Your photos could make money as stock photos


Do you like taking pictures with a digital camera or smartphone? You may be able to make money with photography. There are dozens of online platforms that could help you sell your photos online, ranging from photo storage sites to print-on-demand shops that pay royalties to sell mugs and iPhone cases decorated with your photos. cliches.

Although you don’t normally earn much on a given sale, you can sell the same photo multiple times and in different ways. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a relative hobbyist, it could turn your popular snaps into annuities that pay out royalties year after year.

Stock Photo Sites

Stock photo sites are where many newspapers, magazines, web developers, and bloggers go for art to illustrate millions of pages of content every year. It can be photos of anything – sunsets, hands on keyboards, animals, a couple arguing.

Generally, photo sites sell contributor photos on a non-exclusive basis. This means that you can sell your images multiple times across multiple online platforms. You retain your copyright and the ability to sell these images anywhere and in any form. Beware of the few sites that demand exclusivity. The right to sell your images widely is one you shouldn’t give up unless you’re paid handsomely for it.

The more photos you upload to these sites, the better your chances of winning a decent amount of money. Indeed, each sale of images is likely to bring in a few dollars or even pennies. But popular photos can sell for hundreds of times.

Selling stock photos is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Seasoned photographers say you can make a good living, but it takes time, skill and strategy.

Some of the best stock photo sites:

Adobe Stock is a division of software giant Adobe Inc., which is one of the biggest names in multimedia and creativity software. The site promises to pay photographers 33% to 35% of the amount it collects for your photos. However, Adobe Stock makes its photos available to buyers largely through discounted subscription plans that allow users to use between three and hundreds of images per month. Photographers who sell through the site are likely to earn between 33 cents and $3.30 on any individual sale. Adobe Stock does not limit your rights to sell your photos elsewhere.

Shutterstock is one of the largest photo storage operations in the world. Like Adobe Stock, it encourages photographers and videographers to upload their images and pays royalties when those images sell. Royalties range from a minimum of 10 cents per photo to a maximum of $120. (The $120 payment is an “enhanced” license that gives the buyer the right to use your image often and in perpetuity.) You can also earn money by referring other photographers or clients to the site.

Overall, Shutterstock pays a lower royalty rate than Adobe Stock. It also sells photos through packages that are likely to keep royalty rates low, except in unusual circumstances.

iStock, Property of Getty Images, is another great international stock photo site that shares your images with its sister companies. You apply to be a contributor by sending information about yourself and sample photos. Most applicants to the iStock are accepted or rejected within 30 days. If you are accepted, you can earn between 15% and 45% of the revenue from any sale of your work.

The percentage you earn depends on how many photos you sell and whether you are an “exclusive” or “non-exclusive” contributor. If you are invited to be an exclusive contributor, you can potentially earn more because you get a bigger reduction in the sale price and your work is sold at higher prices. But you waive the right to sell photos – any photos, not just those uploaded to iStock/Getty – on other sites. It’s a huge concession.

Alamy differentiates itself from its stock photo competitors by paying higher royalty rates to its contributors. To be precise: you would need to sell 25,000 images in a year to achieve a 40% royalty rate with Shutterstock. But you would only have to sell $251 worth of photos to reach that level with Alamy. The problem: Alamy is smaller and sells fewer photos. So even if its conditions are better, you should also list your photos with the great ones.

Mousse uses photographers – amateurs and professionals – to submit photos of smartphones for potential purchase by brands who wish to illustrate advertising campaigns. Most photos are purchased for $10. Foap takes a 50% commission, so you get $5 on every sale.

The site also offers “missions” where you can earn more by following the instructions and being chosen as the “winner”. Mission photos are usually sold for $60 or more. The catch: All photos sold here are sold for commercial purposes, a type of use that normally fetches better prices. It is worth registering here if you are a hobbyist. But traditional stock photo sites are likely to work better for professionals.

Merchandise decorated with your photos

A number of companies will sell your photos on canvas and as prints and use them as art on puzzles, aprons, pillows – you name it. As with stock photo sites, individual sales probably won’t make you rich. But if your photos become a viral sensation, the royalties pile up and can keep rolling in for years. You may need to market yourself to initiate sales. Here are some of the best options.

Etsy is one of the oldest and most established sites for selling arts, crafts, jewelry, handmade clothing and other items. It also offers good opportunities for photographers. Photographers on Etsy sell everything from art prints to digital downloads to provide backdrops for Photoshopped images. It’s cheap to register on the site: 20 cents per ad. You normally pay 8% fees when your product sells. You set the prices.

Print-on-demand shops FineArtAmerica, RedBubble and Society6 invite you to upload your art and choose the products you want to decorate. For example, you might want to turn your favorite cityscape into a puzzle. Or see it on a coffee mug, t-shirt, shower curtain, baseball cap, or iPhone case. Print-on-demand sites like these manufacture, market, and ship the products. You simply provide your art and receive a royalty when a product that includes your art is sold. Each of these companies has a slightly different approach to royalty payments.

Kristof is the publisher of, an independent site that reviews hundreds of lucrative opportunities in the gig economy.


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