How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

Savings Angel

This article, originally entitled How to Make Money Selling Photos Online comes from

Are you one of those shutterbugs who take pictures of almost everything from what you had for breakfast to the squirrel out your kitchen window? Or the comical look on the face of your pet? Instead of quickly posting to your facebook page, you may want to turn your fetish for photography into a money making venture. That click on your smartphone camera ­could mean money in the bank. One way is to sell your photos as “stock photos” via phone apps that attract companies looking to buy unique, natural or local photos.

Foap is one of the apps that give smartphone users and photographers the opportunity to earn money from their photos. With this app, you can upload your photos to the Foap Market where they are rated. Photos that make the grade get published in the Foap Market. Photos sell for $10; you get $5 and they get $5 for each photo sold. The best news is that the same photo can be sold over and over again and you earn each time!

According to Foap, providing a variety of photos seems to be the key to more sales and they recommend your portfolio contain:

  1. Photos of people
  2. Photos of differing work situations (at the office, carpenter, steward, etc.)
  3. Photos of travel
  4. Photos of cities
  5. Close-up photos
  6. Photos of things (screws, medication, signs, books, computers, tools, bags, cables etc)
  7. Photos of nature
  8. Photos of animals

When it comes to selling your photography, the web has a plethora of sites to choose from. For the business minded photographer who wants to turn their creativity into cash or a full-fledged business, here are some other websites to consider:

iStock Photo – sales here may earn you a royalty rate of 15% for each download or up to 45% as an exclusive contributor.

SmugMug – will help you build an online showcase for your work with an option for a storefront.

Alamy – claims to be the world’s largest stock photo library, earning photographers 60% royalty fee on any images they sell.

Fotolia – each time one of your photos sell, you may earn a royalty between 20% and 63% of your sale.

Dreamstime – royalties range from 25-50% but if you become a Dreamstime exclusive photographer, you could enjoy 60% royalties on all of your images.

PhotoShelter – if you want to retain complete control of your work, you might want to consider a professional website with built-in commerce from PhotoShelter.

Shutterstock – earnings range from $0.25 to $28 for an image that sells. Their free Contributor Success Guide is there to help you get started.

123RF – if you like to upload lots of images, this could be a good choice for you. Royalty is based on your contributor level.

Can Stock Photo – claims to pay some of the highest commissions in the industry.

Overall, what can you earn by selling your photos? One formula I came across had a “rule of thumb” earning potential that estimated $1 earned per month per image submitted (based on a mean average of some selling lower and some higher). Certainly doesn’t sound like much. But the key to higher earning is to submit a higher volume. If 100 images could bring in $100 a month, then calculate that out by 1,000.

Not every image submitted will pass quality control. The best way to earn is take great shots, learn the ropes, and try more than one website. The beauty is that you can usually post the same photo to more than one site, increasing the potential of sales!

Here is some insight from my photographer friend, Tom Fawls:

Yes, you CAN make money with it, but you’re not going to get rich doing it. All these sites have certain image size and quality standards. You have to be approved to sell, by submitting a number of images for evaluation. Once that happens, each and every photo is reviewed by the site to determine whether THEY think it will sell.

If it’s approved, each time someone licenses the image you earn a fee. Depending on the site and the type of membership the buyer has purchased you’ll typically end up earning a whopping $0.25 to $0.33 (yes, that’s cents, folks!). Of course the more photos you’ve got up for sale, the more money you’re likely to make.

Because I am a part time photographer, from the 11 sites I sell through, I typically make a few hundred dollars a year. I do know some folks who make into the thousands, but like sports, movies and “normal” photography, that’s only a few top photographers.

Wherever your photo passion takes you, we hope that it includes taking a deposit to the bank!

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