They say a picture is “worth a thousand words.”
We all love capturing beautiful moments and sceneries. But do you know you can make money selling those photos? Yes. Even those you snapped with your phone. The internet has made it very easy for photographers and just about anyone who has eyes for a great shot to make money with it.
Are you Interested? This article will provide a walk through how to earn money selling photos online. I have some great advice both for beginners and people who already started earning an income from it.
But Who’s Buying The Photo?
When I told a friend about the idea, her response was, “why would anyone want to buy a picture. When they can get lots of it free on Google?”
Yes, I did think about that at first. But just like everything else on the internet, most images are copyrighted. So using them may bring about a lawsuit or a ban. Moreover, people want something unique. An ad can lose its appeal if several other websites have used the image used for it.
I hope you get the idea.
Here’s Here’s a list of people buying photos and some reason they buy it.
- Businesses (for adverts, product package, etc.)
- Bloggers (for their blogs and ads)
- Stock photo sites (to sell to others)
- Marketing agencies ( for ads, marketing materials)
- Consumers (For social media, calendars, wall art and postcards)
- Just about anyone else who may need a high-quality photo for any purpose.
How to Get Started
Invest In Equipment
The secret of earning more is taking high-quality and eye-catching photos. First, you have to consider the equipment you intend using for the purpose. Is the camera good enough? Most Smartphones today have a great camera, especially iPhones, but you may not achieve great result snapping with a phone.
If you want to do this “full-time,” then you have to invest in the right equipment.
Camera: When you are just getting started, I recommend going for an entry-level camera. You can scale up later to pricey and higher quality Nikon, Sony or Canon cameras. However, nothing should stop you if you have the budget for it.
Lenses: while a kit may come with the camera, you can buy a good lens to enhance photo quality. An 85mm lens will be useful to get high-quality shots.
Tripod: Buying a tripod will allow you to take clear photos. The slightest motion when taking a shot can affect its quality. A tripod ensures the camera is steady for the shot.
Other equipment you can purchase includes light tents, backdrops, portable lightning, and data backup. But don’t worry, if you are at the beginning it’s fine to start with photos taken with your smartphone, just make sure the quality meets the required standards.
Choose a niche
While you can snap everything and anything, it may quite a payoff if you choose a niche to focus on. People have specific interests and will follow anyone who seems to have great collections in their preferred niche. It may be fashion, cityscapes, nature, food, travel, etc. For instance, try establishing yourself as the go-to person for nature-related photos.
To determine the best niche, you have to consider its profitability. Analyze the demand for such photos using any keyword research tool like the Google keyword planner. Most of the time people are not buying the most beautiful picture. They are buying practical ones.
Also, check visual social platforms like Instagram and Tumblr and see the number of people following top accounts on that niche to see what to sell in the beginning.
The Best Selling Photos
Let’s see some examples:
We have a traffic light photo:
And we also have a photo with an amazing view:
Which one do you think think it is more beautiful? The second one, of course. Which one do you think will sell better? You’ll be surprised to see that artistic pictures do not sell. You’ll see there are million of photos with flowers and cats and no demand at all. Include people, technology, important events and issues, like infrastructure, poverty or global warming.
From my research, here are the best kind of photos you should take to ensure sales.
- Food: All variety of delicious meals (add a detailed description of what is in plate and any necessary details)
- People: Kids, adults, family photos, a group of friends, a couple, etc
- People working: Someone working on a computer, business meetings, Automotive repair, etc.
- Travel: Shots from your vacation – right from the airport to the plane, arrival, and every other activity (avoid photographs of well known attractions, as there are already enough photos of them)
- Tools: Bolts, Screws, Hammers, and just about any other tool.
- Others: toys, Animals, medical supplies, car parts, etc.
After choosing a niche or niches, it’s then time to step out and have fun snapping amazing pictures. Take multiple shots of every subject so you can choose the most visual. Snap people, animals, and just about anything that fits your niche. You can take a course in photography to improve your output.
The key to taking sellable photos is to always think of how a publisher or brand can use your photo. What can the photo be used for? Versatile images that can be used for several purposes are more profitable.
Edit Your Images
After snapping, you need to take time and edit the photos. You want to ensure it’s of the best quality, to maximize sales. The editing process will involve cropping, improving contrast, sharpness, and balancing specific photos that need it. You may also have to remove the background for other photos using graphic tools like Photoshop or Adobe Lighthouse.
Sometimes photos are perfect without any further modification, so just go with it as it is.
Sell Your Photos
After capturing and editing the photos, the next step is to put them up for sale. There are two options available to you: You can either create a platform to sell your photos yourself or sell it on stock photos websites.
Selling Your Photos On Your Own
Selling on your own allows you to set your prices and also keep all the money to yourself. It, however, requires that you own a website. Most photography sites are created on WordPress. You need a beautiful theme and few plugins like the “Evira diary” and “Great image diary” to set it up.
After creating your website, you have to integrate eCommerce, so anyone who wants to buy your photos can pay for it. You can either adopt a pay-as-you-go model, subscription-based model, or both.
Selling Your Photos On Stock Photo Websites
If you are starting, then its best to sell with a stock photo platform. This is the best advice if you are at the beginning of your selling photos online journey.
There are three steps to it:
- Choose a Stock photography site
- Sign up on the site
- Start listing your photos
Top Photography Sites
These are the top sites to sell your photos online as a beginner.
- Shutterstock- Rates are within 20% – 30%. Payout is based on your earnings over time.
- Getty Images– One of the best stock photo sites. Rates start at 20%.
- iStock: – Pays 5% to 45% in commissions
- Adobe Stock – pays 33% commission
- Fotolia–rate is within 33% – 60% depending on whether the buyer is a pay as you go or subscription customer.
- PhotoDune – Pays 30% commissions.
- Alamy – Pays within 50% to 70% depending on how the sales are generated.
- Twenty20- $2 per photo. You also get to earn from photo challenges.
Photography is fun as a hobby, but much fun when you make money from it. It’s essential to invest in equipment and improve your photography skills to maximize earnings. Also don’t forget to play around with different niches and see what works best for you.
You should have a portfolio of at least 1000-2000 photos in order to earn a few hundred dollars a month. This is not a get rich quick scheme, it is a real way to earn a few extra bucks doing one of your favorites things: taking pictures.