- May 16, 2018
One of the great thing about smartphones being so common is that anyone can try their hand at photography. I’m sure photography snobs will say that there’s more to being a photographer than having a mobile phone and Instagram account. And for the most part, I agree with them.
But I’m sure there are a lot of iPhone and Instagram photographers who’ve transitioned to “proper” camera gear and photography. They wouldn’t have been able to do so without that introduction via mobile phone photography. And I think that’s a net positive, when all is said and done.
With all the photographers popping up, there’s also an increasing number of opportunities for them to make money off their work. In the past, photographers had to go through the traditional route of getting approval from magazine editors. While that method is still valid, it no longer is the only way to earn.
If you’re a photographer and looking for ways to earn from work, there are two common ways to do so online: sell your work as prints, or sell them as stock photos. I’ll be listing the sites where you can do that in this article. Ready? Let’s go!
Sell Your Photos as Prints
It’s good to know that in this age of digital everything print is still alive and kicking. You can sell your work as prints on various websites. You don’t actually print your photos yourself - the websites handle that whenever someone orders your work. (This is called print-on-demand) These prints vary in size, from postcard-sized to full-sized posters.
Here are a few sites where you can sell your photos as prints:
Imagkind was started in 2006, and hosts over a million images from independent artists and photographers. They specialize in producing wall art and museum-quality reproductions - but of course, the actual quality will depend on how good your work is. They print on various surfaces and specialize in different print methods, including canvas and giclée.
They host a wide variety of art and photography styles, which will be awesome for photographers such as yourself since that gives you the opportunity to experiment and find your creative voice.
Redbubble is a Melbourne, Australia-based company and was founded in 2006. They’re a bit more contemporary compared to the other companies on this list. If you’re into modern motifs and designs, this is the site for you. They’ve connected over 400,000 artists with millions of fans around the world.
The great thing about Redbubble is they can print your work on various items, including shirts, coffee tumblers, mugs, tote bags, notebooks, pillow cases, phone cases, stickers… and yes, framed prints as well!
Among all the sites listed here, Redbubble is one of my favorites, simply because there are so many ways for artists and photographers to monetize their works.
PicassoMio was founded in 1999, and they’ve since become one of the leading sellers of art and artistic photography. Their site attracts over 1 million monthly visitors from over fifty countries. Which means you won’t be lacking exposure on this site!
The works they sell are primarily artistic and a bit high-brow. If your works have that quality, this is the site for you.
Sell Your Work as Stock Photos
Digital is still king. And the best way to make the most of that fact is to sell as stock photos. Before I give you my suggestions for stock photo selling platforms, here are some basic tips for producing stock photos:
Shoot a specific scene or idea - For example, “Office workers celebrating” or “Teenage boy angry at his video game console” or “Dog dog swimming happily.“ Simply shooting a bunch of people smiling at the camera won’t cut it.
Make sure the quality is there - Let’s be honest, the stock photo scene is extremely competitive. There are so many people out there producing great work. One of the best ways to stand out is one of the most basic: make sure the quality of your work is up to industry standards. The best way to do this is to look at what other people are producing, and try to match the quality - or even surpass it (I suggest trying to surpass the competition).
Find an unsatisfied niche - There are plenty of stock photos that show people in business attire staring at spreadsheets or pointing at computer monitors. But try to find keywords or concepts that don’t have a lot of photos. That way you, have less competition.
Try to imagine a specific use for your photos - It may get overwhelming trying to think about specific ideas to shoot, so here’s a way to make it easier to decide - try to imagine a specific use for your photos. Do you want your photos to be used by in PowerPoint presentations made by finance people? Or do you want your images to be used by marketing students? Try to imagine what their needs would be, and shoot accordingly.
And with that out of the way, here are some selling platform suggestions:
This is the big kahuna of stock photo selling platforms. On the site, you’ll earn 25 cents for each of your photos that gets bought (downloaded).
You can also refer other photographers to the site - you’ll get three cents for each photo they sell. I really like this referral program, since it gives you an alternate way to earn in addition to actually selling photos.
Once your total sales on Shutterstock reaches $500, your earning rate per sale increases to 30 cents. That 5 cent difference may not look like much, but it quickly adds up if you sell lots of photos.
Fotolia is another big player in the stock photo scene. They’re owned by Adobe, so you know they’re legit. You’ll get 50% of the photo’s selling price, which is a pretty big amount. But since this is a widely-used platform, you’ll also have to compete harder for your earnings. I think it’s worth it, in the end.
123 RoyaltyFree is a completely independent, boot-strapped company that was wounded in 2005. They’re also a pretty notable company, having sold stock photos to the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon , Microsoft, American Express, and Deloitte.
You get 50% of the sale prices of your photos, which is always good. You can also earn 10% of the earnings of photographers you refer to the site. But wait, there’s more! You can also refer photo buyers. You earn 15% of the amount their subscription amount. This is another great referral program, since you can refer both fellow photographers and photo buyers.
4. Photo Stock Plus
Photo Stock Plus gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to presenting and pricing your work.
You get 85% of your sales, but the site also charges a 3.25% processing fee. So keep that in mind when pricing your photographs.
5. Bigstock Photo
Bigstock Photo is a California-based company that was founded in 2004. As befitting a company that has been around this long, they’ve got lots of stock photos and illustrations - over 67 million!
With this amount of competition, you’ll have to make sure the quality of your work meets or exceeds industry standards.
On Bigstock Photo, your earnings for each photo sold will range from 30 cents to $1. They have special categories and themes you can contribute to, which will give you even more earnings.
All these sites are legit ways to earn from your photography skills! Some of the environments on certain sites are more competitive than others. I would suggest going for sites that suit your skill level, then moving up to the big ponds as your skills and portfolio grow. ‘’
Now it’s your turn to share! Are you into photography? How did you get into it, and where do you regularly sell your photos?
Let’s hear your stories!