can also be downloaded for free, but they require attributions, which is a plus. So, while you won’t receive a cent for these, you will get credit.

18. Dreamstime

If you’ve told yourself it’s finally time to sell my photos online for money and have committed yourself to the cause, Dreamtime is worth checking out.

This stock photo website offers a generous payout structure of 25-50 percent for non-exclusive photos and up to 55 percent for exclusive ones. There are also a number of ways to make money from referrals for both contributors and buyers.

However, earning money on Dreamstime takes commitment. In fact, the bulk of your portfolio must be uploaded to their site and stay there for at least six months. If you can do that, you’ll open up even more selling opportunities.

19. Depositphotos

It doesn’t have a catchy name, but this photo selling platform does offer commissions ranging from 34-42 percent for the sale and licensing rights to your photos.

Similar to Dreamstime, the longer and more engaged you are, the more you can earn as commissions are based on a contributor’s status and experience on the platform.

20. EyeEm

EyeEm is one of the best places to sell your photos online, especially if you want to break into commercial photography.

Unlike many of the other stock photography sites on this list, they primarily focus on stock photography for the advertising space. As such, photos that sell on EyeEm often command higher prices, and they advertise 50 percent commissions for each sale.

21. GL Stock Images

GL Stock Images is another site where you can sell your photos and set your own prices. Whether you sell an image for $10 or $100, you’ll earn 40 percent commission on each sale.

22. 123RF

This is another stock photography platform offering 30-60 percent commissions on all photo purchases. As a contributor, the exact amount you’ll earn is based on your total number of photo downloads and sales. In other words, the more popular you and your photos are, the more you will make.

23. TourPhotos

As its name suggests, TourPhotos specializes in travel photography, making it a popular hub for travel photographers around the world. A number of tour companies and travel agencies also use the platform to upload photos of their clients’ adventures for others to view and purchase.

All in all, it’s a great platform for selling travel and adventure photos online. If this is your niche, you should stop by.

24. SmugMug

SmugMug is a paid photo hosting and video hosting and sharing site where users can upload photos and videos for a small monthly fee. The platform also helps amateur and professional photographers sell their digital or print media to its wide userbase.

The Silicon Valley company’s purchase of Flickr in 2018 is a great indicator of its growing popularity, making it a great place for photographers to network, build a following, and sell their images.

SmugMug provides four different account levels to choose from, and each one has its own unique features. They also have a service for professional photographers in which they facilitate the sale of their digital and print photos.

Photographers can also add digital watermarks to their images, but we don’t recommend it. However, we do recommend setting your own custom pricing, which SmugHug allows.

25. Foap

Last but not least we have Foap. Cool name, right?

Foap provides contributors with five ways to make money selling their photos online:

• $5 for each photo sold
• $0.25 for every album-specific photo sold
• Up to $2,500 for Missions
• Varied payouts for Getty Mission submissions
• Sales through Adobe, Alamy, and other partner platforms

How to Create In-Demand Photography People Want

It’s not enough knowing where to sell your photos. You also need to know how to create the types of photos people actually want to buy. This requires an understanding of which stock photos sell the best. After that, it’s up to you to have the right skill and know-how to create and capture the images with a professional touch.

First Of All – Get some training

There’s loads of photography tutorials / courses / classes that you can attend or watch online. YouTube has a wealth of knowledge on how to take great photos, but ideally you want to sign up to a course that will take you from “beginner to professional” and have all the right information in one place!

Photography Masterclass is one of those resource.

Set up by Pro Photographer Evan Sharboneau, he’s helped over 9.2 Million people with their photography skills. No matter where you are with photography – just starting out, a hobbyist, or want to get 100% comfortable in Full Manual Mode, Evan will show you how to create incredibly sellable stock photography.

What Stock Photos Sell the Best?

When selling photos online, it helps knowing which photos sell the best. Not only will you be able to sell more, but you may also be able to charge more for in-demand subjects.

Here’s a look at the types of photos worth the big bucks:

• Authentic People and Settings

High-quality, in-demand stock photos feel natural, not staged. So, begin observing people in genuine, real world settings. Whether it’s the strangers working at the local coffee shop or friends of yours interacting at a party, get a feel for how people naturally interact with others and their environment.

• Trends

Hot trendy topics like cryptocurrency or electric cars offer much fewer options for selling stock photography than other time-tested subjects like autumn, love, and the like.

However, there are still opportunities with emerging tech. The key is being able to look at the implications of the technology, or the bigger picture so to speak, and tell a story with your stock photo images.

To do this, think about the narratives you can create with settings, objects, or subjects and how they can be used to create a concept, such as the effect of social media, legalized marijuana, or any other on-trend topic.

To help you out, some stock photography sites like Shutterstock will keep you updated on hot topics and emerging trends, so you’ll know which types of photos are currently in high demand.

• Hard-to-Find Topics

When selling stock photos, the most popular keywords often have the most competition. So, to have fewer competitors and uniquely position yourself as a photographer, think about more obscure subject matter companies may have a harder time finding stock images for.

It could be an unchartered travel locale or a specific medical condition; the key is putting in some time to research the stock photography sites and get an idea for what’s lacking. Then, take some shots and create some content to fill the void.

• Events

From Fourth of July fireworks to Christmas parades, events are great opportunities to capture the energy in the air and the authentic moments everyone loves. When possible, try going behind the scenes for a more intimate shot and perspective. People in flamboyant attire or brightly colored outfits are also good subjects because they stand out.

• Seasonal

There may be a ton of it, but seasonal photography is always in huge demand. To carve your own place in this competitive niche, try catching some great shots at local seasonal events like a St. Patti’s Day jamboree or long-running fall festival. You get the idea.

Stock Photography Tips

Now that you’ve learned all about how and where to sell photos online, here are some helpful tips to make your photos really shine and most importantly, sell!

Tip #1 – Have a Concept

When it comes to stock photography, it’s a lot easier to plan ahead than it is to try and fill in the spaces afterwards. So, understand why you’re shooting what you’re shooting and the emotion, feeling, or idea your trying to capture. At the same time, think about the mood you want to convey, which will determine your lighting.

Tip #2 – Have a Great Thumbnail

When designers scroll through stock photo sites, the images appear as thumbnails, and they only look at each one for a split second. As a result, your photos must be clear and very easy to see what is going on. When possible try to leave a little extra space for text and a little design treatment. Buyers often look for photos they can adapt to fit their specific needs.

Tip #3 – Take Your Camera Everywhere

Planning is important, but sometimes the best, most authentic shots just happen spontaneously at any given time. So, if you’re serious about your photography, bring your camera with you everywhere you go. You never know when a great photo opportunity will appear.

Tip #4 – Don’t Add Logos

Most photos sold online are sold for stock photography. Since stock photography is essentially commercial photography, your photos should be logo-free. While there might be an exception or two, such as someone using an Apple laptop in the background of one of your shots, you should try to make your photos as generic and brand-free as possible.

Tip #5 – Think About What You Upload

Every photo isn’t a great one, so never upload a photo just because. While it’s important to shoot as much as possible, even in uninspiring moments, you don’t want to upload every shot you take. A high-quality shot will sell like hot cakes, but a poor-quality shot will have a negative effect on your reputation and body of work.

How to Sell Photos Online – Final Thoughts

If you love looking at the world through a lens and want to begin selling your work online, I truly hope this guide has helped.

If you’ve made it this far, you should know all about the world of stock photography and how to sell photos online. Now, it’s your turn to put what you’ve learned to good use and transform your hobby into an income today!

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Jamie

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.

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