Are you a photographer looking to sell your photos online and earn some extra income?
If so, selling your photos online could be the perfect solution.
With the rise of digital marketplaces, there are now countless platforms where you can showcase and sell your images to a global audience.
But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know which platform is the best fit for you.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best platforms to sell photos online.
From established marketplaces to niche platforms, we’ll cover the pros and cons of each option, helping you make an informed decision about where to sell your photography.
So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, read on to discover the top platforms for selling photos online.
What Are The Best Places To Sell Photos Online?
Stock photography websites can be incredibly valuable for photographers looking to monetize their work.
These sites take care of the selling process for you, allowing you to sit back and earn profits without having to actively market your photos.
Additionally, many stock photo agencies also provide information on current trends, giving photographers insight into which types of images are most in demand.
The downside is that the sheer volume of content available on these sites means that competition can be fierce, and it can take a significant amount of time to edit and prepare images to meet the strict guidelines set by the stock photo agencies.
Shutterstock is a well-established platform for selling stock photos and videos.
The site boasts a vast collection of over 184 million images and 91 million videos, and has seen steady growth in sales since its launch in 2003.
In 2017 alone, Shutterstock saw 172 million image downloads.
Photographers can earn up to 30% of the sale price of their images, with payouts ranging between $0.25 and $28, depending on the size of the image.
A major benefit of Shutterstock is that photographers retain the copyright to their images and are free to sell them on other platforms as well.
2. Getty Images.
Getty Images is a well-established and prestigious company in the stock and editorial photography industry.
Founded in 1995, it offers a wide range of high-end content through its main website, GettyImages.
Unlike its microstock branch, iStock, which sells images for a few dollars, Getty Images requires buyers to purchase a Rights Managed license, giving them the right to use the image on specific platforms such as the web or print.
Getting into Getty Images can be a bit challenging as they have strict selection criteria, to apply you need to submit six images and Getty will determine if your material is appropriate for either iStock or Getty.
If accepted, you can earn up to 20% commission on the sale of your images.
With photos on the site selling for hundreds of dollars, this can lead to significant profits.
Alamy is a British stock photography website that was established in 1999.
It boasts an impressive collection of over 60 million photos and videos.
The site offers a generous 50% royalty payment on each photograph sold, making it an attractive option for photographers looking to monetize their work.
Alamy also allows photographers to sell their photos on other platforms, making it a flexible choice for those looking to sell their work online.
4. iStock Photo.
iStock Photo is a microstock branch of Getty Images, making it a well-known and reputable platform for selling stock photos.
It is a great choice for photographers who are new to selling their work online as it offers helpful forums and resources to help understand the process.
The royalty payments on iStock Photo start at 15% per download and can increase to 45% based on the popularity of your photos.
However, if a customer purchases an image using their subscription credits, the photographer will only receive the base 15% royalty rate.
If a photographer is interested in exclusivity, iStock Photo offers higher royalty rates of 22-45% on a contract with a 30-day notice period.
5. Adobe Stock.
Adobe Stock, formerly known as Fotolia, is a microstock photography website that offers a collection of over 57 million images.
Since its acquisition by Adobe in 2014, it has been integrated into the company’s Creative Cloud service.
As a contributor, you can earn royalties ranging from 20-46% on each sale.
One of the benefits of using this platform is that you receive your royalties immediately, rather than having to wait for a certain threshold or period of time.
With over 4 million buyers on the site, it can be a great opportunity to showcase your images and earn money through royalties.
500px is a well-known photography website that has gained popularity in recent years, filling the gap left by Flickr’s decline in members.
It is a great place to find professional photos online.
Not only does it provide storage for your photos, but it also offers a marketplace for people to purchase your work.
Additionally, it has a feature that displays the ranking and views of your images, allowing you to see detailed data on where these interactions come from.
This information can be useful when it comes to selling your work.
You can upload an unlimited number of images and even conduct photography workshops on the platform.
There are four different plans available, ranging from Free to Pro and Adobe.
It is recommended to become a paying member to take full advantage of the platform’s features.
Stocksy is a reputable stock photography website known for its artistic images.
Publishers often turn to this site in search of new visuals.
The site has high standards for the images it accepts, which may require more time to prepare your work for submission.
However, the site requires exclusive rights to your images and offers a commission of 50-75% of the total purchase.
Dreamstime is a user-friendly stock photography agency that is a great starting point for those looking to sell their photos online.
The requirements for submitting images are not as strict as some of its competitors, which makes it an accessible platform for photographers.
What sets Dreamstime apart is that photographers have the ability to create and curate their own galleries, giving them more control over how their images are presented and sold.
The agency can be thought of more as a hosting site, but this does not mean that anything goes, as all submissions are screened to ensure they adhere to the site’s guidelines.
