Sell Photos Online

Selling pictures online is an extremely profitable venture for photographers. Not only can it provide additional income streams, but it can also help build your presence within the photography community.

While stock photo sites may provide the easiest means of selling photos directly, there are also ways you can set up your own website and sell direct. Here are a few tips to assist with that effort.

Getting Started

Selling pictures online involves various approaches, from using an e-commerce website to build and accept payments to photography websites that allow uploads with potential royalties upon sale.

Shutterstock stands out as an ideal platform for selling photographs online, because of its user-friendly platform and low requirement of high-quality images. Dreamstime also makes an excellent option as you can curate galleries within its platform, making it more similar to hosting sites than stock image agencies.

If you want to increase your earning potential, specialize in specific types of images. If nature photography is something you are particularly skilled in doing, focus on elements and wildlife which buyers find most appealing.  This will give you a deeper understanding of their needs as an audience and what they expect of you.

An effective way to locate your niche is to research its demand. Tools like Keywords Everywhere allow you to measure search volumes for terms in Google searches, helping you uncover which topics people are searching for and the level of competition within those search results.

When selling via a stock photo website or art marketplace, it is crucial that your content meets the expectations of your audience. For instance, those shopping for stock images for business purposes expect photos showing people working and interacting, while those buying through an art marketplace will typically look for landscape photos as decorative pieces for their homes.

Joining a community-based photo marketplace such as 500px is another easy and hands-off option.  In this platform, photographers have various monetization options, including earning up to 100% royalties on non-exclusive content and participating in photo contests which could result in extra income.

Finding Your Niche

Finding a niche for your online business is essential to its success. Doing research or simply remembering things you enjoy doing may give you insight into which topic might make up the basis of your niche. To get an idea of what this might look like for you, market research could be beneficial or consider what activities make you happy.  Both strategies could provide clarity as to what may work.

Example: Perhaps your passion lies with photographing nature or animals. You could explore which types of photos sell well on stock photo websites and art marketplaces.  These platforms cater to a broad audience and could provide an avenue of entry when looking for your niche. Generally, such websites offer thousands of images to view.  It would be wiser to focus on those which stand out as unique or memorable so as to increase your chances of getting noticed by potential clients.

Fine Art America is another popular way to sell photos online, specialising in selling high-end, printed works typically displayed on walls. Ideal for photographers specializing in landscape photography, fine art pieces and those suitable for an office or lounge room setting.  Fine Art America provides a suite of tools that enable users to manage and promote their galleries as well as orders for prints, greeting cards and tech accessories such as phone covers.

An effective strategy for finding your niche is speaking with people in your target audience; friends and family, as well as potential customers on social media, who make up that target group. Get their opinions about what they like, dislike and how they purchase the type of photos you sell.  This may give you ideas to expand product offerings to better cater to this niche market.

Licensing Your Work

One of the best strategies for creating long-term, residual income from your art is licensing it. Doing this allows you to expand your audience while earning revenue from product sales. Licensing can also fill gaps when sales of artwork don’t exceed expectations or when you are experiencing seasonal slumps.

Licensing your work involves giving over some or all of your copyright (and subparts thereof) in exchange for payment from another entity or person who wants to use it. Before agreeing to such a license, make sure you understand exactly which rights will be surrendered and how they will be utilized before agreeing to the terms.   Additionally, always obtain written contracts from any company that plans on using your works so you have proof of what has been agreed.

If you decide to license your work online, consider using the Creative Commons Selector tool to mark it with its appropriate Creative Commons license. This tool automatically adds HTML code that informs search engines about its availability under said Creative Commons license.  Additionally, it will link directly to any license deed that may exist, making this an efficient method for licensing work online.

To maximize this revenue stream, it’s best to create work that can easily be licensed. This might involve producing images appropriate for specific products or designing repeatable patterns like wallpaper and stationery. High-resolution digital files of your work are essential.  Fees and terms need to be negotiated before each licensing opportunity. It may be wise to seek legal or intellectual property expert advice when creating these agreements.

