15 Best Sites to Sell Photos Online and Make Money

Would you like to sell your photos online and earn money from your beautiful images? I remember the feeling of joy and ecstatic when I made my first $100 from selling photos online–ofc, I spent it all on a shiny new prime lens!

If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll no doubt have a library of images sitting on your hard drive, gathering digital dust.

Why not sell these photos online and earn extra cash? You’ll be able to put the funds towards that telephone lens you’ve always wanted.

There are a plethora of ways to make money from your images; from stock photo sites, arts and craft marketplaces, to social media platforms. As someone with experience selling photos online, I know what sells and which features & legal terms to look for when choosing a platform.

Plus, I wanted to draw your attention to cutting out the middlemen and doing your own distribution/selling. If you are interested in that, scroll down to the last two options below.

So let’s explore the best sites on which to sell photos online.

1. Adobe Stock

Fantastic quality images

The Adobe Stock website is one of the best ways to sell photos online
Adobe Stock is from the creators of Lightroom and Photoshop.

Let’s start with a relatively new platform, Adobe Stock. This microstock website was initially released in 2015.

As you would expect from the creators of Lightroom and Photoshop, Adobe Stock only accepts fantastic quality photos. Subsequently, their content approval process can be picky at times.

Adobe Stock integrates with photo apps such as Lightroom, enabling photographers to submit images directly from their own editing software.

As Adobe Stock is a microstock site, the commission rates and photo sale prices are quite low. Expect to earn anything between $0.20 to $3.33 per image download.

The benefit, however, to the low prices, is that image licensing terms are non-exclusive; therefore you can list your images elsewhere too.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive;
  • Pay rate: From $0.2 to $3.33 per image download
  • Approval process: Strict content approval process.

2. Shutterstock

Largest microstock platform and customer base

The Shutterstock website is one option to sell photos online
Shutter stock has a quick 2-day approval rate.

This is the site most photographers will have heard of. Shutterstock has the largest customer base and is considered the largest micro stock platform today.

Submission times are relatively quick; images generally take 2 days to be approved.

The platform has recently had an overhaul too, which has improved the management and submission process. Images submitted are subject to non-exclusive licensing and can be used elsewhere.

Shutterstock sells high-quality images at low prices; contributors earn on average just $0.25 per image download. So don’t expect to earn enough to retire on using this platform to sell photos online.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: Average of $0.25 per image
  • Approval process: Streamlined approval process that takes an average of 2 days to complete.

3. Alamy

Sell photos online with flexible licensing options

The Alamy website is one of the best ways to sell photos online
The Alamy stock photo website offers some of the best commission rates in the industry.

The third site on our list is Alamy; a brilliant macro stock photo website.

It offers quality images at much higher prices than microstock sites such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto.

Furthermore, commission rates are some of the best in the industry at 50% for exclusive images, and 40% for non-exclusive images. We like the fact the user can choose between the 2 options; giving greater flexibility.

With over 100,000 customers searching for photos, the potential for earning is great. Moreover, the payment terms and account management are user-friendly.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Both exclusive and non-exclusive options available
  • Pay rate: 50% for exclusive images, 40% for non-exclusive
  • Approval process: Quick approval process with strict quality criteria.

4. iStock Photo

High earning potential without the giving exclusive rights

The iStock Photo website is one way to sell photos online
iStock Photo is part of Getty Images.

Did you know that iStock Photo is part of Getty Images? It is another large player in the stock image industry and boasts millions of potential customers.

The main benefit iStock offers over Getty Images, is the lack of exclusivity; photographers can upload their images to iStock, and still sell them elsewhere.

To make things even better, there is an exclusivity option that provides higher earning potential. As iStock is classed as a microstock site, so the commission rate is lower–a flat rate of 15%.

The overall earning potential is not as high as Getty, so consider using iStock in conjunction with other non-exclusive stock sites.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Standard non-exclusive license
  • Pay rate: 15% flat rate for non-exclusive photos
  • Approval process: Each image must be approved based on set criteria

5. Getty Images

The best option for professionals to sell photos online

Getty Images website is one of the best websites to sell photos online
Getty Images has one of the best selling prices among sites to sell photos online.

Often seen as the top dog of stock photography, Getty Images boasts unbelievable quality images and has an impressive range of clients.

You’ll often see Getty Images used in news articles. The best thing about them is the photo sale price is fantastic, even for small resolution images. So even though the commission is only 20%, you can still make a decent amount.

However, images are exclusive, so you cannot sell images anywhere else if they have been uploaded to Getty Images.