For example, violent or copyrighted content is not allowed.
If the guidelines are followed, photographers can expect to make money from their images once they are online.
The commission rate for non-exclusive images is 25% and 27% for exclusive images.
As photographers sell more photos, the commission rate can increase to 45% and 49.5% respectively.
9. BigStock Photo.
BigStock is a microstock website that offers many of the same features as other stock photography sites.
However, it has a unique credit system that allows users to earn credits when they purchase photos, which can then be used to purchase more content from the site.
This offers an additional way for photographers to earn money by selling their work on BigStock.
The platform also has a tiered pricing system, where the commission rate increases as photos get more downloads.
You can expect to earn a commission of 30% for each sale and an additional commission for the number of times your image gets downloaded.
As you sell more photos, your commission rate can increase up to 38 cents for an image that is downloaded over 50,000 times.
10. CanStock Photo.
Can Stock Photo is a platform where photographers can sell their photos.
They offer various payout structures and a referral program where you can earn $5 for every 50 photos sold by your referral.
They will also put your pictures up for sale on Fotosearch, which is an agency that sells stock photos.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net is an online photo resource for users looking to upload, download, and manipulate digital images in formats like GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIFF.
The site was founded with the intention of providing free digital images with no restrictions on usage or distribution.
FreeDigitalPhotos has an extensive library of stock photography that has been contributed by photographers around the globe.
You can easily search for pictures based on keywords like animals, buildings, people, festivals, flowers, and many more.
With more than two million photos uploaded to date, there is a good chance you will find exactly what you are looking for.
Canva is a user-friendly graphic design platform that allows users to create posters, animations, and more.
It offers a wide range of free graphics and photos, but it also sells other services like stock photography.
Canva’s drag-and-drop feature makes it easy for users to purchase pictures.
It’s a great option to earn money since it’s easy to use and has a large number of users.
The platform is continuously expanding, and they’re looking for new stock photos.
You can apply and submit your pictures on their platform, or they can ask you to take photos of special projects for them.
Etsy is a marketplace for handmade products, including physical prints and digital photography downloads.
It has a large user base of over 30 million people.
As a seller on Etsy, you have the freedom to set your own prices and design a page to showcase your photos.
Etsy charges a listing fee of 20 cents per item and a 3.5% commission on sales.
Selling on Etsy can be challenging, but the platform provides a helpful handbook for sellers on branding, marketing, pricing, and more.
You can sell unique, one-off photography items on Etsy and gain exposure to a large audience.
It can be a great platform for photographers to sell their work.
Pixabay is a great place to sell photos online.
You can upload your images for free and share them with other users.
They provide you with quite a large audience when compared to other sites mentioned above.
So it’d be much easier to sell your digital images online.
Besides just uploading photos, your account will have the ability to leave comments on other images.
This is a great way to meet new people and grow a following.
But this is not a requirement, so if you want to keep things quiet and reserved you can do that too.
If you want high-quality royalty-free stock photos, then Crestock is your best shot to sell photos online.
It has a vast library of photos and you’ll be able to find the perfect picture for any kind of project.
You can log in as a contributor or buyer and start placing orders, uploading files, or simply browsing through their extensive stock photography collection.
They have high-resolution royalty-free images available in JPEG and vector EPS formats.
You can use these images as they are, or photoshop them to suit your purposes perfectly.
Snapped4u is a great option for photographers looking to make money from event photography.
It functions as an online gallery where you can upload your event images and clients can purchase the ones they like.
The platform is user-friendly, with a straightforward process that doesn’t require clients to log in.
You also have the option to make your gallery private by assigning a password.
There is a $10 registration fee, but no additional posting fees.
Snapped4u takes a 50-cent cut for photos under $5 and a 10% commission for anything above that price range.
Overall, it is a simple and easy way to sell your event photography.
If you’re not interested in placing your images on a stock photography website, Photoshelter may be a good option for you.
This service provides a photography-focused e-commerce platform that can be integrated into your own website.
Some of the benefits of using Photoshelter include cloud storage for your images, an easy-to-use interface, social media integration, and a strong SEO service.
Additionally, it allows you to control how your images are presented, without displaying other photographers’ work alongside yours.
Photocase is a German company that offers quality stock photos at an affordable price.
The images on the site are authentic and organic, making them stand out from traditional stock photos.
As a smaller company, there is less competition among photographers.
Photocase also has a unique payment system where you start with a 20% commission and have the potential to earn up to 50% as more people upload your photos.
The point system can be used to better understand how to earn commissions.
Photocase values their photographers and is a good option for those who want to avoid cookie-cutter photos but can’t afford Stocksy.
Don’t overlook Photocase just because it’s small, it’s worth giving it a try.
EyeEm is a great platform for photographers who want to focus on commercial work.
It offers three licenses for selling photos: Social, Web, and Full.