When it comes to selling pictures online, there are various options available to photographers. Stock photo websites are popular due to their consistent payout and low submission requirements.

Successful stock photography websites rely on understanding what their buyers desire. Stock images should now focus on documenting lifestyle and reality of everyday life rather than artfully composed photos.


Shutterstock is an established stock photo agency serving more than one million customers, providing royalty-free images, music, and footage. Their search tool is user friendly with multiple filters available.  Their informative blog covers topics ranging from how to make DIY greeting cards and creating film sequences.

Shutterstock offers competitive microstock agency pricing. Customers can buy individual files or subscribe to access an entire library. Image packs may offer discounts off total purchases.  Additionally, their subscription plan has some of the lowest download costs, but does require periodic payments commitment.

Shutterstock first introduced stock photo subscriptions to the microstock market when it launched in 2003, and today boasts an expansive library of royalty-free photos, vector graphics, music clips and footage that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.


Dreamstime is one of the premier stock photo agencies with more than 184 million images to purchase, offering on demand and subscription buying options. Additionally, there’s a free photo section and users can sell their photos using various license types; Royalty Free (RF), Extended Licenses (SR-EL) and Sell the Rights (SR-EL).

This site also provides tools for its contributors, such as API documentation, plugins, and a blog. Keymaster services also help contributors by identifying high-performing keywords and optimizing image files to increase sales; these services can significantly increase revenue.

Dreamstime requires that its sellers maintain an excellent approval rating and be able to upload multiple images. Furthermore, you must understand its quality standards.  Generic pictures without commercial concepts or creative insight won’t do well on this platform, and may even get flagged if they contain irrelevant keywords. To be successful on Dreamstime you must first establish your approval rating with Dreamstime before uploading images for sale.

Dreamstime prioritizes images with straightforward compositions and technical levels of color, definition, and lighting that meet customer expectations. 

Fine Art America

Fine Art America was launched online print-on-demand service and marketplace for artists to sell their work in 2006. Offering wall art, home decor, apparel and more for sale through its user-friendly interface, uploading images is quick and creating custom products easy. Furthermore, Fine Art America allows artists to open stores of their own and tailor appearance and pricing as per desired.

Fine Art America makes selling artwork easy.  Simply sign up for a free account and upload your work.  Now you can leave the rest up to them.  They handle printing and shipping! When your work sells, someone buys it, and you receive part of their sale proceeds as payment!

Fine Art America provides an opportunity for artists to increase their income by using social media such as Instagram, Twitpic, Facebook and Snapchat to market their works. Blog articles may also bring traffic directly to them. Don’t forget to add links in your bio so your pixels and image pages are easily accessible by users!

If you want to broaden your horizons, a premium Fine Art America account provides more features and options. In addition to removing the 25-image limit, premium accounts feature their own website as well as an embeddable widget enabling customers to add Fine Art America shopping and browsing experiences on other websites.


Pixieset is an online photography proofing, delivery, proofing and selling platform used by thousands of photographers to deliver, proof and sell images online to clients. Clients can preview images before selecting their favorites for prints.  Additionally, customers can watch and purchase videos, digital downloads and product bundles through this platform.  Pixieset provides photographers with tools for running their business successfully.

Free accounts provide photographers with up to 3 GB of storage and the ability to upload unlimited collections for their clients.  You can connect a custom domain with any paid plan.  According to your plan and plan type, fees may apply per sale transaction, while paid plans offer greater storage capacities along with customization of gallery url and branding capabilities.

An invaluable feature is being able to specify when collections expire.  This is especially helpful in wedding and event photography galleries, where client access usually lasts only for several months. Expiring collections won’t count against your storage capacity and can easily be deleted to free up space.

Studio Manager for Pixieset platform allows photographers to seamlessly manage their entire workflow in one convenient place. The software automates processes like invoice creation and transmission, collecting payments, delivering prints to clients and collecting payments.  This saves both time and money due to manual processes that must be conducted separately for each transaction. Furthermore, payments will automatically arrive into their photographer bank accounts within a few days!

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