Selling photos is one of the many ways you can earn money online. Some of these ways are time intensive, while others are labor intensive, that is, they take a lot of time or effort. But selling photos is something that requires neither. It just requires innovation. Lots and lots of people, especially designers and developers, are in constant search for high-quality and unique images. Most companies won’t invest in a full-time photographer for on-location shooting, because it takes time and might be out of their budget. Why would they, when they can buy images that people around the world snap? You can avail the opportunity too by grabbing hold of your camera and snapping unique or interesting images!
Licensing photos and selling them to others is called stock photography. There are proper platforms, or stock photography websites, where you can sell your photos. Here, we will talk about selling photos in general, and the top 10 best stock photography websites in particular.
What you’ll need
You will, of course, need a camera, and access to the internet. But since the latter is very common, we’ll just talk about the camera part. Being a photographer doesn’t mean you need to have an SLR camera worth thousands of dollars, along with different kinds of lenses. Although these things might help, they’re aren’t a requirement. You can sell photos from any good quality camera, be it a digital cam, or your cell phone’s camera.
Te question is, how good? Well, first of all, the mega pixels should be adequate. Most websites have a minimum limit of 5-8 Mega pixels. If your camera can snap photos as large, then you should be fine. The point is, the image must be clear enough and large enough that its pixels won’t burst when zoomed. So here’s a small photography tip. Never use your camera’s digital zoom unless absolutely necessary. Move closer to the object if need be.
Another important thing you need to think about is the camera’s focus. Having some kind of focus will open new possibilities. So if you’re looking to buy a new camera, make sure it has manual or auto focus. If you don’t have focus, then don’t worry. You can still snap great images. But it might make things a little boring.
About the images you want to sell
Images can be of almost any type. They can be related to nature, animals/pets, everyday human tasks, cars, and so on. So long as they don’t violate a website’s Terms of Services (such as nudity), you’ll be fine. Keep in mind though that if you are snapping a picture of a person, you must tell them how you’ll be using the picture, or else, you might be sued.
Some websites review images before they can be listed. Some websites might be restricted to one particular genre, such as nature only or animal photos only etc. They will reject any photos not related to their genre.
The images must not be copyrighted, and copied from another source. And you can not sell one image to multiple sites (unless a site’s ToS doesn’t explicitly specify it). In some cases, you can still use the image after you’ve sold them. You can use them on your personal website, and do with them as you please, as long as the Terms of Services aren’t violated. Make sure you read them before signing up with a website.
Places to sell images
Most of the stock photo websites are similar, and work in a similar way. So we won’t go into much detail here. But here’s a list of the top 10 such websites which you’ll find worth the effort.
- 1. iStockphoto
- 2. ShutterStock
- 3. Fotolia
- 4. SmugMug
- 5. Photo Merchant
- 6. 123RF
- 7. Getty Images
- 8. Deposit Photos
- 9. BigStock
- 10. Exposure Manager
How does it work?
It works in a very simple way. You sign up for one of the websites above, and submit a photo. Some websites will require you to take a quiz or submit photo samples before they approve you. Some other sites might moderate each of your photos before they can be listed. In any case, they’ll check whether you are a unique contributor, or just another photo pirate.
Once your image is listed, it is ready for sale. Usually, buyers have paid subscriptions to such websites. They can download a fixed number of photos per month. Whenever your image is downloaded, it will accredited to you. Some commission will go the website, while the rest will go to you. You can then withdraw your money as you please.
Does it pay?
If it doesn’t, then all these websites wouldn’t be existing today. It pay quite well if you know your way around. Ordinarily, a single picture isn’t worth much. It might fetch mere cents, or a few dollars (maybe even $10), depending on the quality, and the innovation behind the picture. The key is learning to produce great pictures, and promoting them. Here are a few tips that could get you started.
Sell Multiple photos - If you think you can snap a couple of pictures and earn a few quick bucks, then you are sorely mistaken. There are thousands of other people like you, who have uploaded many and more images. In such a sea of photos, your couple snaps would be lost. Which is why you need to supplement them with more, lots more photos. To ensure that some of your images are noticed, you’ll need to upload in bulk. Dozens or hundreds of images perhaps.
Use tags - The stock website might have in-built tags, or they may allow you to create new ones. These are like keywords which users enter in their search results. Make a list of all the things worth noting in your image, and write them down as tags. Then, use variant spellings of keywords where necessary. Also, create new word and phrase combinations. Hence, think from the perspective of the users, and imagine what they’ll type into the search bar to arrive at your photo. Tags will help your images get found faster.
Photo editing - It can be a real plus point for you if you have photo-editing skills. Get a professional image editor, such as Adobe Photoshop, and start learning if you don’t have the skills. Often times, images need to be edited to remove a background, or make an adjustment, or add an extra effect. These things will really brighten up an image. A well edited image will o for a lot more money!
Photography isn’t very difficult. If you have an interest in it, you’ll find that these things will come to you naturally. Selling photos is a really legitimate was to earn money. People already into this field will find some extra bucks really useful. For others, now could be a good time to start. Good luck :)