How to Sell Photos Online


Everything has changed for amateur photographers now that they can sell photos online. It used to be that you had to have a reputation to even have your photos considered for purchase. It was tedious too, sending in a few photos here or there to see if a magazine or newspaper might want to use them. You might have had the best photos ever taken, but you still had the challenge of finding the buyer who could use them and was willing to pay.

Now there are websites where you can sign up for a free account and upload hundreds of your digital photos, and start making money from them this week. You see, all the big websites on the internet buy photos. If, for example, a how-to website just bought an article about how to clean the snow off a roof, the webmaster doesn't go out and take a photo of a roof somewhere. He goes to one of the big stock photo websites that he has paid a $2,000 annual subscription fee, and selects a couple photos of snow-covered roofs. Meanwhile, the photographer who took the pictures is credited a certain amount for each photo used--and they might be used a dozen more times.

Some of the sites are easier than others to sign up for, and some may ask for samples before approving your account. But there are a lot to choose from.

The users of the photos never have to pay ongoing royalties to continue using a picture, but they cannot sell the photo to others. As a photo contributor you generally retain the right to remove your photos from the system, but check the rules of each particular site (and of course those who have already paid may continue to use your photos).

How Much Can You Make?

Incomes vary widely, to say the least, and you probably need to have thousands of photos uploaded before you can make much money. Fotalia says, "There is no registration fee, no portfolio management fee, and your income can reach thousands of dollars a month."

Amount and method of payment varies from site to site. One says you'll get "$0.25 to $28.00 per image download," while another offers contributors a base royalty rate of 20% for each file downloaded, with up to 40% for certain types of contributions. Yet another stock photo site pays 25% to 63% for content sold via single-image download, and $0.30 or more for each photo used by subscription accounts (subscribers are usually limited to a certain number of downloads per month).

The following is pure speculation, but let's assume you average 35 cents per photo download, and you have 1,000 photos posted on a stock photo site, and they are used an average of three time annually each. In that case you would make just $1,050 per year. Nothing to get excited about, but in time you might get that average up to 50 cents each and six times a year (upload photos in higher demand) and have 4,000 in a system. Then you would be making $12,000 per year, and the site handles all the sales for you.

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More photos equals more money generally speaking, so keep uploading them as you take them. But there are some that will be in more demand than others. Watch which ones are being used the most and take more pictures like those to boost your income.

Think broadly when considering what to photograph. A webmaster might need a photo of a campfire for a backpacking article, or of a butterfly for an article on eating insects for survival. These more obscure niches will not have as much total demand, but you can still make money with them because the competition will be lessened. You photo of a sunset may be in there with 6,000 others, but if a blog needs a photo of a rat snake there may be only a few to choose from, so they are likely to buy yours. The more obscure and less-competitive niches then, allow for success even before your skills are great (if they need a photo of a particular mountain and yours is the only one there, they'll take it as long as it isn't downright blurry).

Qualifications / Requirements

If you have internet access, a digital camera and take decent photos, you already have everything you need to make money in this way.

First Steps

Find a stock photo website that you like and want to work with and open an account. Once you are approved, upload a few of your best photos to get used to how the system works. Then start taking pictures and loading more up.

Resources - One of the many places online that sell your photos for you. - Another place to sell photos online (they require three samples before approving your account). - One more to try.

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