How to Make Money Selling Photos Online? Follow this Simple Guide

Make Money Selling Photos Online Photo

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to make money selling photos online?

If so, keep reading to learn 10 simple steps to make money selling photos online as well as some helpful resources to exchange your photos for cash.

A picture of a man taking a picture with a DSLR camera in a forest.

If you are new to photography or simply enjoy traveling and taking photos like myself, how do you get started making money by selling your photos online?

There are a number of companies out there that you can submit your photos online.

These companies are referred to as Micro-stock Photo Agencies or Stock Photo Sites.

They mostly sell photos to online companies or web designers to provide images for blogs and websites.

But stock photo sites can also sell images to be used for advertising products, clothing, etc.

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How to Make Money Selling Photos Online:

Typically you want to sell your photos royalty-free so that you can sell your photos to multiple buyers without restrictions.

This will give you the advantage of selling your images on multiple stock photo sites.

Selling on multiple stock sites, or at least to the most popular ones, gives you a great advantage of increasing your total sales. It’s a numbers game.

This is how most photographers pursue stock photography.

But you can sell your photos rights-managed, which allows the client who buys your photo to own the rights of your photo exclusively for a limited period of time, or in a specific geographical location.

This allows you to receive a higher fee for your photo but then limits the number of people who can purchase your photos repeatedly.

Top Stock Sites to Sell Your Photos:

There are over a dozen popular sites, 19 is my current count. And it varies to which are the top 5 sites, but here is 5 of the top ten sites that photographers utilize to make their point and click cash.

Micro-stock Agencies typically pay you a commission or a set price per photo that is sold on their site.

The nice thing about selling your photos to stock agencies (royalty-free method), is that you can get paid for your photos over and over again, and on multiple sites.

This can be another great method for producing residual income to supplement your current income or assist you with travel expenses while shooting your photos.

Heck, some photographers make a good living off of stock photography.

You get paid time and time again for that single effort of point and click.

You just have to familiarize yourself with the process of how to take good photos, submit your photos, and repeat the process with the most popular micro-stock agencies.

A picture showing a sunset on a beach, a picture I submitted to a stock photo agency.
Here’s a good example of a photo I took and submitted to a Stock Photo Agency that was approved

10 Steps to Making Money Selling Photos Online

Most stock photo companies work off the same principles.

At first, these rules are a bit of a pain, but with time, you will learn to adjust you point of view as you choose your photo shot selection, and you’ll get better at finding great photo’s.

1. Join one of the Stock Sites listed above by applying for an account (free of charge).

2. Apply to be a Contributor. You have to read tutorials on how to submit your photos and the quality specifications of acceptable photos.

3. Sign a Contributor agreement. You will want to read over the agreement to see if you are happy with their terms.

4. Review their Contributor Guidelines to know exactly what the stock agency requires.

  • i.e.File Format (JPEG, RPG)
  • Minimum File Size Requirements
  • Don’t submit photos with Trademarks or Logos
  • Submit Clear Images
  • And make sure your images are not over-edited.

5. They’ll make sure you understand their policies and standards by having you pass a short online exam.

6. You will then submit a batch of your top photos and wait to see if you are approved as a Contributor.

7. Once you are approved and understand the stock agency’s guidelines, your job then becomes taking and submitting quality photos.

8. You also want to get approved with multiple stock photo agencies in order to increase your online exposure and opportunities to sell your photos and earn online income.

9. Study what niche photography is selling. It may be pictures of people, food, landscapes, animals, jobs, etc. What photos are the hottest selling photos in the stock photo industry today?

10. Draw up a release for any time you are taking pictures of people. You will need to have that person release their rights of your photo in order to submit it to a stock agency.

Image that links to a free course to learn how to build your own online business.

Pros of selling photos online?

Selling photos online can be a great way to travel the world and make money.

It can allow you to escape the 9 – 5 gig and live on your own terms, be your own boss.

Or you could simply supplement your current income.

If you are a good photographer and love taking pictures, this could be your calling.

Some stock photographers make up to six-figure incomes.

And my favorite pro is that stock photography provides you with the ability to get paid time and time again for the work you did once. You could receive income for years to come with one great photo. What would happen if you had 1000’s of winning photos.

Cons of selling photos online?

Well, there are literally millions of photos in stock agencies that are competing for the sale. You also need to be a disciplined photographer and develop a daily routine of taking pictures.

You need to develop daily habits of submitting a handful of new pictures to the stock photo agencies. And you also shouldn’t expect income right away. It may take weeks and months before you get your first sale.

Most stock photographers recommend submitting around 2,000 quality photos before you can expect to see any type of regular income.

And, with every person that you photograph, you need to have them sign a waiver releasing their rights of the photo to you. Kind of a pain in the ### to constantly ask permission and explain why your subject is signing a policy allowing you to take their picture.

Is Stock Photography A Viable Business?

It sure can be. But you have to be dedicated to your craft and invest in your education.

