Selling Your Photography Online: Top Sites & Key Considerations

Selling your photographs online is a great way to make money and share your beautiful images with the world. Stock photography, which supplies licensed photographs for specific needs instead of employing the use of a photographer, is becoming increasingly important. Many organizations today are conducting their business online and often require high quality images on their websites,images that will enable them to capture and keep their audience’s attention and hopefully convert that attention into dollars in good time. Time and budgetary constraints often limit individuals and organizations looking for the best images to tell their story, and stock photography provides the ideal solution to help meet all these challenges.

Best Stock photo websites to sell your photographs

In addition to creating your own portfolio and website to promote your products, you can upload your photos to stock websites and reap the advantage of numbers from these high traffic websites. The following are some of the best websites you can use to market your photographs and earn from them on a consistent basis:

  1. Istock Photo

This is largely thought to be the first stock photo website to be launched on the internet. It provides royalty free photographs, images, and media and design elements and has a database of millions of specially selected photographs and illustrations and videos by and for photographers and their clients. Istock allows photographers to upload images onto their website and only deduct a fee when the photographers work is purchased by a client. Started in the year 2000, Istock is currently one of the most successful stock photo websites in the world.

  1. Shutterstock

Shutterstock was founded in 2003 by John Oringer and is one of the top three stock photo sites on the internet. It has a database of more than 50 million royalty free photos, graphics, illustrations, video clips and music pieces. It licenses photographers, designers’ and musicians work and receives over 60,000 contributions daily from people in 150 countries.

  1. Stocksy

Stocky was founded in 2013 and is one of the better paying stock photo companies, paying out as much as 50% in commissions to photographers and is one of the fairer remunerators on the internet. Stocksys’ mission is to ensure that photographers receive fair pay for their work, and aims to create sustainable careers for these photographers and other artists.

  1. Crestock

This is one of the easier sites to use and allows you to set up a free account, upload photos for review and receive up to 40% in commissions for every approved photograph that is sold. It has a simple signup process and allows you to begin uploading photos as soon as you have finished signing up.

  1. Getty Images

Getty images is the owner of Istock photo as well as a popular stock photo company in its own right. It was one of the first companies to license photographers work online. It has stricter signup requirements than other stock photo companies, and only pays artists 20% commission on submitted works that are sold, but has the benefit of large sales volumes due to attracting huge numbers of traffic. Getty has the reputation of having exclusive and unusual images that cannot be found on other websites.

  1. Alamy

Alamy is one of the better paying stock photo sites on the internet, paying up to 60% commissions on photographs sold. Further, it allows photographers and artists to keep the copyright on their images, which means that they can use these photos to make even more money on other sites.

  1. 123RF

This is a great site for beginners as it allows you to upload as many images as you can produce. If the images are approved on the website, you can earn a commission of 30% which goes up to as much as 60% depending on the quality of your work, and customer response to your stock photos.

  1. Fotolia

Fotolia has over 4 million subscribers worldwide which gives photographers a greater customer base for their photos. In addition, you can earn between 20% and 63% on any photos you upload and sell.

  1. Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a reputable stock photo company that offers photographers critiques on their work as well as only approving high quality photos which forces them to improve on the quality of their work. Remuneration is typically 25-50% for photos sold, with the option to gainer an extra 10% if you sign up as an exclusive photographer for the company.

  1. Photoshelter

This is another company that allows you to retain the rights to your work and use them elsewhere as you please. Photoshelter offers a modern, beautifully designed and easy to use platform to sell your work. In addition, they supply secure cloud storage, screen clients to weed out fraudsters and scammers and provide SEO and social media tools to help you market your work better.

Why stock photography is increasing in popularity 

MDG advertising reports that 67% of online shoppers considered high quality images to be the most important factor influencing their decision to purchase a product from a company, beating out product descriptions, reviews and other customer ratings. As a result, companies are willing to spend huge sums of money in order to get the best images that will attract customers to their website and influence them to buy the companies’ products. Other users of stock photography include bloggers who want to drive traffic to their websites in order to increase visibility and maximize ad revenue. Even organizations that are not engaged in business require high quality images in order to communicate with their target audience. Finally, stock photo companies need to consistently update their photo databases, in order to prevent situations where one image is being replicated by many users which can cause embarrassment to both the stock photo companies and the businesses or individuals purchasing images from them.

