14 Places to Sell Photos Online and How to Get the Most Money

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

Attention, shutterbugs: Do you bring your camera everywhere you go, snapping perfect shot after perfect shot?

You can turn that hobby into a side hustle and make money selling photos.

Cash in on your love for photography by selling photos online. Stock photography sites and other online marketplaces offer a great way to turn files sitting untouched on your hard drive into extra cash.

The best part? It doesn’t require much effort once you’ve edited and uploaded them.

Best Sites to Sell Photos Online

Woman using a laptop in bed
Viktoriia Hnatiuk / Shutterstock.com

Here’s an overview of sites by name, type, payment structure, and what we like.

  • 500px Prime: Stock photos — Up to 60% royalties (100% with higher membership) — High commissions for artists
  • SmugMug: Client photo galleries — Set your own markup per item — Personalized website and client management tools
  • Shutterstock: Stock photos — Earn up to 40% royalties — Earn additional commissions for referrals
  • iStock: Stock photos — 15%-45% royalties, based on exclusivity + licenses — Sell through both iStock and Getty with 1 account
  • Adobe Stock: Stock photos — Earn 33% royalties — Option to import directly from Lightroom
  • Stocksy: Stock photos — 50% regular license sale, 75% extended license — High royalties and co-op business structure
  • Dreamstime: Stock photos — Earn 25%-60% royalties, depending on exclusivity — Create a free account
  • Foap: Stock photos — Earn 50% royalties — Upload directly from your phone
  • Etsy: Art marketplace — Pay 20 cents/listing + various fees — Set your own prices, and sell any arts and crafts
  • Society6: Art marketplace — Set own markup from 10% to 999% of the base price — Print-on-demand products featuring your photos
  • Fine Art America: Art marketplace — Set your own markup per item — Possibility to sell online and through stores
  • Blurb: Self-publishing — Set your own markup — Sell print books through Amazon, other retailers
  • Patreon: Fan membership — You’ll pay 8%-12% of earnings, depending on plan — Connect with fans and earn recurring income
  • Easy Digital Downloads: Website plug-in — Pay annual fee $99-$499 — Sell directly to your audience from own website

1. 500px Prime

Young man in glasses using a laptop
simona pilolla 2 / Shutterstock.com

Free users receive up to 60% and paid users receive up to 100% net for every exclusive license sold. Plus, your images may appear in big-name ad campaigns if you submit them for commercial licensing.

To give 500px Prime a try, first sign up for a free account with 500px. Then submit your photos, enable your store and complete the required forms for each image (including model releases, liability releases, etc.).

You’ll also have the option of selecting an exclusive or non-exclusive license for the images. You’ll earn more for an exclusive license, but that means you can’t license or sell the photo to anyone else. Photographers earn 25% of net sales for non-exclusive photos.

2. SmugMug

A woman sits a table and works at her laptop
Alina Troeva / Shutterstock.com

With a SmugMug Pro subscription plan starting at $45 per month for professionals, you can create galleries to sell your photos through a custom domain for your photography business.

The service includes automatic watermark protection, a personalized website, client management and sales tools.

Once you sign up, you’ll upload photos, select the products you want to sell and pick prices.

This is a good site for someone with a true entrepreneurial mindset, since you get to work with clients and decide how much to charge for your images.

3. Shutterstock

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SaiArLawKa2 / Shutterstock.com

Earn up to 40% commission per image download on Shutterstock. Commissions on the site are based on how many image licenses you sell each year:

  • Up to 100: 15%
  • 101 to 250: 20%
  • 251 to 500: 25%
  • 501 to 2,500: 30%
  • 2,501 to 25,000: 35%
  • More than 25,000: 40%

You can also refer other photographers and make a small profit, 4 cents per photo, each time they sell an image during their first two years. If you refer a customer who uses your link to sign up, you’ll earn 20% (up to $200 total) on their first payment.

4. iStock by Getty Images

happy woman worker using laptop and excited
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The site iStock (formerly iStockphoto) has been selling stock images since 2001 and is now owned by another stock site, Getty. Because it’s been around for a while, it has an extensive network of contributors and thoroughly vets new applicants to make sure they’re a good fit.

