Anybody with a mid-range phone and free photo editing software can make money selling photos online. But it’s the passion, creativity, and imagination that separates the armatures from the pros.
In this article, I explore some of the places you could sell photos online to get your photography business off the ground.
Forget everything you’ve heard about selling photos; building a website is the best way to sell photographs online.
You get to control everything, including pricing and how you display your work. Nobody takes a cut from the sales, which means fair prices for everyone.
However, building the website is the easy part. You have to advertise it, which costs a lot of money and also takes time. Marketing the site involves setting up paid ads on popular websites such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram. And you also need to invest in SEO for long-term passive advertising.
Still, this is one of the best ways to sell photos online.
Alamy is one of the biggest collection of stock photos, vectors, and 360 panoramic images on the internet. They have over 60,000 contributors and more than 110,000 clients who keep coming back for more. And that means you won’t have to spend a dime on advertising.
The platform has a straight-up monthly payment structure, where they pay 50% of all direct sales. However, that rate only applies to photos that are exclusive to Alamy. Everything else gets 40%.
500px (formally 500px Prime) is a community of professional and amateur photographers. All content submitted on this site is royalty-free, which means buyers can use the images they please.
Contributors get to follow other photographers, participate in competitions, and list photos in the marketplace.
The best part?
500px has millions of return customers. All you have to do is create an account, fill in the necessary forms, and start selling!
SmugMug Pro is slightly different from other sites on this list. They use a subscription model for contributors with prices starting at $12.50 per month. However, you get to keep 85% of the markup price. They also let you decide how much to charge for photos.
Here’s an example of how the site works. Once you sign up, upload photos, and select the ones you want to sell, the system will ask you to pick prices. A 5×7, for example, gets a default price of $0.79. But you can give it a markup of $10.00. When it sells, you keep $8.5.
Shutterstock is one of the most lucrative places to sell photos online. But there’s a catch. Your lifetime earnings on the site determine your current rate. Contributors who sell more photos on this website get better rates than newbies. So, this site might not be your most profitable venture when starting.
They also have a referral program that allows people to bring in customers in exchange for a small percentage.
iStock photos has been around for quite some time now. And they are known to be picky with new applicants. The application process starts with filling out an application for the most suitable category. Once the team reviews the submission, they might send a quiz to assess if you are a good fit. Then you will have to upload samples of your best work for consideration.
Contributors on this platform get a minimum of 15% of all sales. But this rate can shoot up to 45% once you get to the “Exclusive” level. That might not be the best rate in the market, but it’s still an option for budding photographers.