How to sell photos online: the complete guide

sell photos online
(Last Updated On: April 10, 2023)

If you’re wondering whether you can monetize the photographs you take, the answer is yes. You can sell photos online and bring in revenue. It’s the perfect side hustle if you are well-versed in the technicalities of photography.

There are two ways to sell photos online: either through a platform that sells photos like Shutterstock or on your own eCommerce website. Either ways, there are a few technicalities you need to learn about. Both these options have competition you need to overcome and its own advantages.

In this detailed guide, we’ll walk you through the top platforms you can sell photos and how you can start an eCommerce website to sell photos online.

What type of photos can you sell online

Selling photos online is a low cost business idea which you can start without much resources.

Here are the types of photos that you can sell:

  • Stock photos: Stock images are generic photos, illustrations, vectors, and icons that are licensed. They are used by individuals or organizations for use in book covers, marketing materials, packaging, etc.
  • Printables: You can sell photos as printable items on your online store.
  • Physical photographs: This is a great option if you’re a professional photographer. Photographs of landscapes and nature are highly in-demand as home decor items. You can start your own photo gallery online as a website and sell them. This works for illustrations as well.
  • Photography services: If you’re a professional photographer who covers events, fashion photoshoots, or product photography, you can sell your services online.

Related read: Part-time business ideas

How to sell photos online: everything you need to know

Platforms/websites to sell photos online

The easiest way to sell your photos online is by licensing them. You can sell them on a website or platform that sells downloadable stock images. Think how your photos will be useful to others. The most popular stock images are the ones that feature humans, pet animals, and seasons.

Here are the top stock photo websites to sell photos online:

1. Shutterstock


Shutterstock is a leading stock images site where photographers can contribut their images for a commission. The website has millions of visitors every month, making it a great place to gain exposure for your photographs.

You can sign up on Shutterstock for free as a contributor and start adding your photos for sale. Your work can be licensed by a global network of customers. Before signing up, go through their basic guidelines and terms and conditions. Once you submit your work, the content review team will evaluate your submission against a number of technical requirements. Once your photos are live on the site, customers can discover and download your work for their projects.

As a contributor, you will earn a percentage of the price customers pay for that license. This amount varies but usually ranges between 30 to 50 per cent. Once you earn at least $35 from your work, Shutterstock will issue your payments on a monthly basis.

2. iStock photo

Another website where you can sell your photos online is iStock photo. It’s a micro-stock offshoot site of Getty Images. The major difference between the two is that the photographs you contribute on iStock are non-exclusive. This means that you can sell the same photographs on other agencies or on your own website.

However, the commissions are relatively lower. It ranges from 15% to 45% depending on exclusivity. If your photos are in the Signature collection, you can get a commission of upto 45%.

iStock is a great place to get started as a contributor and understand the technicalities of selling photos online via an agency.

3. Getty Images

getty images
Getty Images

Getty Images is a stock photography site that attracts high-end brands and publishers who are looking for high-quality, exclusive images to license. This means that the pay scale will be higher, so will be the barrier to entry.

As a contributor, you earn anywhere between a 15 and 45% commission. Getty Image customers pay premium amounts for phots. So, your commission will be higher here as compared to other low-end sites.

If you have excellent technical and composition skills and the photographs you take are strong conceptual, artistic commercial images, this is the place for you.

Sell photos on your own eCommerce website

Once you decide on a niche and know what audience you’re targeting, you need to have an online portfolio to start selling.

an ecommerce website selling photos
Sell photos online on your own eCommerce website

The easiest way to get customers online to buy your photos is by starting your own eCommerce website with a store builder platform like Instamojo. You can start adding your photos on it as digital products, customise the store, and add product descriptions. Here’s a video to get you started.

This eCommerce website can act as both your portfolio and a shop where interested buyers can make a purchase. You can use social media to promote your store.

You can also sell photography courses on your online store. For example, Creativepadmedia sells workshops and ebooks on photography on their Instamojo free online store:

sell photography courses online
Creatie Pad Media

Sell photos as physical products on online store

Another option is to sell your photos as physical products such as prints, photo albums, and home decor items.

To get your products ready, you can print out your photos with a local photo lab or partner with a print-on-demand service like Printo. You can order samples first to make sure that the quality matches your expectations.

Although you won’t get as much profit margin when selling photos digitally, you can adjust your costs and make a good enough profit.

Sell photography as a service

Service businesses can be started without much upfront investment. With the skill and technology, you can get clients easily. Are you a professional photographer who wants to get gigs? You can easily find your next client online for photography sessions. Whether you’re an event photographer or fashion photographer, you can reach your target audience with eCommerce.

The best way to sell your photography services online is to create a landing page where you showcase your services along with your portfolio and let clients book slots. Instamojo has a free landing page builder which you can use to create your own one-page website to sell your photography services.

Start selling photos online today

It only takes a few steps to get your eCommerce photo store up and running. On Instamojo, you get a landing page to sell your photography services. Your customers can easily browse through the photo collections and make payments.

Start your own online store

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