How to Sell Photos Online (+ 20 Best Websites to Make Money with Photography)
How can I make money from my photos? Which is the best site to sell photos?
How much money can you make selling photos online?!
Whether you’re a professional photographer or just getting started with photography, we’ve all asked ourselves the same questions.
Thankfully, here in 2021, there are plenty of options to help you sell your photos online!
Whether you want to sell stock photos, integrate e-commerce into your photo portfolio, sell prints, products or photo books… we’re here to help.
It’s the ultimate guide to making money with your camera!
We’ll reveal the 20 best places to sell your photos online and answer all the most common questions about getting paid to take pictures.
So let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
20 Best Websites to Sell Photos Online in 2021
Here are the top 20 photo selling websites to make a bit of side income with your photography.
We’ve included a mix of image hosting sites, blog sites and stock photo sites too.
Shootproof is one of the most popular websites to sell photos online.
With a simple platform to build gorgeous online image galleries, you can showcase your public and client galleries. People can view your works and order a range of print products, including larger canvases and prints for art.
Customers can download the images from their special events and order photo books directly from your site, with everything shipped directly to them.
Shootproof also provides all the tools necessary to set up and run your photography business online. You build your brand, price lists and client contracts within the site.
Another great feature is the ability to create automated sales emails, helping you sell photos online while you sleep!
Shootproof offers a free trial version with the ability to upgrade to any of the four paid plans – depending on your needs. The best bit about Shootproof is that the sale of your prints is commission-free – the client pays the total cost.
Read more about Shootproof in our review.
Pixiset is among the best websites to sell photos online, offering a range of free and paid solutions.
You build online galleries for public display and private client use – client galleries are password protected.
Pixiset is user-friendly and allows customers to select favourite images or download a whole gallery. What’s more, it’ll send you a notification to your email address when this happens.
Another great feature of Pixiset is the available plans to help you get online and make money.
They offer a comprehensive free plan with up to 3GB of storage. Rather than a trial, it’s a complete website builder that’s perfect for those starting on a budget.
There are also four additional paid plans for photographers that need more capacity and features.
One of the most valuable features of the website is the ability to use the Adobe Lightroom plugin. It allows you to link and send your edited images directly to your Pixiset galleries with minimal fuss.
Instaproofs is a user-friendly platform to build an online photography business complete with a website, galleries, marketing tools and the ability to sell photos to clients.
The website promises a streamlined experience to upload, promote, sell and provide digital or physical prints to customers. Instaproofs also allows you to opt for the self-fulfilment of prints or to use their print services to take care of it all for you.
Instaproofs offers no less than five plans, with the first being a free plan that provides 3GB of storage and up to 15 galleries to store 1,000 plus photos.
Images sold through the free plan attracts a 12% commission to Instaproofs. The remaining paid plans all vary in photo storage limits and services with no commission paid to the website.
Regardless of being a professional or enthusiast photography, SmugMug is a brilliant website to set up galleries and sell your photos online.
Rather than use a commission system, SmugMug Pro provides a range of paid plans which include both a hosting gallery and e-commerce platform.
The paid plans provide a range of options to build an appropriate website with galleries for your art, commercial or event work. You set the pricing and print options – you can also use the recommended print labs for physical print order fulfilment.
What we love most about SmugMug Pro is that from as little as $7 a month, you have unlimited full-resolution photo storage options. The higher plans offer advanced business tools for promotion and client management.
Pic-Time is an online gallery and image hosting website ideal for selling photos.
Event and wedding photographers needing a user-friendly online platform should definitely pay notice – the platform allows you to build an elegant and modern gallery website to house client event photos.
Clients can access their galleries and share images via linked social media platforms, download digital copies or order physical prints.
Pic-Time is also well suited to fine-art photographers wanting to showcase their art prints to the public with the hope of selling them.
As a result of the two core genres, the pricing plans split so that event photographers get high-volume storage access and fine-art photographers get high-quality print fulfilment.
It’s worth noting that the basic fine art plan incurs a 15% commission versus the higher plan that is commission-free.
Zenfolio is another hugely popular choice for those looking to build a creative website to sell photos online.