How to sell photos online

Selling your photos on online platforms can be a daunting task especially in view of the hundreds of stock photo websites you have to choose from and the hundreds; if not thousands of other writers you have to compete with for limited spaces in stock photography websites. However, by following a few easy steps, you can discover the right market for your images, sell your images at the right price and be on your way to becoming a highly sought out and in demand online photographer. You can sell your photos either as stock imagery or prints. Stock imagery sites allow you to upload your images to their site, and take a commission out of any photos of yours that are bought. Stock imagery sites do all the marketing and promotion for you, which frees you to concentrate on creating more high quality images that, will garner you more sales. You can find out the requirements for uploading your work on the websites that you are targeting for sales.

Selling prints allows you greater flexibility on pricing. It also requires you to have an effective marketing and promotional strategy in place so that you can increase the visibility of your images and attract the right customer. This often requires you to create a portfolio of your work or build a website to showcase your photos. The following are some good strategies to employ to start selling and increase sales of your photos:

Research your target market

Before you can begin selling your photos, you need to determine whether there is a demand for your work and if so, establish the type of clientele that is likely to purchase your images. Different clients have different stock photo needs. For instance, it would be difficult to sell photos of high tech machinery to a couple that just wants to decorate their beach cottage and at the same time, images of kittens and puppies might be out of place for a swanky corporate office. You need to know exactly who your target market is so that you can match the right client with the right image all the time. You also need to conduct research to find out what the best selling images are. You will find that most people buy photos and images that have special meaning to them. Images of the community they live in, causes they are passionate about or hobbies that they love will tend to do especially well. General images featuring babies, pets, flowers, and landscapes have got universal appeal, and you would do well to incorporate photos covering some of this subject matter into your portfolio or on your website. Finally, most people like to purchase functional images such as a flower print to decorate a living room wall, or a piece on city history to decorate a government office.

Elaborate Tags

Ensure to tag your prints or stock images with highly descriptive and specific tags in order to capture your audience’s attention. Provide sufficient information about your subject matter, listing the location where the photo was taken, describing the colors and settings and even ascribing moods to the subject in order to help the audience identify with whatever you are photographing. Providing intricate details and elaborate tags will make it easier for people to search for your images online and result in even higher sales volume for your photos.

Upload your portfolio

Your portfolio is the first point of contact between you and prospective clients. Your portfolio acts as your online storefront, and can influence customers to explore your website further, or make them click away to a competitor’s website. Your portfolio should include your best work, be well designed and presentable and undergo regular updates from you or your site administrator. You can also join forums and other photographer network sites to showcase your photos and get tips and ideas on how to improve your online photography business.

Increase your visibility

In addition to having a great portfolio, you need to incorporate some marketing and promotional strategies that will increase your online visibility. You can do this by advertising on stock photo sites, social media, photography forums and any other platforms that welcome work from photographers. Your marketing can be general i.e. just making sure that people know who you are and that you are a photographer, or targeted, i.e. reaching specific persons that you know can use your photographs. You can do general promotion by using social media sites such as Facebook and twitter. This may involve setting up a business page on one of these platforms to inform people about you and your work. You may also increase your publicity by setting up your own photography blog, updating it consistently, contributing articles to other photographers’ blogs and submitting work to art magazines and other online photography publications. Commenting on photography forums and linking back to your site can also help drive more traffic to your blog and result in more sales. Targeted marketing involves marketing your photographs on sites that are frequented by people you are targeting as clients. Sites like Etsy and eBay allow you to upload and advertise your photographs on their websites and deduct a small fee for this service. Further, sites like Pinterest allow people to pin and like websites with products that they love and this can help to drive traffic to your site and increase sales. Depending on whether you sell prints or canvas art, you can benefit greatly from sites that get many visitors looking for these products such as home decoration websites and sites that sell artwork and photographs that target children and schools. By following these methods of self promotion, you should be able to build up a respectable photography business and start earning good money in no time.

The online photographer who wants to create a lucrative business for himself has several tools at his disposal. Gone are the days when you had to peddle your work to publications in the hope that they would use one of your images so that you could make a living. With the great number of online platforms available to promote your work, you can create a successful online photography business, make a living from the work of your hands and share your beautiful images with people around the world.