To apply, just download the iStock app (it’s free). If you want to contribute editorial photos or footage for use in news stories, you’ll have to fill out an application. The Getty/iStock photo team will review your qualifications, and you’ll have to complete a short assessment. The final step is to upload a few samples of your work to make sure it’s top-notch.

You only have to apply once to be considered for both iStock and Getty Images, and photos you upload may be listed on either site.

Non-exclusive sellers (those who sell images on iStock as well as other stock photo sites) get a commission of 15%. Exclusive sellers get a tiered commission rate depending on how many licenses you sell each year:

  • Default: 25%
  • 1,050: 30%
  • 11,235: 35%
  • 45,675: 40%
  • 681,083: 45%

5. Adobe Stock

Person using a laptop at home
Platoo Studio / Shutterstock.com

Make your stock photos available directly to users through Adobe products, like Illustrator and Photoshop, as an Adobe Stock contributor. If you use Adobe Lightroom, you can import photos directly from there into the stock library.

Adobe users get access to stock images through a monthly or annual subscription. You earn 33% of sales for your photos. Prices depend on the terms of the buyer’s subscription, but you get a minimum of 33 cents to 38 cents per photo license sold.

There is also a Bonus Program with perks like free subscriptions to Adobe products, if you reach a certain number of downloads.

6. Stocksy

Worker on a laptop in an office
Marcos Castillo / Shutterstock.com

Stocksy is an online cooperative of artists committed to high royalties.

As a co-op member, you can sell your work and have a say in how the business is run. Any photos you upload and sell through Stocksy have to be exclusive; you can’t list it anywhere else. You can also receive patronage dividend payments if the co-op ever has a profit surplus.

Payouts are simpler than with most stock sites:

  • Regular license: A buyer purchases a standard license for between $15 and $125, depending on the image size. You keep 50%.
  • Extended license and Market Freeze: A buyer purchases an extended license usage for an extra fee. You keep 75%.

7. Dreamstime

Woman working remotely
DimaBerlin / Shutterstock.com

Dreamstime is a site for stock photography and royalty-free photos. You don’t have to be approved to sell on the site. Just create a free account and upload your photos.

Dreamstime pays on a complex schedule based on “content level” — how many times a particular image has been downloaded, plus the license level, dictates how much a buyer pays and what percentage you’ll earn for it.

Once an image has been downloaded at least 25 times (content level 5), you’ll earn between 45% and 60% royalties, depending on the license details and exclusivity. A brand-new image with no previous downloads (content level 1) earns you between 25% and 60% royalties.

8. Foap

Surprised woman looking at her phone
Cast Of Thousands / Shutterstock.com

Turn your simple smartphone photos into cash with Foap. The app sells stock photos from amateur photographers, so it’s a great place to get started selling photos online when you’re a brand-new photographer!

Just upload your photos or videos directly from your phone. Brands can purchase your photos unlimited times, and you’ll split the profits with Foap 50/50.

The standard price for photos on Foap is $10, so you will earn $5 per photo.

9. Etsy

Smiling man laying on the couch with his dog while wearing headphones and shopping or playing a video game on his laptop.
Mariia Masich / Shutterstock.com

Etsy isn’t just for selling wedding decorations, custom Halloween costumes and quirky cat-themed gifts. You can also sell your photos.

Etsy charges a fee of 20 cents for every listing. If your item hasn’t sold after four months, the listing automatically renews for the same fee. When an item sells, you’ll pay a 6.5% transaction fee to Etsy and a 3% + 25-cent payment processing fee.

The fee structure is beneficial to a photographer compared to other sites, but in return, you have to put in extra work to make those sales.

While people browsing stock photo websites and art marketplaces are specifically looking to purchase images, not everyone browsing Etsy will necessarily be looking for photos. And people looking for photos may not think to look on Etsy.

That’s why, if you choose to sell your images on this site, you’ll need to invest time and energy into marketing. But Etsy takes such a small cut of each sale it may be worth your while.

The upside? When you set up your own Etsy store, you set the prices, so your earning potential is virtually unlimited.

