Do you want to learn how to sell photos online? We’ve got you covered.
If you are a talented photographer, you could make a lot of money selling your photos as stock photos and digital prints. And in this post we will show you how.
First, we’ll look at how to take great photos and prepare them for sale. Then we’ll show you how to list them for sale on your own website and on popular third-party marketplaces.
And if you stick around to the end, we’ll also share some powerful marketing strategies you can use to get more customers.
Ready? Let’s start.
Why sell photos online?
First, let’s look at some of the main reasons Because Would you like to sell photos online primarily:
- passive income. The great thing about selling photos online is that, unlike selling photography services, it’s a completely passive stream of income. You only have to take a photo once and you can sell it over and over again under a non-exclusive license for lifetime income.
- Easy compliance. Photos can be sold online as digital downloads, making fulfillment a breeze. You don’t need to print, frame, and mail your client’s photos; you can simply take payment and email them an instant download link.
- Hone your skills. Selling photos online gives you a reason to experiment with different types of photos. You will practice your photography skills and earn money at the same time.
- Low start-up costs. Unlike other types of businesses, it costs almost nothing to start selling photos online. Apart from a small monthly subscription fee for website hosting, all you need to invest is your time.
- High demand. Photos are one of the most requested types of digital products. There are plenty of companies willing to pay for high-quality stock photos, and even more consumers looking for aesthetic photo prints.
How to take photos that sell
Below we will share some tips on how to do it. CONTACT photos that are more likely to sell well online.
But if you already took your photos and you just want to know Where to sell them, feel free to skip this part.
Get the right equipment
iPhone cameras might be enough for hobbyists and hobbyists, but they won’t be enough if you want to sell photos online.
For that, you will need to invest in some real Gear.
DSLRs are usually the best option when it comes to cameras. They offer a wider range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, have longer battery life, great low-light photography, and are generally capable of producing better, higher-resolution images.
The Nikon D850 is a great option. But ultimately it’s up to you to choose the camera that you think makes the most sense for the type of photos you want to take and your budget.
In addition to the camera body itself, you will of course also need a kit lens. Explaining the intricacies of lens choice is beyond the scope of this article, so you may want to research that at your leisure. But the most important factor to consider is the focal length.
Most professional photographers have many different lenses that will change depending on what they are shooting. But if you want to start with just one, we recommend a normal 50mm lens. They are affordable, lightweight, and optically excellent.
As you shoot with a 50mm lens, you’ll learn more about your needs and you may want to purchase additional lenses, but a 50mm lens is a great starting point.
There are a few other pieces of gear you may want in your photography kit in addition to the above, such as:
- a tripod
- a lighting kit
- studio background
- external flash
Again, we don’t have time to cover all of the above in this guide. Just make sure you have everything you need before you start shooting.
choose your niche
The next step is to choose your niche.
All successful photographers tend to appeal to a specific target market and usually have a consistent theme that runs through all of their photos. This is your niche.
Some examples of photography niches include:
- wildlife photography
- action sports photography
- portrait photography
- travel landscape photography
- food photography
To choose your niche, start by asking yourself what kind of photos you like to take. Then do some research to make sure there is a market demand for these types of photos and that there is low enough competition that you have a chance to make sales.
Keyword research tools can help with this step of the process. I can tell you how many people are searching the internet for different types of photos, which can help you get an idea of whether or not there’s a demand for them.
For example, according to Keyword Surfer, 1,000 people search for «office photos» every month in the US alone.
If so many people only Google office photos in the US, probably thousands more search directly on stock photo sites in other countries around the world. So we can be pretty sure it’s in high demand.
You can also try experimenting with keywords that include themes or locations (eg “Milky Way photos”, “New York photos”, etc.) to find in-demand niches. Or just check popular photo sites to see which categories are selling the most.
learn the shapes
If you’re already a professional photographer who can handle a DSLR, then great.
But if you’re a hobbyist and want to start selling photos online, you’ll first need to learn how to take great photos.
We can’t teach you that in an article. So instead, you might want to take a crash course in digital photography to learn the ropes.
There are plenty of courses on online marketplaces like Udemy that can teach you the basics. And there are even courses for specific niches.
Now this is the fun part. Time to go out and start taking photos.
How you handle this part is completely up to you. But there are some important things to remember.
