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How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

Each time you stop to think about money, it’s obvious: you wish you had a little bit more to buy that fancy dress, or a new gadget, save more for your vacation, pay off your debts before they fall due, or just lay back to enjoy the constant cash flow.

Did you know that the photos you’ve shot as a hobby can provide a sizable additional income? 

How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

The point is that they’re good prospects to make money selling photos online, and many people make a living through this business.

Statistics reveal that you make up to $20 each time someone buys one of your photos online. You can easily make thousands of dollars on just that one photo on a good market day. That is if you get many people purchasing a license to use your photos. So let’s dive into everything you need to know about making money by selling photos online.

How Much Can You Make Selling Photos Online

Irrespective of your experience level, selling photos online is a great opportunity as a side–hustle, and it will only improve daily. Statistics indicate that, on average, stock photographers earn up to  $0.02 per image with stock photos, while professional photographers can make up to$0.25 per month. 

Still not convinced?

The fact is that with royalty-free sales, you can make an excellent $99.50, while extended licenses bring up to $500. And you know what? Stocky pays the best commissions of up to $200 per royalty-free sale and $8,100 per extended license.

But it’s important to remember that to earn a full–time living by selling stock photography, you’d need to upload at least 200,700 photos per month. In the table below, we’ll walk you through the minimum and maximum earnings together with the extended license sales earnings.

Here we go!

Agency Minimum Maximum Extended License
Shutterstock $0.10 $5.80 $39.80
iStock & GettyImages $0.10 $16.20 $113.40
YayImages $0.10 $10.00 $25.00
123RF $0.22 $24.00 $77.88
BigStock $0.25 $0.50 $29.70
Canstockphoto $0.25 $5.00 $25.00
Depositphotos $0.30 $5.88 $37.38
Adobe Stock & Fotolia $0.33 $3.30 $26.40

Also, you can upload the same stock image to various stock photo sites to maximize your earnings. But don’t forget that some agencies require you to be exclusive to them.

A Set-by-Step Procedure for Selling Your Photos Online

Contrary to what most people think, selling your photos online is a simple affair that will only take a few minutes. Here is a step-by-step procedure for selling your photos online.

  • Select the photos you want to sell.
  • Please put them in a well-organized digital folder.
  • Upload your exclusive photos on your website.
  • Market your photos.
  • Manage and fulfill your orders.
  • Receive payments

Best Sites To Sell Your Photos Online

The best way to make money by selling photos online is to sell them as stock images under no royalty license. Ideally, you’ll make much more by licensing one photo to many people instead of selling one with its copyright.  

Let’s jump right in;

  • Shutterstock 

Shutterstock is a well-known company in the stock photo industry. What puts this company ahead of others in the industry is its contributor program which has a significant customer base. 

With Shutterstock, you can guarantee that your photos will be visible to more than a million prospective buyers globally, increasing your chances of earning. 

  • Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock offers a fully integrated service into a creative cloud platform to provide a continuous workflow for designers. Here designers can buy your royalty-free photos for between $0.26 and $9,99 each. 

Adobe stock attracts buyers and contributors thanks to its fully integrated creative cloud design, which allows you to access it from within applications.

  • iStock

iStock is a well-known stock photo agency popular for offering exclusive photo images over a long period. Moreover, it’s owned by one of the most prestigious stock photography powerhouses, Getty Images.

Due to its incredible international presence, and impeccable reputation, you can sell your photo at premium prices between $125 and $500. 

  • Depositphotos

With Depositphotos, you’d need to create your user account and pass their test examination before uploading your photos. Photographers earn a commission of between 30% to 42% of the photo files sold on this site. 

  • Ingram Group

The unique feature of Ingram Group is its three stock libraries: the Ingimage, the sis elements, and the vector state. 

Once you upload your photos, they’ll be distributed to all three libraries. Subsequently, when a client downloads your photo, you’ll earn up to 40% commission. And once your earnings reach $50, you can get paid via PayPal or Skrill.

  • is a platform that allows you to earn up to 60% for exclusive photos and 30% for non-exclusive photos.


Generally, specializes in nature, food, lifestyle, or travel photos. Photographers split the earnings by half with the corner photo site.

  • Alamy

With Alamy, photographers earn up to 50% of every sale of a high-quality photo to the site, while non-exclusive photos earn you 40% of each sale. 

  • Image Professionals 

Image Professional’s site focuses on high-quality photos of food, home interiors, gardens, and science. You must apply and provide your contact information and portfolio to sell your photos on this site.

