Sell Photos Online: How To Make Money From Your Phone Photography


The idea of making a quick buck online is something that many of us think about. The modern world is full of schemes where we can make some supplementary income here and there. This can prove to be a good lifeline when your boss cuts back your hours, there is an unexpected bill or you simply need a little more weekend spending money. One option that is open to almost anyone is the chance to sell photos taken on our smartphones. Is this really a viable option and how might you make a profit here? 

Are your smartphone camera photos really good enough for you to make money with photography?

This all depends on what you mean by “good enough”. There are some sites out there that will pay good money for quality shots and actually assess the photograph. Therefore, you could stand out from the crowd here if you have some skills. Those of us that understand how to capture great landscapes and night time shots on our phones could do quite well. Those that need a little help can download a photo editor onto their phone first. Remember that the better the image, or the more interesting it is, the more interest it will get. 

However, there are other sites out there where quality isn’t quite as important. There are even some sites that will buy your selfies from you at a decent rate. You may need to match your content to the right site to judge the best way to make any money here. 

Who might be interested in your smartphone photos?

There are lots of sites that need stock images that they can sell on to buyers. These generic images are the ones that you see on many websites or blogs that loosely illustrate a point. Anything that showcases a major city, a summer holiday, a serene landscape, a rainy day or any other subject can sell. Website owners don’t have the time or money to create their own unique image. Your competent, simple shot could be perfect.

Sell your smartphone photos to these websites

There are lots of online platforms that will sell photos – including phone camera photos – at a decent rate. Some of the most popular options include the following. 

ShutterStock

We have to start with ShutterStock because it is still the leader in the marketplace. This is often the first place that buyers will come because of the vast selection of images available. Don’t be put off and think that this is just for “real” photographers with “real” cameras. The site has expanded to create a section for online photos and is accessible via iOS and Android devices. Keep in mind here that not only is the competition fierce between ShutterStock contributors, but their commission rate also isn’t the best out there. Are you happy to give this major name 70% of the sale?

FOAP

The reason why FOAP is so popular is actually down to two vital factors. The first is the pricing structure. Everyone gets the same rate – whether you are the buyers or the seller. There is a $10 fee for the photos and you get 50% of that (FOAP keep the other 50%). This is one of the best deals with this business model – much better than Shutterstock This is a popular resource for people looking to find cheap stock images. The other benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to be that good. They have a quality check for photos but anything 2 stars and over goes through. 

Alamy

Alamy is the other major name out there with millions of users across the world. This means a great audience for your smartphone photos and more chance of a sale. A benefit of choosing Alamy is that the commission rates are better than those of Shutterstock. An exclusive sale of an image gives you 50% of the fee. If you decide to retain the rights and sell the photo to other people, this reduces to 40%.

SnapWire

This is one for those that want to get a little more creative and test out their photography skills. The site attracts requesters that are in the market for a certain type of shot. They may be after a landmark at night, a specific type of landscape or something a bit niche. Contributors to the site then submit their photographs that match this request. The winner is then compensated for their efforts. This alternate approach also means that most users get a lot more for their efforts. It isn’t unheard of to make three figures for one shot. 

EyeEm

EyeEm is a platform that is slowly developing as one to watch. They have a good business model with helpful tools for users. They are also teaming up with Getty Images to broaden their field and reach more buyers. It is the use of AI here that is so appealing. The site scans each image to determine the quality and subject and this means they are more likely to reach the right buyer. With time, this could take over from ShutterStock as the preferred platform of photographers and buyers alike. 

There is another way to make money and sell photos online 

All the sites that we have mentioned here are essentially middlemen that take your photos and give them to other people. It is a way of generating images on mass in an efficient manner. You may have no idea what happens to the photo after that. To be honest, you may not care where the photos go if they are generic shots created solely as a money-making scheme. But what if you take some pride in your work? What if you know that you are actually pretty good and want those photos to be appreciated?

That is where you might decide to turn your smartphone photos into pieces of art. There are two approaches that you can take here. You might place them online where fans of your work can buy your images as prints. With the right marketing, you might even create a name for yourself and a few fans. If you want to take things further, you could instead use your photos to create merchandise to sell. You could print up coasters, cushions, poster and canvas in bulk and sell them at profit. This requires some thought and more business sense, which means it isn’t for everyone. But, it could prove to be a profitable venture for the right person. 

Online platforms for selling your photos as art

FineArtAmerica

One popular option here is to set up an account with FineArtAmerica. This company lets users create a portfolio of images for potential buyers to browse. These images can then be turned into physical prints or other merchandise such as canvases, cards and other decorative items. You pay for the production costs of the item and then get the profits back on the order. 

Etsy

An alternative option here is to set up your own Etsy store. Take the photos on your phone, turn them into merchandise, sell them on your personal store. You do have to be prepared to handle this side venture as a business. You are the one dealing the customers, handling goods and setting up the page. This can be daunting or rewarding depending on your ambitions and experience. You also get to determine your own prices and could earn more this way. This is a great choice for those that want to develop themselves in the arts and crafts world. 

The right platform to sell your photos online depends on your intentions.

Ask yourself what you really want out of this venture. Are you doing this to put your photographs out into the world and get noticed? Or, are you simply looking to make a little extra cash? If it is the latter, and the subject isn’t important, you can generate a slow stream of income on some reliable sites. Upload generic shots of decent quality in bulk, let the site sell them on and then enjoy your share of the profit. This only works if you have no attachment to the art. If you want to start a career in photography, think about the images and work on smaller quantities of interesting shots. Turn the best into profitable prints and merchandise and build a name for yourself. 

Choose your platform carefully when trying to make money with photography

Whichever approach you take, it is important to take the time to research your options carefully. Look at the terms and conditions of the sites. The ones we have mentioned here accept phone camera photos, but there will be others that don’t. They may also have rules and regulations on the content and quality of the images. It is also important to read the terms of payments. These platforms will have differing takes on commission and paying out on sales. Make sure that it is a fair deal. Most importantly, don’t stress out and make this a chore. Try and have some fun with this system for that easy route to some extra cash. 

The easiest way to sell photos online is here.

2 thoughts on “Sell Photos Online: How To Make Money From Your Phone Photography

  1. As an artist and writer who works from home, I’m always looking for a new gig, but it can get overwhelming to sort through all my options. I liked learning about new ways to promote myself outside of the “the usuals” because there’s just something bland and generic about sending your pics to stock agencies. I feel like I’ve got some new ideas, and that’s awesome.

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