10 Ways To Make Money Online Selling Your Photos

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How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

Three Parts:

Years ago, the only way to make money selling your pictures was with your own photography studio. Nowadays, anybody, amateur or professional, can find a buyer for their photos online by using stock image sites. Learning how to develop your products, promote your photos, and choose a buyer will help you get started making money fast.


Choosing a Stock Photo Site

  1. Look at several different sites’ pay rates.Basic stock photo sites like Dreamstime, freedigitalphotos.net, and Shutterstock are popular choices for amateur photographers, while the pros often choose Getty Images or Corbis. Each of these sites has a different pay rate, but most sites offer at least 30% commission. Be sure to check each site’s commission rate before you sign up.
    • Often, the most popular sites pay the smallest commission. Whether or not you want to sell quickly for less money or wait longer for more money is up to you!
  2. Check the site’s requirements and themes to avoid rejected images.Every site has its own requirements for download quality and its own focus on themes. Your images won't be accepted if you don't follow the site's specific requirements. Make sure your photos meet the requirements and fit the site's theme before you submit them.
    • For example, Dreamstime requires a minimum of 3 megapixels for download size, and they also prefer business-oriented photos.
  3. Register for an account.Registration with the site that you choose is usually free. If the site isn't free, you may want to reconsider using them unless the fee is pretty cheap and a one-time payment. Be sure to read the site's instructions carefully, because there’s often important information about payment and copyright issues included.
  4. Review and complete the payment portion of your account.Most sites will pay you via Paypal, although a few sites may pay via check through the mail. You will need to provide the email address associated with your Paypal account, along with any additional information they require. If you don't have a Paypal account, set one up. When you're paid varies from site to site. Some only pay you when you request a cash-out, and others pay on a specific day of the month.
    • Make sure you are registering with a reputable site before giving them your account information or home address.
  5. Consider registering for multiple sites.Registering for multiple sites can let you make more money, but be careful! If you sell an image on one site, you may have to remove it on all your other sites. Also, some sites will offer exclusive contracts that pay you more if you only sell your photos to them. Read all the fine print before registering to multiple sites!

Choosing and Posting Your Photos

  1. Develop a diverse portfolio of digital images.If you only have 4 or 5 main subjects in your images, they will only appeal to a certain kind of customer. While you can still make money this way, it's better to have a diverse collection of images with many different subjects and tones. The more people your images appeal to, the more money you'll make.
  2. Choose generic images to make the most money.Generic images appeal to the largest audience, so these photos will sell more often than niche or unusual images. Go through your digital portfolio and pick out generic images with mass appeal. For example, images of flowers and landscapes work well.
    • Single-subject shots, like a bookcase of old books, a windmill, or a wine bottle, also work well.
    • Anything business or office-oriented usually does well.
    • Generic tones also sell well on stock sites. For example, images that look vintage.
  3. Select images that are high quality for the best results.Most stock sites have rules about resolution, size, file format, and so on. Make sure your images adhere to those rules so they won't be rejected. If the site you're using doesn't have set requirements, customers are much more likely to purchase high quality images with good resolution.
    • Use only your very best work. Choose images with crisp detail and balanced color.
    • For example, images that are blurry or high contrast wouldn't be appropriate choices.
  4. Upload your photos to the stock site.Make sure your chosen images follow all of the site's rules and requirements, such as image size, resolution, file type, and so on. If your site lets you post images in specific categories, make sure your photos match the categories to increase sales.
  5. Tag your images with relevant tags to appear in site searches.When you upload your photos to websites, they’ll be among thousands of other pictures. Thinking of tags for each picture will help them come up first in searches. Pick multiple tags for each picture.
    • For example, if you upload a picture of the beach, your tags might include words like “beach,” “fun,” “sunny day,” “sand,” “surfing,” or “tropical.”
  6. Experiment with using a mix of generic tags and specific tags.Generic tags are the most popular ones because they're the most searched for. Using generic tags will get your photos in front of the most people. Specific tags can get your images in front of a different group of people. Use a mix of both, so people searching for something specific can find you, and so can people searching for general terms.
    • For example, if your beach picture is of a boardwalk in New Jersey, use generic tags like “beach,” “boardwalk," "ocean view" and so on.
    • Then include specific tags like “New Jersey,” “Asbury Park,” and “South Point Boardwalk.”

Operating Legally

  1. Avoid using images with visible or recognizable brands in them.Using images like these can get you into trouble, because you'll be making money off of someone else's brand without their knowledge or approval. Most stock photo sites have rules against using images like this. Avoid them altogether to avoid running into problems.
    • For example, an image of a Ford Mustang convertible or Campbell's soup can would be inappropriate to upload and sell.
    • Avoid using images featuring corporate logos, stills from movies, or anything else originally made by something else.
  2. Avoid using images with people or properties in them.Any person that appears in your stock photos must sign a release form before the image can be sold. The same goes for images depicting someone's personal property, such as a local storefront or your neighbor's barn. You would need to track down the correct legal forms and get them signed each time you used an image like this, which would be a hassle. In some cases, it may even be impossible.
    • You can download model release forms online, or write up your own.
  3. Take all your photos yourself to get an automatic copyright.According to international copyright law, the photographer automatically owns the copyrights to anything they take themselves. You don’t have to register or sign up for the copyright if you were the one operating the camera.
    • One exception is photos taken while you were employed by a company as a photographer. For example, if you are a photographer working for a newspaper, the newspaper owns the photos you take on the job.
    • Registering your copyright isn’t required, but it’s often a good idea--it can prevent people from stealing your work.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What is the best way to attract people to my photo?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Add tags and key words to your photos. For example, if you have a picture of your flower garden, then think of search terms people might use in looking for such a photo, such as garden, nature, flowers, roses, daffodils, lilies, petals, red, pink, yellow, orange, green, spring, summer, bloom, leaf, leaves, love, romance, beautiful, display, and decoration.
  • Question
    Do I have to copyright my photos first?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No, there is no such need. Just remember the photo must have been taken by you, and not downloaded from internet.
  • Question
    Do I keep any rights to my photo?
    Top Answerer
    Copyright law varies from country to country. For specific legal advice, contact a legal professional. In general, the author of the work also remains the copyright holder.
Unanswered Questions
  • Will it work if I sell my own drawings on the computer? Will I need to register a copyright for that?
  • How do I make money selling photos online when I'm under 18?
  • How do I get paid for uploading my photos to sell online?
  • How can I copyright my photos?
  • After uploading the photos, how can I claim the copyright for them?
Ask a Question
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Quick Summary

To make money selling photos online, register for an account with a stock photo website and review the rules and requirements before you get started. Next, create a diverse portfolio of your digital photos and upload your highest quality images to the stock website. Be sure to use relevant and specific tags so potential customers can find and buy your images easily. You can also consider registering with multiple stock photo websites to maximize your earnings!

Did this summary help you?
  • The sites that pay the most are also the most exclusive--they’re much more likely to reject a photo.

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