Zenfolio provides photographers with a one-stop-shop to upload, display, promote and sell photos online. If you shoot client work, Zenfolio allows you to build private galleries and offer your clients custom packages.
While it’s ideally suited to pro photographers selling images for big jobs like school and sporting club annuals, it’s just as good at supporting the little guy.
One of the best things about Zenfolio is the vast range of physical print products you can offer to your clients.
If you’re looking to build your website to display, promote and sell your images, PhotoShelter is one of the best options out there.
The platform provides a range of smart and modern templates to build your online presence, including galleries and business information.
If you’re a photographer on the move, PhotoShelter provides mobile apps to help you manage your galleries and sales from anywhere in the world.
Users can take advantage of a free trial version, plus three additional paid plans with an extensive range of features.
I especially like that PhotoShelter provides a client proofing tool to review their entire private gallery and mark the images that they like best.
WordPress is one of the most popular photography hosting or online gallery sites around – it’s certainly the one that most people know.
WordPress offers affordable plans and the ability to use a range of themes to build your photography website. You can create public galleries and include a blog, an About Us or Contact page and a bio page.
While you can build as many online galleries as you want (even password-protected ones), you can’t use WordPress as an e-commerce website as it is.
However, if you already have WordPress as your leading photography site, there’s a range of plugins available to update your website to allow for the sale of your photos.
By far, the best and most popular e-commerce plugin for photographers is WooCommerce. It’s free to add the WooCommerce plugin to your existing WordPress website – you just need to pay for hosting as well as store transaction fees.
Squarespace is just as popular as WordPress for those wanting to build online galleries for their photos.
The big difference between the two is that Squarespace already offers a limited set of e-commerce tools ready to use – no need for plugins.
Squarespace provides the tools to build your online website with galleries. It also includes the ability to set the selling price for digital downloads and physical prints from your store.
However, the options are a bit limited, and you have to organise the print-pack-post process yourself with a local printer.
As a result, Squarespace is a perfect solution for those new to photo sales and who want to build an online store.
Also, those that want to sell printed photos but take care of the printing and associated tasks themselves have greater control.
Alamy is a popular British stock photography website that’s been around almost as long as digital photography. As a result, it’s a great starting point for any photographer to sell photos online.
As a result of their tenure, they have over 255-million stock photos, videos and vectors spread across 50 categories and genres.
For those wanting to sell their photos online, Alamy is an excellent choice as they offer high volume traffic and analytics tools to help you know what sells best.
Alamy also provides the Stockimo app for iOS so that you can capture and sell iPhone images while on the go.
The website pays 50% of each direct sale for exclusive images and 40% for non-exclusive images – these are great rates. The biggest issue with a website of this scale is getting your images seen by the right buyers.
Shutterstock is one of the best-known stock photography sites, offering hundreds of millions of images and videos for sale.
As a result, Shutterstock is one of the first places people and business head if they need stock photos. Plus, they sell music, 3D models and provide a range of tools to manage your images on the site.
The commission rate for Shutterstock is 30% per sale, and they offer additional financial reward for referring other photographers and customers to the site.
Shutterstock even has a Contributor app so that you can upload your images on the go and monitor the progress of your sales.
An excellent feature of the Shutterstock website is The Shot List. It’s a page dedicated to the latest and upcoming trends in photos that clients will be seeking.
Shutterstock offers high-quality content for customers to use in their creative pursuits. Plus, it’s one of the best places to sell photos and boost your earning potential.
Dreamstime is a stock photography, video and illustration website that’s ideal for those new to selling their photos online.
The stock images website is one of the best places to sell your photos as it provides a user-friendly platform that’s far easier to access than some other high-profile stock sites.
A significant difference with this website is that you can still create a personal gallery – more like SmugMug or Pic-Time.
A feature like this makes it far easier for potential clients to find your images and for you to promote them via social media.
You can expect to take home 25% for each image sold for non-exclusive images and 27% for exclusive – not a huge incentive to go exclusive.
However, as you sell more and gain popularity, the commission can increase to almost 50%.
13. CanStock Photo
One of the most significant issues with using stock photography sites is the upload process.
