Are you considering selling your photos online?

At some point, we likely all consider ways to create income from this photography obsession of ours. I mean, why not right? We have the images, there are plenty of options and opportunities out there to sell our work but finding the right avenue to do this can be time-consuming, confusing and overwhelming.

Type of work

Are your images considered fine art (that’s a whole other discussion), are they stock-worthy, portraits, commercial or do you feel they don’t fit in any category in particular? The thing is, anything can sell as long as it’s a quality image, and by quality I mean high enough resolution, sharpness and focus. The rest is all artistic preference.

Stock photography

An image of mine purchased to use for this ad in Boston.

While stock photography isn’t as lucrative as it used to be it is still a viable option for bringing in a little extra cash. Here are just a few options:

Adobe Stock – From their website: The royalties for photo, illustrations, and vector content sold on Adobe Stock equals 33% of the amount paid by the buyer. The price depends on the subscription plan and content type. They also license content through custom agreements. A minimum guarantee applies to make sure that contributors are always fairly compensated, whatever the price. For video, the royalty is 35% of the purchase price.

Shutterstock – As a Shutterstock contributor you will earn royalties each time one of your approved images or videos is downloaded by a Shutterstock customer. How much you earn per each download depends on one or a combination of the following: the license and subscription that was used for each download, and your earnings tier.

Getty Images – Every time someone licenses your content, they pay you a royalty. For content licensed via iStock.com (a Getty company), royalty rates start at 15% for Photos and 20% for Videos and Illustrations, but Exclusive contributors can earn from 25% to 45%. For content licensed via GettyImages.com, rates start at 20% for Rights Free still images and 25% for RF video.

There are plenty of other options out there. Do your research to find out what will work best for you and the type of work you produce. Volume is the key to being somewhat successful in stock. The more images you have to sell, the more likely you are to make sales.

An image used on The UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre’s website

Fine art sites

There are several fine art sites online where you are able to upload and sell your work. Most of the handle the printing and shipping and you get a percentage or set your own profit margin.

Fine Art America – Fine Art America is the world’s largest art marketplace and print-on-demand technology company. They have been helping artists sell wall art, home décor, apparel, and other products since 2006.

On Fine Art America you can set your own profits. They have a base cost and you add what you want to make on top of that to create the final sales price. For $30 a year you can upload unlimited images.

Red Bubble – Also started in 2006, they are an Australian-based company who offer a little more of the eclectic and artistic type designs on a wide variety of products. You can pick and choose which products you would like to sell your images on.

They supply you with the retail price and you add the percentage of markup for each item you print on. There is no cost to open a shop on Red Bubble.

TurningArt – Turning Art brings artwork from today’s most talented artists into businesses and real estate nationwide. They work with painters, photographers, illustrators, sculptors, and installation artists to provide collections of artwork that are engaging and personal. You can earn revenue up to 3 different ways on Turning Art. Leasing, earn a percentage of the artwork’s retail price for every month one of your pieces is leased. Sales, earn a commission from selling your work with TurningArt. Commissions, earn revenue on site-specific and commissioned client projects. There is no cost to upload to TurningArt.

Other sites

Zazzle – Publish your designs on thousands of products. You set your own royalty rates. There is no inventory to maintain and it is free to create an account.

Threadless – Artist Shops provides the best and easiest platform for you to sell your art in your own customized online store for free. With all the benefits of a fully functional e-commerce store and none of the hassle, you just create art and spread the word!

Society6 – Selling your artwork as a product on Society6 is simple. All you have to do is upload your artwork and make it available for sale as a variety of products. When you sell a product, Society6 produces it, packages it and ships it for you, so that you can focus on making more art! You set your retail price and your profit for each art print type and size. There is no cost to set up a shop.

A few final words

These are just a sampling of what is out there. There are plenty of other sites to sell from. Of course, there is your own website as well using services like SmugMug, Zenfolio, Squarespace, WordPress, etc. The question to ask yourself is how will you bring traffic to your site? You will need to market to your potential clients. Personal websites work well for portrait, wedding and event photographers, as you will be sharing images with specific clients for specific reasons. If you’re selling fine art you may have a more difficult time getting the general public to your site. Sites like those listed above have a built-in audience who are going to those sites to find art. Your chance of that particular customer finding your work on your personal site is pretty slim compared to finding it on a more general art selling site.

In the end, do your research. Figure out what will work best for you, your style, your budget and what you’re trying to accomplish. Ask questions, search out someone you know who is already doing this and see if they’ll give you some insights. Take advantage of free trial periods if you want to give something a try. It may seem like the market is flooded, but there is only one you creating images that only you can create. Good luck!