How To Sell My Photos Online
Did you know you can actually sell your own pictures on the Internet?
And, before you ask it… No, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to be able to make money with your photos.
You don’t even need to buy a digital camera. You have a smartphone, right? (rethorical question, I know, who doesn’t?).
Do you love to take pictures of your daily life, your trips, your parties with your family and friends…?
Then, I’m going to show you how to sell photos online, to make money out of your passion.
You’ll be amazed of the many ways in which you can make profit from your pics online, so that you can create a secondary income stream which could eventually become a stable full-time business.
Who Buys Photos Online?
If we’re talking about selling pictures here, that’s obviously because there’s demand and there are people buying them out there.
And we’re talking a huge deal of a demand.
So, who do you think are all these people looking for images on the Internet?
– Companies. There’s milions of small/medium sized businesses in the world which do not have enough budget to hire a photographer for their marketing campaigns or their websites, so they look for stock photos to cover that aspect.
– Bloggers. People who have a blog or a personal site and do not want to be sued due to copyright infringment, usually look for public domain images to add some visuals to them. And many times, the free ones are not convincing enough and they end up buying through sites which offer monthly memberships or packs of a determined number of pictures which make the images more afordable.
– Self-published writers. Amazon and other online platforms have made possible that everyone can get their work out there without the help of publishers, so there’s many creators looking for that killer cover image that will make their book a best-seller, and they’re definitely willing to pay for it.
– Magazines and Newspapers. They’re always looking for new stories, new talents and specific imagery depending on the trending topic of the moment.
– Anybody who likes pictures of any kind, and want to decorate their houses with nice images or maybe buy one as a gift to another person for a birthday, anniversary or other special occasions.
So, basically, the possibilities are endless in what comes to selling your pics.
They all know that today everybody has a camera or a phone and thus taking pictures has become one of the most practiced and lucrative leisure activity in the world lately. So why not take advantage of that and make sure they have the widest range of options.
Ways To Earn Money Online With Your Photos
So, now we’re aware that there’s so many people looking for images on the Internet and, as there are many free rights options out there, there’s many people who look for the best quality and specific captures that those public domain stocks can’t provide.
And that’s the moment you need to step up and claim what your art is worth.
You’ll see that there’s two concepts that go together that you need to take into account when it comes to managing online photography: where you will be actually selling your pictures, and how you’re going to make people aware that those pictures exist and are worth it.
So, according to these, let’s make a list of the most used ways to make money with your pictures, so that we can break them down later and see which one fits your better:
1. Building up your own personal photographer’s website with your online portfolio.
2. Creating a photography blog where you can talk about what you love and redirect relevant public to your website.
3. Generating interest on your art through your Instagram profile.
4. Joining EyeEm. The best photography-specialized social media which includes a market for your pictures.
5. Leveraging all the other social networks to promote you as a photographer.
6. Sending your pictures directly to newspapers and magazines.
7. Putting your photos up for sale on stock images websites.
Now, let’s go deeper into the list and see which are the benefits of each and every point.
#1 – Build Up Your Own Personal Photographer’s Website
If you want to make a name for yourself within the online photography world, the first thing you need to do is create your own website, where you will put together your best pictures, so that you can start building your personal brand.
This is also the best way you have to get 100% of the profit from your photo sales.
There’s many platforms which offer free website building services, like Wix or Imcreator, and others like Photoshelter and Visual Society, where you need to pay a monthly fee, and they include e-commerce applications as a part of your site, so that selling your pictures is easier for you.
On the other hand, if you want a free website with an integrated online shop, the easiest option you have is to build up a WordPress website combined with a plugin like Sell Media which allows you to have your pictures up and ready to sell instantly.
If you upgrade, thus pay a monthly fee, some of those plugins will allow you to also be able to directly sell prints and not just digital photos.
So, which are the perks of having your own image gallery where you sell your pictures?
- You have full control of your sales.
- You decide which type of license each image is sold under.
- The whole amount of your sales goes into your pocket.
- You’re creating your own personal brand and reputation online.
#2 – Create A Photography Blog
There’s milions of photographers struggling to stand out from the rest online, so you need people to be aware you actually exist.
Starting a blog is a great opportunity to write keyword-relevant content which will rank on search engines and will lead people to find you, engage with you and socially share your content.
This will mean gaining online awareness and it will help you drive relevant traffic to your website in the shape of potential buyers for your images.
You can blog about anything related with photography, like which are your favorite places to shoot, what’s your photography gear… Any topic you can come up about the photography world that allows you promote your work.
Besides driving people to your online photography portfolio so that they can buy your pictures, blogging can also be very lucrative if you use affiliate marketing links to promote relevant products your public may find interesting (cameras, equipment, …), since when they buy them you get a comission.