  • PhotoSesh

PhotoSesh is an on-demand app for photographers. This app has a fantastic 3.8-star rating in the app store. Once you download the app on your iPhone, select the types of projects you intend to work on, and then synchronize your calendar with the app. 

For better results, ensure you have at least an iPhone 8. You can make up to $25 per hour and sometimes more. 

how to make money selling your photos online
  • Pixieset

Pixieset is a popular website offering both free and paid solutions. The website allows you to build public and private display online galleries. Usually, private galleries are password protected.

Most users love this site since you can select their favorite photo or download a whole gallery. In addition, you can sign up for a free comprehensive plan of up to 3GB of storage, which is great if you’re a beginner building your website. Without a doubt, this eases pressure on your budget.

The website has an additional valuable feature that allows you to use the Adobe Lightroom plugin. This function will enable you to seamlessly link and send your edited photos to your Pixieset galleries.

  • Instaproofs

Instaproofs platform is user-friendly and offers a fully integrated package with a website, galleries, and marketing tools to help you sell photos to clients online.

What’s more, Instaproofs also allows you to choose between either self-fulfillment prints or their prints. Besides that, the website prides itself in a simplified experience to upload, promote, sell, and provide digital and physical photos to clients.

  • WordPress

WordPress is a reputable photography hosting or online gallery site. What makes it unique is that it offers reasonably priced plans. 

As such, you have the freedom to choose a range of themes as you build your photography website. You can create public galleries and, simultaneously, a blog with all the information you want.

To sell your photos with WordPress, you must install a premium plugin for eCommerce solutions such as WooCommerce.

How To Market Your Photos Online

Like any other business, photography faces the challenge of setting successful branding and marketing strategies.

So let’s get down to it.

  1. Identify your niche market for personalized campaigns

Before you start your photography business, identify your niche photography marketing ranging from food, stock, landscapes, portraits, weddings, and more. For instance, food photography is an extensive niche, but you can be more specific by breaking it down into smaller units such as restaurants, advertising agencies, and packaging.

While narrowing down may be challenging at first, choosing areas to focus on will no doubt speed up the growth of the photography business.

  1. Create your customer database to track your projects

Once you have identified your niche market, the next step is to build a customer database. It helps to keep a tab of all your prospective clients and upcoming projects.

Another advantage of creating a database is that it allows you to track clients from inception to your last contact. Also, during the low season, you can scan your database and review whether there’s growth or stagnation. Similarly, you can send your contacts a personalized follow-up to inform them of an upcoming holiday promotion.

  1. Update your website regularly to promote your work

A portfolio and a website are essential tools for your photography marketing strategies. These two are like your storefront that your prospects will see whenever they want to pop in. Therefore, your website design should be attractive and display the right intentions to the target market. Most importantly, upload behind-the-scenes shots and professional insights so your customers can view your past work. 

Further, you can create blogs and target the right keywords to increase traffic to your site. It will enable your site to rank high on search engines. Similarly, add a section about yourself, including your professional background, achievements, and photography mission and vision.

  1. Make use of google business pages to increase your visibility

Using Google business pages increases the chances of people finding you online when they search for a photographer. Since business listings are free, ensure you have a physical location for your business page.

For beginners, you can include a work location and have a home office instead of a studio. 

  1.  Increase your audience through social media platforms

Social media is a powerful tool for marketing photos online. You can connect to a wide audience by posting your latest shots and having people comment, share, or like. It will help boost engagement levels and get you more customers.

  1. Share customer’s testimonials and feedback to build trust

Having testimonials on your website is an influential photography marketing tool for your photography business. Indeed, most people trust the opinions of their fellow clients. No wonder online reviews on sites like Amazon are so effective.

In this regard, don’t hesitate to ask for testimonials from your customers. You can share these on your website, social media, and promotional print materials.

How To Make a Photography Portfolio

On average, before a customer notices your products or services, they must have seen it seven times. One of the effective ways to attract potential clients’ attention is by creating a photography portfolio.

Let’s discuss tips for making a photography portfolio.

Have your audience In mind

When creating a photography portfolio, consider your target audience and ensure it meets their needs. Likewise, if you’re a versatile photographer, create different portfolios to capture various categories of your audiences.

Organize your photos

Start by labeling all your digital folders so you can easily navigate your digital library. Further, delete obsolete items to create more room for valuable photos. Then, separate any unprofessional family and friends photos in your folder.

