Sell Your Photography Online – Is it Easy Or a Pipe Dream?

I’m constantly getting questions on how to sell your photography. Particularly trying to sell your photography online through stock photography agencies.

Many of you take gorgeous landscape, flower and insect photos and when you see a lot of the photos that are “out there”, you start to think, “My photos are better than that! I should sell them online!”

I enjoy shooting close-ups, flowers and etc. too! In fact, the very first accessory I bought for my first camera was a set of close-up lenses. I understand how intriguing it can be.

It IS possible to sell your photography online and through various stock agencies. The problem is, in order to make any decent amount of money, you have to have MASSIVE amounts of photos available for purchase.

Before the internet came along, the rule of thumb in dealing with stock photography was that you would average about $1 per year, per photo. So to make $30,000 dollars a year, you would have to have 30,000 photos being promoted through the stock agencies.

All well and good if you have 30,000 high quality photographs lying around.

(Don’t forget, each one has to be of high enough quality to be accepted by the agency, AND high enough quality to actually be something a buyer would want to purchase.)

Those were the dream days…now with the internet, virtually every photographer in the world, pro and amateur alike, is listing photos in the various stock sales outlets.

I haven’t heard a recent rule of thumb, but the prices have dropped so much, that I doubt you could average more than a few cents per year, per image.

Check out the various online stock photo agencies to see what I mean. There are literally millions of stock photos that can be bought for about $1.50. (Or less.)

What are the odds that any one person’s photo would be picked? And then if it is, they only make about a buck! (Don’t forget that the agency gets a cut of the proceeds.)

I just went on one of the more popular stock websites and entered the search term “lady bug”. I got 4066 results. And that is only one of literally thousands of stock agencies a photo buyer could go.

PLUS…When a buyer is looking to buy a lady bug photo, they aren’t going to look at EVERY lady bug shot. They will look at the first page or two, pick one and move on. Even if you have the best lady bug photo the world has ever seen, what are the odds of it being found by your particular buyer?

Slim to none.

When I recommend NOT selling online, it has NOTHING to do with quality or your photo abilities. It is simply a numbers game.

Imagine how much competition there is for a more popular subject than lady bugs!

There’s just plain too much competition to make a living.

I recommend that you put all of your photos in stock agencies as a lifelong project, but not as any sort of income strategy. If you put thousands of photos online every year, for your entire career…you might make enough to make a house payment in your retirement years.


So, what to do?

If you can do amazing pictures of flowers, landscapes and insects, you can do amazing pictures of someone’s pet! I’ve made literally hundreds of thousands of dollars with pet portraits.

Start a little part time pet photo business and you will very quickly get a customer base of happy people throwing money at you. Plus, then get a signed release from each client and you can post the pictures to the stock companies too!

As artists, we tend to be introspective and shy. we hesitate putting ourselves out there…

You wouldn’t know it now, but I was once painfully shy! Heck, just being in the same room with a pretty girl would give me the jitters and within minutes I would be literally drenched in sweat.

My pet photo business brought me out of it.

Now I have no problem with working with perfect strangers…even world class beauties. Having moved past my horrible shyness is probably the single best thing that has ever happened.

It is probably worth starting a Part Time Photography business just for that!

I don’t want to dash anyone’s dreams…I just want to be realistic.

If you want to shoot bugs, and flowers – DO IT! But, think of your photography as a hobby where you might pick up one or two bucks every once in a while.

If you want to make a living (it’s not difficult), then you have to shoot in areas where people are willing to spend money.

Freelance Photography- Your Career Starts Here

Would you like to sell photos online at your own gallery? Send people to your very own pro photo sharing gallery to purchase the photos you’ve done of them. There’s more than one way to go about it. Here we take a look at the benefits of a turn-key solution called pro photo photo sharing, a service specially designed for professional photographers like you.

Not long ago it would have been a major project starting your own photography business. My how things have changed. Today, the new online photo services let you up load all of your photos to your own gallery and set your own prices. Shoot whatever you want and send your customers to your beautiful online gallery, to purchase the shots.

Thanks to pro photo sharing it’s easy to get your photos on line customers to view. Then they can click to order prints, enlargements and a variety of gifts like coffee mugs, sweatshirts, holiday cards etc… and you make money on every sale, because you set your own prices. Get carried away, upload UNLIMITED photos with a click, shoot a million pictures if you want, you can’t out grow that! Your valuable images, safely stored in full resolution and ready for sale. Download them anytime you want, because it’s a photo storage website too. Hey, backup is good right? Organizing photo albums could not be simpler with the easy to use tools these companies provide.

