We look at 23 of the best places to sell photos online. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each platform. And we’ll provide tips on making the most of each one. Finding ways to sell your photos is essential for building a successful photography business.
Our top pick is iStock. It offers a vast and diverse customer base. And it has global exposure, flexible contributor terms, and a simple submission process. This makes it an attractive option for selling stock photos.
What Are the Best Places to Sell Photos Online?
Starting a business taking portraits of people or doing weddings can be fun. But what if you don’t feel confident doing that? Then the answer is right in front of your screen. Sell your photos online!
There are plenty of options out there. The most popular ones are stock photo agencies. And there are also a few websites where you can sell your pictures directly to clients or even as artwork.
Stock Photography Websites
But apart from helping you sell photos online, stock photo agencies also provide information on current stock photo trends. In other words, they give you ideas and hints on what images will likely make you money.
The problem with these sites? They provide a lot of content, which grows every minute. That means your photos compete with millions of other options on the internet.
Another downside is that it can take a long time to edit and work on images to upload. Stock photo websites have strict guidelines when selling photos online. You must follow plenty of rules around the quality and information needed for every image.
1. iStock Photo
iStock also includes popular forums and resources that help you understand how to sell photos online. It’s quite useful if you feel clueless about where to begin.
The royalty payment starts at 15% per download. It can increase to 45%, depending on your photos’ popularity. If a customer purchases an image using their subscription credits, you only receive the 15%.
If you are into exclusivity, iStock photo will give you 22 to 45%. This rate works on a contract with a 30-day notice period.
Alamy is a British stock photography website that was started in 1999. To date, it has over 60 million photos and videos. There is a reason for this tremendous amount of content. And it’s partly because of the 50% royalty payment on each photograph it sells.
Despite the large commissions, it also doesn’t require you to sell photos to them exclusively. That’s why, in my opinion, this is one of the first choices for selling photos online.
Shutterstock houses 184 million images and 91 million videos. They have been enjoying steady growth in sales since its founding in 2003. In 2017, people downloaded 172,000,000 images from this website.
Uploading to the marketplace will net you up to 30% of the sale price of your image. This percentage depends on the size of your image, with payouts falling between $0.25 and $28.
The best thing is that you keep the copyright. So you can still sell the images elsewhere.
Like iStock and Shutterstock, this agency is a perfect starting point if you want to sell online photos. It’s user-friendly. And the requirements are not as stringent as its rivals.
What makes Dreamstime different is that you get to create and curate your galleries. That way, you have more control over selling photos online. In that respect, you can think of this agency more as a hosting site.
But, of course, that doesn’t mean you can post just about anything. Your submissions will still undergo screening to ensure you don’t violate the site rules. For instance, you can’t upload violent or copyrighted content. But if you follow all the guidelines, you can expect to make money once your images are online.
Your commissions start at 25% for a non-exclusive image and 27% for an exclusive option. But as you sell more photos, that can go up to 45% and 49.5%, respectively.
For the most part, BigStock has all the features you can expect from microstock sites. On the surface, it’s just like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, or iStock. But what makes it a bit different is its credit system. And that’s why selling photos online using this platform is also unique.
People can buy stock photos with regular payment options. But as they do, they also earn credits that they can use to purchase even more content from the site. So that means you have two ways of making money.
If users buy photos online using credit, they get a certain amount. For instance, you earn 50 cents for a small picture and $3 for an extra-large option. Meanwhile, your commission generally stays at 30% for each BigStock partner sale.
As your content gets more downloads online, its price increases, and so does your commission. For instance, your photos will earn up to 25 cents if people download them up to 199 times. But you can get 38 cents if people buy one of your images more than 50,000 times.
When you upload your money pictures to microstock agencies, you’ll see that the process isn’t quite efficient. Creating keywords for photos can take a lot of time. And it gets even more frustrating if you need to attach model releases every time you add files.
Thankfully, you can avoid all that mess with Canstock Photo. With its SpeedSubmit system, you can attach releases immediately to a batch of photos. You can even upload a text file with all your pictures, so you don’t have to add keywords manually. This process is perfect because the less time you spend preparing your photographs, the quicker you can make money.