First, if you include people, keep in mind that anyone in your photos may need to sign a model release form before you can sell them. Stock libraries often have pattern release forms that you can download and use.
Second, please note that you may not be able to sell photos that include trademarks, products, buildings, etc.
Also, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take any of this as legal advice. Please do your own research and make sure you are aware of all relevant laws and regulations to make sure you meet all the requirements before you start selling.
edit your photos
Once you’ve taken the photos you want to sell, the last step is to polish them in photo editing software.
Most of the photographers use apps like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for that. You may want to adjust things like exposure, sharpness, contrast, vividness, and temperature to make sure it looks exactly the way you want it to.
Depending on where you plan to sell your photos, you may also want to apply a watermark in Photoshop to prevent people from stealing them from your website. However, if you plan on listing yourself in marketplaces, you can probably skip that part, as they’ll usually handle the markup for you.
Bonus tip: You can also sell Lightroom presets that you use for editing along with your photos at the store. Check out our guide on how to create and sell Lightroom presets for more information.
How to sell photos online on your website
The best place to sell photos online is through your own website. This is why.
First, selling photos through your own site means you can charge more per sale than you normally would on stock photo sites.
On stock photo sites, you will typically earn between $0.25 and $0.50 per sale. But when you sell exclusive photo licenses on a site you own, you can earn anywhere from $50 to $500 or more per sale. And there are no middlemen, so you get to keep 100% of your profits.
Also, selling through your own photography site is much better from a branding perspective. Your online store can double as a photo portfolio and help you get more exposure.
And of course, you have a lot more flexibility when you sell on your own site compared to third-party marketplaces.
You have full control over purchases, store layout, pricing, license terms, etc. In addition, you can sell the products you want. Not only digital photos, but also photo services, prints
And the best thing is that it is easy to create your own website thanks to Sellfy. You can be up and running in less than an hour. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Sign up for Sellfy.
sell is a perfect eCommerce platform for selling digital products like photos. It’s easy to use, affordable, and doesn’t charge transaction fees.
To get started, go to Sellfy’s pricing page and choose your plan. You can start with a 14-day free trial (no credit card required) so you can try it out before you get locked into a monthly subscription to make sure it’s right for your needs.
After signing up, you will be taken to your control panel where you can start building your store.
Step 2: Upload photos to your store
Once you’ve landed on your dashboard, the next step is to add your products.
If you want to sell your photos as digital images, click here Product > digital product > Add a new product. Next, upload your first photo or photo pack.
You will need to enter a name for the product and a description. Also, you will need to set your price.
Think carefully about what type of license you want to sell your photos and factor this into your price. The main thing to consider is whether you want to sell your photos exclusively or non-exclusively.
With the former, you’ll only be able to sell the photo once because you’ll be giving the buyer exclusive rights to use it, but you can charge a lot of money for the privilege.
With the latter, you can sell your photo over and over again to many different customers, but non-exclusive licenses are usually much cheaper, so you won’t earn as much per sale.
Once you are done filling everything in, click save product to launch the product page on your new Sellfy site.
Bonus tip: In addition to selling your photos as digital products, you can also use Sellfy’s built-in print-on-demand (POD) feature to sell them as physical prints on various products.
Step 3 – Complete Store Setup
Finally, you can go to the Store Settings page to complete the store settings.
You’ll need to connect a payment processor before you can start accepting payments (for example, Stripe or PayPal) and set up your custom domain.
You can also customize the design of your store by changing the theme and editing the design in Store Personalization. It has a drag and drop interface so it is very easy to use.
Once you’ve done all of that, you should be good to go.
How to sell photos online through marketplaces
If you don’t think creating your own photography website is the right choice, then the next best thing is to sell your images on stock photography websites and marketplaces.
The benefits of selling on a marketplace are that it increases the visibility of your photos. You don’t have to worry too much about marketing your images as potential customers will be able to find them using the marketplace’s search function.
However, selling on markets also has its downsides, mainly when it comes to profit margins. Most markets will take a share of the profits, some significantly more than others. Below are some of the best photography marketplaces to list your photos.
Best for selling stock images
photodun is a site known for selling royalty-free stock images.
The stock photography site is part of the online creative brand Envato and has a large user base of marketers, designers, and developers who are generally willing to pay more than the average consumer for the stock images they use.
