make money selling photos

To make some extra cash online selling your own photos may seem like another hype to good to be true, but it’s much easier than you think and with hard work and smart research, you can start earning serious money because one successful photo can be sold over and over again.

How much money can I make selling photos?

There’s really no limit, but many professional photographers earn over $10 000 per month submitting photos to various marketplaces. Earning a living selling photos is not happening overnight, but with the right attitude and quality-thinking, you will increase your chances to succeed.

To start, all you need is a digital camera or a smartphone and an internet connection. The start-up cost is very small compared to how much you can make. You don’t have to create your own website, but I recommend you use every marketing strategy you can.

How to get started selling photos?

You need to learn how to take photos with high quality and in the right niche. It’s hard for beginners starting without any guidance and support because starting from scratch with wrong approach can result in both wasted time and wasted money.

There are thousands of image databases online and the demand for quality pictures is high. But it’s important to submit your photos to legit websites because there are scams lurking out there too. If you want to know more how to start selling photos online, this guide might be helpful.

photo business

5 sites where you can make money selling photos:


Shutterstock is one of the biggest marketplaces for stock photos, royalty-free photos, video clips and more. They are a very established agency and with over 500 000 million downloads, which gives you a little hint that this is a good place to sell your photos at.

Royalty rates are between 20 -30% and some contributors earn up to $120 per image. In order to be accepted as a contributor, you must provide an image of high quality without any dust spots, noisy shadows, etc. Take your time optimizing your first photos to get approved without any problems.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock and Fotolia are the same company. It’s easy to get started using their service and you don’t have to upload a perfect photo to get accepted, but you must focus on high-quality anyway because you want to make money, and low-quality photos are much harder to sell.

The royalty rate is 33% for images and 35% of videos which is a good rate compared to other image and video platforms. You can cash out when you reach $50 via your PayPal or Skrill account. Adobe Stock is paying 33% per image sale to contributors, but if an image cost $1, you get 33¢ so keep that in mind.


iStock photo and Getty images are two brands ran by the same company. When you apply for a contributor account, you must upload 3-6 images or videos for review in order to be approved. When you are approved, you will either get an account at iStock photo or Getty images.

The royalty rate is 15% per file download for contributors but if you become an exclusive contributor you can earn up to 45%. You can submit up to 999 photos per week which means that you can build your portfolio and start making money pretty fast.


Alamy is one the most popular stock photo agency with over 165 million photos and videos in their inventory. As a non-exclusive contributor, you get a royalty rate of 40% which is a fair commission rate for just starting out. An exclusive contributor gets a royalty rate of 50%.

To get approved, you need to send in 4 images from various categories like tech, fashion, health and animals and so on. Once you have passed Alamy’s quality control, you can begin uploading more photos but you must only provide photos of high-quality because if you upload low-quality photos, your account can be frozen for 10 days.


Depositphotos is a stock photo platform that sells photos and videos, mostly on subscription-based plans. As a contributor you will start at green level, which provides a royalty rate of 34%. The highest level is platinum, which provides a royalty rate of 42%.

You will earn 30¢ per file download from subscription plans and 34% from pay-as-you-go sales. You must upload a lot of images in order to earn a decent income with Depositphotos, but if you can reach gold or platinum levels, then your chances will increase a lot.

free photo editing programs

Free photo editing software’s

Buying a program like Photoshop gives you a lot of great features to improve your photos, but it’s an expensive tool with a monthly or yearly subscription plan. If you are on a tight budget, then you can use either browser-based services or download a free program.

Photopea is a browser-based program very similar to Photoshop. You can do a lot of customization directly in your browser which is very convenient. Befunky is also a program you can use in your browser and has many great features totally free.

If you rather want to use a desktop or app-based program, Pixlr is a great option. If you have been using Photoshop in the past, you will quickly learn how to work with Pixlr to improve and editing your photos. Pixlr has also a pro version much cheaper than Photoshop, but the free version is great to start with.


To start selling your own photos online is a great way to begin creating passive income. Taking photos, editing and uploading takes time, but once a photo is online, you can get profit from it over and over again. Remember, passive income is not happening without a lot of hard work up front.

If you need more help and guidance to start with your photo business, it’s a good idea to invest in a course that can teach you how to avoid mistakes and get approved to all stock photo platforms. Check out this course, if you feel like taking the next step towards becoming a real internet entrepreneur.