Column: 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 some money with photography. There are dozens of online platforms that could help you sell your photos online, ranging from photo sites to print-on-demand stores that pay royalties to sell iPhone mugs and cases decorated with your snaps.

While you don’t normally earn much from any given sale, you can sell the same photo multiple times and in different ways. Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur parent, it could turn your popular shots into money generators who pay royalties year after year.

Archive photo sites

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

Overall, stock photo sites sell photos of contributors on a non-exclusive basis. This means that you can sell your images multiple times on multiple online platforms. You retain your copyright and the ability to sell these images anywhere and in any form. Beware of rare sites that demand exclusivity. The right to sell your images on a large scale is a right that you should not give up unless you are paid generously for it.

The more photos you upload to these sites, the better your chances of making a decent amount of money. That’s because every image sale is likely to make a few dollars, maybe 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 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 undertakes to pay photographers 33% to 35% of the amount it receives for your photos. However, Adobe Stock makes its photos available to buyers largely through discounted subscription plans that give users the ability to use anywhere from three to 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 archival photo 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 for 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 may keep royalty rates low except in unusual circumstances.

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

The percentage you earn depends on the number of 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 for higher prices. But you give up the right to sell photos – all photos, not just those uploaded from iStock / Getty – on other sites. It’s a huge concession.

Alamy differentiates itself from its competition in photos by paying higher royalty rates to its contributors. The catch: Alamy is smaller and sells fewer photos. So even if its terms are better, you should also list your photos with the big ones.

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

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

Goods decorated with your photos

A number of companies will sell your photos on canvas and as prints and use them as art on jigsaw puzzles, aprons, pillows – you name it. As with photo sites, individual sales probably won’t make you rich. But if your photos go viral, the royalties add up and can continue to add up for years to come. 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 art, crafts, jewelry, handmade clothing, and other items. It also offers good opportunities for photographers. Photographers on Etsy sell everything from artistic 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 an 8% fee when your product sells. You set the prices.

Print-on-demand stores FineArtAmerica, RedBubble and Society6 invite you to upload your art and choose the products you want it 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 supply your art and get a royalty payment when a product that includes your art is sold. Each of these companies has a slightly different approach to royalty payment.

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

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.