Make money selling pictures online


The more I venture in the realms of finding out the best ways to earn money working from home, the more I find that home based business is one of the most diverse, creative and eclectic I have ever come across. Virtually no day is the same, and the more you diversify (within limit, mind you, as you don’t want to become overly multi-tasking), the more intriguing your job will become. And that is because when working from home, not only you get rid of corporate obligations and become your own boss, but also because you end nurturing your true passions.

I love to take pictures! But…this is not me 🙂

I love taking pictures – not fancy pictures, as my equipment is very much limited to my iPhone. But I love to take pictures of every day stuff I come across: my family, my dog of course (which happens to be part of the family anyway), a pretty flower, a horse down next door field, a funny or a beautiful building, anything that will catch my attention and which I may find quirky. It’s one of my passions. And looking around I realised that I could actually monetize on my hobby of taking pictures – I could make money selling pictures online. Let me tell you how to do it: how to sell pictures online, where to sell pictures online, and how to make money selling pictures.


Why selling pictures online

Selling pictures is an old trade – as old as the first prototypes of camera

The ‘art’ of selling picture is one of the oldest trades – dare I say since the first cameras with the birdie and the small curtain under which the photographer used to hide to look through the lens. It only but made sense that, as taking pictures was a rare skill that hardly anybody had, the few that could take pictures and could afford such refined equipment should see photography as a business opportunity.

Roll on a couple of centuries, and virtually everybody can improvise themselves expert photographers – no offense to the real professionals, whose job remains preserved as they are the only ones to be able to take pictures at an artistic level. But with the current sophisticated and relatively affordable equipment available on the market, we can all nurture photography as a skillful hobby.

But as easier it is to become an amateur photographer, it also becomes easier to share pictures online. All equipment available on the market nowadays, for an iPhone of course to the more state-of-the-art cameras, are all digitally compatible. Which means you can easily download your pictures digitally too, and share with the world virtually, primarily through social media, and simply by pushing a button.

So, if people are so keen to see our pictures, why should we not try to make a few bob out of this passion, if for nothing else but ongoing equipment maintenance expenses?


How to sell pictures online

Selling pictures online is, as it happens, much easier than it sounds. There are a lot of companies, such as Pixabay, who have a free stock of images as well as copyright protected pictures, which can only be downloaded at a small premium. But there are companies, such as Shutterbox, which solely sell pictures downloaded by its ‘contributors’, i.e. us, the ones who want to sell their own pictures.

Shutterbox is not the only company renowned for selling pictures, but it is certainly one the most used by people who want to buy pictures, due to its extensive stock and yes, a very good marketing campaign. But Shutterbox is also one of the most reputable, as through a strict vetting process, in fact it ensures that your copyright from your portfolio of pictures is safely protected.


Copyright, a word on this

But, what is copyright, and how does it work?

Always ensures, when using other people’s pictures, you have permission or a license to use them

As a blogger and online entrepreneur, I am always after pictures. I can use mine – and depending on the niche I tackle every time, I may try to use my pictures as extensively as possible. Nevertheless, at times I may have to use pictures taken or created and edited by others. And what better source than the internet as an endless font of limitless pictures and graphics!

However, whenever we use pictures from the internet, we must be careful in picking up the right ones, as a lot of material available online is subject to usage licenses and copyright protected.

When a picture is copyright protected, it means we cannot use it unless we obtain permission by its owner, or in other words the person that took that picture. Normally this happens either by you contacting the person by email, or via their website, if you have the details, or if you purchase their pictures.

Click below for some good training I found on Wealthy Affiliate from a fellow member and friend, and then leave your comment below to let me know what you think about it.


Once you purchase the picture, you purchase the right of usage from the owner, and you will never have to pay for that picture ever again. Pictures purchased in this manner are classed as ‘Copyright Free’.

On the other hand, when you find a free stock of pictures online, that means that the owner of that picture relinquished any ownership rights. This means that picture is available to anybody that will have access to it, for any use and for as many times as different people may want to use it.

When we sell our pictures online, we normally allow anyone to purchase the right of use of our pictures for any use and for as many times as the person wants.

The beauty of selling pictures is that more than one person can purchase our pictures!


Who wants to buy our pictures

The main buyers of online pictures are people like you and me, people who needs good pictures to market their business. But, if you think of it, the use of pictures may also be used by any type of business.

For instance, I realised how pictures are important when I got married – yes, in spite of my mature age, it was only three years ago. And yes, I am not referring to pictures of our wedding. I am in fact referring to pictures that were shown on our wedding literature, from the Save The Date cards to the Invitations to the Thank You cards. Some couples use own pictures, but we didn’t, as we didn’t want to scare the guests off! And all our stationery had pre-made pictures that must have come from somewhere or somebody.

Well, whoever designed that stationery would have used pictures that had most likely been purchased online.

Yes, admittedly there is always the competition created by those free stocks available online. How to beat it? With really good quality pictures, with quirky and original shots, with images with intrigue you as a picture taker. Because if something you see inspires you, I am sure there are hundreds of people out there who will find your pictures equally captivating as you.


The earnings

Can you make money selling pictures? I think you can, but ultimately it depends on how committed you are to what may start as a hobby, and on how much you are prepared to invest in this business.

You can take wonderful pictures with a sophisticated smartphone

Some people treat this business as a supplementary income to their main one. I have a good friend at work, whom we all encouraged to start selling his pictures as he is a stunning photographer, loves his food and to travel, and every time shows us pictures which, I can assure you, are breath taking. And I am sure, in addition to his main full time salary, he makes a very good earning from selling his pictures. And guess what, he does it all with his smart phone!