If you have any photo prints from film photography, consider digitizing them and storing all your photos in one folder. Additionally, it would help if you displayed your exclusive shots for each photography category in your portfolio.

Keep your portfolio short

A professional photographer’s portfolio is concise and straight to the point. At the same time, your messages should be clear from beginning to end.

A portfolio filled with the same images isn’t appealing to the clients, so look for a collection of different categories of photos. Not only does this make your portfolio enjoyable, but it also displays your range of photos.

Get the opinion of an expert

Feedback is a valuable asset when it comes to photography. Be sure to seek opinions and feedback from friends and professionals about your portfolio. You can also post it on social media and photography forums to get genuine criticism and feedback and use the information to polish your portfolio. 

Nonetheless, the best feedback is from professionals in the photography business since they have experience with portfolios.

In addition, consider having a mock interview to put your portfolio to the test. Indeed, this process will improve your confidence in an actual interview situation and demonstrate if your portfolio displays your services well.

Learn from expert photographers

Experts in the industry can give you pointers on how to build a good photography portfolio website and demonstrate using examples. Besides, they can also show you how to perfect your photography portfolio for an interview.

Allow your goals to shape your portfolio

As you start building your photography portfolio, have your goals in mind, what you want to achieve, and inspiration. This way, you can set targets that align with your objectives.

Pitfalls To Avoid While Selling Photos Online

Most beginner photographers encounter obstacles when starting in their photography business. No business is easy, and we all learn from our mistakes! Here are some pitfalls to avoid while selling photos online.

Do not complicate your website

Have you ever noticed how one gets pissed off by unnecessary logins? Likewise, nothing drives customers away faster than complicated forms, excessive logins, and passwords as they quickly deter them from finding products. Avoid this pitfall since it drives traffic away from your website and denies you potential leads and conversions.

Overloading your website with content it can’t handle can be disastrous. Without a doubt, a slow website immediately turns away the user. Statistics reveal that a site with excellent loading speed attracts an e-commerce conversion rate 2.5x higher than a slow-loading website. So, what can you do about this? Use an online speed test tool to analyze your website load speed.

Avoid spamming emails

Often, constantly filling your clients’ inboxes with numerous emails to increase brand awareness doesn’t work anymore. Such emails are likely sent straight to junk by the email host. In essence, sending thousands of emails makes you look desperate and can undervalue your business.

An introductory email series is essential for your online photography business, but once the series is over, an email per week is enough.

Don’t try to sell too much

When starting, don’t sell everything at once because it’s more like shooting in the dark. Instead, narrow down your photos to exclusive shots of your target niche. That way, you’ll build a strong brand and market your photos online effectively.

Avoid calls to action on every page

Developing a solid and compelling call to action can increase the conversion rate. Nonetheless, overdoing it on every page can be repetitive and may drive away your potential customers.

Rather, your call to action should be clear, simple, and precise, whether a client is downloading or uploading something, purchasing a photo, or signing up for a mailing list.

In addition, keep the call to action in buttons or place them strategically at the top of your pages and make them stand out with different colors.

The Legal Implication of Selling Photos Online

As we come to the tail end of our discussion, it’s essential to understand the legal aspect of selling photos online. Building your business can get tricky, and separating things like retail from commercial use can be complicated.

Here’s all you need to do to protect yourself from any legal implications: Ensure you clearly understand the following terms: 

  1. Retail use

It entails permitting users to use your photography while producing physical retail products. For example, a company can sell an item with your photo printed on it.

  1. Editorial use

This means allowing an editor to use your photo in newspapers or publications.

  1. Commercial use

You permit clients to use your photos in marketing, advertising, and promotion campaigns.

  1. Exclusive/non-exclusive rights

Exclusive rights demand that you grant the client exclusive right access to your photo. On the other hand, non-exclusive rights mean many clients have the right to access the same images.

  1. Public domain

When your photo is in the public domain, it has no copyright claim, and anyone can use it for all purposes. An excellent example of the public domain is works created by government agencies.

  1. Rights managed

This means clients can buy one-time licenses to use a photo, but with restrictions on how they distribute the photo. In addition, further use requires additional licenses.

The bottom line is if you are unsure how to license and list your photos, get a lawyer to assist you with your copyright options.   


If you love taking photos, there are many ways to convert your hobby into a money-making business. From starting a full-time photography business or a side hustle, there’s something for everyone in selling photos online.

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Originally posted 2022-08-31 17:24:12.

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