If you have a number of quality photos that you believe people may want to pay for, there are a selection of renowned websites that can help you turn those shots into hard cash.
For professional photographers, having a variety of websites on which to sell your top shots can be a great way to diversify your income. For newbies with a bit of skill, it can be an interesting way to start earning some cash on the side.
The 12 websites below have been chosen due to their high royalty rates, their popularity, or simply because they offer something different. Each could provide an additional income stream for anyone with enough good shots lying around.
If you would like to add any other websites to this list, please provide a link in the comments at the end of the article.
There’s a reason why Alamy has over 60 million images and videos for sale on its website. It’s because it offers photographers a huge 50% royalty payment on each photo sold. The site also allows photographers to sell their photos elsewhere (it doesn’t demand exclusivity).
This has enabled Alamy to become the world’s largest marketplace for stock photos, and it now has a huge number of monthly visitors – all of whom are potential customers for your photos.
Since launching, Shutterstock has paid out over $350 million to its contributors. When you upload a photo to the marketplace, you still keep copyright, and can earn up to 30% of the sale price of your photos depending on the size of your image. Currently, the payout is between $0.25 and $28 per sale.
iStock Photo is a great place for those just starting out selling stock photos. Its popular forums and resources will help you to find your feet, and to understand the world of photo sales.
The standard royalty payout for iStock Photo starts at only 15% per download, but this can increase to 45% depending on the popularity of your photos. If a customer purchases a photo using one of the subscription “credits” however, royalty rates are 15% by default.
If you’re willing to sell your photos exclusively on iStock Photo, the site will thank you by offering 22-45% royalties. This exclusivity contract can be ended if you give the company 30 days notice.
If you want to sell your photos, but would rather make those sales through your own site, PhotoShelter is a great tool for this. At its core, it’s a photography-oriented e-commerce platform that you can integrate into almost any website. This includes cloud storage for your photos, an intuitive interface, decent SEO (search engine optimization), and several social media integrations.
The benefits of this option include retaining full control over how your photos are displayed, not having your competitors photos displayed alongside your own, and the ability earn much more of the sale price. A couple of other similar alternatives are Fotomoto and Pixpa.
With over 4 million buyers, Adobe’s Fotolia is a beautiful site that offers royalties of between 20-46%. These royalties are deposited into your account immediately, unlike with many other sites where you have to wait to reach a threshold, or payments are made every 30 days.
The site has been in operation for over 10 years, and now houses over 45 million images. Relatively recently it was integrated into several of Adobe’s software packages, including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. This means that when you upload a photo to Fotolia, it’s also added to Adobe Stock, so people can buy your photos directly from within those applications.
If you want a different way of selling your photos, try PhotoMoolah. This is a site where you can submit relevant photos to different contests. If your photo is picked as one of the winners, you get paid while retaining your rights. The site isn’t yet massively popular, meaning there’s less competition for aspiring photographers.
As a couple of examples, there’s currently a contest looking for photos of “Australian and European kids playing outdoors”, offering a prize of $200. There’s another looking for “Unique selfie shots in Singapore”, where you could also win $200. Prizes have been known to go up to $500, but most are $100-200.
The SmugMug “Pro” package is an alternative to PhotoShelter. The platform enables you to showcase your work on a massively customizable storefront, and to manage your orders.
The main distinguishing feature is the ability to use the SimplyMug labs to offer prints, books, and greetings cards created from your shots. There are additional features such as the ability to create coupons, photo packages, and built-in analytics. You’ll also get to keep up to 85% of your revenue.
If you’re looking for an easy option for selling your photos, Can Stock Photo is a great choice. You will need to be approved first, which is a simple process where you have to submit three images to the site’s editors. You’ll usually have a response within 24 hours.
When uploading photos (you can upload several hundred at once) onto the site, the metadata and keyword data is read automatically, saving you the pain of needing to categorize each photo. You can earn up to 50% in royalties on the site, and can withdraw your money into PayPal once your balance reaches $50. If you want a mailed check, you’ll have to wait until you have $100.
This site has over 45 million files on offer, with almost half a million being added each week. The royalties payable vary between 30% and 60% depending on your level of contribution. This means that the more photos you upload, the higher your payout. If you upload less than 250 images to the site, you’ll earn 30%, which equates to $0.216 per download. If you upload over 1 million images, you’ll receive 60%, which equates to $0.432 per download.
In the stock photography world, Dreamstock is a reputable player. It achieved this status by ensuring that all uploads are reviewed to check they meet their standards “technically, aesthetically and commercially”, thereby guaranteeing quality.
Once your photos are approved, you’ll receive royalties of 25-50%, though this could increase to 60% on all images if you sign an exclusivity contract. If you do sign that exclusivity deal, you’ll also receive an additional bonus of $0.20 for each approved submission. The sale price of each photo is based on the number of times it has been downloaded.
FineArtAmerica is the perfect place to set up an alluring portfolio, and to sell physical prints of your shots. You can sell each photo as a canvas print, poster, framed print, metal print, acrylic print, or greetings card.
When you make a sale, the order (including the printing) can be fulfilled by the company’s own Print-On-Demand service. If you would rather take care of the printing yourself, however, you won’t have to have to pay FineArtAmerica a dime – though once your sales are over a certain number, you will have to sign up for a premium account.
If you’re a photographer who takes photos at events — parties, gigs, festivals, weddings etc. — Snapped4U is a website that makes the sale of those photos extremely simple. It’s also a great way to use the sales of photos to raise money for good causes. By uploading and selling your photos here, you don’t need to deal with the nightmare of order processing, printing, and postage. Snapped4U deals with all of that on your behalf.
The cost to you for each photo sold is just $0.50 on photos that are priced $5 or less. If the photo is sold at more than $5, Snapped4U will charge a 10% commission.
Where Else Do You Sell Photos?
There are plenty of other websites out there where you can sell your photos. The ones included here are those that either offer something different, are highly reputable, or who offer fantastic royalties to contributing photographers.
As you improve your photography skills, and learn to understand the photos that sell well (and those that don’t), your forays into this territory should, in time, become more lucrative.
Which other sites would you recommend? Out of those above, which has been the most lucrative for you? And do you have any advice for people looking to start selling their own photos?
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