Sell Your Photos Online: 5 Websites That Pay $100 per Image or More
Attention shutterbugs: Do you bring your camera everywhere you go, snapping perfect shot after perfect shot?
Cash in on your photo addiction by selling your photos on these websites. Each one has a different payment structure, but they offer a great way to turn files sitting untouched on your hard drive into some extra cash, without much extra effort once you’ve edited and uploaded them.
If you're earning serious cash as a stock photographer, you’ll have additional tax liabilities, but you may also be able to deduct your photography equipment, software and even some of your travel to shooting locations. Be sure to consult a pro to find out how to stay on the right side of the rules.
Here are five sites where you can make money with your photos.
1. 500px Prime
Five million photographers list their stock images with 500px, according to the site. You'll receive 70% net for every license sold (standard licenses are $250), and your images may appear in big-name ad campaigns if you submit them for commercial licensing.
To give 500px Prime a try, first sign up for a free account on 500px. Then submit your photos, enable your store and complete the required forms for each image (including model releases, liability releases, etc.).
You'll also have the option of selecting an exclusive or non-exclusive license for the images. You'll earn more for an exclusive license, but that means you can’t license or sell the photo to anyone else.
Here’s a breakdown of prices, though it’s not clear how exclusivity affects them.
2. SmugMug Pro
SmugMug Pro lets you keep 85% of the markup for your images. The catch is you have to buy a Pro subscription, starting at $12.50 per month, to take advantage of this high royalty; there’s no free option.
Here’s an example of how the pricing structure works, from SmugMug’s website: “You sell a 5x7 for $10.79 and the SmugMug default price for it is $0.79. The markup is $10.00. You keep $8.50 as profit (85% of $10).”
Once you sign up, you'll upload photos, select the products you want to sell and pick prices.
This is a good site for someone with a true entrepreneurial mindset, since you get to decide how much to charge for your images.
Earn up to $120 per image download on Shutterstock. This site has a fairly complicated pricing structure, but the more you earn (“lifetime earnings”), the more you take home for each image.
In total, contributors have earned a total of more than $300 million from over 500 million downloads, so people definitely snap up these images. Shutterstock also sells stock video footage, including HD and 4K videos, as well as images and vectors.
You can also refer other photographers and make a small profit, typically around four cents, each time they sell an image. If you refer a customer who purchases images, you can earn 20% of their first purchase, up to $200.
This site has been selling stock images since 2001. Since it’s been around for a while, it has an extensive network of contributors and thoroughly vets new applicants to make sure they’re a good fit.
To apply, just select the most appropriate category (photos, illustrations, video or audio) and fill out an application (it’s free). The iStockphoto team will review your qualifications and you'll have to take a short quiz to assess them. The final step is to upload a few samples of your work to make sure it’s top-notch.
Once accepted with iStockphoto, you'll receive a minimum of 15% of any sales. However, if you have “Exclusive” status, your earnings can increase to 45%. Here’s a full royalty schedule with typical prices to help you estimate your revenue.
Etsy's not just for selling wedding decorations, custom Halloween costumes and quirky cat-themed gifts. You can also sell your photos!
While the fee structure is beneficial to a photographer (Etsy keeps 20 cents on each sale as well as 3.5% of the sale price), you have to put in extra work to make those sales.
While people browsing stock photo websites are specifically looking to purchase images, not everyone browsing Etsy will necessarily be looking for photos. And people looking for photos may not think to look on Etsy.
That’s why, if you choose to sell your images on this site, you'll need to invest time and energy into marketing your designs and images. But Etsy takes such a small cut of each sale, it may be worth your while.
Etsy offers a helpful handbook to help you learn about branding, marketing, how to price your items and how to succeed. When you set up your own Etsy store, you set the prices, so your earning potential is virtually unlimited.
Your Turn: Have you sold your photos online? Did you use one of these sites, and how much did you earn?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.