For instant downloads (one-time purchases), you earn $1 for a small JPEG file and $2.50 for an extra-large. For credit downloads, you get 50 cents and $2.50, respectively.
7. Adobe Stock (Fotolia)
Adobe Stock (formerly Fotolia ) is another microstock photography website. It represents over 57 million images. Adobe repurchased this site in 2014, integrating it into its creative cloud service. Here, you can receive royalties of between 20 and 46%.
The best part about this site is that your royalties come immediately. Other sites wait until you reach a financial threshold or after 30 days.
Four million buyers use this site, so showing them your images is in your best interest.
8. Getty Images
This company is perhaps the most prestigious on the list. Since its founding in 1995, it has become one of the world’s premier stock and editorial photography websites.
As mentioned earlier, iStock is Getty Image’s microstock photography branch. But they sell high-end content through GettyImages that often sell thousands of dollars.
People pay a few dollars for a photo of iStock since it’s loyalty-free. But for Getty Images, they need to buy a Rights Managed license. That means buyers don’t pay for the pictures themselves but for the right to use them on specific platforms such as the web or print.
Due to its exclusive status, it can be challenging to get into Getty Images. To apply, you need to submit six images. Getty then determines if your material is appropriate for either iStock or Getty.
You can earn up to 20% in commission if you get in. Photos on the site sell for hundreds of dollars, so that percentage can make you quite some profit.
Stocksy isn’t the largest stock photography website. But it certainly isn’t the smallest. It has a reputation for being the artsiest stock agency online. That’s why it’s undoubtedly the site publishers love looking at for new images.
You will find that this site has very high standards. It might take longer to find your best images and ensure they are spic-and-span for this page.
They also require exclusivity to your work, meaning you can’t sell them elsewhere. Ultimately, it is worth it, as you receive between 50 and 75% of the total purchase.
This German company is not nearly as big as most other stock photo agencies on this list. But I think it offers quality equal to Stocksy for a more affordable price.
Photocase images don’t look like stock photos. Instead, they feel more authentic and organic. So if you don’t want your images to end up with low-quality work, this is an excellent option. And since it’s a small company, you compete less with other photographers.
Despite not being as popular as the other stock sites, many people use Photocase regularly. That’s because it provides options for those who don’t like cookie-cutter photos but can’t afford Stocksy.
Photocase also has a unique payment system. You start with a 20% share and have the potential to earn up to 50% commission as more people upload your photos.
You can look at their point system to understand better how to earn commissions.
Don’t be discouraged by the fact that Photocase is a small company. Unlike their rivals, they value their photographers. So try it, and you might earn decent money from it.
Alternatives to Stock Photography Platforms
You don’t need to rely on stock agencies to sell your photos. There are many other options out there that you can also try.
The sites on our list greatly vary in the services they offer. So feel free to review them and determine which works best for you.
Wirestock is a handy tool to help you sell your photos on multiple platforms. You can upload the images to Shutterstock, Depositphotos, and more… All at the same time, with just a few clicks of a button.
Another benefit of Wirestock is that the platform handles captioning and keywording. Your future sales and commissions depend on how easy it is to find your images. And how well the keywords capture their essence. Wirestock taking care of this tedious process is a real time-saver!
Wirestock allows creators to focus on creating – instead of juggling multiple platforms.
Placing images on a stock photography website doesn’t interest you?
Then Photoshelter is an excellent option. This service offers a photography-orientated e-commerce platform that integrates into your website.
There are many benefits to this service. First, it gives you cloud storage for your images. But apart from that, it also has an intuitive interface, social media integrations, and a decent SEO service.
Photoshelter allows you to decide how to showcase your images. It’s ideal as it doesn’t display competitors’ photos next to yours.
500px has become one of the most popular photography websites in recent years. It’s filling the void that Flickr left as it began losing members. I can say it’s the best place to find collections of the most professional photos online.
Apart from photo storage, 500px is a marketplace for people to purchase your work. Furthermore, it has a “like” and “photo view” area that shows your images’ ranking and views.
