How can you sell photos online and make money?

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The ability to make money as a photographer, YouTuber or Instagrammer is about taking that same creativity at the heart of your work and using it to monetize your talents. It might seem difficult when someone with the latest iPhone can call themselves a “photographer” and everyone uses some sort of free photo editing software.

However, success for most developers turning to entrepreneurship comes down to three things:

  1. Find your niche.
  2. Build an audience.
  3. Create multiple revenue streams.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or you just enjoy taking pictures in your free time, you could make a lot of money selling your photos online even without a high-end camera. In fact, if you’ve got a decent, steady camera phone, you’ve already got a shot.

No matter how you take your photos, there are more and more ways to monetize the photos you’ve already taken. And there are so many more ways to build your photography skills (and income). from selling your Insta shares to going full throttle and creating a photo book.

Licensing is one of the most popular ways to “sell” your photos online to brands, publishers and anyone who might have an interest in using your photos for their own purposes.

Getty Images

At the top end of stock photography sites, Getty Images attracts brands and publishers looking for exclusive, high quality, or hard-to-find images to license. As expected, the standards for becoming a contributor are higher than many other stock photography sites.


Shutterstock is a microstock site where photos are cheaper and not exclusive, and the way to increase downloads is to provide a large number of images to use as visual metaphors. Don’t expect to make that much money here, but it’s a good place if you’re just starting out. Payouts are based on your earnings over time and range from 20% to 30%. There is also an affiliate program where you can earn extra money by referring new photographers or clients.


iStock is the microstock arm of Getty Images. The commission ranges from 25% to 45% depending on whether the photos are exclusive or non-exclusive.

Can Stock Photo

More than 70,000 photographers sell photos on Can Stock Photo. There are multiple payment structures ranging from percentages to fixed amounts, and you’ll also get $5 for every 50 photos your referral sells. When you sell photos on Can Stock Photo, you also list your photos for sale on Fotosearch, a stock photo agency.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is one of the best places to sell photos online because if you list photos for sale here, they’re also available on Fotolia’s stock site. Receive 33% commission on the photos you sell through Adobe Stock.


Twenty20 started out as a tool for Instagram photographers to sell their images to brands. Now it’s a solid stock photography website where you can sell photos online and connect with potential clients. You can earn money in three ways: by selling a photo, earning $2 per licensed photo, 100% cash prizes in photo contests, and 100% commission from any brand that books you for scheduled shoots.

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