10. Society6

Elderly woman working on her laptop
Lopolo / Shutterstock.com

Society6 lets artists upload designs to print on everything from duvet covers to coffee tables to stickers. You set up your account and choose what to sell, and Society6 prints or produces items with your designs when they sell.

Society6 sets the base price and a 10% markup for the artist share on most items.

For prints, you can set your markup up to 999% — a higher markup means more royalties for you but also a higher price for the customer which could hinder sales if it’s too high.

11. Fine Art America

Senior worker
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Fine Art America is an online marketplace for — you guessed it — fine art. It sells print-on-demand prints, home decor and clothing.

You can sell photos as canvas, framed, wood or metal prints or posters, or get them printed on tote bags, shirts, pillows, notebooks, shower curtains and more. FAA even stocks retail stores around the U.S. and Canada with art from its online marketplace, and it helps artists license their art to be used on sets for ABC television shows.

You can sell photos online through Fine Art America with a free account, and you can upgrade to a $30-per-year membership to access premium features to promote your products.

You set the amount you want to earn for each product you sell through FAA — your markup — so you can dictate what you earn. The list price of the item will include your markup, plus the cost of materials and FAA’s markup.

12. Blurb

Happy woman working remotely
Lyubov Levitskaya / Shutterstock.com

Blurb is a self-publishing service specifically designed to produce beautiful, colorful print books and ebooks.

You can edit and design your book directly on Blurb or import a design from Lightroom or InDesign, and Blurb will print copies as you sell them. It also helps with distribution through Amazon and thousands of online and brick-and-mortar stores through Ingram distribution.

The retail price of a book starts with a base price and vendor distribution fees, and you set your markup so you decide what you’ll earn from each sale.

13. Patreon

Man surfing the web at a coffee shop
santypan / Shutterstock.com

Patreon is the premier subscription platform in the creator economy. You can set up a Patreon page as a creator of just about any kind of art, performance, writing or business.

Patreon creators set up tiers for subscribers — you name a price and a set of rewards members (“patrons”) will receive each month at each tier. It’s a way to connect with your most loyal fans and offer them exclusive perks, like videos, chats, tips, articles, podcasts or exclusive printed or digital content.

Creators keep most of what they earn on Patreon, minus payment processing fees and a fee to Patreon based on their creator plan:

  • Pro: Add membership tiers, and promotional and analytics tools. Fee is 8% of your monthly revenue.
  • Premium: For established creative businesses, this plan gets you merch, a team account and a dedicated account manager. Fee is 12% of your monthly revenue.

14. Easy Digital Downloads

Woman holding her cat while using a laptop
ORION PRODUCTION / Shutterstock.com

The Easy Digital Downloads plug-in for WordPress lets you sell digital products through any WordPress website.

You can use the plug-in to sell digital photos to your audience directly through your own site. It facilitates payment, a shopping cart, discount codes, file downloads and more.

Instead of paying a cut per sale, you just pay an annual fee to use the plug-in, starting at $99 per year.

Other Ways to Sell Pictures Online

Happy woman smiling and laying on the bed with her smartphone taking pictures or browsing the internet
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

You can make money from your photos in several ways: selling digital images, providing digital downloads, compiling print collections or photo books, or designing products that feature your photography.

There are tons of places to sell photos in any of these formats online.

Look for these types of sites to make it easy to sell photos online in any format.

Stock Photography Websites

Man holding a smartphone
Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock.com

Sites that sell stock photos generally don’t sell exclusive rights to buyers but instead let multiple buyers purchase an image over and over to use online or in their products.

People buy stock photos to use for everything from book covers to presentations to flyers to blog articles — so someone’s bound to find a use for what you’re selling.

Stock photo sites are the simplest place to sell your photos because you don’t have to rely on people seeking out your art or knowing your work. Instead, you provide a service they’re already looking for: images for their own project.

The secret to success on a stock photo website is to show up in search results. You have to list photos that include things people are looking for and optimize the information so the photo shows up when someone types in their search.

Art Marketplaces

self employed woman working on taxes
Diego Cervo / Shutterstock.com

Want to sell physical copies of your photos so people can use them to decorate their homes? Online fine art marketplaces let you upload designs and choose print-on-demand items to sell through your personal store.

