If you are a whiz at taking photos, this list of the best stock photo sites to sell your photos will help you get started on what can quickly become a lucrative side hustle.
Although it isn’t as easy as uploading an image on google and earning money, selling your photos for money is a great side business if you have some photography skills and are willing to spend some time marketing your talents.
There are quite a few “microstock” sites that act as a repository for online images and it can be hard to know which ones are a legit and which will actually make you some money.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure for more information.
Who Buys Stock Photos?
Multinationals, ad agencies, bloggers, small businesses and not-for profits are all looking for quality stock photos they can use in advertising and marketing materials.
Most reputable businesses prefer to pay for stock photos from a legit stock site (like the best stock photo sites to sell your images below!) rather than to run the risk of facing a lawsuit due to misuse of an image in a costly brochure or ad.
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What Kinds of Photos Sell Best?
Most photos can find an audience but the key is to think about the types of photos that people want for their websites or advertising.
Have a look around you at billboards, blogs and magazines and you will quickly begin to notice some trends.
- People – children, crowds, sporting events, couples – basically anything goes
- Food – from restaurant quality meals to farmer’s markets
- Tools – hammers, screws, machine parts are all in demand
- Cityscapes – generic as well as recognizable skyscrapers
- Money – banknotes, coins, piggy banks etc
- Business & Work environments – office spaces, laptops and smartphones are some of the most popular images
- Nature – all kinds of photos are wanted for adverts and blog posts
- Travel – the World is your oyster with this one.
How to sell photos online and make money
- Perfect your craft
- Market Yourself
- Get the right equipment
- Choose a niche
3 Things Your Photography Must Have
- Good Lighting
- Good editing
- Model Release for identifiable people
Promoting Your Photography Business
Make sure to choose photography sites that get a lot of traffic and customers. The ones I have listed below are all very popular sites and get a lot of visitors every day.
There are some sites like Unsplash that offer stock photos for free. Although they won’t earn you any money, they can help you get your name out there if you images are credited back to you.
The Equipment you need to sell your photos online
- A good DSLR Camera like a
- A variety of lenses
Choosing the perfect niche for your photography business
- Check out recent trends by spending time on Instagram and popular photography sites
- Choose a popular niche that is not oversaturated
- Make sure your niche is something that you can photograph regularly (don’t focus on cityscapes if you live in the middle of Montana and rarely travel!).
Top 15 Places to sell your photos online
- Your own website
- Facebook page
- Getty Images
- Adobe stock
The Best Stock Photo Sites To Sell Your Images
Your own website
The main advantage to selling photos on your own site is that you can keep 100% of the profits. Most stock photographers have a site on WordPress that costs very little to run.
The bonus to starting your own site is that you can add blog posts and an “about me” page to build a captivated audience. You can even create your own mailing list so you can advise customers of new collections.
You can easily create your own website using my tutorial about starting a WordPress blog (the instructions work for any WordPress site).
An example of a personal site that is successful in selling stock photos is Pixistock which focusses on stock images for female business owners.
Instagram allows you to sell photos you take with your cell phone – no special equipment needed! As Instagram is image based, it is the perfect place to showcase your photography talents and get some new customers.
In 2014, Forbes ran this story about a photographer who made $15,000 in just one day by selling his photos on Instagram.
Instaprints is the easiest way to get started with selling your photos on Instagram as they are one of the largest art sites in the world. Buyers can turn your photos into prints, home decor, apparel, and other products.
Another great way of selling your photos online for free is to create a business Facebook page and advertise it on groups and use Facebook ads. A Facebook page is a good option if you aren’t quote ready to create your own website just yet.
You can open your own Shopify store and sell prints, digital downloads and even products made with your photos. For more information on setting up your own store, read How To Open An Online Store With Shopify.
Shutterstock Contributors can take advantage of being part of one of the top tier stock photo sellers in the Worldwide. Earnings vary depending on how many images are downloaded each month and the type of creative.
You can upload your photos directly from your mobile device and also get tons of tips and tricks on the Shutterstock contributor website.
Etsy is a great option, especially if you have photo products or photos that lend themselves to being made into Canvases or other decor items. You can easily open your own Etsy store and scope out what types of photos sell best on the site.
If you are a student, Alamy offers you 100% of the proceeds from your photo sales so this is definitely one to sign up for. Even if your college days are far in the past, Alamy is still one of the best stock photo sites to sell your images online.
If your images are Exclusive with Alamy (ie. you have not posted them on any other stock photo sites) you will receive 50% of all direct sales. Non-Exclusive images will receive 40% of all direct sales
Getty Images is the granddaddy of stock photo sites and definitely one of the best ones to be featured on.
To apply for Getty, download the Contributor by Getty Images app.
Share 3 to 6 samples of your photos, videos, or illustrations (video submissions will need to be uploaded to YouTube for review).
Getty Images will then review your samples and let you know if you’re accepted to either Getty Images or iStock by Getty Images.
I use Deposit Photos for the images on this site so I am a huge fan. Just like the other stock photo sites, you can download a contributor app and then apply to sell photos on Deposit Photos.
Earnings are on a sliding scale depending on your volumes. For more information, you can read this in depth post on the Deposit Photos blog.
If you want to sell your images across several different sites, 123RF is great because you do not have to sign an exclusive deal to work with them.
Getting set up is pretty easy and they feature different contributors each week on their homepage which can help drive traffic to you photos.
Adobe Stock was previously known as Fotolia by Adobe. It’s one of the easiest stock photo sites because it integrates fully with other Adobe products.
You can add your images, videos, vectors or illustrations to Adobe Stock directly from Adobe Lightroom CC, Adobe Bridge CC and through the web.
Every time someone purchases your content, you get a 33% commission for photos and vector art on Adobe Stock.
Twenty20 is another stock photo site that requires you to download their contributor app before you can get going.
One nice feature they have is the Sold Feed. It’s on the app and will let you see what is selling in real time so you can keep ahead of trends.
This is a branch of Getty Images (see above) and slightly less high-end. The application process is exactly the same as for Getty so you can apply for both at the same time and they will advise which one your photos can be sold on.
Dreamstime offers some of the highest commissions out there. Get 60% revenue share from all your sales if you are exclusive and upload bonuses. Non-exclusive contributors enjoy royalties between 25% and 50%.
Bigstock is one of the best stock photo sites to sell your images as they have a huge audience that can really help you get sales fast. You can earn 30% of each sale of your images with BigStock.
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