There are many photographers around the globe looking to sell photos online and make money with their art. However, many people are not aware of all the online photo licensing platforms that exist, available to be accessed by anyone.
With the current climate in the world, you can be part of the million-dollar stock image industry which is constantly searching for quality content to use for their brands. You do not need to be a professional photographer to contribute to these websites. These photos can be taken with a professional camera or even on a phone.
Simply uploading your photos onto these sites will allow you to have your online business all set-up with the potential to bring you some passive income every month. These are some of the best ways to get started.
Having been around for over 10 years, Adobe Stock is one of the stand-out stock sites, mainly because of their notably high earning structure. Adobe Stock has the highest royalty payout (between 20-60%), without requiring exclusive rights from their contributors. This means, their users can upload the same photos freely to multiple sites to be sold simultaneously.
Adobe Stock has a user-friendly interface, the fastest submission review rates, and monthly payouts of earnings.
Adobe also created Photoshop and Lightroom, which means submitting photos that have been touched up with these applications is a seamless process. Adobe Stock has a massive database of content, which makes submitting and getting approved quite a competitive process. This can frustrate some beginner stock photographers. Overall, Adobe stock is a great option for selling your photos online.
Although it is a smaller site, with less contributors, and less of an international network of buyers, Alamy is still a practical option for selling your photos. Alamy has stayed competitive in the market by offering a 50% royalty rate.
Many users report having less downloads with Alamy, but the high payout rate potentially can compensate for this and allow some of their contributors to earn the same amount as they would on other sites. Another positive about Alamy is that they do not require exclusivity and although they take a cut if you do upload to multiple sites, it could still be worth it.
Stocksubmitter is a tool that allows photographers to submit photos onto multiple microstock platforms at one time rather than having to submit your photos onto many different websites manually.
In fact, Stocksubmitter is a great option for photographers that already have huge portfolios on a number of stock photo agencies and would prefer signing into one website instead of two or more for uploading photos and checking on their sales.
They charge fees based on the number of your monthly submissions, after your submissions exceed 33 per agency. The subscription fees vary from $10 to $300, based on the number of your monthly submissions.
With over a decade of experience in the industry, more than 150 million photos in their library, Depositphotos became one of the top platforms for licensing photos.
They gained a wide library of royalty-free photos along with prices for all budgets.
Usually their commissions vary between 34–42% depending on your experience and status on their website.
In order to sell photos on Depositphotos you must go through their application process. It can take up to 10 business days to have your application reviewed by their team, and only after approval, you can sell your photos.
Dreamstime is another highly experienced stock site. Founded in 2000, Dreamstime has a large network of images and international buyers. They offer a 25-60% commission based on the license that the contributor opts for (Royalty-Free, Extended, and SR-EL). Dreamstime frequently posts on social media, hosts competitions, and is a great option for stock photographers looking for a community or some extra motivation with the challenges they offer.
Dreamstime also has a referral program and gives their contributors an impressive 10% of all of the sales that the referrals make for up to 3 years. A common complaint about Dreamstime is that you cannot withdraw money from your account until the balance reaches $100 and the earning structure is somewhat unclear.
With over 15 years of experience, Shutterstock is one of the top stock photo sites in the business. All contributors earn a 15% commission on their sales in the beginning, with the opportunity to work their way up and earn up to 60% based on the amount of content they submit. This means, the longer you are active and submitting, the more money you have potential to make. Shutterstock is decent about handling photographer’s rights. You keep your copyrights protected, they credit the photographer, and you have the option to put a watermark on your image until it is downloaded. With quite a user-friendly interface, relatively fast review times, and a large marketplace, Shutterstock is a viable option for stock photographers.
However, even though they are connected to a large global marketplace of buyers, with over 200 million images on their site, Shutterstock is competitive. Whether your content will sell or not depends on the quality and the specific purpose of your images.
Recently, Shutterstock announced a new earning structure. This reset all their users to a beginner earning level no matter the amount of experience the creators had or the content they invested into the site before. This drastic change has made many Shutterstock users feel uneasy about continuing to engage with the site, as it came as a large financial hit to their long-time users.
Getty Images is well-known for providing high quality photojournalism, photo assignments, red carpet photography, and sports photography. Getty Images was one of the first microstock platforms. Founded in 1995, the agency has managed to obtain a wide base of clients and maintain a good reputation. If you produce high-quality photos, you are likely to see constant sales on Getty’s agency. Also, always consider getty if you shoot editorial content, because this agency is particularly well-known to world for having a huge gallery of editorial images.
Their royalty rates start from 15%, and with exclusive contribution, it can grow up to be 45%.
Sell Photos On Your Own Website
Instead of selling through a third-party microstock website, you can monetize your images on your own website which comes with the following advantages:
- There are no intermediary fees.
- You make your own terms and conditions.
- You are free to host and choose how to display your photos.
- You can display any kind of content.
- The prices are set by you.
The downside to sell photos online on your personal website is that attracting customers is going to take a lot of time and tremendous efforts, and not every photograph is willing to become a marketing expert.
Wirestock automates the selling process by providing photographers with one door access to top stock photo marketplaces. Instead of opening accounts for each agency individually, you do it all at once on Wirestock and they take care of the rest.
In addition to distributing your photos, Wirestock has an in-house team of keyword experts who will write keywords, titles, and descriptions at a high level for commercial images, and all for free. This service saves photographers enormous amounts of time, and is also an opportunity for many beginner photographers to sell photos online.
Another upside to Wirestock is that they do not make money unless you do. It is free to use and only takes a 15% commission on paid royalties. In fact, photographers earn more with Wirestock than selling directly to the agencies. Wirestock's accounts are already at a top-tier level on photo agencies which means you start earning more from the beginning. The interface is easy to navigate as well; you can track your sales from a single dashboard on your Wirestock account.
123RF is one of the earliest stock photo marketplaces with a customer base of more than 5 million people from 44 countries. You are free to choose whether to contribute to the platform exclusively or not. Prices are slightly more expensive compared to Shutterstock, however, their commission rates are higher, which range from 30% to 60%.
Usually the image approval process is quite short and reasonable as well. The main downside of 123RF is that new contributors see low royalties to begin with, until they can climb the scale.
While choosing the most suitable website for you, consider that your earnings potential will differ in different websites based on your previous experience with licensing images and the type of content that you create.
Now that you are familiar with the best places to sell your photos online, you can feel comfortable to go ahead and give it a try.