How to Sell Photographs Online

How to Sell Photos Online

Everybody likes taking pictures. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to enjoy snapping photos with your camera or cellphone. Were you aware that these photos could be sold online?

Your photo back catalogue (or your future photo catalogue) could earn you some cash if you know where to add them. To avoid copyright issues, website designers will purchase your photos for the legal right to place them on their websites. You may notice, that on this site I draw a lot of my own pictures. This is to avoid infringement issues.

Now, you aren’t going to make bank selling photos unless you’re a professional. However, you can earn quite a bit of extra spending money selling your photos if you know how to do it.


There is more than one way to sell your photos online, and each method has it’s pros and cons. You can build an online portfolio of photos and sell the ad space next to them. You can sell your photos for use in merchandising (t-shirts, mugs, calendars, etc..) Some photographers create a gallery and sell photos directly to clients.

Unfortunately, you’ll need a lot of experience with photography and a large portfolio for most of these methods to work.

The best method for the average photographer to sell their photos is by uploading them to stock photography sites.

Upon signing up with a stock photography website, you’ll simply upload your photos and submit them for approval. If someone sees a photo that they would like to purchase, or at least get a license to use, then you will receive a cut of the sale from the stock photography website. The beauty of this is that once you’ve submitted your photos, you won’t have to do anything else! You will be earning passive income!

How Much Can You Sell Your Photos For?

Sometimes a photo download will earn you just a few cents. Doesn’t sound appealing, but these pennies can add up quick if you manage to upload quality stock photos overtime. Some websites will pay you more based on how many times your photo is downloaded. So you earn more money from a photo that has been downloaded five times, as opposed to a photo that has been downloaded once.

If a customer buys a larger version instead of a smaller version of a photograph, you will generally receive more money.

Some stock photography sites will pay you more if you agree to upload your photos exclusively to their sites. For instance, iStockphoto pays up to 3x more commission to their exclusive photographers.

Which Photos Sell?

Stock photography websites know what their customers want, so they won’t accept photos that aren’t going to sell. 

The people that buy photos from stock photography sites want photos that are easily republished. The most successful stock photos are usually very simple images on white backgrounds. The reason that images with white backgrounds sell so well, is that they can easily be Photoshopped onto a different background. So, the simpler the photo, the more successful it will be!

Tailor your portfolio by determining what is selling and what isn’t.

How Will You be Paid?

Every stock photo site has their own rules regarding payment. Usually, you will need to reach a minimum threshold before you can request a payout. 

You will receive this payout via Paypal, check, or bank transfer.  


There are a lot of stock photography websites that will buy and sell your photos. Here are some of the better ones:

It is completely free to register with all of these sites. Each website has different guidelines for the photos that they are willing to accept. For instance, there are generally rules regarding ownership and copyright issues for any photos submitted. Recognizable people will need to sign a Model Release which will allow you to use them in a photo for commercial purposes. There are also rules that won’t allow you to use certain logos, brands, or buildings.

Every stock photography site has their own payment structure and commission rates. So you will need to research which site will fit your style and allow you the most money!

Tips for Success

Selling stock photography is becoming more and more popular. This means there is a lot of competition out there!

How can you make your photos stand out above someone else’s?

Here are some tips to help you succeed in doing just that:

  • If you have your own website, blog, or social media platform; then you can advertise your photography portfolio from that platform. (Wealthy Affiliate can help you build and monetize your own site! Read my review here!)
  • Tag your photos with strong keywords to insure they are found in searches.
  • Make sure your image looks good at full size.
  • Use editing software – but not too much.
  • Invest any earnings into a better camera.
  • Promote your photos via community forums.
  • Give away some photos for free. This will attract more buyers to your portfolio.
  • Read the blogs of successful photographers.
  • Make useful contributions to stock photography website’s forums.
  • Don’t upload a ton of significantly similar photos.
  • Remove the background on some images.
  • Go exclusive with one stock photography site.

Do you want to make money from home but photography isn’t for you?

Most of the money making tips I provide on Pajamas and Tie are related to affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing requires you to build your own website. But building your own website can also help if you want to start a stock photography career.

By building a website you can create a stage for your stock photography portfolio. This can generate a lot of leads and even more money!

Wealthy Affiliate will teach you everything you need to know about building and operating a site.

Check out my review of Wealthy Affiliate here! 

If you have any questions or feedback regarding selling stock photography online, leave it in a comment below!

Derek Rees

I am the owner of Pajamas and Tie. After years of being scammed, I've taken it upon myself to expose these schemes and let the legitimate programs shine through. You can find me on my site or hanging out over at Wealthy Affiliate.


  1. Hi Derek! Thank you for giving me some ideas on how I could make some money when I live in Cebu. I never thought of actually selling my pictures before, but I’ll definitely look into it. I usually take quite a few pictures during my trips.

    • Hello Muriel!

      Taking pictures is an easy way to make a little extra money online. You just upload them and forget about them until the checks start rolling in!

      Thank you for the feedback!


  2. This is an interesting website, I guess I never realized this could be done, it’s nice to know and will have to keep up on this, Thanks

  3. hey Derek; )
    i Have a similar blog helping and encouraging artists on ways for them to make money online with their skills,i am just starting out…

    keep up the good works
    all the best

  4. Very good advice! I wanted to go into stock photography before but got demotivated quickly as its not as easy as it looks.

    • Hello Mel!

      Guidelines can be difficult to abide by in certain stock photography sites, but the work itself is easy! All you have to do is upload a pic and wait for it to sell!

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