I love photography and have enjoyed traveling and taking photos of my travel experiences. But for me, it’s more of a hobby than a full time job.

Learning about stock photography and utilizing programs like Lightroom has been a great hobby and learning experience that has helped me in my own online career.

A screenshot of Lightroom 4, a great tool to edit photos.
Coffee Plantation: Photo Taken close to Salento, Colombia, South America.

But the reality of Stock Photography is that you need to take 1,000’s of photos before you will ever start to making money selling photos online.

You need to understand niche photography and know which niches are making money right now.

The Bottom Line with Selling Photos Online:

Stock photography is a saturated market that involves a good deal of education and a greater amount of time, passion, and dedication for something that may or may not make you money.

I encourage you to follow your heart on this one. Taking your passions or interests in life and building online income can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

Here’s A Much Better Idea!

Combine Stock Photography with an online business model. You can take your passion for photography a step further by creating an online business based on photography.

This way you can still sell photos to stock agencies, but you can also sell photography equipment. You could sell lenses, cameras, lighting equipment, classes on photography, etc.

You name it, if it’s related to photography, you can sell it online.

How you may be asking?

It’s simple. By creating an online presence, you can reach thousands of people who enjoy the same niche as you, photography.

All it takes is to create a simple website, provide helpful content to your niche audience, and recommend helpful products to people like you who enjoy photography.

How does this all work?

It’s easy to rank content in Google using keyword phrases that fellow photographers are searching on a daily basis. And having a website allows you to establish affiliate relationships with any brand name product.

By creating a helpful photography based website, you can get your site to affiliate with companies like…

  • Canon
  • Nikon
  • Samsung
  • Olympus
  • Sony, etc. 

Then once your reader reads your recommendations, clicks a link to the product you recommend and makes a purchase, you make a commission.

As you continue to build your site out through producing helpful content based on photography, you begin to make a lot of commissions.

Then keep your photos on display to sell on your site and on top stock photo sites and you’ll make money from multiple sources.

Several streams of income are smarter than one..

You’ll need help setting up your site, understanding keyword research, building organic traffic, ranking on Google/YouTube, domain hosting, etc..

I put together a simple email training series that will teach you all of the above… and more.

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If you have any questions or comments about how to make money selling photos online or any other personal tips, we’d love to hear from you.

Best of luck with your online journey,

About the Author

Hi, I’m the founder of Learn to Grow Wealth Online. My goal is to help you create a brilliant online business. One that is profitable and will grow wealth for you and your loved ones well into the future. If you're willing to put in the effort, I can help you create your own source of online income.


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  1. I like the idea of setting up my own niche site based on photography.

    What’s the best way to get started right away in Niche Marketing?

    1. Great question Rotek. The best online business training center that we’ve reviewed is Wealthy Affiliate.

      They taught me how to build free traffic so that I can now direct organic to any product I like.

      They also give you daily classes that will teach you about every aspect of online business.

      Check out Wealthy Affiliate if you want to learn to do the same thing.


  2. Pingback: Greg
  3. Thanks for this post, this has been extremely helpful in my online business.

    It’s tough to know where to start out to look for quality stock photos.

    Your post really has saved me a ton of money and I just wanted to say thanks.


  4. Pingback: Jeff
  5. Todd, thanks for such a well thought out post. I didn’t realize that there were so many places to make money selling pics online.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. You bet Pascal, my pleasure. If you don’t have a website for your online business, check out SiteRubix.

      It’s Wealthy Affiliate’s site builder and it’s the best. Loaded with extras like cloud hosting, comments and feedback, host up to 25 sites, and reads your websites health based on SEO metrics.


  6. Every business needs great images. Actually selling images can be a very wealthy business. I knew one guy his name sandeep maheswari, you can google him. He is just a normal photographer and started his own stock images website. now he is a millionaire…

    1. Thanks Charan for your feedback. You make a good point, you’ve got to start an online business that offers a service to a niche market.

      I think one will do much better starting a business like this versus submitting stock photos. Create an online business that helps people is the key and if you want to do the same, get started here!


  7. Really great guide for making money online by selling photos. All though, I think if you combine selling photos online with a niche photo site where you can sell camera and photo related merchandise would be the best way to go.


    1. Absolutely Sharon, that’s the way I’d do it if was into selling photos online or in the photo/camera niche.


  8. Hi Todd,

    That’s a very elaborate article to know everything about selling photos online.

    Selling Royalty free is a great option to increase one’s cumulative income. And I think Alamy is a good place for that.

    Thanks for sharing. Take care 🙂

  9. Very interesting article and great food for thought.

    I’m a keen photographer too and considered submitting to stock photo sites sometime ago, but never got around to it.

    I setup an account on where I have about 100 images – but have only ever made 2 sales in 2 years – not too good!

    I thought I might try and go it alone on my own photography site one day.

    1. Thanks Rob,
      It’s tempting to try if your photographer. And really there’s no harm, just time. But really it takes several 1,000’s of photos to start earning. But I think your own photography site sounds like a better site.
      Best of luck,

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