How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

In my post about how to make money online in Nigeria, I mentioned that you can make money selling photos online alongside many other methods.

This post will show you how to make money selling photos online. I wrote many others such as for freelance writing, for graphics design, for web design, for Fiverr success tips and many others.

If you haven’t read the post, go ahead and read how to make money online in Nigeria. You’ll surely find at least one way that will work for you.

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Without further ado, let’s discuss how you can make money selling photos online.

How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

The Internet is one of the best things ever invented. It has not only made life easy and effortless, it presents us with lots of opportunities.

Thanks to the Internet, we can transact with people without ever seeing or meeting them. Today, you can make a career out of the Internet engaging in such businesses as mini importation, dropshipping, freelance writing, graphics and web designing without leaving the comfort of your home.

But I digress.

To make money selling photos online, you have to acquaint yourself with some essential information, and that’s what I’d be doing in this post: giving you all of the information you need to sell your photos online and make cool money.

Lets get to it.

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Table of Contents

Here’s what I covered in this guide:

How to Make Money Selling Photos Online

Click on any of the above to jump to the corresponding section.

Tips for Success

While you may encounter some unfriendly circumstances, there are always ways around everything.

Patience is key – don’t expect to start today and start balling today. This stuff takes a great deal amount of time.

Read the contributor guidelines for each website carefully. Check for (mis)doings that can get you banned. Check for what type of images each site accept and what type they don’t. Read carefully their terms and conditions. Check whether you are giving exclusive or non-exclusive rights; whether you can sell same photos on another platform.

Make (and put up) photos with commercial value. For anyone or business to buy your photos, it has to be telling a story or illustrating a concept. For instance, a photo of a dog sitting on a potty is useful for anyone looking for photos about dog potty training. You get the drift.

Replicate what the pros are doing – what kind of photos are making the waves? Observe them closely and replicate the concept BUT don’t copy them verbatim; instead look for hot, in-demand trends and improve them. Make them better.

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Stolen photos won’t make the cut. It can get you into trouble or banned at the very least. TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS. Don’t steal photos on Google or on one site to sell on another. They will find out!

It is a numbers game. Having one photo (or even twenty) won’t get you results. Having as much as a thousand may. After all, it’s just photos: snap, retouch, sell. Simple something.

Check payment options. Very, very important. Don’t waste your time and effort and watch your money go just like that. If the payment option to receive your money is not available in Nigeria (for example PayPal), don’t sell on such platform. Run! Run! I don tell you o.


Websites to Check Out

I provide you with a number of websites here and provided some important information (and links where necessary) you should know.

Definition of terms

Commission: how much they pay you on your photos, in %

Payment threshold: how much you must have before you can request for payout (cash out, in street lingua)

Payment options: how they’ll pay. Payoneer is best, Skrill is good (where Payoneer is unavailable), PayPal is highly discouraged. You can only send money but can’t receive via PayPal in Nigeria.

Now to the sites.

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1. Adobe Stock

Adobe is a very popular company. They’re the makers of some of the world’s best photo editing software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and so on. This popularity is an advantage; it gives your work more exposure because Adobe suggests photos (templates, background and so on) when people use their software.

Adobe has a photo-listing marketplace for photographers (and anyone that make images) to sell their photos online which rides on the popularity of the Adobe company itself. Needless to say, you’ll make a great deal from royalties making image templates such as icons, backgrounds, cliparts, etc, and selling photos that are useful for graphics designers selling photos online on the Adobe platform.

Commission: 30% on photos and vector arts. 35% for videos.

Payment threshold: $25. Adobe will pay you once you reach $25.

Payout options: PayPal and Skrill. Skrill is your best choice here as a Nigerian.

Useful links:

To start selling photos online on Adobe Stock, read their post about contributing to Adobe Stock.

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2. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a popular website and they boast of working with big and popular brands such as Google, Marvel, Buzzfeed, AOL and so on. How great would it be having your photos featured on any of these big brands.

There’s hardly any type of photo you wont find here — travel photos, solidarity/protest photos, photos of nature, animals, building etc. This makes Shuuterstock a great website to sell your photos online to make money. They also provide information about which type of photo is most searched for in any month, which gives you insight into which image sell best in any given month.

Commission: up to 40% on your photos and videos. See their commission structure here.

Payment threshold: you set your own threshold. This is nice!

Payout options: Payoneer, PayPal and Skrill. Payoneer is best. Skrill is second choice.

Useful links:

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3. Alamy

Alamy is yet another website for you to make money selling photos online. While not as popular as Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, Alamy boasts of having dedicated sales teams in key markets — US, UK, Germany and Australia.

Alamy features new images on their homepage everyday and if your stock photos have nice commercial appeal and makes it there, you can make huge sales. You can as well check out their categories page to see what kind of images they sell on their platform.

If you use an iPhone, Alamy has a dedicated platform to sell your photos. They call it Stockimo. Read about it here.

Commission: 40% if non-exclusive and 50% if you sell exclusively to them.

Payment threshold: $50.

Payout options: PayPal, Skrill and Money Transfer. Money Transfer is available on Payoneer.

Useful links:

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4. Getty Images

If you read news on international media websites such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and so on, you’d definitely have come across photos credited to Getty Images. That’s how popular they are.