You need to prepare your image for upload and then spend time entering keywords for each image. The keywords are your gateway to getting noticed on crowded stock photo sites.
However, the folks at CanStock Photo have made themselves stand out by creating a streamlined upload system for adding text documents to each photo.
These can include legally required contracts and model releases, as well as a list of keywords.
CanStock set the sale price of each stock photo, and rather than a commission, you earn a flat fee depending on the image file size – it ranges from $1 to $2.50.
A neat bonus is that if you refer another photographer to CanStock Photo as a contributor, you receive $5 for every photograph they sell – this caps at 50 images sold.
You make money from someone else selling their photographs via the platform – it’s a hassle-free income stream that boosts your earning potential!
14. Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock may just be the stock photography website for you if you use Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop for your post-processing software.
Adobe acquired the website Fotolia and now include Adobe Stock in their suite of Adobe Creative Cloud products.
As a result, with the single Adobe ID, you can edit your images and then upload them directly to your Adobe Stock account.
Adobe Stock works in much the same way as a website like Shutterstock.
As an Adobe Stock photographer, you have free access to Adobe Portfolio to build your own custom online photo gallery and site.
The Adobe Stock website pays a 33% commission for any stock photo sold, and payment is instant. It’s definitely proving to be one of the popular places to sell photos online and make extra money.
15. Getty Images
Getty Images is considered a premier stock photography website but is worth checking out if you want to sell your photos.
If you’re a fine art photographer looking to elevate your exposure and sale of your photos, it’s the website to be on. Clients buy images from the website for thousands of dollars, especially if they want exclusive use of the image.
To get your work on Getty Images, you have to be accepted after a rigorous approval process that looks closely at the quality and consistency of your work.
Getty has some pretty strict terms and conditions for a photographer wanting to sell photos online.
However, it’s interesting to point out that Getty Images only accepts applications via their Contributor mobile app.
In terms of payment structure for content licensed with Getty Images, rates are 20% for royalty-free images – Getty Images set the price for your content.
16. iStock Photo
If you feel that Getty Images is a little out of your reach, fortunately, they have an alternative.
iStock Photo is a microstock website created by Getty Images that’s suited to less experienced photographers and contributors selling photos online.
It’s worth pointing out that a lot of stock sites refer to photographers as contributors.
I’d highly recommend iStock for those new to selling photos online and don’t know where or how to get started.
The website features a range of helpful user forums to support those new to the process – it’s a great website to sell photos online and make some extra money.
iStock pays you a rate of 15% per sale, and if your photo proves popular, this can increase up to 45%. If you opt for exclusive rights to your photo, the rate increase to 22% as a starting point.
If you’re looking for a less crowded stock photography site to display your images for sale, it’s worth considering Stocksy.
The website provides a minimal and modern platform to host images with the content search function is the first thing you see when you load the site.
Stocksy is a co-op owned by photographers, contributors and artists from across the globe. To become a part of the co-op and sell photos online, you first must submit a sample of ten photos for review.
If they love your stuff, you’ll receive an invite to upload and start selling on your own gallery. Plus, as a co-op member, you get a say in the running of Stocksy.
It’s important to note that the stock photo site demands every photographer to adhere to exclusivity with images so you can’t sell them to another stock photography site.
500px is a site that serves a dual purpose – to provide hosting for your images and enable e-commerce functions to sell photos online.
Much like a social media platform, likes and views result in an image ranking. It can significantly help your work to be pushed to the front so buyers can grab your images and cash you up!
500px offers a Free, Awesome and Pro plan, with the latter two providing unlimited uploads of images to your galleries.
You can also pay for Luminar Photo Editing software as an add-on to any of the plans – in terms of photograph editing software; it’s one among the best.
500px offers photo licensing so you can sell your images as stock photos. Licensing options include royalty-free, exclusive and unexclusive options for contributors.
What more, as it’s primarily a website for hosting photographs, there’s no cumbersome approval process or strict terms – other than some basic community standards.
Depending on the quality of work submitted by the photographer, the site pays 60% on exclusive images and a 30% commission for non-exclusive images.
