How to Sell Image Online Photographers & Illustration












How to Sell Photos Online: For Both Photographers and Illustration


The ability to make money as a photographer, like a YouTuber or Instagrammer, is all about harnessing that same creativity at the heart of your work and applying it to the monetization of your talents.

  1. Finding your niche.
  2. Building an audience.
  3. Creating several streams of income.
This guide will explore some of the things you should know about selling photos online with resources and business ideas to help you make your photography-based business a reality.

Best places to sell photos online

To start, here are 25 stock photography websites to sell images and license your photos online:


  1. Getty Images
  2. IStock
  3. Shutterstock
  4. 500px
  5. Stocksy
  6. Can Stock Photo
  7. FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  8. Adobe Stock
  9. Fotolia
  10. PhotoDune
  11. Alamy
  12. Twenty20
  13. Foap
  14. Depositphotos
  15. Dreamstime
  16. GL Stock Images
  17. EyeEm
  18. Image Vortex
  19. Crestock
  20. 123RF
  21. Bigstock
  22. Scopio
  23. Snappr
  24. Cutcaster 
  25. StockFood

Licensing is one of the most popular ways to “sell” your photos online to brands, publishers and anyone who might have an interest in using your photos for their own purposes.
And that’s the key here. You need to work backwards and think about how your photos can be used by a brand or a publisher—versatile photos that express ideas tend to be popular, especially when they feature human subjects.
There are a lot of stock photo sites to choose from, including:

1. Getty Images

On the higher end of stock photography sites, Getty Images attracts brands and publishers looking for high-quality or hard-to-find exclusive images to license. The standards for becoming a contributor are predictably higher than many other stock photo sites. For photos licensed via GettyImages.com, rates start at 20%.


2. IStock

iStock is the micro-stock offshoot owned by Getty Images. Commission ranges from 25% to 45% depending on whether the photos are exclusive or non-exclusive.

Shutterstock is a micro-stock site where photos are cheaper and non-exclusive, and the way to increase downloads is by contributing a large quantity of images that can be used as visual metaphors. Don’t expect to earn as much here, but it’s a good place if you’re just starting out. Payouts are based on your earnings over time and range from 20% to 30%. There’s also an affiliate program where you can earn additional money if you refer new photographers or customers.

4. 500px

500px isn’t just a stock photo site; it’s a community-based platform for photographers. You can follow other photographers, list your photos in their marketplace, and participate in Photo Quest competitions for prizes. The community is full of stunning, creative shots with a 30% commission payout for non-exclusive photos and 60% for exclusive ones.


Stocksy is a popular mid-range stock photography site, especially among publishers. The standards to be accepted are higher, and Stocksy requires exclusive images, but it also pays out a generous 50–75% commission.

6. Can Stock Photo

More than 70,000 photographers sell photos on Can Stock Photo. There are various payout structures ranging from percentages to fixed amounts, and they’ll also give you $5 for every 50 photos your referral sells. When you sell photos on Can Stock Photo, they also list your photos for sale on Fotosearch, a stock photography agency.

7. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FreeDigitalPhotos.net offers free photo downloads as well as images for users to purchase. When the small vers`ion of your photo is downloaded for free, attribution is required. While you won’t earn a cent, you will get credit. When their target market (professionals who need images for business use) purchase images, photographers earn 70% commission.

8. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is one of the best places to sell photos online because when you list photos for sale here, they’re also available on stock site Fotolia. You’ll earn 33% commission on the photos you sell through Adobe Stock.

9. Fotolia

Fotolia, which has been purchased by Adobe Stock, has two pricing models for users: Pay-As-You-Go and Subscription. Photos sold to Pay-As-You-Go customers earn 20–63% commission, while Subscription generates 33% commission but has a minimum guarantee.

10. PhotoDune

PhotoDune, part of Envato Market, is another best place to sell photos online. Payout structures vary. PhotoDune also has a referral program: Receive a 30% commission from your referral’s first cash deposit.