Now, why is blogging important for you as a photographer?
- It drives quality traffic to your photographer’s website.
- It allows you to make money from affiliate marketing comissions.
- You’ll be writing about what you love and learning everyday.
There’s a platform I highly recommend if you want to start your online brand as a photographer.
It has been ranked #1 Online Marketing Community, where you can join completely for free and get immediate access to your own 2 websites (one could be for your portfolio/shop and the other one for your presonal blog), and a thorough 5-lesson interactive step-by-step course on how to effectively earn revenue through your websites.
You can check out here my full review of this helpful online community.
You’ll love this. You’re going to learn how to make money with your blog while you’re out there taking pictures!
Sounds good, huh? 😉
#3 – Generate Engagement Through Your Instagram Profile
I bet you have an account already on this social network which reached 800 milion active users by September 2017 and it’s growing by more than 200 milion users a year.
Although Instagram doesn’t actually pay you for the pictures and nobody buys them directly either, to have a high number of REAL followers can help you gain awareness online and can also bring you money indirectly.
How can I make money through Instagram?
Well, if people like your art, and you reach a considerable amount of followers, it’s more than probable that brands contact you and offer you to promote them in exchange of money or products.
This is what they call product placement, and it consists on subtly advertising relevant products on different non-traditional types of media, leveraging the interests of the public.
So you can find yourself promoting photography material, travel services or whatever products related with your photography style, since they may be of interest for your followers, and getting paid for doing so.
Apart from that, your Instagram biography, at the top of your profile, is the perfect place to promote your own personal website and send potential buyers to your gallery.
To do so, you can upload your best pictures regularly making good use of the hashtags, both image-relevant and trending, and the Instagram Story feature, which allows you to customize images and videos with text (for instance your last blog post or your website url).
Then, why do you need to be on Instagram?
- It’s the most used social app photography in the world.
- You can easily build your personal brand.
- Many companies are looking for ambassadors to promote their products there.
- It’s a good place to create interest in your work and get traffic for your website.
#4 – Join EyeEm: The Social Marketplace For Photographers
EyeEm is a global community of more than 20 milion photographers, where you can share your pictures, learn photography tips from experts and directly sell your pictures on a highly specialized marketplace.
You just need to join for free and create a gallery with your pictures which, unlike Instagram, will be uploaded at their full quality, so they won’t resize or compress them.
Then, as you do this, the quality and relevance of your images are reviewed and, once approved, your pictures will automatically be available at one of the most well-known stock photo agencies in the World, Getty Images.
After having done that, you just need to wait for the sales and get your cut (50% of the total price). There’s several different licenses under which they can sell the pictures, depending on the use the buyer will give to the image, and the prices go from $5 to $250 per photo.
You can easily upload the pictures from your computer or their phone app, and in both cases they have an image recognition software which detects the main features of your image and suggests you tags which are most commonly used by the buyers on their searches, so that your images got more chances to show up.
They also constantly set up “missions”, where you are asked to shoot a specific type of picture for a reward (usually cash or products from partners).
Summarizing, why is EyeEm the place to be if you’re a photographer?
- Your photos will be available at the Getty Images agency.
- You get 50% of the sale just for uploading your photos.
- EyeEm does all the promotion to give awareness to your work.
- You can get money and amazing products if you win the “missions”.
- Interacting with professional photographers can help you improve your skills.
- They constantly provide you with new tips to grow as a photographer.
#5 – Make The Most Of Social Media
When it comes to promoting your photographs and put yourself out there, social networks are key today.
Having presence on the most relevant ones will allow people to know your work, which ultimately will potentially turn into sales of your photographs.
So, the important thing you need to understand here is that the more you participate and engage with people online, the more the traffic you’re website will get, thus the more probabilities to make an actual sale.
That means you shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media 😉
Just think of how many unknown photographers have been discovered and become well-known thanks to some picture they took has gone viral on the Internet.
It’s not necessary to be on all the existing social networks, just make sure you make the most of the most used ones:
- Facebook: create your photographer page and promote it.
- Twitter: share your pictures, engage with other photographers and interact with the trending topics.
- Pinterest: pin your images to relevant galleries.
- Google+: share your blog posts so that Google ranks your website better.
- LinkedIn: create your professional profile as a photographer.
- YouTube: You can create a channel and make presentations with your images or even make video reviews of the products you promote on your blog.
The more you interact and share your work on the social media, the higher the chances of people visiting your website and buying your photographs.
Google highly values that people are sharing your brand, so it will index better your blog and your photographer’s site, which will mean more people will actually see it and visit.
Don’t miss this Free Training to Get More Sales by Leveraging Social Media and Your Blog Content to drive more traffic to your Photographers Site.
