I love taking high resolution photos of flowers (see right). It’s just something I enjoy doing. I later found out that there are many people out there seeking high quality images of flowers for various projects. That’s when I decided to sell photographs online.
If you are already a photography professional, you may be able to jump right in and begin selling immediately. If photography is a new skill, you may want to pick up a few books on photography to get started. I also recommend you purchase a DSLR camera for your images. Once you have the basics under your belt, you need to choose a subject and begin creating high quality images.
Websites to Sell Photographs Online
There are many websites that allow you to upload your photographs to their repository. They then charge customers to purchase the photo and you earn a commission.
Alamy has paid out over $100 million to contributors. Alamy pays the highest royalty rates of any site. Become an Alamy contributor and earn 50% on each sale of your uploaded images. Furthermore, there are no exclusive requirements and you retain copyright and editorial control over all your images.
After becoming an iStock Photo contributor you will have the ability to upload audio, video, photos and illustrations. You will be required to submit samples of your work before you are accepted into the program. Exclusive contributors make between 25-45% royalty. Non-exclusive contributors make between 15-20% royalty.
Sign up as a contributor with Shutterstock and sell photos, videos and illustrations online. Shutterstock offers a free Contributor Success Guide to help you produce quality photographs and images that are designed to sell.
To sell on Fotolia, you must sign up for a contributor account. Fotolia offers customers royalty free images, vectors and videos. Offers both pay as you go and subscription programs. Sellers make between 20-63% commission on single-file downloads.
Criteria for Photographs
The key to becoming successful and making money by selling photographs online is producing quality images. You can’t take just any photo, upload it and expect someone to buy it. That’s why most sites have criteria that your images must meet before you upload.
Some of the common criteria include:
- Resolution (usually 4MP or higher)
- Image format (typically JPEG)
- File size (no more than 20-30 MB, depending on site)
- Image has not been resized
- Valid model release form for every individual in a photo
Ideas for Photos
If you’re having a hard time deciding which photos to sell online, here are some ideas:
- Children (careful with this one)
- Business professionals
- Sports events
- Nature (forests, lakes, rivers, desert, etc.)
Using Google Trends to Find High Demand Subjects
One of the fastest ways I find out what’s hot and trending on the internet is with Google Trends. Google tracks all of it’s users search queries and categorizes the most popular ones. Many of the trends are of national events, celebrities and other subjects that may be out of your reach. However, there are great subjects you may have access to by simply walking down the street.
Spread the Wealth
Some websites require you to become an exclusive contributor, meaning you can only sell your photos on their site. Others don’t have such restrictions, which allows you to upload the same image to multiple sites. I recommend doing this. Each customer has their site preference and if your photos are available on multiple sites, you have more opportunities to make the sale!
Get out there and take those pictures!