You receive detailed data on where these interactions come from using this platform. All the stats you see can be helpful when it comes to selling your work.
You can upload as many images as you want. You can even run photography workshops through it too.
There are four plans to join. They range from Free to Pro and Adobe. It’s best to become a paying member to take advantage of all the platform’s features.
This website is one of the most user-friendly graphic design editing platforms. It has drag-and-drop features that allow anyone to create anything from posters to Instagram Story animations.
A lot of the graphics and photos that Canva offers are free. But they also sell other services, including stock photography.
Unlike traditional stock photography agencies, this stock website makes it easy for people to buy pictures. Users have to drag and drop the photos. Then they click to purchase them to remove the watermark.
Canva’s ease of use means lots of potential to earn money. Many people don’t usually use stock agencies but regularly buy photos from the platform.
With millions of users, Canva continually expands and looks for new stock photos to sell. You can apply and post your stock photos on the website. But they also regularly ask their contributors to photograph custom projects for them.
If you are a photographer who wants to focus on commercial work, then EyeEm is a great way to make money.
You’ll find three licenses to sell your photos under Social, Web, and Full. These images are sold to clients for $20, $50, and $250, respectively.
You get a 50% commission on each image you sell on the website. And that’s a high rate considering that most stock agencies only pay 20 to 30%.
You can also join EyeEm Magazine to help you gain exposure within the industry. Submitting your work to the publication may land you a few major clients!
Etsy is the biggest marketplace on the internet for handmade products. The items you can sell can be physical prints or digital photography downloads. Most of the products are unique. And many are one-off items the creators won’t make again.
You can also recreate your brand on Etsy. You set the price for your images and even design a page that best displays your photos.
Etsy keeps 20 cents for each product you upload and 3.5% of the sale price. Selling items here can be a challenge. But they offer a helpful handbook to teach you all about branding and marketing. The information they share includes how to price your items, how to sell your photos, and how to succeed.
<img class=”aligncenter” src=”https://expertphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/sell-photographs-online-etsy.jpg” alt=”Screenshot of Etsy website homepage ” width=”700″ height=”298″ />
SmugMug is an excellent site for those photographers with an entrepreneurial mindset. They let you choose how much to charge for your photos, and they let you keep 85% in commissions.
So how do they let you earn that much money? Here’s an example from their website: “If you sell a 5×7 for $10.79 and the Smugmug default price for it is $0.79. The markup is $10.00. You keep $8.50 as profit (85% of $10)”.
The catch here is you have to buy a Pro subscription. It starts at $12.50 per month. There is no free option to help you start selling your photos.
<img class=”aligncenter” src=”https://expertphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/sell-photographs-online-smugmug.jpg” alt=”A screenshot of Smugmug homepage” width=”700″ height=”234″ />
Instaproofs is an online photo storefront. The ‘Insta’ part of their name comes from the ease of taking images from your Instagram account to the website.
You define the print sizes and the price tags that come alongside them. The free account lets you create 15 galleries with a 3 GB storage capacity. The site will also take a 12% commission from your sales if you’re not a paying member.
But if you think it’s worth it, you can also subscribe for $10 monthly. Doing so lets you sell images without commission, which helps if many people buy your photos.
If you want to make money doing event photography, consider this website.
You can think of Snapped4u as an online gallery. All you have to do is upload your event images on the website. Your clients can then pick the photos they like and pay you.
What’s terrific about Snapped4u is that it’s straightforward to use. For instance, your clients don’t have to log in to view your photos. If you want your gallery to be private, you can assign a password that they can use to access the files. It’s so simple that it feels like buying postcards at a souvenir shop!
You’ll need to pay a $10 registration fee. But at least there are no posting fees. Snapped4u also gets a 50-cent cut for photos under $5 and 10% for anything above that price range.
GuruShots isn’t exactly where you can sell photos online, but you can use this platform to make money.
Here, photographers compete against each other across a plethora of different subjects. Other members vote on the images, and the winners get prizes worth up to $300. You enter a challenge and upload up to four images for that theme.
According to their site, “GuruShots uses special proprietary algorithms to make sure each submitted photo gains equal exposure regardless of when it was submitted during the challenge, giving each entrant an equal opportunity to win through ‘statistically-based objectivity.'”