You could put your photos on pillows, tote bags or T-shirts — or sell prints. Many of these services offer printing and framing options, so customers can buy prints in any size you make available and choose a frame that fits their aesthetic.

Sell Prints From Photo Shoots

man taking a photograph
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Do you specialize in portrait and event photography for things like weddings, events, family and pets?

You want to include the most relevant keywords in the photo’s title and description. So, instead of calling the photo “My Favorite Moments,” use a straightforward, descriptive title like “Beach Sunset Over the Waves on a Hot Summer Evening.”

Also use all the options a site gives you for describing and categorizing your photo, including:

  • Description
  • Tags for extra keywords
  • Color labels
  • Orientation
  • Location
  • Size

The more descriptors you can include on the photo, the more likely it’ll show up in someone’s search and lead to a sale.

Know What the People Want

Photographer
Pentium5 / Shutterstock.com

When you sell your fine art, you get to decide what to create. If you prefer to be in charge of what you capture, selling prints and photo books is probably the best avenue for you to make money.

If you want to sell through stock photo sites and art marketplaces, you’ll sell a lot more if you create photos of things people are looking for.

For example, stock sites are heavily used in business and marketing, but not so much by people decorating their homes. Consider the images this audience finds useful: faces, people working, families enjoying activities, customers interacting with businesses. There’s not as much demand for landscapes and artsy shots of flowers.

Art marketplaces are generally the opposite. Your audience there wants something to wear, carry around or display in their home — something beautiful, interesting and decorative. Photos of random faces or families probably won’t go over as well.

Know These Legal Terms

Woman using a laptop on her sofa and drinking coffee
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

You own the copyright to your photography, and you don’t typically sell that when you sell photographs online. Instead, you license the right to use your photo in specific ways, which you dictate during setup.

Here are the basic rights you might sell to your photos:

  • Editorial use: Permission to publish the photo in publications, like newspapers and blogs.
  • Commercial (or creative) use: Permission to use the photo in marketing and advertising materials.
  • Retail use: Permission to use the photo on products to sell, like mugs or T-shirts.
  • Exclusive rights: This means the person who buys these rights is the only one who can use the photo.
  • Non-exclusive rights: This means you can sell rights to use the photo over and over again — usually this is the case on stock photo sites.
  • Royalty free: The person who licenses the photo can use it an unlimited number of times for an unlimited duration.
  • Rights managed: The buyer purchases a one-time license to use the photo in a strictly defined way.

If you include identifiable people in your photos, they have rights around how you can use those photos, too. Make sure you get the proper release forms from models before selling photos and headshots. Use a photo website or plug-in to make it easy for customers to order prints and downloads after their big day.

Photo Books

Graphic designer
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

Compiling a collection into a photo book is a great way to create a print-on-demand product that lets photo lovers enjoy — and show off! — your work.

These are different from the photo albums your family compiles through services like Shutterfly or other photo apps. You create a photo book through a self-publishing service like Lulu or Blurb.

You design your book and list it for sale through sites like Amazon, and the service prints a copy when someone buys one. So you don’t have to put money upfront for a print run or fill your garage with boxes of books.

Fan Sites

Web developer comparing mobile and desktop website versions
baranq / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve built — or are building — a fan base for your art, you could sell subscriptions through sites like Patreon or Substack so your biggest fans can have exclusive access to your digital photos.

Subscribers also love behind-the-scenes peeks, tips and insider information, so your paid subscription could include stories about your photos, insight about your favorite equipment or advice for budding photographers.

Tips for Selling Photos

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ImYanis / Shutterstock.com

Here are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your photo business.

Search Engine Optimization

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Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com

The best way to make money selling photos through a stock photography website or a marketplace is to get the images in front of as many eyes as possible.

You do that through search engine optimization (SEO). Photo site SEO basically means including the right information in your file and listing to make sure it shows up in results on the site.

Optimizing your photos starts with picking keywords related to your photo. For example, if it’s a photo of a beach sunset, keywords might include:

  • Beach
  • Sunset

More Ways to Earn Money From Photography

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Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Selling photos online isn’t the only way to turn your love for photography into cash. Check out our other articles about how to earn money as a photographer:

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