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Best Platforms to Sell Stock Photos
Shutterstock is probably the most recognized platform for the buying and selling of stock photos. The site has been around since 2003. It hosts more than 184 million images and approximately 91 million videos.
The site has grown steadily over the years and it has had over 172 million images downloads. Shutterstock may still be the best place to sell stock photos for many photographers that want maximum exposure for their work.
The Shutterstock marketplace allows you to keep an average 30% of the sale price of each image you sell. This varies a little depending on the size of the image and payouts fall between $0.25-$28.
One of the greatest things about Shutterstock is that you retain the copyright to your work and you can sell your images in other locations.
2. iStock Photo
(Earn 15% plus per download)
iStock Photo is a great place to sell your stock photos if you are starting out. It is well known and affiliated with Getty Images. Another great thing about iStock Photo is the resources sections and popular forum where you can learn a great deal about selling photos online.
If you are an absolute beginner, a visit to the iStock Photo site is a must if you want to make the most out of your photography.
The royalty payment structure starts at 15% per download and this may increase up to 45% per image depending on the popularity.
A customer purchasing your image with subscription credits will only net you a 15% payment no matter how popular your image is at the time.
If you’re interested in exclusivity for your photos you can get 22-45% with iStock Photo. This preferable rate is a contract and it works with a 30-day notice period if you change your mind later.
(Fees: 50% commission)
Alamy is a stock photo site located in the UK and it was established in 1999. To date, the platform hosts more than 60 million images and videos.
This is an attractive option for photographers because Alamy only charges 50% on each image sold. Despite this generous commission, you are not required to sign an exclusivity agreement and this is another great reason to sell your photos here.
(Up to 49.5% commission)
Dreamstime is a good option if you’re new to selling photos online. The platform is user-friendly and it has less stringent requirements when compared to other sites. It allows you to create and curate your own content, giving you a great deal of control over how you sell your photos.
In many ways, you can think of Dreamstime as a hosting site as well as a marketing platform for your images. Every submission needs to pass a review process to ensure that the site rules are followed. Copyrighted content is not allowed and once your images are uploaded you can start earning money.
- For non-exclusive images the commission is 25%
- This rises to 27% if exclusive.
- The commission rate rises to 45% and 49.5% respectively if your images sell more frequently.
5. Canstock Photo
(Earn up to 50% commission)
When you’re looking at where to sell stock photos you will encounter “microstock agencies”. This is a site where you can upload your photos, but you need to create a lot of keywords yourself and this can be a time consuming process.
Can Stock Photo is a little different. It uses a handy “SpeedSubmit” system that attaches a release to a batch of images immediately.
It’s even possible to upload a text file along with your images to skip adding keywords manually.
Let’s face it, the more time you spend with your photos the more money you can make. It costs $1 for a one time instant image download or $2,50 for an extra large image.
Users can purchase credits on the site to make purchasing even easier which makes this an attractive option for photographers.
(Earn 30% commission)
Bigstock has the typical features that you would expect to see in a microstock site. But, the addition of a credit system makes selling photos on this site easier and there is a unique twist.
As a customer buys, they also earn extra credits to purchase even more content. This is a great deal for the creator too, because you will get paid more for a credit purchase. Although the commission remains at 30% for each image the price, your commission rises if the image gets popular. As an example: if your photo is worth $0.25 commission and it’s downloaded more than 199 times the commission value will rise to $0.38 per image.
7. Getty Images
(Earn 20% commission)
Getty Images is a prestigious site to sell photos online. It has been operating since 1995 and it is one of the best known stock photo sites in the world. As I mentioned earlier, iStock is the microstock branch of Getty Images. But content sold through this parent site can generate up to $500 per image.
If your content sells on Getty Images, the purchaser needs a Rights Managed License that allows them to use the images on their chosen platform.
However, this platform is exclusive. To apply, you need to submit six of your best images and Getty will decide if they are right for Getty Images or iStock. Photos can sell for hundreds of dollars, the commission is 20% and this can really add up if you have the talent.
(Earn 20 to 50% commission)
Photocase is a smaller German company which specializes in providing high quality natural images. This has made the platform a popular choice for many buyers that want something a little different from the images supplied on other sites. They specifically look for photos of people in different life situations.
Because this is a small company, you get a chance to compete on a level playing field. Additionally, the site has a unique payment system.