These licenses are sold to clients for $20, $50, and $250 respectively.
As a photographer, you will receive a 50% commission on each image sold on the website, which is a high rate compared to other stock agencies that typically pay 20-30%.
By joining EyeEm Magazine, you can gain exposure in the industry and potentially land major clients by submitting your work to the publication.
21. SmugMug Pro.
SmugMug Pro is a great platform for photographers with a business mindset.
It offers a high commission rate of 85% on photo sales, allowing you to set your own prices.
For instance, if you sell a 5×7 picture for $10.79 and the usual price on SmugMug is $0.79, the markup is $10 and you take $8.50 as profit.
However, to access this service, a Pro subscription is required, starting at $12.50 per month.
There is no free option available for selling photos on SmugMug.
Wirestock is a useful tool for photographers looking to sell their images on multiple platforms.
With a few clicks, you can upload your photos to platforms like Shutterstock and Depositphotos, all at once.
One of the main benefits of using Wirestock is that it simplifies the process of captioning and keywording your images.
This can be a time-consuming task, but Wirestock automates it for you, which can greatly benefit your sales and commissions.
By using Wirestock, photographers can focus on creating new content, rather than managing multiple platforms.
This can help people save a lot of time and effort.
GuruShots is a platform that allows photographers to earn money through competition.
Photographers can participate in a variety of challenges and submit up to four images per theme.
Other members vote on the images, and the winners receive prizes with a value of up to $300.
The platform uses proprietary algorithms to ensure that all submitted photos receive equal exposure, regardless of when they were submitted, providing equal opportunities for all entrants to win.
It’s important to note that GuruShots is not a platform to sell photos online, it’s a platform to earn money by competing with other photographers.
24. Fine Art America.
Fine Art America is a platform for selling fine art prints, including photography and digital art.
As a print-on-demand service, they only print and ship the images when a buyer purchases them.
You can set your own prices for your artworks on the website, and Fine Art America will add their markup.
They take 65% of the final price, while you earn 35%.
For example, if you want to earn $10 profit per image, the website will price your piece at $47.
This allows you to control your earnings and eliminates the need for you to print the photos yourself.
Fotomoto is a platform that allows you to sell your photos on your website through the use of its widget.
Instead of having to manually sell your photos, Fotomoto handles the sales process for you, giving you more time to focus on photography.
It offers a variety of plans, including a free option where you give a higher commission.
Signing up only takes five minutes.
26. Envato Elements.
Envato Elements, formerly known as Twenty20, is a platform for selling stock photos online.
It originally focused on Instagram photographers but has since expanded to connect photographers with potential clients.
With Envato Elements, photographers can sell their photos via the platform’s app or on their own website page within the Envato Elements domain.
This makes it a great choice for photographers looking to monetize their work.
Depositphotos is a platform for selling visual content with a large library of over 150-million files.
It has a global client base and pays commissions between 34-42% based on a contributors experience and the resolution and license type.
It is trusted by big companies such as Warner Bros, Tripadvisor, Subaru etc.
123RF is a well-known stock photography platform.
You can sell your photos on other websites as well as 123RF.
123RF promotes your photos to a global audience of over five million buyers.
Earnings range between 30% and 60% for each license sold as a contributor.
Foap is an app-based platform with a community of over 3 million creatives.
It offers multiple ways to sell photos online, such as $5 per photo sold, cash prizes for winning entries, and partnerships with brands and platforms like Adobe and Alamy.
It’s a great option for photographers looking to sell to brands like KraftHeinz, Nivea, and Heineken.
30. Create Your Own Website To Avoid Fees And Commission.
Creating your own website to sell your photos is a great way to avoid fees and commissions.
If you’re tech-savvy, you can create a website for free (excluding domain and hosting fees).
If you’re not proficient in web design or programming, you can use platforms like Wix or Square Space to create a website easily.
By having your own website, you can offer as many photos as you like without having to pay any fees or commissions to third-party sites.
Setting up your website can be done quickly by using a web design system that can be found through a Google search.
This allows you to sell your own high-quality photos and is a great option if you get a lot of traffic to your site.
How To Sell Photos Online: Two Essential Steps.
Now that you are aware of the various platforms to sell your photos online, let’s discuss how to establish a successful and legitimate business by selling your photos online.
1. Define Your Niche.
To sell photos online at a high price, it’s important to choose a specific niche.
Find a consistent style or topic that goes through all of your work, whether it be travel, fashion, cityscapes, nature, or cuisine.
Consistency is key as people follow others online to see more of what interested them in the first place.
You can evaluate the demand for certain topics using keyword research to analyze the search volume for terms related to your photographs.
Use tools like Keywords Everywhere to help you find in-demand subjects and angles.
Building a following is important for photographers as it helps them expand their reach and credibility.
