The Beginner’s Guide to Selling Your Photos Online

Card Image
Posted by The Savvy Retiree on April 7, 2020 in Make Money

How many photos are sitting on your computer right now? 


Thousands, even?

If you’re like most people, you take photos on every vacation…at family events…whenever something beautiful happens…and maybe at every meal.

Some of those photos could potentially be making you a nice side-income in online stock agencies.

Have you ever heard of iStock? 

It’s just one of the many online agencies that take photos from anyone who wants to sell them. You don’t have to be a professional. You don’t even have to have a nice camera. And you can sell the same photos in multiple agencies, too.

To start, you just need an eye for what will sell, and a little time to find the right shots in your computer to submit first.

I love selling my photos as stock for a few reasons:

1. It’s easy. You sign up as a contributor to an agency…choose a few of your best shots…submit them through the agency’s website…add some keywords…and you’re done.

2. Your photos can sell at any time, day or night. Once you put them up online and add keywords, your work is done. Now buyers can find them from any part of the world, at any time of day. Even while you sleep.

3. It’s anonymous. You don’t have to please clients…go to galleries…show your portfolio…or write emails to magazine editors. All the agencies want is good photos, and they don’t care about your age, background, or experience.

Plus, it only takes an hour or two to start. You could sign up to an agency and submit your first few photos tonight.

To start, simply register as a member at an agency. I like to recommend Bigstock to beginners, as it tends to be easier to get into. 

Next, read through the agency guidelines. Each agency is a little different, but they all list out exactly what they’re looking for and the image requirements you need.

Finally, look through your photos to find a few that meet their needs, and upload them via the agency’s website.

That’s it.

If they reject a few photos on your first try, don’t worry. It happens to everyone in the beginning. Just read the reasons why and send in a few different shots.

Once you’re in and you get the hang of it, you can take your most popular photos from Bigstock and use them to get into a few other agencies.

A few things to know before you start:

Each photo sale is tiny: It’s kind of shocking, at first. But when someone buys one of your photos for their work presentation or to place in a blog post, you typically get anywhere from 25 cents to a few dollars. The trick, with stock, is quantity. For example, I have a number of photos that have sold hundreds or even a thousand times over, earning me $600, $700, $800 and more per photo, overall. 

Each photo you submit is still YOUR photo: You retain the rights. Anytime someone “buys” one, they’re only buying the rights to use it. Which is why one photo can “sell” hundreds or even thousands of times.

Any recognizable people in your photos require a model release: A few ways around this are to shoot at creative angles, so no recognizable people appear…blur people in the background…or take photos of friends who are happy to sign a release for you. For this, I highly recommend the EasyRelease phone app, which allows your model to sign with their finger, right on your phone.

So, if you post photos on Facebook and your friends ever tell you, “You should sell these,” maybe it’s time to take their advice.

The more photos you add to your portfolios, the more potential income you can make over time. And you should definitely start sooner, rather than later. Otherwise, all of your photos are just disappearing into Facebook or sitting on a hard drive, half-forgotten.

Bring them out into the light. And, hey, maybe make a little money on the side while you’re at it.

Written by Bonnie Caton