Getty Images are also very reputable and rich in content. There’s no kind of photos you won’t find on the platform, whether historical, commercial or what have you. Many media outlets, historians, journalists buy stock images from Getty Images just due to this fact. This gives Getty Images some reputation and accounts partly for their somewhat pricey photo (sometimes selling a photo for as much as $500).

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While you have a chance at selling your photos on Getty Images, their application process is not beans. They vet applications and accept only people they consider worthy of selling on their platform. This means that if you’re lucky and good enough to pass their verification, you’re very good.

Another good thing is that if you don’t make it to Getty Images, they have another platform iStock you may fit into.

To apply on Getty Images, you have to first download their contributor app and then file in your application.

Commission: 15% for non-exclusive photos. Up to 45% for exclusive photos.

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Payment threshold: Unspecified.

Payout options: PayPal and Payoneer.

Useful links:

5. Deposit Photos

Right here is another website for you to make money selling photos online, that is also quite popular.

Deposit Photos is very popular among bloggers. As a matter of fact, it tops the list of recommended websites for stock photos. But like Getty Images, you have to go through an application which will be reviewed within 7-10 working days.

On Deposit Photos, you can sell photos, artworks, illustrations, videos and many more, which gives you a wide range of opportunities.

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Commission: between 34 – 38%, depending on license type, author level and resolution of photos.

Payment threshold: $50.

Payout options: PayPal and Skrill.

Useful links:

6. 500px

Selling photos on 500px is quite simple: create a free account and add images to your portfolio.

However, your photos will pass through some inspection, which is also quite easy to scale, if you follow their guidelines.

The photos you upload to 500px must be of high quality, be borderless and have no watermark or branding of any kind, and most importantly, have commercial appeal.

500px is also moderately popular which means your photos or artworks will witness really good exposure. Another good thing about 500px is that they provide analytics, which gives you insight into how your photos are performing.

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Commission: up to 60%

Payment threshold: $30.

Payout options: ACH (Payoneer) and PayPal are free, but they’ll charge you $5 for check or local bank transfer and between $15 – 26 for wire transfer.

Useful links:

7. 123RF

If you’ve not limited yourself to reading gossip blogs and Nigerian news websites, you probably would have come across one or two websites crediting 123RF for an image they featured in their post. This proves the popularity of this website and make it a good place for selling photos online.

123RF has a wide category of stock photos they sell, including photos of animals, food, family, fitness, travel and so on and boasts of 140 million monthly visits to their website. They are also not limited to just photos, you can also sell vector graphics, audios and videos on this awesome website.

Commission: between 30 – 60%

Payment threshold: $50

Payment options: PayPal, Skrill and Payoneer.

Useful links:

8. Dreamstime

Yet another website for you to sell your photos online.

As outlined in their contributor guidelines, Dreamstime will review your photos before they accept it into their platform. They do this to ensure and maintain quality on the website.

One thing you can benefit hugely from on this website is that they have a dedicated page where they feature latest uploads. If you just upload a photo on the website and you’re lucky that a buyer comes across it and likes it, you can make a sale in less than 24 hours.

The downside to this website is that you have to have made a minimum of $100 before you can request payment, which is unlike other websites where $50 is the threshold.

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Commission: between 25 – 50%. Additional 10% for granting exclusive license.

Payment threshold: $100.

Payment options: PayPal, Skrill and Payoneer.

Useful links:

It is quite impossible for me to review every website where you can sell photos online, which necessitates you doing more research about websites that will you pay you royalties on your stock photos. That said, I believe if you do well on any of the websites listed in this post, you’ll hardly need any more websites.

Good luck!

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Now that we’re done with listing and reviewing websites where you can make money selling photos online, let’s talk bout the type of photos that sell.

Types of Photos That Sell

Selling photos online is seemingly an easy way to make money online, but it has it nuances and one of them is knowing what type of photos that sell. Taking just any kind of photos isn’t it; you have to take photos that have commercial value. Images that people can use to illustrate a story. Photo that sell an idea. Photos that has long history behind it.

Here are my suggestions:

Really great and quality work of art. This is first. If it isn’t quality, you won’t even be allowed on any website.

People – photos of people working, people on their laptops, people in meetings and laughing. People doing serious work, which particularly attractive to business people, writers and journalist writing about business and trends in the business world.

Food – just made a nice delicacy? Take the pic, this time not for the gram, but to make money!

Travel – this one is very hot. There’s always a market for it.

Nature and wildlife – mountains, hills, cloud, orangutan, giraffe, lion, tiger and yes, the cool sunset!

Picture of Africa – Africans in their cultural attires, Africans with wildlife.

Remember, the best way to know which photos to take, which art to make lie in checking the categories of photos on each website, what kind of photos they sell and yes, trends. Refer to the Success Tips section.

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A Word on Payment Methods

Payment is just as important as making sales or what is the essence of expending time effort and even money in taking, modifying, applying and making sales if you won’t get paid?

Make sure any website you’re going with has a payment option that will allow you get your money.

As a matter of fact, if there’s no option for Payoneer (best option), Skrill, Check, ACH, Wire Transfer, Gift Cards, don’t register. Making millions even won’t save you.

I wrote a post about PayPal alternatives in Nigeria, methods you can use to receive money from the abroad.

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It’s a wrap! How to make money selling photos online.

This methods works not just for photographers, it is suitable for anyone inclusind a writer, graphics designer and just pretty much anyone that can take great photos.

You also don’t need to have a camera; you can take photos with your phone, just make sure it is quality!

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