Are you an artist waiting to be discovered? Get your work out there today. Whether your shooting the local cheerleader squad or an expedition to Alaska. Selling your photos is now very easy to do. You don’t really want to go through the hassle of setting up a merchants account to charge peoples credit cards do you? Good because you don’t have to! You don’t really want to print, trim, pack, address, ship, and provide customer service on each order do you? Good because you don’t have to

That’s right, now you actually have the time to go out and take lots and lots of pictures. Go crazy you can take a million photos if you want. There’s no limit to number of photos that you can upload on some of the professional photo sharing websites. Hey your goal oriented right? How long would it take you to shoot a million photos? Let’s see, this should be easier than figuring out the Tootsie Pop thing. If you shoot everyday for 10 years you’d have to shoot 274 pictures per day, because I don’t think you can take 2739 photos every day for a year!

Here are some suggestions on what to shoot:

1. TAKING PICTURES ON VACATION a) Museums and Historical Landmarks b) National Parks and Monuments c) City Skylines and Architecture d) Amusement Parks e) Back Roads and Byways f) Scenic Overlooks

2. SCHOOL SPORTING EVENTS- Especially regional and state tournaments or championships. They are a goldmine, parents love pictures of their superstars. If you take a photo of each kid and then a team group picture, many of the parents will buy a few. One for the house, one for grandma etc. When you add up all the kids from all the teams, you’re looking at hundred’s kids. The money starts adding up real quick. a) Football Team Photo b) Cheerleader Squad photo c) Homecoming Activities d) Regional & State Championships e) Soccer, Wrestling, Swimming etc… f) School Plays, Concerts and more g) Little League Baseball h) Soccer Teams i) Basketball Teams

3. LOCAL EVENTS- Check the local paper and see what’s happening in your area a) Hot Air Balloon Races and Air Shows b) Car Shows & Motorcycle Rallies c) Parades & Fireworks d) County And State Fairs e) Craft Shows f) Trade shows g) Concerts h) Tail Gate Parties

4. BOY SCOUTS AND GIRL SCOUTS- Many kids don’t play soccer or basketball, they enjoy scouting, and they buy lots of pictures of the kids during scouting activities. Just go around the event and shoot it up, try to get a nice posed photo of each scout, then a troop shot with the leaders. Make sure you get permission from the appropriate council. a) Camp outs b) Hikes c) The Annual Jamboree d) Pinewood Derby e) Fund Raisers

5.PROPERTY- Real estate agents need quality photographs to promote their listed properties. Let your local agencies know your available on call and watch the cash start flowing in. Architects need photos of the properties they design for many reasons. Show me the money! a) Real Estate Agencies b) Commercial Properties c) Architectural Photography d) Builders and Contractors

6. RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES- This is my favorite, I live up in the mountains and we have a lot of these type of adventures available close by. Folks on vacation sure like photos of themselves while participating in activities. If you have activities like these in your area, talk with a local outfitter, they are usually very receptive to the idea of photo souvenirs, because it promotes their service long after the adventure is over. a) Whitewater River Rafting b) Horseback Riding Outfitters c) Ski Resorts d) Snowmobile Trails e) Golf Tournaments

7. INSURANCE COMPANIES- Most insurance companies require documentation to reimburse policy holders for a loss. A photographic inventory of all items covered by the policy is recommended by insurance adjusters, this is a huge market. a) Residential b) Commercial

8. FAMILY PORTRAITS- Many families have a portrait done annually. I like to photograph the family during fun time, rather than a studio. I like to have a good time with them. I always get better smiles and more interesting images on location. This year suggest doing the photo at an activity that the whole family enjoys participating in together “A family that plays together, stays together” a) At home b) In the studio c) On location d) Holiday Cards in October

9. SCHOOL ACTIVITIES- If I told you how much money you could make in one day photographing graduates, clubs, dances or homecoming activities, you wouldn’t believe me. So I am going to let you find out for yourself. Then you email me and tell me and I will believe it! Photographing some of the school events like graduation and plays should be done at a dress rehearsal prior to the actual event. Always make prior arrangements with the school before you shoot. a) Graduation b) School Plays c) Dances d) Marching Band e) Homecoming

10. STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY AGENCIES- There are many agencies that will purchase quality images to package and resell. Check stock photo agencies many of them accept freelance work.

Here’s the flow. Take the photo, give the client a card with your photo gallery web site address on it. Upload the pictures to your gallery. Customers go to your website and pick out the ones they want and order prints or coffee mugs, whatever they want. Then the photos are printed and shipped by the company that hosts your gallery. Then the company sends you a check. How much you make on each image is up to you. The Photo gallery hosting company charges you say, $1.99 for an 8″x 10″ print. You set your retail prices at 24.99 for the print. You just made $23.00. The magic happens when you use the intrinsic artistic value, to increase the value of an otherwise inexpensive piece of paper. Most retailers wish they had a markup this good!

Once you get going, you will be lining up jobs at all sorts of events. Even taking photos while traveling and writing off your business expenses. If you really love photography you should consider your own gallery online.

When I got my gallery, I had so much fun thinking of creative titles for the galleries and getting all my pictures set up and organized. For instance, I have one gallery that is a tribute to trees. Every time I see a beautiful tree, I capture a picture and display it in a gallery that I named Treebute.