Social platforms like Instagram and Tumblr are good for reaching a wide audience.
You can also use photo-sharing sites to connect with other photographers and sell licenses to use your digital photos.
Use IFTTT to create integrations between apps that don’t usually integrate.
On Instagram, use Hashtagify to discover relevant, active hashtags for increasing the visibility of your photographs.
2. Integrate Ecommerce Into Your Portfolio.
One way to increase the potential for selling your photos online is to integrate ecommerce into your portfolio.
By having your own website to showcase your work, you can also enable the ability to accept payments from various platforms such as PayPal or Shop Pay.
This opens up more opportunities for how to sell your photos online, like offering courses, physical products, and services.
For example, Dave Sanford has a shop where he shows his wildlife pictures and sells prints and calendars to consumers.
An easy way to build your portfolio or store is by using Shopify, which offers various apps to customize it to your needs and monetization strategies.
This allows you to share and sell your photography in different forms, such as social media, ads or even offline through Shopify POS.
You can choose from various Art and Photography themes or select a free theme to begin with (which can be changed later).
Additionally, you may consider adding more functionality by installing Shopify apps such as Digital Downloads (free), an Instagram gallery, and more.
A photographer’s Legal Primer To Selling Photos Online.
A comprehensive guide for photographers on legal aspects of selling photos online Navigating the process of selling your photography online can be challenging.
Along with understanding the technical aspects, it’s essential to know the legal rights and licenses related to selling photographs.
To protect yourself from copyright infringement and theft, it’s crucial to understand some key terms and concepts.
Please note that this is not a substitute for professional legal advice, but it aims to provide you with broad definitions that can help you understand the world of usage rights.
Glossary Of Legal Terms For Selling Photos Online.
The following are a list of legal terms related to selling photos online.
It is important to note that this is not a comprehensive list and should not be considered a substitute for actual legal advice.
- Editorial use: This refers to the permission to use a photograph in blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other publications.
- Commercial use: This refers to the permission to use a photograph in marketing and advertising to promote a product or service.
- Retail use: This refers to the permission to use a photograph in the creation of a physical product to be sold. This includes items such as prints, posters, and products that feature the photo (e.g. pillows, mugs, etc.). It is sometimes talked about in the same context as commercial use, but it should be considered separately.
- Exclusive: Exclusive use means that the person who purchases the license from you is the only one who can use the photo.
- Non-exclusive: Non-exclusive photo licenses can be purchased and used by anyone and usually cost less than exclusive licenses.
- Public domain: This refers to photographs that have no restrictions or copyright claim and can be used for commercial, editorial, and personal purposes. Unless otherwise specified, the works produced by departments of the federal government of the United States, such as NASA, are classified here in most cases.
- Creative Commons: this phrase refers to the permissible use of a photograph so long as it abides by the various constraints that have been outlined.
- Royalty free: Others can buy a license and use the photograph for an unlimited duration and unlimited number of times. This is the most common sort of licence that is obtained, and it is on the less expensive end of the spectrum due to the fact that non-exclusive use of the images is the norm.
- Rights managed: A one-time license can be purchased to use the photograph with restrictions regarding distribution. Additional licenses must be purchased for additional use.
- Right of publicity: The subjects in the photographs are entitled to certain rights when it comes to their inclusion in the photography, especially when it comes to commercial use when selling photos online. This is a separate matter from the issues around copyright, and in order to avoid any legal issues, you should make sure to obtain a subject’s permission before using their image.
What To Do If Someone Steals Your Photos?
To protect your photos from theft, it’s a good idea to add a watermark to your digital images before sharing or selling them online.
You can use software like Photoshop to apply an identifying mark or a watermark generator to create one.
A smaller watermark, placed in a corner of the photo, allows others to still enjoy your work while a larger, more opaque watermark offers more protection.
If someone does steal your photos, there are a few steps you can take.
Sending a cease and desist request or an invoice for using your photo can be effective in persuading the perpetrator to either pay you or take the photo down.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to ask for credit whenever someone borrows your work, as it helps drive traffic back to your portfolio site and improves your search engine optimization.
There are a variety of websites and platforms available for selling your photos online.
Stock photography websites are a great option as they handle the majority of the work for you, allowing you to simply upload and share your portfolio.
However, non-stock websites may require more effort on your part, such as printing and shipping photos yourself, but can potentially lead to higher earnings per image.
Each platform offers its own unique features and benefits, making it important to research and compare different options to find the one that best fits your needs.
Ultimately, the key to success in selling your photos online is to understand the market, build a strong portfolio, and utilize the right tools and platforms to reach your target audience and sell your work.
It’s worth considering trying out multiple platforms to expand your audience and find the best option for you.
Remember to stay patient and persistent in your efforts as the payout can be well worth it.