19. Fine Art America
Fine Art America is a website dedicated to the sale of wall art, including photography prints in various sizes.
By far, the site is one of the most popular ways to sell photos online – especially for those that shoot fine art, landscapes, and works that look great in a lounge room or corporate office.
Fine Art America is one of the largest online marketplaces for the sale of photos. As a result, it can be tough to get your work seen amongst the thousands of galleries.
With the help of the included marketing and promotion tools, you can set up a gallery, and Fine Art America takes care of order fulfilment.
You can sell your photos as prints, greeting cards and tech accessories such as phone covers.
All you have to do is upload your images and offer customers these products plus a vast range of print styles, including framed, canvas and even wood prints.
Fine Art America offers a comprehensive free plan and a paid plan. Either way, you set the price and keep 100% of the profit – FAA adds a 30% charge on top of the set price.
Etsy is one of the best marketplace sites to sell arts and crafts – including photos.
Etsy is a well-established platform with the necessary e-commerce tools to showcase your images and offer a range of print options.
When selling physical prints and canvases, you have to take care of the printing, packing and postage – it’s how Etsy keep their fees so low.
The best way to manage this is by setting up a dropshipping relationship with a printing company. Many larger printing companies will offer to drop ship – they receive the file, print, pack and post all for a fixed cost.
Etsy attracts a lot of traffic, and their pricing includes a small fee to post a sale item online along with a transaction fee after the sale.
9 Tips for Selling your Photos Online
1. Sell What’s Hot
If you’re looking to sell your photos online, one of the questions you’ve probably asked yourself is, “What type of photos sell best?”
To answer this, take some time to review the styles of images already available on the sites you want to sell your work on. Take the time to learn about the approval process and the terms of selling your photographs to a website.
If you’re selling images to a local newspaper, become familiar with and attend local events. Seasonal weather changes are also a popular photo style, especially if you’re in an area with dramatic seasons such as Autumn or Spring.
If selling images of people to a stock gallery, images with a sole person sell better than group shots. In addition, candid photos sell better than posed shots and having a person looking away is better than facing the lens.
Finally, a person in a wide-angle shot is currently preferred over close-up face-shots if selling photos of people. Again, it all depends on what the stock photo website is looking for.
Some stock photo websites are open to any style or image category, while others will provide a clear brief on the sort of stock photo they’re after.
2. Sell Your Work As A Product
If you take interesting images of landscapes, city scenes or exotic destinations, there’s definitely a market for your work to be made into products.
While these shots will be popular on a stock photo website, the other option is to sell them as products.
You can use websites like Printful and CafePress to create prints, mugs, canvases and clothing and then sell them online. Sites such as these offer professional printing and merchandising service that customers love.
With Printful, you can create custom merchandise for public sale or a specific event. If you were to hold a gallery exhibition of your framed photos, you could set up a gift store with your photos on mugs, tea towels and magnets.
3. Create and Sell Wall Art
There’s a range of ways to showcase your images using online galleries such as Shootproof and Pixiset. But there are other ways to showcase your creative photos and market them as wall art suited to larger prints.
There are art sites that allow you to sell your work online as exclusive, limited-run or on-demand prints.
By far, one of the most popular is Fine Art America – a site dedicated to the sale of quality art photos.
The downside of a big popular website is that it has a massive selection of photographers and prints – your humble entry may get lost in the crowd.
In addition to Fine Art America, consider selling your photos as wall art via Etsy, Great Big Canvas, Redbubble and Society6 who can turn your images into framed prints, phone cases and tote bags.
4. Make Your Own Coffee Table Book
There’s a growing demand for unique and bespoke coffee-table books, and you can create your own for sale.
There are countless sites and even downloadable software to make book development easy. But selling these is a lot more challenging.
Fortunately, you can create and sell your photo books on demand through sites such as Blurb. I’ve used Blurb several times to develop themed books of my photography travels throughout Japan.
The platform is easy to navigate, and book creation is straightforward thanks to the downloaded software.
While you can simply have these books printed and posted to you for personal use, Blurb offers sales alternatives. You can have an ISBN assigned to your book and post it for sale on the Blurb Bookstore – an online store that overflows with creative photo books.