Photodune fees range from 12.5% to 55%. If you register as an exclusive author, your fees will be capped at 37.5%. Customers have the option of purchasing regular or extended photo licenses. Regular licenses start at $5 and extended licenses cost between $50 and $100.
Although the fees seem quite high on Photodune, they are lower than some competing platforms and it is one of the best platforms to discover. However, it is also quite competitive..
Best for profit margins
etsy is more commonly known as a site for selling homemade or handmade products. But in recent years, it has also become a hub for selling digital products, including photographs.
While it’s not a regular stock photo site, it can be a great place to sell your photos in digital or physical formats. With Etsy, you can list up to 40 products for free, and you’ll only be charged a 6.5% fee for any sale you make.
Compared to stock image marketplaces, this is extremely low and you are free to set your prices as high or low as you like. It’s also easy to connect other tools, such as print-on-demand services.
Etsy has a large but very clearly defined audience, with more than 80% of users being young women in their 20s and 30s. This is something to consider when deciding if Etsy is the right place for your work.
However, if your style of photography is suited to this target audience, then it could be a great alternative to some of the more generic photo marketplaces out there.
Best for event photographers
wonderful photos is another photography marketplace that offers a unique opportunity for event photography.
Is that how it works. In the front row, photographers go out and shoot action sports or events, then post them on Wunderpics. They then tag them with the location, date, and time of the event.
People who attended the event, such as athletes, artists, or passersby, can search Wunderpics to find professional photos of themselves. And they can buy photos that they like to use on their own websites or social media.
The nice thing about this site is that photographers can set the price for their own photos, and Wunderpics will take a relatively small 15% commission for each sale. You can also upload 15GB of photos for free, but after that, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Wunderpics offers a revolutionary new way for event, street and sports photographers to sell their photos that is convenient for both the creator and the seller.
Best for higher priced photos
fake images it is a community market that caters to high end customers. As such, photographers they can sell their photo licenses at higher prices than on microstock sites. It is also a good place to find long-term clients with whom to build a long-lasting relationship.
However, this greatly increases the competition on this platform, so it is important that your images are of the best quality if you want to make sales on this site.
The great thing about Getty is that you don’t just have to sell photos, you can also use it to sell illustrations and videos, which is great if you want to diversify your income stream.
Getty is free to sign up, but you must have your images approved by the Getty team to start selling on the platform.
Although Getty is a good platform to sell your photos for a higher price, the commissions are also a bit higher. You can expect to be charged 20-45% for each image you sell.
The best option pays
500px is a stock marketplace that takes a slightly different approach to fees and commissions.
Instead of charging photographers for each image sold, they charge a monthly subscription fee that allows creators to enjoy a 100% royalty option. They also offer a free plan, but free plan creators will receive a 40% commission on images sold.
500px is all about quality. Rather than allow the market to become saturated with inappropriate photos, the 500px team carefully reviews each photo to ensure it’s technically correct and commercially viable.
However, if you’re a skilled photographer, this is almost certainly a positive, as it will make it easier for clients to discover your images without having to sift through tons of low-quality photos first.
So if you are willing to invest in a monthly subscription, 500px is a very good option.
How to sell photos online as prints
While there is a huge market for selling digital prints of your photos, many people also want to purchase physical photo prints, and this is one of the best ways to earn extra money from your work.
The easiest way to sell prints is to use a print-on-demand service. With print on demand, you list your products for sale on a marketplace or on your own website, and as soon as a customer purchases the product, the POD service prints and ships the product for you.
The POD service then deducts the base cost of the product from the sales price, and you keep the rest of the profit. It is a super easy business model and can be very profitable.
As mentioned above, you can use Sellfy to sell photo prints using POD. However, Sellfy is not the only print-on-demand service available. Below are some of the best POD options specifically for selling photo prints.
The best selection of POD products
Frozen is a global print-on-demand service that is a perfect option for photographers who want to sell their prints online. Gelato easily integrates with websites and can also be used to sell POD products on marketplaces like Etsy.
The great thing about Gelato for Photographers is that they have a whole section of wall art products to choose from. You can sell almost any type of tapestry you can think of, including:
- Wood Framed Posters
- Posters with metal frames
- posters with hangers
- aluminum prints
- Acrylic and foam prints
- paintings on wood
With Gelato, you also have the option to sell photo books, calendars, and more. If you are new to POD then Gelato is a good tool to use as it is really intuitive and easy to get started with.