11. Alamy

Alamy pays contributors monthly and has a varied payment structure. Sales through www.alamy.com earn photographers 50%, Distributors earn 70%, Novel Use earns 50%. Payments are deposited monthly, as long as your Cleared Funds are $50 or more.

12. Twenty20

Twenty20 started as a tool for Instagram photographers to sell their images to brands. Now, it’s a robust stock photography site where you can sell photos online and connect with potential clients. You can earn money three ways: selling a photo, for you earn $2 per photo licensed, 100% cash prizes from photo challenges, and 100% commission from whatever brands hire you for scheduled shoots.


13. Foap

Foap offers contributors five ways to earn money from selling photos online: $5 for every photo sold, $100–$2,500 for Missions, $0.25/photo for album-specific photo sales, submitting photos to Getty Mission (payouts vary), and selling photos online via partner platforms, such as Adobe and Alamy.

14. Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a stock photo site with a generous payout for contributors. However, they require more commitment: You must have at least 70% of your portfolio on their site for at least six months. But, non-exclusive contributors earn 25–50%, and exclusive photos generate a 27.5–55% commission. There are also lots of ways to earn money for referrals, both on the contributor and the purchaser side.

15. GL Stock Images

On GL Stock Images, you have the choice of setting your own prices. And you’ll earn 40% commission on all sales.

16. EyeEm

EyeEm focuses more on advertising stock photography, making it one of the best places to sell photos online if you’re looking to be in the commercial photography space. They advertise a 50% commission on their site.

17. Image Vortex

Image Vortex doesn’t require exclusivity, so you can sell your photos on other sites as well. Commission rates are 70%, and you establish your own prices.

18. Crestock

Crestock pays contributors 20–40% commission rates based on the total number of downloads. They also have several affiliate programs through which you can earn money.

19. 123RF

This is another stock photo platform that pays contributors based on the number of downloads and purchases. Commissions range from 30% to 60%.


20. Depositphotos

Depositphotos has its commissions based on the contributor’s experience and status on the platform, as well as the resolution and license type. Commissions range are 34–42%.


21. Bigstock 



To get started selling on Bigstock, you'll need to sign up as a contributor and views their online tutorial. Once those tasks are completed, you can start uploading your images to the site. Your earnings are per download and based on the customer’s type of payment plan, and image size purchased. Rates range from $0.25 – $3.00 per image.

 

22. Scopio



To get started on Scopio, upload at least 20 of your best photos and build out your profile page. If models are used in your photos, you'll need to have them submit their model release forms. Once these components are complete, they'll review your work to let you know if you've made the cut. Payments are made via PayPal.

23. Snappr



Another on-demand app, Snappr connects individuals needing photographers in the US, Canada, Australia, or Singapore. Photographers that would like to work with Snappr will need to submit an online application for consideration. They hire freelance help, but you must have past paid experience, a DSLR camera, and experience with Adobe Lightroom.


Earn 40% – 65% for each credit spent downloading the contributors’ file. Payments are issued via PayPal and check.


StockFood accepts images from outstanding food photographers and videographers. See the site for the application process and submission details.

How to sell photos online: two essential steps

1. Define your niche

Every successful photographer has a consistent style or theme that runs through their work. Whether your thing is travel, fashion, cityscapes, nature, food, etc., consistency is key.
People follow other people online to see more of whatever it is that interested them in the first place. People unfollow other people when those expectations aren’t met.
Finding your niche if you want to sell pictures online is typically something you feel your way into as you see which styles and photos resonate with your audience. But you can also evaluate the demand for certain topics using keyword research to analyze the search volume for terms related to your photographs.


2. Integrate ecommerce into your portfolio

Most photographers have a main portfolio site to showcase their work and let clients hire them. But by adding ecommerce to it, including the ability to accept payments, you can open several more doors to monetization, like selling courses, physical products, and services.
Dave Sanford (below), for example, has a store that showcases his wildlife photography, while letting people purchase prints a calendars.