Blurb charges no commission and will print in volume or on-demand – they also offer the sale of e-books.
5. Optimise Your Existing Online Gallery
If you already have a site dedicated to your photography work with stunning galleries, consider optimising it with an e-commerce extension.
Sites such as WordPress offer the ability to build public and private galleries to display your photos. By adding an e-commerce plugin to your existing WordPress site, you can make money on the sale of your images.
There’s an extensive range of plugins available, with some of the best being WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Shopify.
Our favourite plugin for photography sites is WooCommerce, as it supports the sale of physical (prints, books) and digital products.
WooCommerce also provides countless themes and add-ons, as well as a range of popular payment and shipping options. Plus, a robust community of contributors provide online support along with paid support from the platform.
6. Build An Online Gallery From Scratch
One of the simplest ways to sell your photos online is to build your gallery website from scratch. An online gallery is an excellent backup for storing your photographs instead of investing in another hard drive.
While sites like WordPress make it simple to build a gallery and add a blog, they’re not set up for e-commerce “out of the box”.
As discussed above, you need to invest in and set up an e-commerce plugin to sell photos. Fortunately, there’s a range of well-established photography hosting sites with e-commerce functions built in.
These websites offer various plans with varying levels of storage and features, making them ideal for professional event photographers. But, many provide a basic and affordable product ideal for those that wish to sell their photos online.
There are many benefits for a photographer building their site to promote their content and sell photographs to make money. They have more control over the site’s design without having to go through an image approval or submission process just to get their content online.
Sites such as Shootproof, Pixiset and SmugMug made the top of the list in our Best Online Galleries article.
7. Be Critical Of Your Photos
If you’ve gone to the trouble to build an online gallery to sell your work, be critical of what you showcase.
One of the best tips for your photo e-commerce store is not posting every photo you have ever taken – especially not all at once!
Be critically selective of your best work and get a second opinion from a respected peer about what works and what will be popular when creating a photo portfolio.
We often become so absorbed in our work that we don’t see the woods for the trees. We fail to be critical of our work – especially after spending hours taking the images and then hours editing them.
Flooding your site with below-average images will impact the sales of your better photos. However, filling your website with only your best work will make all the difference.
8. Marketing Is King
The internet overflows with people showcasing their images in countless ways and on every medium possible.
As a result, making your photos stand out in a sea of images may seem impossible.
Regardless of how you choose to showcase your images, marketing is the key to your sales success. As with any product sale, getting people to notice it in the first place is 99% of the battle.
If you have an online gallery, e-commerce site or are selling photo books on Blurb, use every avenue possible to market them.
With the help of social media platforms, you can promote your photos for sale online and gain significant reach and engagement. What’s more, many online photo gallery and e-commerce sites include marketing and promotion tools within the paid plans.
9. Kill It With Keywords
Some stock sites feature tens of thousands of photographers hosting millions of photos.
To stand out from the crowd can be challenging, especially if the website relies on a social ranking system to push images to the front.
One of the simplest ways to combat a crowded space is to really focus on getting the right keywords.
Keywords are a lot like tags applied to a social media post. You attach keywords to images to show up at the top of the list in a search outcome.
Getting your keywords right in the first place will mean that when customers search for a particular style of photo, yours appear at the top.
Spend some time seeing what top-ranking stock photographers are doing with keywords and replicate that to build your keyword database.
Legal Terms to Know When Selling Photos Online
If you intend to sell photos online, we highly recommend knowing and understanding your rights and legal requirements first.
Get to know the legal terms to prevent any legal issues down the track when you find one of your images used in a way you didn’t agree to.
- Creative Commons – It’s the conditional use of your photos provided it complies with the restricted stated when you sold them. You can opt for your name to be credited with the photos.
- Commercial Use – This term relates to your giving permission for the photos to be used in advertising and marketing to promote a product or service.
- Editorial Use – This is the permission for newspapers, magazines, blogs and other similar publications to use your photos. Handy for those wanting to sell their photos to a newspaper.
- Exclusive – The only person that can use this photo is the person who purchased it and the licence to use it.