Best for selling premium posters
Disappointment is a marketplace specifically for the sale of premium metal signs. These posters are a huge hit on social media, making them easy to market and sell.
At Displate, customers can use the search function to find their images or browse the most popular and trending poster designs. When they buy your design, you will receive a commission.
Commission rates for Displate vary, but you can earn up to 50% on each sale by sharing your artwork on social media.
If you specialize in styles of photography like street photography or event photography, then selling your photos on Displate might be a good option.
Best POD Market
Redbubble is a well-known artists’ market that is popular with artists, illustrators, and photographers, and is a great place to sell photo prints.
Redbubble has a large user base, making it a great place for them to discover your work. They also offer a wide range of print-on-demand products so customers can enjoy their photos in a variety of formats, from printed mugs and t-shirts to wall art, phone cases, and more.
On Redbubble, customers can search the huge marketplace to find their favorite designs, so you don’t have to worry about running your own website or posting your designs on sites like Etsy.
You also have the option to set your own artist markup, which is the profit you will receive from each sale.
Redbubble is particularly popular with the young and creative, so if you think your style of photography will appeal to this demographic, then it might be the right choice for you.
There is one last thing I need to mention about Redbubble and that is the fees. For new and low-volume sellers, it’s overkill. Redbubble receives an initial product discount and account fee. The account fee comes from your monthly earnings and only applies to those on the standard plan.
You can avoid these account fees by upgrading to a higher tier plan, but they are by invitation only and Redbubble is not transparent about its selection criteria.
fine arts america
Best for high quality prints.
fine arts america is another print-on-demand marketplace that is best suited for selling high-quality photos. With Fine Art America, you can only sell physical products, so it’s not suitable if you want to sell physical and digital products from the same place.
Getting started with Fine Art America is free and you can choose which product options you want to make available to customers. You can print your photos in a wide range of formats, from canvases to framed prints, and you can set your own favorite bookmark for each product.
Fine Art America also has global fulfillment centers and a variety of sales and marketing tools that can help you increase your POD sales.
The main advantage of Fine Art America is that the prints they create are of a very high quality. So if you’re looking for a way to sell your photos as museum-quality prints, this is the option for you.
How to market your photos
If you want to maximize your photo sales, you’ll also need to put some effort into marketing. Here are some of our top tips for marketing your photos.
Drive sales through Instagram
Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is the most image-focused, making it the perfect platform to market your photos online.
If you want to increase your sales, it’s a good idea to share your photos on Instagram and try to build a following. You can do this by using the correct hashtags for your images, posting regularly and at the correct times, and interacting with other accounts to try and build a good community.
Once you have a small following, you can add a link to your bio to direct people to your photo listings on your website or marketplaces.
If you’re sharing photos that you plan to sell, be sure to add watermarks to them so people can’t copy and paste them from Instagram to use for free.
If you plan to sell your photos from your website, then you can use search engine optimization to drive web users to your website. You can use tools like SE Classification to find high volume keywords to include in your product listings.
Then, when people search for those specific terms on Google, your website will rank in the results pages. You can also add an SEO blog to your site to help improve your site rankings and drive traffic to your photography eCommerce site.
Market your photos in person
When it comes to selling your photos online, your marketing doesn’t have to be digital.
For example, if you’re shooting a specific event or venue, then it’s a good idea to have business cards with your website details and social media handles printed on them.
That way, people who are also attending the event and want to buy professional photos you’ve taken can easily do so online when they get home.
This is also a good tactic if you’re a street or fashion photographer taking photos of passersby, as the subjects of your photos may be interested in purchasing a professional print or digital download of your photo.
There you have it: everything you need to know about selling stock photos.
Selling digital products like photos is one of the best ways to make money online.
Remember: you don’t have to specifically sell photos. You can use them as a base to create other products. For example, as physical prints or custom merchandise through platforms like Sellfy and Gelato.
But if you don’t want to sell photos, there are plenty of other products you can sell instead.
Check out some of our other guides to explore your options:
- How to sell eBooks
- How to sell audiobooks
- How to sell PDF files
- How to sell videos
- How to sell fonts
Divulgation: This post contains affiliate links. This means that we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.