#6 – Send Your Stories To Newspapers And Magazines
They used to be printed media before the boom of the Internet, but they evolved and became digital, and they are still a very good place where you can display your pictures.
There’s some things to take into account when submitting photographs to them:
- Study them to know which kind of pictures they look for so that you can send the message that you can provide them with proper images according to their style. For example, you won’t be sending skyline or street pictures to a nature magazine.
- Stick to what you know best. At least at the beginning, try to boost your strenghts rather than work on your weaknesses. So, if you’re not good with portraits, don’t go for beauty and lifestyle magazines.
- Start locally. You won’t be selling your first picture to National Geographic. Small magazines will be more willing to give you a chance if they like what they see.
- Read the submission guidelines and follow them. You need to know how they want the proposals to be presented, so that you have a real chance.
- Send a query letter along with the portfolio you’ve decided to submit. It’s important that they know who you are and what you can offer.
- Stay fresh in their minds. You want them to remember you when assignments arise. So, without being too annoying, keep in touch once every month or two.
- Be patient. You may have to contact several media before you get a positive answer, but bear in mind that the competition on this sector is very high. Stay positive and you’ll get there!
A good way to start on this field is checking out WorkBook, where you can find a large variety of resources for photographers as well as a pretty decent directory of publications sorted by themes and geographical areas to start with.
#7 – Sell Your Photos On Stock Image Websites
As I said before, there’s a high and growing online demand for photographs and people are always looking for afordable and decent quality pictures they can use for their merchandising, blogs, banners, marketing campaigns, book covers, websites, posters, newsletters…
To respond to this evergreen demand for images, a quite big number of stock photo sites have sprung up during the last years.
These pages allow you to easily sign up for free and upload pictures to your profile, tagging them with the keywords which best define them so that they can quickly be found by the potential buyers that search on the sites.
From that moment, you don’t need to do anything else. This platforms handle all the promotion and sales, you just need to wait and get your cut, which depends on the site and on the type of license the picture is bought through (the price is not the same if somedbody buys a picture for a blog, than if Apple buys it for a national campaign).
All these sites are always striving to position themselves as the best site to sell stock photos, so you can be sure they will struggle to put your photos out there.
The key here is to take a look at the most downloaded and bought photos from these type of websites so that you get the idea of what the trends are, and then you can build up your own stock photo collection and put it up for sale.
They are all usually non-exclusive sites and let you retain all copyrights of your images (as long as they’re yours and do not include logos or recognizable people who didn’t give you permission to sell it), but don’t forget to check before uploading them just in case.
Sometimes, people will search for quality fine-art photographs, but the most demanded are usually daily life themed images (street, home, kitchen, people, travel…), business concepts (office-related, technology…) and symbolic pictures which evoque different feelings or emotions.
Some of the best free photo selling websites are:
- Alamy – You get 60% of each sale. Pricing starts at around $9,99
- Shutterstock – The more images you upload, the higher the payout per image.
- 123RF – 50% comission for you. Specially good for large collections.
- Big Stock Photo – Comissions go from $0,50 to $3 per photo.
- Getty Images – If your’re on EyeEm, your market pictures are already in this one.
- Fotolia – 30-61% royalties, which increase with exclusivity.
#Bonus Tip: Never Give Up On Your Dream
This may sound cheesy and typical for some of you, but it’s actually the key for your project to become real and successful.
All the tips and advices you’ve just read have no real effect whatsoever if you do not belive in yourself and your work, and if you’re not ready to do anything to make things happen.
And whatever you do, enjoy the process! If you enjoy what you do and give the best of you, you’re unstoppable!
You’re a photographer from the first moment you pick up your camera and start telling stories with your images. Do not let anybody tell you otherwise.
What’s The Best Way To Sell Photographs Online?
I don’t want you to get overwhelmed now with so much information.
These ways to make money with your photos, are just some of the most used and reliable now.
That doesn’t mean you need to use them all, but the more places your work is displayed on, the higher the chances that it’s going to be seen, and that’s precisely the key to make money with your photos.
What I recommend you is to start off by creating your presence online right now, which means your own website and blog, so that you have your own place where you’re going to be redirecting all the traffic you’ll get (like from your social media).
And, from that point, once you have that figured out, and your portfolio available, you can start promoting your work and submiting it to the different places we’ve broken down here that will provide you revenue from your passion.
I just want to remind you that I’m also available at my personal profile on that awesome Online Marketing Community I told you about earlier. You can reach me there anytime and I’ll gladly walk you through the process of making the most of your passion and turn it into your full-time thriving business.
Please, leave me a comment if you think there’s any other ways you use to make money with your photographs, so that people can know them as well.
I hope you found this article helpful and enjoyed it!
Are you ready to make the most of your passion? 😉