Your In-Depth Guide to Sell Photographs Online

Are you an aspiring photographer looking to sell photographs online?

sell photographs online

Making money from your passion and turning it into a profitable career is possible when you have the skills, the drive, and the right platform.

But where should you go to sell your photographs online?

If you’re capable of producing high-quality, professional photos you may want to explore the stock photo industry. There’s no denying that stock images are a very popular creative resource for businesses. And the possibilities that exist for stock photo contributors are worth looking into.

That’s why today I’ll be sharing an in-depth guide to selling photographs online as a stock photo contributor. This is a great way to make some extra money and get your work out there.


Maximize your earnings through stock photo sites

The best way to maximize your earnings when you sell photographs online is by selling them under a royalty free license. In most cases, you can make more money by licensing one photo over and over again than from selling it just once with the copyright included (think NFT art).

The most practical way to sell photographs online is to submit them to a stock photo agency site. These are companies that have huge catalogs of photographs submitted by creators from all over the world. Businesses can download images from these websites to use in their own publications.

When you submit photographs to stock photo websites, you will usually receive a commission each time the image is downloaded or purchased.

The great thing about these websites is that it reduces your workload and overhead costs. You don’t have to worry about setting up an online store, website hosting, or even marketing for that matter!

Stock photo websites have sophisticated search engines and user-friendly features that attract buyers in ways that you may struggle with using just a personal website.


Where should you sell photographs online?

The stock photo industry is sizeable, and there are a ton of agencies out there. That being said, there are a handful of companies that are incredibly popular with their user bases. If you’re ready to sell photographs online, start by submitting to the bigger names in the stock photo industry.

Stock photo agencies you might like to explore include:

  • Shutterstock
  • Adobe Stock
  • iStock by Getty Images


How to sell photographs online through an agency website

The process for submitting your photos to a stock photo agency is pretty simple. The first thing you need to do is sign up as a contributor on your chosen platform and submit a selection of your best photographs for their consideration.

Most agency websites have detailed guidelines for their sign up process. The company should let you know what they want in terms of file formats, quality requirements, maximum file size and so on.

Another thing to bear in mind when submitting your photographs is to make sure you are the copyright owner of all content. If you have recognizable models or buildings in your photos, you’ll need to have talent and property releases. Most agencies are very strict on their legalities.


Tips to sell more photographs online

Now that you know where to sell photographs online and how to get started, here are some tips to help you stand out from other contributors and sell more photographs online.


1. Focus on producing high-quality, professional photographs

Stock photo agencies are looking for high resolution, large photo files so that their customers can resize them for their intended use. Pay attention to your composition and produce the best images you’re capable of. The best selling photographs online are those that have commercial value. This market is highly competitive so you’ll need to work hard to stand out.


2. Edit your photographs

Editing can really work in your favor to increase the appeal of your photographs. You’ll want to make sure you remove any noise or other imperfections and color correct to achieve a professional looking finish.

Programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can assist greatly in this area.


3. Stay on top of visual trends

Most stock photo websites list in-demand content that is selling well on their websites. This is a great place to start if you want to sell photographs online. Pay attention to what is selling on your chosen website and keep an eye on what’s going on around the world.

Social movements have an effect on visual content too (think Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Climate Change etc). Photos of people consistently sell well also.


4. Keep adding to your portfolio

In order to sell more photographs online, you need to upload more images to your chosen platform. Be sure to keep the quality and style consistent. This business is based on volume, so adding fresh content to your portfolio regularly will help you to sell more online.

In fact, this is the biggest secret of online stock agencies, it’s a numbers game. The percentage you make from each image is rarely large. But if you upload a lot of photos and do it consistently, a little can add up to a lot. It’s important to look at what you shoot and how great your output is.


Can you really make a decent income from selling photographs online?


While there isn’t a cap on how much you can earn as a stock image contributor, it is a competitive landscape in the current market. Like any income stream, if you approach it like a professional and take it seriously your earnings will grow.

While you may not make a full-time income selling photographs through stock image websites, this path certainly has promise as an additional (mostly passive) income stream. This is something you may wish to pursue in addition to working with photography clients on paid shoots.

Your career goals and expectations will determine whether or not this is a worthy pursuit to follow. Your subject matter and dedication to the platform will also play a role.

Wheter you choose to use stock photography agencies as a revenue stream or not to sell photographs online, I hope this guide has helped you make an informed decision.


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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections. 

Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style. 

Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com

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