Another plus is that the approval process for photos is considered more lenient than some other sites. They may, for example, accept a photo if it shows exceptional artistic qualities, even if part of it is out of focus.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: All photos are exclusive to Getty
  • Pay rate: 20% (on a high base figure)
  • Approval process: Each image goes through an approval process

6. 500px

Photo community site is a great way to sell and promote your work

A screenshot of the 500px website, a great way to sell photos online
Images submitted to 500px are also distributed through Getty Images.

The 500px website is both a photography community and a platform from which to sell photos.

It features high-quality photos in a range of different disciplines. Users can advertise their photography skills and promote their work to potential clients.

Moreover, users can sell their images directly through licensing. There are no submission fees, and the commission is split between exclusive, and non-exclusive images.

The rates are 60% for exclusive image rights, which is quite attractive. Even the lower rate of 30% for non-exclusive photos is comparable to other stock sites.

The 500px community is thriving, and images submitted are also distributed through Getty Images.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Exclusive and non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: 60% for exclusive, 30% for non-exclusive
  • Approval process: Strict approval process–each photo must be reviewed and approved.

7. CanStockPhoto

Boost your earnings with no submission fees or monthly costs

A screenshot of the Can Stock Photo website
Can Stock Photo has no submission fees or monthly costs.

Another excellent place to sell photos online is Can Stock Photo.

This platform offers relatively cheap prices for images. Contributors, however, are paid generously with a 40% retention for each image sold.

Moreover, there are no submission fees or monthly costs. To submit photos, users must complete a simple application and submit 3 images.

It should be noted, however, that contributors can only withdraw earnings when they have a balance of more than $50.

In addition, users retain full rights to their images–they can be freely redistributed to other platforms.

Can Stock Photo has just under 1 million active members, and boasts an easy-to-use platform and submission system.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Retain ownership of images
  • Pay rate: From 40%
  • Approval process: Application required and submission of 3 photos

8. Stocksy

High-end stock site only accepts the exceptional

A screenshot of the Stocksy website home page
Stocks offers exceptional quality images and one of the best-earning rates available.

If you are accepted by Stocksy, you could earn a lot. This curated stock photo site periodically opens applications–you cannot join at any time, like other stock sites.

The emphasis here is on quality and the photos featured are exceptional. If you are accepted, you know that you have true talent.

It has a fantastic 50% standard earning rate; one of the best available for stock photo sites.

Contributors must remember, however, that exclusivity of your images is required.

The platform is fantastic though and has a large customer base with decent base prices for photos.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Standard royalty-free or extended licensing
  • Pay rate: 50% for standard royalty-free, 75% for extended licensing
  • Approval process: Stringent application and approval process

9. CreStock

A Microstock platform that boosts sales in conjunction with other sites

A screenshot of the CreStock website home page
CreStock boasts millions of images and subscribers.

The CreStock website is a similar microstock platform to Shutterstock.

It boasts a large consumer base with millions of images and subscribers, but potential earnings are not high.

Image prices are low and even at high download volumes, the commission is only 40%. But when used in conjunction with other stock sites, you can rack up a nice flow of cash.

It does, however, have lengthy approval times. The website currently states they have a backlog of images, so approval times can stretch into months.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: 20% to 40% for single download, $0.25 to $0.40 for subscription downloads
  • Approval process: Lengthy approval process due to backlog

10. 123RF

Reach a wide audience with a site that sells images in 44 countries

A home page screenshot of the  123rf photo stock website
The 123rf sells photos online in 44 countries.

123rf is an established stock photo website with a customer base of more than 5 million people.

It sells photos online in 44 countries and has great earning potential; commission rates range from 30% to 60%.

Plus, photos uploaded are non-exclusive and can be used elsewhere. 123rf works on a credit system: customers purchase credits, which in turn, allow them to buy photos. This is why commission rates vary.

Subscription plans offer cheaper image prices, whereas customers pay more for single images. Prices are slightly more expensive than Shutterstock.   

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive and retention of ownership
  • Pay rate: 30% to 60% depending on photo and license sold
  • Approval process: Quick approval process

11. Etsy

Minimal listing fees make this e-commerce site appealing

A screenshot of the Easy website home page
Listings last for 4 months on the Easy e-commerce marketplace.

Etsy is a marketplace behemoth. It is arguably the most popular e-commerce marketplace for arts and crafts in the world.

It boasts more than 30 million active buyers, so the potential for earning is great. Listing fees are minimal at just $0.20. Furthermore, each listing lasts for 4 months.

However, there are both transaction and payment processing fees which amount to just under 10%. But, this does mean you take over 90% of the selling price.

The platform is easy to use and offers great scope for revenue. Moreover, each user can customize their shop and use a myriad of tools for promotion and marketing.     

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: $0.20 listing fee, 5% transaction fee, 4% payment processing
  • Approval process: None

12. ArtFire

Reasonable price plans make this a great place to sell photos online

A screenshot of the ArtFire website home page
ArtFire is one of Etsy’s direct competitors.

