sell stock photos

Photography is an art that, today, is accessible to everyone. You don't need to have a high-end digital camera to become a professional photographer anymore. Whatever may be your style and taste in photography, it's about time you began selling your art.

Your photos have spent enough time lying around on your computer. It's time to put them online and see what they can do. Selling photos online is not as hard as you think. And once you've got the licensing sorted out, you don't have to worry about who is using it and if you're getting the credits you deserve.

You can monetize your photography skills in more ways than one. You just need to know all the channels where you can earn money either as you sell photos or if you're out offering photography as a service. Some photographers earn their bucks by building an online portfolio of photographs and sell directly to clients. Others photograph for various events and shows or sell their photos for use on merchandise such as t-shirts, cups, and calendars.

Famous photographers just set up a private gallery and sell photographs directly to clients.

How to sell photos online when you’re just an amateur photographer? Well, the answer is stock images.

What exactly are Stock Photos?

Stock photos are basically a gallery of random theme-based pictures taken by photographers. These are professional-grade photographs that the photographer can then sell stock photos to a stock photo agency. The agency then licenses the pictures which are available for free or bought and sold for a range of purposes. When we talk about selling stock photos, we mean that only the rights to use the stock photos are sold. The photographer usually holds the copyrights for such stock images and can sell the image multiple times.

This is a great way for students trying to earn a quick buck or photographers who have loads of photos but don't know how to sell photos online.

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How to sell stock photos online?

There are loads of websites like Shutterstock and Pixabay where you can license your stock photos for professional use. But licensing stock photos can be a tricky process as some stock agencies can use similar terminologies with varying service restrictions. Always read the fine print before agreeing to the terms of use, and be sure to ask questions when you are unsure about what limitations each license is offering.

Before you decide on the license, it’d be better if you could glance at some key industry terminology.

Types of photo license that you could register your photograph under

1. Rights-managed

A rights-managed license is where the client buys the photo at a set price based on how they plan to use the photo. The cost depends on the duration of use, the location, the image size, and other factors. Larger commercial clients are more likely to purchase licensing rights that fall into this category, as they will want to have more exclusive use of the images and might want to use them on commercial products and advertising campaigns.

2. Royalty-free

Royalty-free images, on the other hand, have clients paying a one-time fee for all the rights of an image. The client can then use the image on numerous occasions and for different reasons. Even so, there will be certain restrictions on infringement, but in general, they can use the photo however they want to. This type of licensing is useful for small-time photographers who work with microstock agencies.

Top Categories in Stock Photography

Once you understand the licensing bit, you need to understand what types of stock photos sell more often than others. Here’s a list of best-selling stock photo categories to help you start building your stock photo gallery.

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- Electronics

Pictures of electronics such as computers, mobile phones, sound systems, accessories, etc are good options to sell stock photos online for tech companies.

- Businesses

Businesses generally use niche-specific pictures but sometimes go for stock images for generic use. Pictures of everyday office work, groups of people discussing office spaces, workers, factories, industries, etc. are some top examples.

- People

Photos of people in different occupations, scenarios, and situations are needed all around the year for a wide range of purposes. Even images from everyday life of regular people traveling, eating, playing, or any such activities are important in print media and content marketing.

- Pets

Pet pictures can be industry-specific or random. From cats and dogs to hamsters, pigs, and horses, domestic and pet animal pictures sell!

- Vector art

Another great category with endless inspiration and high demand is signages, symbols, posters, and banners, as they make great generic images. You can sell stock photos of any type of door sign, a signboard, a milestone, etc.

- Nature

Pictures of the scenic environment, in various angles, timepoints and locations always in demand as cover images, backgrounds, and themes.

- Abstract

Though there’s no definitive type of abstract picture that sells, the depth and character of the pictures are usually the criteria for selection.

These categories will help you click amazing photographs and sell stock photos online. Keep these categories in mind when you're out hunting great pictures. Once you've got your collection of photographs, it's time to find the right stock image website and start selling photos online.

Top Websites to Sell Stock Photos Online

With the growth of the digital platform, the market for stock photos has exploded. Today you can find many websites that help you sell stock photos online.

Here are 5 stock photo websites to help you sell pictures online.

1. Shutterstock

This is by far the most popular stock image website with millions of users and tonnes of photographers earning through them. The affordable prices and reach mean more users go for Shutterstock than other websites. The low prices for end-users and the number of photos that are used on a daily basis balance any concerns from photographers.

Shutterstock initially pays you 15% of what they make for each photo but if you hang around long enough and produce quality photos consistently you coils take up to 40% of each image they sell.

2. iStock

Another top player in the market, iStock, now owned by Getty Images, is great for young photographers looking for a platform to start selling their pictures. With Getty taking over, you don't have to worry about your pictures getting seen by businesses and being sold.

With iStock, if you agree not to sell stock photos on any other platform, you can earn greater commissions and have a wider reach. This can, at times, be both a pro and a con.

Still, now that iStock is a part of Getty’s immense system, your photos will potentially be available to license on both libraries.

3. Alamy

A rather smaller business when compared to the other players in the list, Alamy though, is by far the most generous. It offers 100% of the money from the sale if you're a student and an average of 40%-50% for regular users. Its easy user sign-up process and user-friendly interphase make it perfect for students and young photographers to get their careers going.

4. Dreamstime

The only stock photo website that allows you to submit photos through your phone, Dreamstime has a good thing going on for itself. This coupled with an average of $0.5 to $2.5 per photo, gives photographers the freedom to earn more.

5. Adobe Stock/Fotolia

Apart from video editing software, Adobe also provides a platform to sell stock photographs. And, since Adobe took over Fotolia two years ago, it's been one of the best platforms for stock photographers for great returns on your photos. The base price for photos starts at $33 per picture, even when you're just starting out. The user interface while loading images couldn't get easier than this.

Sign up for any one of these websites and just submit your photos. The team responsible for quality management will review your photo for approval. Once your photo is approved and someone wants to buy or use your photo, you get a share of the sales value from the website.

Creating a gallery to sell stock photos to sell online is a tough task. You require hours of honest, dedicated work. But why have a third party selling your pictures when you could do it yourself?

All you need is a personal website, where you can put up all those priceless pictures for the world to see.

Sign in to strikingly and start selling your stock photos

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With strikingly, you have the option to not only sell stock photos but also create a personal portfolio and exhibit your collection on your website. You could sell stock photos on your own, just as you sold them to stock image websites, only here, it's your personal gallery. Where clients can come to look at your art, check out all the other cool things you do, and even hire you for your services. Strikingly offers various subscription plans where you can use the various functionalities according to your needs.

Loads of templates to make your website

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With our Pro Yearly plan, you can get $24.95 domain credit for one year, 24/7 awesome customer support, and unlimited customization options. You can look at some of the sample templates and just start editing for free. If you think you liked how the website looks and feels and then consider payment options to get your site online.


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Finding the best platform to sell your photos is never easy. With that being said, it's a great opportunity for young photographers to earn a few easy bucks and some much-needed credibility. Once you've earned a name for yourself, you will have the necessary contacts and networking to start your own photography website. And just as strikingly helps you to sell your photos online, it can also help you set your kickass photography website. Just sign up and experience the business growth unlike any other.