How to sell photos online?


Where to sell photos online?

Before figure out how to sell your photos online, I think it is best to figure out where to sell your photos online?

Based on my experience, selling your photos through stock photo websites would be a great idea.

Instead of selling photo prints, stock photo agencies help you sell your digital files, repetitively, to online buyer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


What kind of photo quality (technically) is required in a stock photo?

Food and Asian cuisine, which is an item easily available around me is one of the main topics in my portfolio.

In general, each photos that you submit to stock agency, the reviewer will zoom 100% to do a details inspection before it get approved. So, you should do the same and ensure all photos are noise and dust free (at least).

For this, Dreamstime provided a quick explanation and illustration on what is a technically sound photo.

Other stock agency like iStock does explain its required quality standard in their training manual.

While for Shutterstock, you cam understand their quality requirement from Shutterbuzz. Just click on the Rejection Reasons on the right menu.


What are the submission guidelines?

Different agencies have different requirement based on their targeted customer range. The photos content, quality, pricing are different across all agencies. Here are some of the links to the stock agency guideline page:


Can a photo from compact a camera good enough for stock photos?

To be honest, it is almost impossible.

From my point of view, you need at least a mirrorless camera or entry level DSLR to generate a sound quality photos for stock photography agencies.

From technical perspective, the lens quality, sensor performance, in-camera image processing capability do matter to produce a technically good photo.

Last and not least, do not forget to pump in creativity and commercial value into each photos.


How much money can I earn from stock photography?

Well, there is no standard answer for this question. It depend on the number of media you have uploaded, quality of your content, creativity, uniqueness and relevancy to the market trend.

I am not sure if anyone can tell you the real numbers. But according to my unofficial, small sample size survey, earning a 3 to 4 digits (in USD) monthly is absolutely possible. If these numbers is not enough to pay your whole family’s bill, at least it could be enough to support your expensive photography hobby.


How much can I earn from selling one single photo?

So, what is your commission from each sales? It depend on the stock agency. 

Commission you earn from stock photos varies across stock agencies. In respective agency, your earning percentage or level will depend on your level. The more quality content you sell, you will get higher pay for each sales.

If your photos are exclusive to that particular agency (photos only appear in one particular agency but not others), they will pay you higher in relative to non-exclusive photographers.

Disclaimer: Earning schedule might be revise by stock agency from time to time. For the most updated payout table, kindly click on the title for each link below.

Shutterstock Earnings Schedule

For Shuttestock, the single sales earning ranging from $0.25 to $0.38, this mainly comes from subscription customer. You can get better earning from sales through On Demand or Enhanced license which will give you up to $28 or $120 with SINGLE PHOTO SALE.

iStock Royalties

iStock will pays contributors royalty rate ranging from 15% for each sale up to 45% for exclusive contributors.


At Dreamstime, the contributor will receives 25% to 50% range of payout, calculated from the sales amount of each transaction. However if you are the exclusive photographer, the payout is up to 60%, with special bonus of $0.20 just with each approved media submission.


Does stock agency only accept technically complicated photos?

NOT REALLY. However, you need to know how to compose simple content into commercially sound photos.

Take for example, SKY.

How you can shot a technically sound and commercial-able sky photos?

One of the Dreamstime article could provide you with an example on how this could be done.


Does being exclusive earn more?

To be frank, I do not have answer for this.

“Exclusive” meaning you only allow your photos to be sell on one particular agency. In return, almost all agencies pay you higher royalties.

However, I do not have data to proof or anyone kind enough to share compare focusing all your work in one agency is more profitable compare to submitting same photos to various agencies.