If you take it seriously, every hobby can turn out into your business. Photography is no exception. The most common method adopted by professional photographers and photography hobbyists is by selling their photos to stock photo websites. The problem is, there are dozens of stock photo websites available today. Making you get confused about which site you should choose.
But, before getting started to generate revenue from selling your photos, there are several things you have to know and learn carefully. Particularly regarding the copyright and the legality of the use of your photos. All stock photo websites apply certain license to protect your works and governs how end users to use your photos.
The discussion about photography copyrights and licenses can be so much complicated and long. But by outline, there are several key terms you should know about if you want to commercialize your photos. Including Editorial Use, Royalty-Free, and Commercial Use (refer to this page for more details).
Understanding those terms is crucial in order to allow you to complain if you find your photos not used the way they should be. Once you ready, below is the list of top stock photo websites where you can sell your photos.
1. Getty Images
It’s a dream of nearly all photographers to be a Getty Images contributor. This is a platform where you can sell your photos at a high price. On average, photos with the smallest resolutions can be priced for $50. The more exclusive the photos, the higher prices they can get. Getty Images photos are widely-used by famous magazines and other types of media. Getty Images is the best place for photographers who want to generate a huge amount of money from photography.
The problem is, becoming a Getty Images contributor isn’t that easy. Your photos should comply with Getty Images’ high standard before being accepted. But, if you confident enough about your photography skill and have quality photo collections to sell, you can refer to this page to try your luck.
Shutterstock is also a popular platform used by many photographers around the world to sell their photos. Unlike Getty Images in which photos are sold individually, Shutterstock is a subscription-based stock photo website. Shutterstock often used by digital agencies to fulfill their imagery needs since they can get photos in a large number with a lower price. Becoming a Shutterstock photographer is a bit easier than Getty Images. If you upload your photos on this site they will be sold as royalty-free products and you still keep the copyright. You can earn up to 30% of the sale price.
123RF offers three plans for selling its photos: Download Pack, Subscription Plan, and On Demand. You will get paid starting from 30% to 60% per download, depends on your contribution level. The contribution level is determined by the number of photos you uploaded to 123RF. There are 10 contribution levels. The lowest one (level 1), is for photographers with less than 250 photos. If you are listed on this level you will earn 30% of the sale price, which equates to $0.216 per download. You can visit this page for more details about the 123RF commission structure. In 123RF, your photos will also be offered as royalty-free products. At the time of writing, there have been over 88 million photos available on 123RF.
iStock is a stock photo website owned by Getty Images. Getty Images bought this site on 2006 for $50 million USD. iStock also applies subscription in selling photos. Photographers will get paid per downloaded photo. The amount of commission you will earn is varied depends on the popularity of your photos. The more popular your photos, the higher the royalty percentage you will earn. The standard royalty payout for iStock starts at only 15% per download.
Alamy is a bit similar to Getty Images in terms of selling photos method. Instead of applying a subscription model to allow users to download photos in a large number at once, photos on Alamy are sold individually. The prices are also high enough. For instance, if you want to buy a photo for a website need you have to pay for $49.99. Alamy can be a good option for photographers who want to get a higher percentage of commission. You will earn a share of up to 50% on each photo sold. Another advantage of becoming an Alamy photographer is that you don’t tie with a long term contract. Alamy lets you choose what you want to sell.
6. Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock is a stock photo site owned by, yeah, Adobe. With the integration supports with Adobe Creative Cloud apps (Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and InDesign CC), the chance your photos will get bought by users is probably higher. Adobe Stock itself is a subscription-based stock photo site. Your photo will be sold under the standard royalty-free license. The commission you will earn from Adobe Stock is not too big, equal to iStock. The biggest advantage of being an Adobe Stock contributor — other than Adobe wide networks — is that you only need an Adobe ID to start uploading your works. Despite your photos will undergo a reviewing process before ready to sell.
Same as Adobe Stock, Fotolia is also owned by Adobe. While Adobe Stock was released by Adobe in 2015, Fotolia has been around 10 years before it. This stock photo is also integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud apps (including Adobe Stock) so the chance your photos will get more attention is also higher. All photos you uploaded to Fotolia will also be available on Adobe Stock. Since Fotolia is part of Adobe, you can also use your Adobe ID to upload your photos. The advantage of being a Fotolia contributor is that your royalties will be deposited into your account immediately, unlike other sites where require you to wait to reach a threshold.
Bigstock is also a good place to sell your stock photos. It is a stock photo website owned by Shutterstock. Shutterstock has bought this website in 2009. Unlike its parent, Bigstock is a credit-based stock photo site. You will get paid based on the customer’s selection of payment plan and the size of the file that was downloaded. For purchases made using credits, Bigstock pays $0.50 USD for each credit spent. At the time of writing, Bigstock has had over 58 million stock photos.
9. Can Stock Photo
Can Stock Photo is also a stock photo website that allows photographers to get involved in providing photos. If you have unused photo collections on your hard drive there no bad to upload them to this site. You can earn up to 50% per photo download. The registration process to become a Can Stock Photo contributor is also a bit easier. You will be asked to submit three photos to the site’s editors. Once your request is approved, you can upload bulk photos at once. Can Stock Photo itself allows users to buy photos whether via credit system or subscription system.
Same as Can Stock Photo, Dreamstime also offers two buying options, credit-based and subscription-based. While end-users can rely on this website to fulfill their imagery needs, photographers can take advantage of it to generate money by selling photos. Becoming a Dreamstime contributor is extremely easy since anyone can upload the photo collections they have. However, only photos that meet Dreamstime criteria will be approved. Once your photos are approved by Dreamstime, you are going to receive royalties of 25-50%, though this could increase up to 60% on all images if you sign an exclusivity contract.
Crestock is also a stock photo site where you can upload unused photos to generate money. Becoming a Crestock contributor is also quite easier compared to, for instance, iStock. How do Crestock calculate your revenue?
In Crestock, your royalty rate is calculated on a progressive scale, based on your total number of photos sold since joining Crestock. For instance, an account with 1-149 photos sold will earn 20% of the sale price if the customers buy a single photo license (or $0.25 per photo downloaded via subscription method). Not too bad. Isn’t it?
12. 500px Marketplace
In addition to stock photo websites like mentioned above, you can also sell your photos on other marketplaces. 500px Marketplace is one of the marketplaces you can consider. Selling your photos on 500px is easy. Every time you upload a new photo to 500px, you will have an option whether you want to make it available on the 500px Marketplace or not. Once you make it available on 500px Marketplace all you need to do is to wait for the buyers.
But, before selling your photos on 500px Marketplace be sure your photos have (very) good qualities since 500px is fulled by photographers with “god” skills. On 500px Marketplace your photos will be sold from $34 to $648 depends on the size of the photos. You can earn up to 60% of the sale price if you license your photos exclusively on 500px Marketplace. Or 30% for non-exclusive photos.
PhotoMoolah offers a different way of selling your photos. This is a contest-based platform so your photos have to win a certain contest if you want to get paid. The amount of money you will earn is vary depends on the contest. From $30 to $100. So, if you have relevant photos to the existing contests on PhotoMoolah, why not trying your luck?
Canva is an online tool that you can use to create visual content. Currently, this tool is used by about 8 million users and counting. In Canva, users are allowed to insert photos via its image library. Images provided by Canva come from talented illustrators and photographers like you. All images in Canva are licensed for $1 under Canva’s One Time Use License. You can earn a 35% royalty every time your images get used in a Canva design. If you are interested to become a Canva photo contributor, you can apply here.