There are two ways to earn money with stock photography sites: by listing your photos and videos on the sites for sale, and by referring other photographers who do the same. If you have a network of photographers – or people who are interested in earning passive income selling photos online – you can increase your passive income rather quickly.
How does selling photos online work?
When you are selling photos and videos online, you're generally paid “royalties” – yes, kind of like when someone writes a song and they earn money over and over again for it being played.
Once you list a stock photo or video on a site like Shutterstock, you get paid every time someone licenses it. I won't get into what licensing means or the specifics behind royalty payouts, but those are some terms you're going to see while starting a stock photo/video business, so they're worth knowing about. 🙂
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I talked a lot about Shutterstock in my blog post about how to get started selling photos online. Though their earnings aren't as high as they used to be, you can still make passive income selling photos on Shutterstock!
How does it work?
I wrote an entire post about the process with Shutterstock! 🙂 Click above this paragraph, where it says “how to get started selling photos online”.
Referral program? Yes! Earn $200 per photographer/videographer sign up. Get started here.
A competitor to Shutterstock, Pond5 is a solid option for selling photos and videos.
How does it work?
With Pond5, you're paid 50% royalty share on photographs and illustrations, 40% for non-exclusive video, and an industry-leading 60% royalty share for exclusive videos. For music and sound effects, you earn a 35% royalty share.
Referral program? Yes! Your link gives customers 20% off their first purchase, and you earn 20% on their first purchase, too. Earn 5% on subsequent purchases for a whole year. Earn an additional 10% when your referral purchases your work (30% on their first purchase and 15% on subsequent purchases for the year). This means you can increase your royalty share up to 90% with referrals! Get started here.
To get started with Getty Images, you have to submit 3-6 samples (photos, videos, illustrations). They'll look through them and let you know if your photos are the quality they are looking for. Once you're accepted, you upload as many photos as you want and earn money.
Your application will take about a week to be reviewed, but you should get an email within that first 7 days letting you know if you were approved.
How does it work?
Adding more content to your application Once you've submitted your application, you can't add additional samples of your photos, videos, or illustrations to it. Size requirements for application samples Photos and vector illustrations should be in JPEG format and no larger than 3GB.
- Minimum size: 720 x 960px, 5kb
- Maximum size: 9000 x 9000px, 3GB
Video files should be submitted as YouTube links. Getty doesn't support Vimeo or other video platform links at this time.
Images you list on Getty will be licensed through iStock or Getty Images. Each time someone licenses your content, you get paid royalties. If it's sold through iStock, you get paid 15% or more for photos, and 20% or more for videos and illustrations. If you offer exclusive rights, you can earn between 25% and 45%.
If your images are licensed through Getty Images, you earn 20% for images and 25% for video clips.
Referral program? You can be an affiliate and earn 10% of your sale amount. Sign up through ImpactRadius. I did not find a referral program for photographers.
Sell your prints on Amazon as a photo book. You can do this through Amazon KDP. Here is a video with the step by step process:
You can also sell your photo books on Amazon through Blurb. The profits will be less, but the quality may be higher. Check it out.
Print on Demand
Aside from selling photos and videos online to stock photo sites, you can sell your prints via a model called Print on Demand. Log into a Print on Demand site, follow their guidelines, and upload your images to their products (like t-shirts, blankets, coffee mugs, and more). They charge the customer, and you earn based on how you set your pricing.
You can set your profit margins to be lower and focus on volume, or you can set them higher and focus on quality. I like to do a mix of both.
Fine Art America
Sell your prints on the world's largest online art marketplace, Fine Art America. This site allows you to sell your photos as greeting cards, phone cases, prints, and more.
You can also sell your images as royalty-free and rights-managed digital downloads. Easily set your own prices, and keep 100% of your asking price. Fine Art America simply add a 30% markup on top of your asking price.
How does it work?
Fine Art America sets the base price for each product that they manufacture, and then you add a markup on top of that base price. Your markup is what you earn. So for example, if their base price for a canvas print is $50 and you set the markup as $25, the buyer pays $75 and you earn $25.
You can set your prices as high or as low as you want to set them, and you can change them at any time.
While you can embed your products on a Shopify store, I actually don't recommend using Shopify.
I had an entire store disappear once and they offered no assistance whatsoever. One of my stores had some technical issues I couldn't figure out, and because it was the Shopify Lite plan, there was no way to get customer service. Whether you're paying a little for a service or a lot for a service, customer service should exist. With Shopify, it doesn't. I recommend WooCommerce with a self-hosted WordPress site instead. You can learn how to set this up over on easyblogschool.com, where my friend Sherry teaches you all about setting up a profitable website.
Referral program? Yes, through Shareasale, but it is for products not for referring other affiliates. Get started here.
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It helps my blog tremendously. Thank you!
Formerly TeeSpring, Spring is the industry standard for easy Print on Demand.
How it works
Create any of Spring's 180+ physical products or upload original content instantly to create digital products. Source anything else through custom fulfillment services.
Upload your photos and illustrations to products of your choosing, such as:
- team jerseys
- tote bags
- phone cases
- and more!
The best part about Spring? You can also create digital products, including:
- coloring books
- and more!
This is a relatively NEW option on the site. Read the Spring blog to learn more about selling via Print on Demand.
Referral program? Yes, via Flexoffers. Get started here.
Y'all know I'm a huuuuuge fan of Etsy!! You can sell your stock photos on Etsy; you can also sell Print on Demand through Etsy. Pick your fulfillment platform, like Printful or Printify, and set up your shop. Etsy is a volume game: get to 100 listings as quickly as you can, and stay active on Etsy by listing or renewing on a regular basis.
Referral program? Yes, through Awin, but if you're going to be selling on Etsy you may want to just share your “40 free listings” link and rack up the free listings because their affiliate program pays very little.
BONUS #8 BELOW!!
If this post helped you, inspired you, or heck, even if you read this far… please take a moment to choose one of the pins below and PIN IT on Pinterest!
Another stock photography site I haven't tried out yet is called FilmPac. You can apply to be a contributor on their site. Let me know if you do this! I'd love to know your experience. 🙂
Take the next step!
Download my Quick Start Guide to get started selling stock photos online TODAY!