9 stock sites where you can sell your photographsMarch 23, 2017
Part of being a photographer means developing that photographic eye. You can never turn it off: everywhere you look you see perfect frames and you mentally compose all the time. When you have your camera around, it’s easy to end up with hundreds of photographs that you take just for fun, that have no real use. But what if you could monetise them – and even find a new revenue stream that you can purposefully shoot for? Stock sites could provide the answer. Here are some of the best for photographers.
Set up to be the site where photographers can get the fairest deal for their photographs, Picfair is a start-up stock site that seems to be growing daily. The actual price that you list your images at is exactly what you get paid for selling them. Rather than taking a cut from the price that you set, Picfair add on 20% which they charge to the buyer. You get paid what you want, the buyer still gets a fair price, and everyone is happy.
By strong contrast, iStock Photo has a deal that goes right to the other end of the scale. You only get 15% of the price, unless you agree to exclusively sell your images with them, in which case you get 45%. It’s not the biggest profit for you as a photographer, but because it is well known and has a strong community, there is a better chance that you will get some sales so long as your images are good enough.
When you want the whole world to see your images, Alamy is a good choice. It’s a respected and well-known stock site which has a lot of picture editors using it daily. On top of this, you get 60% royalties whenever one of your images sells. As one of the biggest stock photo libraries on the internet, you will be facing quite a bit of competition, however. This means that you had better be at the top of your game no matter what you post.
This isn’t like the traditional stock libraries, which you may see as a benefit. Rather than being for use for download, your images will be used in Canva’s free design tools. All of their stock costs $1, so you won’t be able to raise your prices or even lower them if you wanted to. They also operate a strict acceptance policy. Your images have to be exceptional to be chosen, and you could submit a lot before ever being accepted.
This is another of the better-known names in stock websites. Fotolia has a varying scale of payouts which may give you between 20% and 63% of the sale in royalties, so watch out for this and figure out exactly how much you will be making if you go for this option. There are more than 4 million users buying from their site, but of course this means more competition too.
Perhaps best known for stock images of celebrities attending events, Shutterstock is a place for all kinds of stock styles to call home. You have to submit ten images here and wait for approval for an account before you can even go ahead and list any images, but that just means raising your game to the absolute best standard so that you have more chance of selling. It gets a lot of traffic and sales, and depending on the license, you will always know what you are going to make with each sale. They can vary between $0.25 all the way up to $28.
It’s not technically a stock site, but it is somewhere that you could put the quirkier or more romantic of your images. When you upload images here people have the chance to buy them printed as posters, as photographic prints, on apparel, on stationary, or even on bedsheets and cushions, not to mention device covers and stickers. Think of it as if you were using the license to your images yourself, and cutting out the middleman, so that you get the profits from product sales. The profit you make varies from item to item, and you can change your prices easily. There’s also no approval process – but you will need to work hard at marketing your shop.
If you have the skills of a truly professional photographer, at the top of your game, then you might make it in to Getty. Only the best of the best are accepted, but the payoff is certainly worth it. Even just being a Getty photographer is the kind of thing that looks amazing on your CV. When you submit photographs, they will normally be covering a specific theme as covered in their House Collections. It’s a different experience to other stock sites, but could make you a lot of money.
Big Stock Photo
With a 50% commission on all sales, you can get between $0.50 and $3 from stock here. Big Stock Photo is a little like Shutterstock but perhaps seen as a little lower quality, and you might be able to make it here if you are great at marketing. The site highlights the most popular recent images, so if you get yours viewed and bought ASAP, you could skyrocket your sales. It’s quick and easy to upload and you won’t face an annoying approval process as with some others.
There are so many stock sites to try that it seems tough to decide where to go – but think about how much you want to make and how much you want to sell. You could get a bigger profit overall if you sell more images for a lower percentage of royalties, but if you want to be in control, you could make more money per image with a smaller site.