I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” This is no less true, whether you are a seasoned professional photographer, or an aspiring amateur. What many people don’t realize is that your pictures could be worth $1,000. That may be exaggerating a bit, but making money selling your photography is not as far fetched as you might think. Many stock photography websites are more than willing to give you a cut of their profits for selling your work on their site.
Here is how it works. You build a nice collection of great photos, and you want to begin selling them. You sign up with a stock photography company and in return, if someone buys your photo to use in their work, then you get a percentage of each sale. If your work is good enough, and your photos are relevant to a certain topic, they could be worth money.
Stock photography websites sprang up over the recent years, due to the increase in freelance graphic designers and startup design firms. The economy has everyone watching their budgets, and it can be expensive to hire a professional photographer for a project. It can also be a lot of work, time, and money to set up the scene that they want. This is where a good stock photography website comes in. You go to their site, sign up for a membership, and you can immediate begin to search for images via topic. Some larger stock photo companies have 1 million+ images in their database. You find an image that fits your creative vision, pay a reasonable price ($5- $50), download the image, and you are creating your design work in minutes. Some stock photo sites offer a monthly membership fee, and you can download as many images as you want, or you may have a predetermined amount of images that you can download each month. This usually depends on your membership level. This puts professional level photography in the hands of designers quickly and easily, and the designer saves tons of time.
Where to Sell Your Photos
iStockPhoto- iStockPhoto can be a bit of a challenge to join. You have to join their site, read their manual, and take a quiz. Then you have to submit samples of your best work, and if accepted, you can start selling your photos. If you sell to multiple sites, you can earn 15% through iStockPhoto, but if you decide to become exclusive to their site, then you can earn anywhere between a 22-45% royalty rate on your photos. If you fulfill certain requirements, you can sell your images to the entire Getty Images Family.
ShutterStock- It is free to contribute. All you have to do is sign up, and you can earn anywhere from $0.25 all the way up to $28.00 per image download. This can be very lucrative if your images are common or very general in subject, while being professional at the same time.
Fotolia- Fotolia has a huge library of images available for professionals. You can sign up for a free account. Then, you just upload your images and give them relevant tags. Fotolia breaks down your ability to earn into 2 categories. The first one is for single image downloads and you can earn anywhere from 20%- 63% for each image, but this rate depends on if you are exclusive to Fotolia, and what your ranking is. The second rate is for when your image is sold via subscription download. You can earn 0.25 credits to 0.40 credits.
Shutterfly- Shutterfly does things a little differently. Instead of selling your photos directly on their site, you pay an annual fee and they allow you to set up a gallery to market and sell your photos. The nice part about this is that you pay a reasonable annual fee to set up your gallery. $99 gets you 5GB of hosting space for your images, and $199 per year gives you unlimited hosting space, so if you have a very large collection of photography that you would like to sell, that package is for you. Another great aspect is that you set your own prices for your photos, which means that you make what you want to make from your work. People can order prints of your work and you get paid, or they can buy your work via digital download.
ShutterPoint- Shutterpoint makes it easy to join and start selling your photos immediately. All you have to do is sign up. They also accept all types of photos, so there isn’t a test or acceptance process before you can start selling. They also mention a bulk upload tool, so you can upload many photos quickly. They have a payout rate of 85% for Full Royalty Free images, and 70% for Standard Royalty Free images.
BigStockPhoto- This site allows you to sign up, but you have to complete a tutorial before you can begin uploading your images. Before you start selling your images on BigStockPhoto, their review team must approve them. Pay As You Go purchases will pay you 30% of the US dollar price when someone downloads a single image. This can equal up to $29.70. When someone buys your image using BigStock credits, you will receive $0.50 for every credit spent.
123RF- 123RF is another good site where you can sell your photos. Simply sign up, upload your images, and you get paid depending on how they downloaded your photo. If someone pays for your photo with credits, then you receive 50% of the selling price. If they download your photo when they are on a subscription plan, then you will receive $0.36 per download.
Dreamstime- Dreamstime allows anyone to become a member, but to sell your photos, your work has to be reviewed and you have to be accepted. The pay that you receive depends on the level that you photos are on when they sell. Every image starts at level 0 and the more times the image is downloaded, the higher its level will increase. Each level has a percentage, based on certain criteria. The whole process is rather complicated, and to understand, it would be best to view the chart on their website. There are 5 levels, and different pay scales depending on size.
Corbis- Corbis is a professional stock photography site that also allows for photography submissions. The difference here is that they are very vague on the details of being a contributor. You have to fill out an application, but it doesn’t say anywhere on the site what your compensation will be, the rates, how it works, or any details. Corbis is not as user-friendly and straightforward about compensation as the other sites listed here are.
CanStockPhoto- CanStockPhoto makes it easy to sell your photos online. Sign up for an account, fill out an application, and once you are accepted, you can begin uploading your photos quickly. You also receive money for referring other photographers. Exclusive rights photos earn 50% commission, and different sized images and assets earn different amounts of commission. To see a detailed list, click here.
DepositPhotos- DepositPhotos makes it quick and easy to get started with selling you images. Sign up for an account, pass a quick exam (they assure you that it is easy), and then you can start uploading images. The only snag is that each image has to be approved before it is officially displayed on the site to be sold. Their pay scale is similar to that of Dreamstime, where your images increase in level when they sell a certain amount. The higher the level is, the more money you make from each sale. They have a chart with examples available on their site. One stand out feature that they have is that you can sell vector images as well, but you have to upload them in the format specified.
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Photography Image via Shutterstock