Touted as one of Etsy’s direct competitors, ArtFire has a large following of dedicated craftspeople. It is the perfect platform on which to sell photography.

There are 3 reasonable price plans available; standard, popular, and featured.

The standard shop offers 250 listings, which should be ample for photography. Moreover, listing fees are just $0.23 per photo, the final percentage you earn is 87.25%, and there is a monthly fee of $4.95.

Each shop is customizable and features product categories, star ratings, and search filters.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: 87.25% after valuation fee
  • Approval process: No approval, except account registration

13. Zibbet

Use sales channels to sell via this e-commerce site

A screenshot of the Zibbet stock photography site home page

Established in 2009, Zibbet has become a prominent e-commerce marketplace tool. Zibbet uses sales channels: a channel is whichever platform you use to sell your photography. You must pay for each ‘channel’ you use.

Once you upload photos to Zibbet, they can distribute your photos to any of the sales channels. Current available sales channels are: Etsy marketplace, Zibbet marketplace, A.C. Moore marketplace, and a Stitch website (Zibbet’s own website creator). The flat fee is $5 per month, per channel.

Moreover, each seller’s store includes features such as reviews, contact info, and a ‘meet the seller’ section.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Non-exclusive
  • Pay rate: 100% (minus monthly subscription fee)
  • Approval process: No approval except account registration.

14. Personal Websites

Gain full control over selling with a personal website

The home page of the Shopify website
Shopify is just one platform available with which to create an e-commerce website.

If you already have a large following on social media or planning to brand yourself online, using your own website to sell stock images could be the best method. It will save you a ton on sales fees and there is virtually no competition, as long as you can drive traffic to it.

Plus, you get full control over the design, without having to comply with sales regulations. However, there are other associated costs, such as web hosting, themes, and marketing.

Related Article: Photography Marketing

Platforms such as Shopify, Wix, and Weebly all have an e-commerce functionality. Shopify, in particular, is a superb platform with great customization options.

When creating a personal website, you could also link to other marketplaces where you have listings, such as Etsy, or social media.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: Your own terms
  • Pay rate: 100% minus fees (website hosting fees/platform fees…etc)
  • Approval process: None

15. Social Media

Utilize your social media accounts to sell photos online

A screenshot of the Facebook Marketplace home page
Facebook Marketplace is one social media outlet to sell photos online.

People often overlook social media as a viable platform for selling products and services.

Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are all ways with which you can sell photos online.

Facebook has a myriad of options, such as Facebook Marketplace, and even Facebook business pages. In select countries, Instagram allows businesses to create shopping feeds on their pages. Plus, you can always direct interested buyers to your own website (option #14 above).

The possibilities are endless with the potential to reach millions. Moreover, the cost to promote and sell photos through social media is low compared to the commission rates on stock sites.

Important Features

  • Licensing terms: None
  • Pay rate: 100% minus the promotion costs
  • Approval process: None

Sign up here: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Tips for Selling Photos Online

Now you have an idea of the different platforms available, how can you make sure you stand out from the crowd to ensure your photos sell?

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Upload High-Resolution Images

This is a basic point, but a vital one. Your submitted images should be of the highest resolution. If you submit low-resolution photos, they will likely be rejected; you will have wasted your time and effort.

A computer screen showing a range of stock photos
You have to make your images stand out from other similar shots on stock photography sites. Photo by Guilherme Vasconcelos on Unsplash.

Websites such as Shutterstock and iStock Photo receive millions of submissions; why should a customer choose your photo of a golden beach over the 150 other beach shots?

You should choose unique images, and research common trends and niches that stock sites are looking for. Most stock sites publish what is customers are looking for (here is what’s in demand at Shutterstock).

3. Sell Across a Range of Sites

If you want to sell photos online, it’s best to upload content to several online platforms. It’s best to use a mix of microstock sites such as Shutterstock, together with macro stock sites such as Getty Images (as we mentioned above you can’t upload the photos you list on Getty elsewhere).

Simply committing to one platform may not provide a sufficient stream of income.

Conclusion

So if you are an avid photographer, why not sell your work and make a bit of extra cash? Do you agree with our choices? Or, do you use a stock photo site we haven’t mentioned? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Other Resources:

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About the author

Ramesh Yahathugoda

My love for photography started when I went on a hiking trip to Alberta's Banff national park. I have more than 10 years of experience shooting nature and landscape photography and I am a member of Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC).

My passion is to help others become better photographers. I share photography knowledge and review camera gear on PhotoBlog's official blog to achieve that goal. In my spare time, I love to read, run, and go on hikes! To see my latest adventures, visit my travel photography blog here on PhotoBlog.com

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