Photography is big business these days. Webmasters and businesses use images for their websites and marketing materials. People purchase artwork for their homes. All of these photos need to come from somewhere. As a freelance photographer, you have numerous options to sell your photos online. And this can be a great way to create passive income that earns while you're working on other things.
What Kind of Photos Do People Want to Buy?
Right now, one of the biggest consumers of online photography is bloggers and website owners. Every piece of content created from blog posts to social media updates needs an attractive image. Here are a few categories that are in demand.
- Photos of people
- Photos of work situations (at the office, carpenter, steward, etc.)
- Photos of travel
- Photos of cities
- Close-up photos
- Photos of things (screws, medication, signs, books, computers, tools, bags, cables etc)
- Photos of nature
- Photos of animals
That doesn't sound too crazy. Right? You can totally do this. And on a budget. I'd also suggest taking a look at the most popular images in each category on the sites on which you intend to list your photos. This will give you a good idea of what's hot at the moment.
Creating the Best Images Possible
Let's be frank. If your photos are not visually appealing, they aren't going to sell. Here are a few tips to taking better photographs.
- Have the right equipment. You aren't going to get the quality you need for marketable images from your smartphone. A DSLR camera is a worthy investment for this line of business.
- A tripod is also a must-have. This will keep your camera steady while you're shooting. Amazon even has some cool photography kits that come with everything from a quality DSLR camera to tripod to zoom lens.
- Data backup. You don't want to lose all of your hard work should something catastrophic happen to your computer. Check out a service like Carbonite. Or, if you are an Amazon Prime member, you can store your photos online for free.
- A light tent can help you create awesome styled stock photos. They eliminate glare and soften light to create the perfect picture. Tabletop versions are also really inexpensive.
- If you need to take your photos on a larger surface that a tabletop, consider picking up some backdrops from Swanky Prints. These vinyl backdrops are freakin' amazing. And many are reversible so you get double the bang for your buck.
You can also get some great tips for taking amazing pictures with just your smartphone here.
Sell Images Online
There are several websites that sell stock photos and vector images to webmasters and business owners. These photos can be sold over and over again providing long-term residual income.
- Fotolia – Earn 20-63%. Exclusivity is not required though some rules apply to pricing once a certain rank is achieve. Payment is made via Moneybookers or PayPal.
- Alamy – this site offers a 50% royalty and no exclusivity clause. Nice!
- Shutterstock – Contributors earn 20-30%. Payments are made monthly with a $75 minimum. Shutterstock does not insist on exclusivity. You are free to sell your stock elsewhere.
- Dreamstime – Earn 20-60% from each sale. Has an active community.
- iStockphoto – Contributors earn 15% from each download. Exclusive Contributors earn 22-45%. Payments can be requested up to twice per week by PayPal, Moneybookers or Payoneer Mastercard with a $100 minimum balance. Checks are mailed on the 15th and 30th.
- FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Keep 70% of your sales revenue. Payments are made via PayPal with a $10 minimum.
- Bigstock – Earn 30% from individual downloads and up to $0.38 royalty on subscriber sales. Payments are processed once per week upon request with a $30 minimum balance. Receive payment by check, PayPal or Moneybookers.
- Demand Media offers freelance positions to photographers. Payment is like clockwork twice per week. Rates will vary by assignment. These must be exclusive photos and you give up all rights to the work upon sale.
- Sell Them Yourself – There are some themes and software that will make selling your photos a breeze without ongoing fees or giving up a percentage of each sale.
Make sure you read and re-read each site’s guidelines and fine print when it comes to requirements, exclusivity (you can't sell your photos on multiple marketplaces) and property rights.
Sell Your Photos on Tangible Items
There are also a number of websites that will allow customers to print your photos on everything from coffee mugs to canvas.
- CafePress offer several options for selling. List your creation on their site or set up your own shop. Regular listings earn you 8%. Payments are made monthly by check or PayPal with a $25 minimum.
- Redbubble is similar to CafePress in the items they sell. Contributors set their price, earning everything above the predetermined base price. Payments are sent by PayPal monthly with a $20 minimum for US contributors.
- Shutterfly –Pro Galleries run $99 to $199 per year plus 15% commission on each sale. Shutterfly does take care of customer service issues. Payments are made monthly by direct deposit.
- eBay and Etsy are also options for selling your photos online. Etsy even allows minors on the site provided they have a parent or legal guardian managing their account.
Marketing and Making Sales
Most sites recommend the use of tags and keywords to help buyers better find your available photos.
Don’t forget to market your available photos. Social networks, guest posting about photography and getting active in photography forums can all help.
You probably aren't going to get rich selling photos online, but you can earn some extra cash passively. We all like that. Many estimates state sellers earn on average $1 per month for every image listed. That means if you have 100 images available for sale, you may be earning around $100 per month. More images = more money.