Best websites for selling photos online

8 min


Are you a cool photographer who doesn’t know how to capitalize on your talent? We will show you the best sites to sell stock photos. Today there are many sites where both stock photos and photo books are in demand. Here you will learn where it is more profitable to sell your work, how to do it and what are the legal nuances. Read to the end and get answers to all your questions.

Best websites for selling photos online
Today many photo banks buy up the works of photographers from all over the world. Image: Freepik

Best places to sell photos online

Today many photo banks buy up the works of photographers from all over the world. You can earn both a percentage of photo sales and displays, as well as receive a fixed payment. However, to start selling photos, you need to understand the features of the available platforms:

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a relatively recent addition after they bought out Fotolia. Because of this feature, when you post photos for sale on one site, they are also available on a second site. This makes Adobe Stock one of the best places to sell digital images for free online.

You can directly from Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Bridge CC, as well as online, add your images and videos to Adobe Stock if you already use the Adobe suite for other creative projects. Plus, you can earn a 33% commission on photos sold through it.

Features of Adobe Stock Photo Bank

  •  Work published on Adobe Stock is automatically available on Fotolia, expanding the audience for your photos.
  • Access to the Adobe Stock photo bank collection is integrated directly into Adobe products, making it easy to use images in creative projects.
  • Adobe Stock is one of the largest photo banks in the world, offering a huge selection of quality images for a variety of needs.

Pixieset

Photographers can use Pixieset to share and sell pictures online. You can easily create your Pixieset gallery. Using Pixieset you can completely manage your photogravies. All you need to do is determine the selling price of your products and start promoting your photos. Free plans have a 15% commission, but paid plans have a 0% commission. Their cost starts at $8 per month.

Features of Pixieset photo bank

  • Pixieset is different from other photo selling websites in that it allows you to use your domain for your gallery, which helps build brand awareness.
  • You can predefined settings such as permissions, pricing, watermarks, and other options for new collections.
  • A plugin for Adobe Lightroom allows you to directly upload photos from Lightroom to your Pixieset gallery.
  • Gallery Assist provides intuitive hints and tips on how to use the gallery for customers.
  • The Pixieset mobile app makes the process of browsing, selecting, and purchasing photos convenient and accessible anytime, anywhere.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is the leader in selling photos online. For many, it is the easiest way to sell pictures. This platform has paid out over a billion dollars to a community of photographers over the past fifteen years. The main method of increasing downloads is to provide a large number of images that serve as visual metaphors.

You shouldn’t expect a lot of revenue here. However, Shutterstock is suitable for those who want to learn how to sell photos online. Payouts can range from twenty percent to thirty percent. There is also an affiliate program that allows you to earn extra money for referring new photographers or clients.

Features of Shutterstock photobank

  • International accessibility. The site is available in multiple languages, providing easy access to content for users from all over the world.
  • Affiliate Program. Shutterstock offers an affiliate program that allows you to earn commissions for referring new customers.
  • Innovative search tools. The platform has advanced search features, including image search and filters that help users quickly find the perfect content for their projects.
  • Licensing. Shutterstock offers a variety of licensing options, including standard and advanced licenses, to meet commercial and non-commercial user needs.

Freepik

At first, the Spanish company created a website called Freepik, which allowed free downloading of images. The site turned into a photo bank and then into a microstock as a result of huge traffic.

Professional photographers and illustrators claim that on this site their works can be purchased at a lower price but at a higher profit.

Features of Freepik 

  • A wide range of resources. Freepik offers millions of stock images, vector illustrations, icons, and PSD layouts.
  • Affordability. Although Freepik offers paid subscriptions, many resources are available for free, making them accessible to aspiring designers and small businesses.
  • High-quality content. All images and graphics on Freepik are selected with quality in mind, ensuring users have access to professionally created resources that can meet the needs of even the most demanding projects.
  • User Interface and Searchability. Freepik offers a simple and intuitive interface with user-friendly search tools that allow users to easily find the images and graphics they need by keyword, category, or collection.

123RF

123RF is a significant player in the stock photography sector. Since the content is not exclusive to the platform, you can sell it on other sites. In addition, your photos are available to more than five million buyers in 44 countries and 17 languages. You can earn between thirty percent and sixty percent of every license sold after signing up for the program.

Features of 123RF photo bank

  • 123RF will delight you with millions of vector images, videos, audio, and photos for every taste.
  • To every customer, 123RF promises reliable legal protection.
  • Corporate+ subscription opens new horizons for sharing, offering individual licenses and multi-user management.
  • The Adobe Photoshop add-on allows you to search, buy, and create designs directly in Photoshop, as well as track used images for reuse in other projects.
  • With the Google add-on, you can add photos to Google Docs without having to open a new tab, and you can sync them with Google Forms and soon with Google Spreadsheet.
  • Authors can earn 30 to 60 percent commission on each license sold.
  • Since 2005, 123RF has worked with such well-known companies as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and American Express, proving its reliability and professionalism.
Best websites for selling photos online
People who want to sell their photos for commercial use can register on free photo stock sites without any problems. Image: jannoon028

How much you can earn from selling photos

We have compiled a table with the main characteristics of the above described photo selling sites. It describes the commissions and average earnings that can be obtained.