As a creator you start with a standard 20% commission share. But this rises to 50% as more people pay to download your photos. Photocase really values talented photographers, it’s well worth trying the site out and you can make good money on this platform if your images fit their remit.
(Earn 50 to 75% commission)
Stocksy is a smaller stock photo site but it has a good reputation amongst publishers that are searching for high quality images. The platform has very high standards. They require exclusivity for your images and you can’t sell them anywhere else.
But, for many photographers this will be a small sacrifice thanks to the generous 50% or 75% commissions.
10. Adobe Stock
(Royalties of up to 46%)
Adobe Stock was formerly known as Fotolia. This is a microstock photo website that hosts more than 57 million images online. Adobe acquired Fotolia back in 2014 to integrate the site with their new (at the time) creative cloud service.
If you choose to sell your photos on Adobe Stock, you can expect royalties between 20-46%.
One of the best things about this site is that your commissions are paid immediately. This is unlike many other sites where you have to meet a predetermined cashout threshold or wait 30 days. Around four million users buy images at Adobe Stock regularly, so it’s a great place to sell your stock photos.
What Are Stock Photography Websites?
A stock photography website is a platform where you can sell stock photos online. As a photographer, you simply upload your photos and let your chosen platform sell them for you.
However, these types of platforms serve another purpose. They actually provide you with useful information on what is trending. This gives you a useful insight into what is currently marketable and if you follow this advice you can make more money from your photography.
The only real problem when you sell stock photos on one of these platforms is that they host a lot of content. The sheer volume of photos is staggering and growing constantly. This means that your photos will be competing with millions of others. So they need to stand out from the crowd.
Another key drawback is that it can take a long time to edit and upload your images to the platform. Every stock photo website has a set of strict guidelines that you need to follow if you don’t want your content to be rejected.
How Much Can You Make Selling Stock Photos?
A good stock photo earns around 24-45 cents per month which doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But, bear in mind that this is per image and if you have a lot of good photos for sale it can be quite lucrative.
What Stock Photos Sell Best?
There are five key things that you need to bear in mind when you’re looking at how to sell stock photos and make money:
- An unidentified subject always sells better.
- A wide shot will always sell better than a closeup.
- A single photo is preferable to a group shot.
- A candid photo will sell better than a posed shot.
- A subject looking away is better than looking at the camera.
How to Take Stock Photos that Sell?
Many photographers are interested in learning how to sell stock photos online. Although talent is important there are other factors that determine your success when selling images. Let’s take a look at seven ways to improve your prospects in more detail:
- Declutter Your Images
When you frame each shot make sure that the subject is the focus of attention. In regular photography a speck of dirt on a surface in the background is fine. However, that same blemish in stock photography will stand out like a sore thumb. Take great care to declutter your images as much as possible, you don’t want anything to distract the viewer from the subject.
- Take Multiple Shots
Always take your photo from multiple angles and don’t be afraid to try out different variations on a theme. If you attract the attention of a publisher they may want to see a variant image that focuses on a different aspect of the shot.
A prime example would be a man drinking coffee. If the publishers sell coffee that’s fine, but they may want to focus on his glasses, if they sell those products. Get plenty of variety into your shots and you may find different ways to market images taken in the same session.
- Become Advertiser Friendly
A great deal of stock photography is consumed by advertisers that need room to add text or other items on an image. If the photo has a lot of other brand names or logos in the shot it can present a problem for the buyer. When you take a photo think about how it might be used for advertising and try to match the shot to meet that need.
- Become Detail Orientated
Although your images may look great they could look very different when blown up to a larger size. Before you upload your images get into the habit of looking them over with an eye on the details. Even a tiny imperfection can detract from the image at different sizes and this can affect the sales potential.
- Focus on a Specific Topic
It’s tempting to upload many types of photos to a stock photo site to improve your chances of a sale. But, if you focus on a particular topic that interests you it can be beneficial for your career. It’s easier to get noticed if you’re the go to person for a specific type of image and this is how you get repeat business.
- Take Popular Pictures
If you want to maximize your chances of getting some photos sold check out what’s selling. The trending section of any stock photo site should give you plenty of inspiration to take marketable photos.
- Offer High Resolution Photos
Many advertisers appreciate larger resolutions of photos that they can edit into ad friendly images. When you take photos as the highest resolution and upload them to a stock photo site you increase the chances of securing a sale.