We all like to take photos right? Even those of us who are not very good photographers love to capture some special moments with our cameras and phones.

But did you know that there are very practical ways to make money from your photos by selling them online?

That’s right, your photo catalog (and rather, your future photo catalog) could earn you some good bucks if you know the right websites to upload them to.

There are thousands of people who need to use photos and images every day on websites, in magazines and brochures, on billboards and elsewhere, and are willing to pay photographers for the right to use them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Unless you’re a truly exceptional photographer, you probably won’t make millions selling your photos online, but if you could make enough to put your spare time to good use, a decent camera, and a keen eye to seize the opportunity and take some good Photographs.

Selling photos online can be a great way to earn a little extra money without a lot of effort and without the infrastructure of a formal business.


There are different ways to achieve this and each method has advantages and disadvantages.

Some people make money by building an online photography portfolio that becomes popular and selling ad space next to it. Another method is to sell your photos for use on products such as t-shirts, mugs, and calendars.

Other photographers instead build a gallery and sell photos directly to private clients, or make money doing photo shoots once their name becomes known.

However, the downside to most of these methods is that you generally need to have quite a bit of photography experience, and a large portfolio of images to showcase.

So… what if you don’t have thousands of fantastic quality photos at your disposal?
Well, one of the best ways for you to start making money online is by taking advantage of stock photo websites.

 See: 37 Ways to Sell Photos on the Internet

Once you’ve signed up with one of the stock photo websites, you simply upload a few of your photos and submit them for approval.

If some of your photos are accepted and someone sees them and wants to buy them, or at least acquire a license to use a specific one, you will automatically get a percentage of the value of the sales of said photography website.


There are tons of websites dedicated to buying and selling photo files online, but some of them stand out from the rest for a number of reasons.

We’ve tested some of the top photography catalog sites and heard what many students and photographers have said about all of them, and here are some of the most popular photography websites we’ve found:

  • dreamstime
  • Shutterstock
  • Photolia

Registering on all these sites to sell your photos is free.

Each site has its own slightly different rules and guidelines about what photos they are looking for and what they will be willing to accept. For example, there are strict rules about ownership and copyright in any photograph that is submitted.

 If there are recognizable people in your photos, you will need to ask them to sign a special release allowing them to be used in the image for commercial purposes. Similarly, there are rules that prohibit using photos that contain certain buildings, logos, and brands.

Also, all photography websites have their own commission rates and payment structures, so it’s worth taking some time to read the fine print and see which sites best fit your style of photography, and which ones can help you. make more money…

If you prefer you could also open your own personal photography website to sell your photos online, check out SmugMug where you could also upload your photos to your own online store without needing to know how to code.


The simple answer to that question is…
…it depends!

Sometimes paying for photo downloads through a subscription can bring in a few cents. However, the pennies can add up quickly if you manage to upload a set of good quality photos over time. And some websites pay more for each photo after reaching different levels of downloads.

For example, you could get more per download for a photo that has been downloaded 5 times over one that has only had 1 download.

Additionally, sales prices are typically higher if the buyer purchases a larger (higher resolution) version rather than a smaller version of the photograph.

One more thing to consider is that some of the stock photo sites will pay you a lot more if you agree to submit photos exclusively for their website and become part of their exclusivity program.

For example, iStockphoto pays up to three times more commission to their exclusive photographers while Dreamstime in addition to paying more per download to exclusive photographers, also pays an additional bonus for each of the photos that their exclusive photographers successfully submit to the site.

One of the best things about photography catalogs is that your portfolio can grow and generate residual income even when you are no longer active on the website. The first photo you successfully upload could earn you money for up to 10 years or more.


As we have mentioned, each stock photography website has its own rules for when and how payment is made. Usually, you will need to reach a minimum threshold, say $100 dollars before you can request the money.

Most sites will pay you by a variety of methods like Paypal, bank transfer, or check.


You’ll probably have to learn to deal with a bit of rejection early in your career on stock photography sites. Many of your photos could be rejected for not meeting the minimum standards but it does not mean that your photography is not up to par.

All stock photography sites have a clear idea of ​​what kind of images their customers are looking for, so they won’t accept all of your photos if they don’t think many people in their user base will buy them.

For example online photography websites will not accept many photos of you and your partner as that is precisely the kind of thing that people do not look to buy in these places.

Many people who buy photos and images on the Internet are looking for photos that they can easily republish elsewhere. Many of the most successful stock photos can involve very simple images on white backgrounds.

For example, many people are looking for very simple photos or images of dogs or cats that they can use in Photoshop with a different background. Often the simpler the photography, the more successful you will be on stock photography sites.

Over time, you’ll start to learn which of your images are selling the most, and making you the most money, so you can start building your portfolio in a more targeted way.

 There are thousands of people who need to use photos and images every day and are willing to pay photographers for the right to use them.


More and more people are discovering the successful formula for making money selling photos online, which means you will have a lot of competition to get your photos seen…and sold!

So what can you do to get your photo seen and downloaded instead of other people’s photos?

Here are some tips and tricks to help you rank above other contributors to stock photography websites:

  • If you have your own website, blog, Facebook page, Tumblr, Twitter, etc., use those channels to promote your photography portfolio.
  • Use good keywords to tag your photos and make sure they get found in search
  • Check how your images are 100% before sending them
  • Learn from failed presentations. Most websites explain why a particular photo was not accepted into their database. Take notes and work to improve your future photos
  • Lightly retouch your photos with editing software, but not too much!
  • Use any blog or community on the web to interact and promote your photos
  • Read on-site blogs of photographers who are selling well on a particular site
  • Do not submit dozens of substantially similar photos
  • Use Photoshop or similar software to remove backgrounds from some images
  • Join photo archive website forums and make useful contributions
  • Be exclusive if you like working with only one stock photography site
  • Add some photos for free download just to attract buyers to your portfolio
  • Reinvest your profits in a good camera to increase your acceptance rate


Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for the business of selling photography online through any of the photography catalog websites, why not get started right away by signing up with one or more of the sites we mentioned above?

Here they are again:

  • dreamstime
  • Shutterstock
  • Photolia


If you want to improve your skills, there are many inexpensive photography courses available online.

If photography isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other ways to earn money from home as a freelancer. We will talk about it in another post.

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