PhotostockCommissionPotential earnings
Adobe StockCommission: 33% – 35% per imageFrom $0.33 for subscription downloads to higher amounts for single licenses
ShutterstockDepends on the level of the photographer, starting at $0.25 per downloadIncreases with the number of downloads. Can reach several dollars per download at the highest levels.
Pixieset0% on paid plans, 15% on free plansEarnings directly depend on the prices set by the photographer
FreepikDetails are not publicly disclosedDepends on the popularity and usage of the work. Specific figures are not specified
123RF30% – 60% of saleDepends on the level of the contributor and the type of license. Specific amounts may vary

How to sell stock photos

People who want to sell their photos for commercial use can register on free photo stock sites without any problems. The only restriction is the age of 18 (sometimes 21). However, it is possible to register with a subscription to get more profit from selling your photos.

We have highlighted the basic steps before selling your first photo:

  1. Find the best place to sell photos. 
  2. Register your profile and take the exam. Not all platforms ask for proof of skill.
  3. Choose an idea, and references, and put together an image;
  4. Conduct a shoot, select the best photos, retouch them;
  5. Come up with a title, description, and keywords for each shot;
  6. Upload to Photostock;
  7. Send for moderation, and wait for verification;
  8. Wait for the sale of photos on Photostock.

Making an interesting portfolio, you can get orders from customers engaged in dropshipping and not only. 

What is an “exam”

Some sites for selling photos online have a special test. It is to determine if your work meets the site’s criteria. To pass it, you need to upload a few sample works to the moderators. Below are the basic steps to pass the exam: 

  1. Upload photos that comply with the site rules. These are usually specified right away. For example JPEG or JPG format, 2400 × 1600 pixels, weight up to 50 MB.
  2. Add only your photos.
  3. Select the most successful ones. 
  4. Upload photos. 
  5. Wait for the moderators’ response.
Best websites for selling photos online
Professionals and beginners can sell their services not only online but also offline. Image: vecstock

Photographers can sell their physical products such as prints and photo books. These can be frames, photo wallpaper prints, mugs, and ready-made catalogs for different types of businesses. It is most profitable to set up advertising of their work through services for selling photos online:

These are great for creating, printing, and sending photo books to customers. While you won’t get the best returns with print-on-demand services, it’s a great risk-free way to test the demand for your products before you decide to invest. When selling photo books, you can take orders for a specific niche, or you can sell pre-made options that are universally suited to the customer.

How to sell your photography as a service

In addition to selling ready-made photos and products online, you can sell your services online. Posting ready-made cases on shooting weddings, corporate events and other materials in photo banks can help. Promoting your profile and using SMM will be helpful. There are also freelancing sites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Tips for photographers to sell services 

Professionals and beginners can sell their services not only online but also offline. There are some great tips to help you get bookings: 

  • Always be prepared. Using special services, create a business card. It should have contacts for communication, name, and on the back side, or the background harmoniously will look like an example of your work. Carry them with you you never know when you might meet a potential client; 
  • Fill out your LinkedIn profile. Include examples of work, finished cases, and links to your profile in photo banks; 
  • Participate in photography trade shows and events. In these places, you can find professionals to learn from and potential clients.

Legal primer for selling photos online

Figuring out how to legally sell your photos online can be quite a daunting task. The first thing you need to look out for is licenses. You also shouldn’t take photos of people and publish them without consent. If you take photos of buildings, it’s worth finding out if it’s illegal to post its images online. 

It is not superfluous to protect your work from theft. This can be done using watermarks. This can be done on the following services: 

It is not necessary to watermark the whole image. You can place it in the corner so that it does not interfere with the perception of your work.

Types of licenses on commercial photo stocks

There are also some rules about photo-sharing sites. They have a license system, which shows who and how many times you can use the material you provide. There are 3 types of licenses: 

  • Rights Free. For example, sellers can post and sell the same picture on multiple websites around the world. In addition, the client can use the purchased shot anywhere. Customers of such microstock sites usually do not pay for the snapshots one at a time. They can get several shots they need by purchasing a license for a month or downloading ten to a hundred photos;
  • Rights Managed. For example, the image cannot be shown elsewhere by the seller. The camera can only be used once. The use of each photo is determined individually. Until 2019, the most famous site using this license was Getty Images. However, the company eventually switched to a mixed license type;
  • Mixed. These sites offer photographers and buyers a wide variety of licenses. All people work the way they like to work. Masterfile, First Light, and Agefotostock operate under this license.

Turning your photos into profit

Online photo selling is not only a way to make money from your art, but it is also a great platform for advertising and getting offers from clients for customized orders. You will be able to choose from a variety of available photo stocks where you want to publish. They differ in payment systems, subscription costs, and customization options. Always pay attention to the legal side of selling photos so that you don’t violate copyrights. Protect your work with watermarks to prevent theft. Publish and earn from your creativity!

FAQ

What are the main advantages Adobe Stock offers to photographers for selling their work?

Adobe Stock offers a unique advantage in the form of a dual platform, where works published on Adobe Stock are automatically available on Fotolia. It is also possible to upload photos directly from Adobe products.

How can Pixieset be especially useful for photographers looking to sell their work?

Pixieset stands out for its ability to create personalized galleries for sharing and selling photos. Photographers can have full control over the process by pricing and promoting their work. 

What steps do photographers need to take to successfully sell their photos as stock images?

To successfully sell stock photos, photographers need to first select a suitable photo stock or several. Then they should choose an idea, shoot, select, and retouch the best photos, and come up with a title, description, and keywords for each shot. After uploading the work to the photo stock, you should send it for moderation and wait for verification, after which you can expect sales.

What strategies can help photographers increase sales of their photo books and prints?

To increase sales of photo books and printed products, photographers should consider using online platforms such as Blurb, Lulu xPress, and Shutterfly that specialize in the creation and distribution of these products. An effective approach is to target specific niches or audience interests and actively promote their work through social media, their website, and participation in trade shows.

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