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How to Sell Stock Photography and the Sites You Should Be Using

Are you wondering how to sell stock photography?

If you're considering how to sell stock photography, you may consider finding a microstock website, such as Shutterstock, Fotolia, iStock, or 123RF, then follow the steps below:

  1. Become a contributor by signing up with one or more microstock sites.
  2. Get familiar with the licensing agreement for each site you use.
  3. Find a niche.
  4. Upload your work to gain approval as a contributor. (Approval can take several days, and images can be rejected. Don’t let this deter you!)

As your photos are downloaded, you will earn money, often in the form of a few cents per download. Different companies have different payment tiers and opportunities for pay increases.

how to sell stock photos

Becoming a contributor

Still curious about how to sell stock photography? Great! Now that you’re familiar with the steps involved, you can choose the photo sites best suited for your needs.

The process of actually becoming a contributor can be discouraging, simply because it involves registering, submitting, and sometimes getting rejected. Even if you feel a bit discouraged at first, don't be deterred.

Remember, contributing to photo sites is a bit of a numbers game. If you sign up with several platforms, you can potentially make money through multiple sites at a time. Additionally, if a photo doesn’t work for one platform, it could work for another.

Learning about licensing

Licensing looks different depending on the site and the license type, but you'll want to research each site carefully before making your images available. This extra step could save you heartache down the road.

As you're becoming familiar with licensing, consider making a list and jotting down some notes. The more information you know, the easier navigation will be on the microstock sites you use.

selling stock photography

Beating the competition with a niche

Once you’ve been approved as a contributor, you may run into a common problem: realizing your pictures don’t exactly stand out.

Stock photography is highly accessible, meaning it’s also extremely competitive.

The whole “finding a niche” thing is a bit of a cliché, but it's actually good advice. Bloggers cover endless subjects, and most bloggers want high-quality photos for their posts.

Rather than snapping a picture of that perfect sunset, you may instead consider shooting your kid’s Girl Scout troop meeting or photos of the church choir.

If you feel yourself getting stuck on which niche to explore, consider what you might blog about; would you write about spring cleaning? Movies? Action figures? What sorts of activities do you do? The answers to these questions may be an unexplored niche in the world of microstock.

Uploading your work

Where should you start uploading photos? Below are popular stock photography sites, and we’ve also asterisked the ones that are most profitable.

how to sell photos on Shutterstock


Shutterstock is perhaps one of the biggest stock sites available, boasting an enormous library of stock images, videos, music, and media.

Shutterstock is a longtime player, so a new user may find the site a little overwhelming. While this platform is saturated, it's also constantly expanding inventory. Contribute to Shutterstock here.

Where to sell stock photos


Fotolia, Adobe’s microstock agency, offers stock images, vectors, and video. Fotolia seeks to appeal to international markets as well as artistic communities. Contribute here.

how to sell stock photos

Getty Images

Since its creation in 1995, Getty Images has been a massive player in the photo industry. Getty Images offers stock images and video to individuals and corporations. Contribute here.

how to sell stock photos


iStock was purchased by Getty Images in 2006. Since then, iStock has continued to be a great resource for fiscal businesses and professionals. Click on the Getty Images link above to become a contributor.

You may also remember our blog post with iStock coupon codes. You can those here.

how to sell stock photos


Dreamstime has been in the stock photo business for almost twenty years. Dreamstime offers millions of photos, illustrations, vectors, and clipart. Contribute here.

how to sell stock photos


Stocksy is a self-proclaimed artist-owned cooperative. The site offers distinctive and artistic stock photos, which are perfect for creatives, bloggers, and imaginative businesses. Contribute here.

how to sell stock photos


Crestock prides itself on helping those with small budgets and big projects. Crestock is consistently focused on a pleasant experience for those involved, and it offers an extensive library of stock images. Contribute here.

how to sell stock photography


123RF provides an expansive list of stock resources, including photos, vectors, footage, and audio. This site has been actively growing since 2005, and 123RF works to serve companies large and small. Contribute here.

how to sell my photos


500px focuses on photographers who want to garner clients and improve businesses. For the highest tier of their three-tier program, they have partnered with Adobe to offer Photoshop and Lightroom. Contribute here.

How can I make money with my pictures?


The creators of Alamy foresaw digital photography’s potential and never looked back. The company has a large focus on growth, philanthropy, and contributing artists. Contribute here.

Where can I sell photos?


Although their pricing structure is a little different than most, Foap offers a great financial opportunity for photographers.

Additionally, their unique photos are generally free to use, print, and edit. Contribute here.

selling stock photos


Snapwire makes stock photography easy for businesses by providing custom photos for specific requests.

Users’ needs are paired with photographers who can fulfill those needs, making a pretty great site. Contribute here.

How to sell photos online


For mobile photographers, Clashot is a powerful app that allows users to upload photos from their smartphones.

Once uploaded, the photos enter the Depositphotos bank and become potential money-makers for photographers. Get the app here.

how to sell stock photos


Scoopshot is another request-based program. This Helsinki-based company offers a three-tier subscription platform.

Scoopshot aims to create a safe environment for businesses and photographers/videographers to hire and be hired. Sign up and contribute here.

how to sell stock photos


Twenty20 offers a massive library of mobile photos, and you can sign up through their app or online.

This is a perfect program for businesses looking for youthful images. Register and contribute here.

what you need to know about stock photos

Why you should be willing to wait

Once you’ve done your research and uploaded your photos, it’s time to play the waiting game. It can take time for your photos to be accepted, and it can take some time for them to gain traction, too.

This is because you're making an investment by uploading pictures. (And think of it this way; unless you purchased a camera specifically for stock photography, you’re probably only investing your time.)

Remember, you never know which photo will be the one users love. With this in mind, it's good to put your work out there and see what happens.

how to sell stock photos


Good photography, like anything, takes devotion and study. However, not all photographers make photography their primary business.

Stock photography presents a wonderful opportunity for professionals and hobbyists alike, allowing them to make money doing what they enjoy.

So, go. Find your niche, and start taking photos!

Kaitlin Westbrook is a content writer who covers business, creative content, professional writing, and more. When she's not writing, she enjoys movies, baking, and her Pomeranian.

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