We have a full GuruShots review to check out too!
21. Fine Art America
You can set your prices on Fine Art America, and the website will add its markup. You keep 35% of the final price. And they get the other 65%. So if you demand $10 profit, they will price your piece at $47.
But it isn’t bad since you control how much you want to earn per image. Not to mention that you don’t need to print the photos yourself.
Fotomoto isn’t a place to sell your photos. Instead, it allows your website to sell images through its widget. After signing up and installing it, it sells them for you.
Doing so gives you more time to focus on image capturing and post-production.
If you’re looking for versatility, this site offers it! There is even a ‘free’ plan, where you give out more commission than you would with other plans. All it takes is five minutes to sign-up.
23. Build a Website to Avoid Fees and Commission
There is nothing like selling your work on your own site. If you are tech-savvy, you can find a way to do this ‘free’ (not counting domain and hosting fees).
If you aren’t proficient in web design or programming, you can join Wix or Square Space. They do all the background work for you.
Once you set up your website, you can offer as many photos as possible! There is no fee or commission to pay third-party sites after each sale.
A quick Google search can help you find the best system for your website. Then you can start selling your own high-quality photos.
It’s a great option if you get a lot of traffic to your site.
FAQs About the Best Places to Sell Photos Online
Here are answers to three questions we get asked about the most. We hope they help you decide where to sell your photos online.
What Is the Difference Between Microstock vs Regular Stock Sites?
Microstock was a pretty new term in photography. It was born with the introduction of sites such as iStock and Shutterstock. Traditional stock agencies generally sell stock photography at a higher price. In contrast, microstock sites offer a low-cost alternative.
The average price that microsite photos sell ranges from a few cents to about $5. The photographer then receives a percentage of that sale price. These sites often offer monthly subscriptions to customers. It’s often several downloads a month.
Regular stock photography sites, on average, charge a higher price for photos. But it is not unusual for them to sell a photo for a few dollars. So while you may sell more photos on a microstock site, your average sale will usually be higher on a traditional stock website.
What Is the Difference Between a Managed vs Unmanaged Stock Photo Site?
Some managed stock photography companies have an editor who reviews your photo submissions. And they select the photos that they will want to represent.
So the chosen photos then go through a quality control (QC) process. And this ensures they are good enough for that agency.
An unmanaged agency is one where all the photos you submit are accepted as long as they pass QC. For example, Alamy Stock Photo is an unmanaged stock photo site.
There are pros and cons to using either. The more photos you have online, the more chance of selling one. But on the flip side, the more photos the agency has on its site, the more yours will be lost amongst the crowd.
The other advantage of a managed stock site is that only your best photos will be on sale.
What Should I Look for in the Fine Print
There are several details to look for. So it’s important that after you have chosen the company that will sell your work, you read and understand the terms and conditions.
There will often be a minimum term that they will want the photo for. So if you decide to pull your images from one agency and move to another, it might be months, if not years, before you can.
You should also be clear on the exclusivity that the agency will need regarding your work. Some stock photography sites will allow you to send the same images to other sites. But some will want exclusive rights to the photos they accept.
That means you won’t be allowed to send those photos to other stock photography sites. This would include similar photos taken that are considered “sister” images.
The other important factor is the commission that you will receive. While one agency might sell your photos at a higher price, they may offer a lower commission.
This could range from 20% to 50% or more. So ensure you have checked how much you will make from each sale.
Conclusion: Best Places to Sell Photos Online
Stock photography websites are perfect because they take away the workload from you. You can make money just by sharing your portfolio. You can try all the websites we mentioned in this article. Most of them are non-exclusive. So you can add the same image to different platforms and widen your audience.
Non-stock websites will make you more money per image. But they may need more work. For instance, Etsy requires that you print and ship the photos yourself. That process takes time, effort, and energy. But if you stay patient, the payout can be better than stock photography.
So which is the best site to sell photos? We think iStock is our best choice for selling stock photos. This is due to its extensive and varied customer base and worldwide presence. It also has a user-friendly submission process and policies.