Make money with photography

NEWSFLASH: Just because your latest selfie received over a hundred likes on Facebook does not mean you're a professional photographer. 

You cannot pay your electricity bill with “Likes”, although I would love to see you try.

What can keep your lights on is extra money in your bank account. So, let’s explore how to convert your photography into cold hard cash.

Making money with stock photography

Stock photos are professional photographs of people, landmarks, nature, events or places. They are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis. They are typically used for commercial design. Brochures, banners, magazine adverts, billboards,  websites and apps often use stock photos.

There are lots of popular stock photography marketplaces online. For example, 123RF, iStock, Foap, Fotolia and Stocksy.

You do not need to be a professional to submit images but you do need to know the basics. The higher the quality of your image, the more likely it will be bought. A blurry selfie of you and the girls after having a bit too much to drink won’t make the grade.

It is better not to use a Smartphone, unless you really know what you are doing. If you do use a smartphone , use a HD camera lens kit. 

So, before you make money with stock photography you need to do a few things:

  • Decide whether you wish to focus on a specific niche or to make your photos more generic.
  • Research what is popular and trending.
  • Ensure that the photos that you take are suitable for commercial use.
    • Use a digital camera and focus on the right technical aspects to take sharp quality images.
    • Get a decent lens if you wish to vary the type of photos you are able to take.
    • Make sure the lighting is good. Nothing beats natural lighting and it is 100% free.
    • Using software to digitally enhance your photos increases your chances of success. Adobe Photoshop is the most well-known option.
  • Upload your photos and put as many relevant keywords as the platform allows.

Most sites charge a percentage of each sale. Some platforms require exclusivity, some pay more for exclusivity and some do not care if the photos you offer are exclusive.

Stock photography is about quantity as well as the quality. Many people who make decent money through stock photography sell hundreds of images a month. There is almost no limit to what can be submitted. Do not limit yourself to a single site, try a few and learn which ones work best for you.

Or if you are an experienced photographer

  • Imagebrief supports photographers who have industry experience. Not everyone can submit photos, only the best get approved. Imagebrief offers a far higher proportion of fees than traditional stock photography sites.
  • You can submit photos on Crated. The buyer can buy the photographs printed on a canvas or similar. Crated has a base price for each size and option, then you choose the mark-up amount. When an item sells you are paid 80% of that amount while Crated gets the remaining 20%.
  • Sell printed photographs on Etsy, the world’s biggest marketplace for original items. These are the type of photos that people would put up in their living room. Focus on things like landscapes and nature photographs and make sure they don’t suck.
  • You can sell online photography courses through Craftsy or Udemy.
  • You can offer photograph retouching services on Freelancer, Upwork, Repixl or Fiverr.
  • You can write an eBook with photography tips through Kindle Self Publisher.

Lastly, do you have really great photography gear and live in the land of (income) opportunity? Rent your gear out on Kitsplit or Cameralends.


Don’t let your photography skills go to waste. Go out there and snap a picture of a beautiful sunset, a magical forest or your photogenic cousin.


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