But, as I say, the competition of free stocks available online is out there. And, unless you are naturally gifted, but you love to take pictures, you may want to just do a course in professional photography, of you might want to invest in more sophisticated equipment.

The average ongoing rate you can sell your pictures at is approximately $0.25c per picture for every time that a user downloads your pictures to their server. This sounds a rather small figure for someone that wants to make even small pocket money. However, imagine how many times your pictures can be used. Also, the more your picture is downloaded by a new user, the more credit you earn to the eyes of the royalty free company you contribute to, the higher in the rank of pictures fitting a specific niche your picture will score, until whenever a user searches for a niche and your picture will every time be shown as one of the first ones.

And you can contribute with your portfolio of pictures to more than one online company. Exposure in this type of business is, like with everything else, vital to the success of your pictures!


I love to monetize from one of my favourite hobbies

Taking pictures is and remains a passion for me. As a non-professional picture taker, if I were to focus on the money aspect of this venture, I think I’d end up taking horrible looking pictures.

I do not sell pictures showing faces, in respect of the privacy of my family and friends. But I do sell pictures of my beloved Border Terrier, as he’s the most handsome dog in the worlds (a big world populated by many

My border terrier Indy
My border terrier Indy – one of my favourite pictures

handsome and loving dogs!!), and I can and do make a nice stash of dosh.

I treat this venture as supplementary income. But I am sure if I spent more time taking pictures, and posted more pictures also, I would sell more.

This is another form of freelancing where you remain in control. With the right level of marketing, selling your pictures will enable you to remain in control of your earnings too!

Are you an amateur photographer like me, but never realised you could monetize on your passion?  If you found this article interesting and if it gave you good ideas for extra income, or if you want to find out more about it, leave your comment below.  I shall assist as best as I can.





14 thoughts on “Make money selling pictures online”

  1. Oh, I wish I had seen your blog post when I was a bit younger. My hands do not stay as steady as in younger days, but I am always taking pictures!
    I hope many will find this valuable information before it’s too late for them ad utilize it.
    Since I also am beginning my own business, I would like to know how I will know if a picture has royalties on it? Am I in danger of clicking on, saving the wrong picture by accident?


    1. Food for thought Lynne. I am endeavouring to find out more, i.e. if there is a public body from which to find out. However, as a general rule, you are going to have to trust the company you get your pictures from. For instance, the likes of Pixabay, which provides a free stock, will tell you that all pictures are royalty free, but with some limitations. Other providers, like Shitterbox, tell you that you can pay for the unlimited use, but your payment will buy you the license to use, whereas the picture remains the ownership if it’s author.
      But yes, keep an eye on my future posts, as I am endeavouring to find out more and get back to you.

  2. Very interesting article. My wife is an avid photographer, and we’ve talked about this. You know how it goes – talk but no action! Might not be a bad idea to do some due diligence on the best ways to get paid!

    1. Absolutely, Steve. I mention Shitterbox, but really there are so many platforms you can use. Have a browse around and let us know if you find anything more competitive.

  3. Thank you friend for sharing this very important post with me. You have taught me that I can sell my own taking pictures online and make some little income out of it.

    Yes, we all can take pictures, with the help of modern technol, we can even take pictures with our mobile phones. So I agree with you perfectly that we don’t need some special skills to be able to take pictures nowadays.

    Gone are the days when you needed to be a professional photographer to be able to take pictures and even use it as your business and source of income. Thanks to modern technology.

    I also appreciate your letting me know that not all the pictures online are free to use in my blogging. It means that I need to be extra careful when selecting free images for my blog post.

    1. Thank you for passing by, Stephen. And yes, you are right, I might take a little while before you start finding people that may be interested in purchasing your pictures, but once you find that one person interested in your niche, money starts coming in regularly. And do you know what prompted me to start selling pictures of my dog? The fact that I could hardly find any picture of Border Terriers online!! I should say that my needs as a customer prove my point that there is a market for online pictures out there 🙂

  4. Hmmm, selling pictures. I agree this could be a lucrative form of work. Nowadays anything you do well could be monetized. Great post.

    1. Yes, you are right Brent. All it takes is lots of perseverance and creativity :). Thanks for your comment – your input is really appreciated.

  5. I never thought about selling pictures seriously as a way to make money. I too at one point loved to take pictures. I just wish I lived in a more interested area. I live in the desert, boring! So I don’t take many pics. This is a great idea for college students who need to make extra money.

    1. It’s funny you think where you live it’s boring, Mellisa, as I think exactly the same of where I live too. I think sometimes what’s boring to us may be the most interesting niche to others. There will always be a market for your pictures, no matter how uninterimg they may look to you. You never know…

  6. Great post, thanks so much for sharing. I’m keen to give this a go as I have a ton of photos that I’ve amassed over the years. Is it better to use a platform like shutterstock or try and sell them yourself direct to the customer? Cheers Karen

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Karen. As a novice in this field, I wouldn’t even know how to start selling pictures from my own platform. I guess you would have to load a portfolio in your own website dedicated to photography, but you would have to be most careful when it comes to the legal implications of copyright (which I have touched on in a previous post). My instinct as a beginner would be to avail of a prominent company such as Shutterstock to affirm yourself as a good provider of pictures.
      I hope this answer your question, and hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Thank you ever so much. And yes, you are right – all it takes is for you to build up a bit of portfolio of pictures covering different subjects, or simply taking shots of what you really like, and then uploading them online with a reputable internet based company, such as Shutterstock, to start making money. Good luck in your endeavours, and let us know how you get on 🙂

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