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Introduction

Photography is one of the hobbies you can use to make money. The photography business is now easier to launch because you use your mobile phone to sell photos online. Photographers currently have a wider market base if they sell photos online. Your potential customers include:

  • Small and medium businesses
  • Large corporations
  • Bloggers
  • Graphic designers
  • Publishers
  • Marketers
  • Individuals

How To Sell Photos Online

However, the high availability of mobile phones with quality cameras makes it more competitive. You can easily overcome the competition in three steps. They include:

  1. Establish a niche. 

A theme or consistency makes you a more successful photographer. Ensure you select a niche and take good photos of whatever niche you settle for. However, it is also profitable to sell photos online depending on the niche. Some of the best selling photography niches include:

  • People 
  • Food
  • People working
  • Nature
  • Cities
  • Travel
  • Tools
  1. Build an audience 

You will have more success selling photos online if you build an audience. The presence of social media has made it easier to build an audience and gain recognition for your work. You can rely on major platforms like Instagram to gain followers. If you have a strong social media presence, you can multiply your income streams by becoming an brand influencer. 

  1. Create multiple streams of income

Photography presents multiple income opportunities you can cash on. Examples include:

Terms To Know If You Sell Photos Online

The following terms are important for anyone who sells photos online. These terms will help you understand the various legal boundaries and other aspects of selling photos online. 

  • Exclusive. Exclusive means that the individual or organization that will purchase the photos will have the full rights to these photos. Therefore, no one else can use them.  
  • Non-Exclusive. Non-exclusive is the opposite of exclusive. It means anyone can purchase and use them. Non-exclusive photos cost more. 
  • Royalty-free. Royalty-free photos fall under non-exclusive photos. Individuals and organizations can acquire royalty-free images and use them for an unlimited number of times and an unlimited duration. Royalty-free images are the cheapest images. 
  • Commercial Use. Photos that are for commercial use feature in product or service marketing or advertising. 
  • Editorial use. Parties that purchase photos for editorial use have permission to use them in publications like magazines, blogs, newspapers, and more. 
  • Retail Use. Buyers who buy photos for retail use get permission to use them to create and sell physical products. Examples of products include posters, print, and products that will feature your photos. 
  • Creative Commons. This grants parties to use your photos under given restrictions. These restrictions mainly include getting credit for the photos. 
  • Public Domain. These are photos that are free for use in editorial, commercial or personal purposes without any copyright claim or restrictions. Public domain photos are mainly generated by government agencies. 
  • Right of Publicity. These are the rights that the subjects of your photos are entitled to. Sometimes explicit permission is necessary to be safe. 
  • Rights Managed. These rights cover a one-time license with distribution restrictions. The clients must purchase additional licenses for additional use. 

9 Best Platforms to Sell Photos Online

  1. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a photo and video marketplace that has connected photographers to customers for over 15 years. Sellers have earned more than $500 million on this platform. You get to choose the rights on your images. They could be royalty-free or for full purchase. 

You will earn between 20% and 30% for every purchase or download of your work. Shutterstock issues out monthly payments to its contributors. Furthermore, you will retain the credit to your work and you can also sell on other platforms like Adobe Stock. Shutterstock has an affiliate program you can use to invite new photographers and increase your earnings. 

  1. Getty Images

Getty Images is known for high-end photography. Various publishers and brands seek exclusive licenses for high-quality images on this platform. Getty Images has high standards for contributors which have made both parties successful for 25 years. The platform offers contributors rates starting from 20%. Contributors can upload both images and videos. You can also earn through Getty Images’ affiliate program. 

  1. 500px

500px is an online photography community and market place. You get to create a portfolio which other photographers and potential buyers can view. Individuals can follow each other’s portfolios for updates. 

500px provides tracking services and analytics for your portfolio. It gives your photos a rank to see how you fare against your competitors. You can also see the number of views your photos get. Moreover, you can participate in contests on 500px to gain more exposure and earn more money.  It is free to join 500px. Non-exclusive photos on this platform earn a 30% commission while exclusive photos will get you a 60% commission. 

  1. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is one of the first online marketplaces for photos. The maker of Adobe stock has also made Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. These are some of the most popular photo editing software available. 

Adobe Stock offers higher royalties to its contributors as compared to other platforms. The royalties range from 20% to 60%. Furthermore, the platform does not force you to give them exclusive rights. This means that you can upload them on other platforms like Fotolia. 

  1. iStock

iStock was established in 2001. It is now owned by Getty images. Contributors on this platform can make between 25% and 45% on commission. Exclusive photos earn the 45% commission while non-exclusive tend to earn less. As you apply to join, you can decide to venture into photos, videos, audio or illustration. You will also upload some samples and wait for the iStock team to review your application. There is also a short quiz contributors must take to assess iStock. 

  1. Alamy

Alamy is a great option especially when it comes to payout rates and rules. Photographers will earn a 50% commission while distributors will earn 70%. Contributors on Alamy have received over $180 million in payouts. These rates are higher than most platforms people use to sell photos online. Alamy does not impose hard rules such as licensing issues. 

  1. Your Own Website

Your own website is the best place to sell photos online. This is because you:

  • Earn 100% commission
  • Set your own prices
  • Choose the term and conditions. 
  • Get full control.

You can rely on platforms like WordPress to create your own site. It provides the necessary plugins to display your photos and run your website. The main challenge with using your own website is getting an audience. 

  1. Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace that specializes in unique handmade goods. You can use it to sell your photos online. Etsy offers sellers a lot of freedom. You can create your own store and set the prices. Furthermore, they will only take a 3.5% commission and 20 cents for every sale.

Etsy offers a large audience as it has more than 30 million active users. As you set the price, make sure you consider printing, packing, and shipping costs. 

  1. SmugMug

SmugMug is a platform that offers a 85% payout for the price of your photos. However, you need a subscription. The lowest subscription costs $12.50. SmugMug does not have a free version. Once you join, you can set the prices for your photos, and select what you want to sell. 

Conclusion

You can sell photos online to make money online for passive income or mainstream income. There are numerous sites available. Most of them charge a subscription fee while some are free. You can focus on a specific niche or a trending niche to be a successful photographer. Do you know of any other platforms we may have left out?