- Non-Exclusive – Anyone paying for the use of the photo and is NOT exclusive to a single person.
- Public Domain – Photos made available to the public domain have no restrictions or copyright and can be used for personal purposes or publications.
- Retail Use – Similar to Commercial Use, this allows the images to be used on a product such as a print. The photo forms part of the product.
- Rights Managed – This is where you set strict conditions regarding the use and distribution of the photo. If the photo needs to be used for additional purposes, additional licenses must be purchased.
- Right of Publicity – If you wish to sell work with people in the photos, you need to gain their explicit permission for the photo to be used. If you not, you may be infringing upon their rights, especially when the images are used for commercial purposes.
- Royalty-Free – If selling your photos online to a stock agency, you may opt for them to be available for use an unlimited number of times. It’s a non-exclusive situation where multiple people will use the photos over time.
How to Sell Photos Online FAQs
How much money can you make selling photos online?
Selling stock images online will earn you between 25 and 45 cents per image per month. The price will vary depending on how interesting and unique your photos are, how well you use keywords and the kinds of agencies you sell to them to.
What app pays you to take pictures?
If you’ve ever asked yourself: Can I sell photos taken on my phone? Yes, you absolutely can. Here’s a list of free iOS and Android apps that allow you to do just that:
- EyeEm – It’s an application that’s quick and easy to use. It scrolls through your camera roll to select only the best quality images before you agree to sell them. EyeEM pays you 50% of the profits.
- Snapwire – It sets photography-related challenges to ensure that the stock photographs submitted for sale meet specific criteria. If you meet the photo challenges and your photographs are selected, you get paid for the photos. You also have the opportunity to participate in requests from buyers. By combining challenges and buyers requests, you can earn up to 70% of sale profits for stock images.
- Foap – Foap is similar to EyeEm in that it selects images from your camera roll and pays 50% of the total profits. You can also submit photos based on criteria set by companies that have specific needs for stock images.
- miPic – it’s one of the best apps to sell stock images – available from desktop and mobile. You simply upload your photos to a gallery, and it will display the ones that have a suitable resolution. That’s all you need to do – send your photos to a gallery and sit back and wait for sales. The downside to this site is that you’ll only receive 20% of the profits.
How do I sell my photos to newspapers?
We can’t always be in the right place at the right time with a bag full of gear to photograph breaking news.
But you can still sell your photos to a newspaper or magazine. Check the newspaper’s website as they often invite photo submissions, especially if it’s for a local publication.
Alternatively, if you have a photo that you think is newsworthy, contact the newspaper directly and ask to speak to the news editor.
Where can I sell photos of myself?
There are several smartphone apps and company sites that pay for selfie photos.
Selfies feature in published articles, promotions and advertisements. Some apps will provide direction on the kinds of things they want you to be doing in your photos.
What size prints sell best?
The size of prints that sell the best will vary from region to region. Companies that make ready-made frames work to these sizes and also makes them very popular in the consumer market.
- 5×7 inches
- 8×10 inches
- 11×14 inches
- 16×20 inches
How do professional photographers give photos to clients?
Professional photographers use a website to showcase client photos in a public or private gallery that only the client can access.
Shootproof is a site that provides photo hosting websites ideal for pro photographers. The client can download digital files or order prints directly from the site.
As you can see, selling photos online is not as scary as it sounds.
There’s a huge range of online sites purpose-built to host and sell your photos. These range from stock photography sites, hosting galleries, a portfolio page and even a humble blog site with plugins.
Regardless of your starting budget, there’s no reason why you can’t sell your photos online and make money now!
The best bit about selling photos online is that you’re making money while you sleep – or while you’re out taking more amazing photos fit for sale.
I especially like the sites that provide you with a shot list or brief explaining the current stock photo trends. That way, you can head out with your camera knowing what sells the best.
What are your thoughts on selling your photos online via a site like these?
Do you already use a gallery site to sell work, or have you sold work via a stock site in the past?
What was your experience like, and did you make any money selling your photographs for cash?
Join the conversation by commenting on your experience, share your ideas and ask questions. Happy shooting.