Nowadays, you don’t need much to take pictures regularly. Most phones end up taking great photos and many of us have our own digital cameras too.
We don’t even need to get film developed to see what photos we’ve taken. Instead, it’s all in front of us.
This means that you can get paid for taking pictures.
Think about it.
There are so many different places that need specific images. Lifestyle or hobby blogs are always looking for photos that highlight their specific topics.
Likewise, there are so many people just looking for beautiful images. It’s no wonder really – as the prettiest websites are the ones that get the most attention right from the beginning.
But, how do you make money this way?
Stock Photo Sites
If you want to get paid for taking pictures, stock photo sites are the perfect place to start. After all, these sites are huge and they’re always looking for more images.
Each of these sites has their own quirks – with different requirements and royalties. Often, this means your photos have to be decent and some sites only look for high-quality pictures.
Sometimes, you’ll get paid simply for your images.
Mostly though, income comes from images that get purchased. That’s the case with iStockPhoto:
You can even sell the same image on multiple sites, most of the time. But, make sure you read the terms and conditions of each site carefully first.
But, sometimes companies will offer higher commissions if you deal with them exclusively. So, it’s up to you.
Submitting to these sites is pretty easy. Often you just need a free membership and in some cases, there is even an app that helps you get your photos online.
Be warned though – sites won’t accept all the photos you offer.
Each will have their own standards of quality and specific types of images that they’re looking for. For example, sometimes sites might want mostly images with people, while others may be more interested in business or travel images.
So, shop around and find a site that is a good fit.
There are lots out there to choose from:
- Dreamstime (25-50% royalties)
- iStock Photo (15% royalties)
- Fotolia (20-63% royalties)
- ShutterStock ($0.25 - $28 per download)
- 123RF (30-60% royalties)
- Can Stock (50% royalties)
- Alamy (50% royalties)
The royalties provided here are accurate at the time of the post and for most users. However, if you sell exclusively to the company, you may earn higher royalties. For some companies, you may also earn more if you sell a decent number of photos.
On a side note, images sell at different prices for each of these sites. So, a higher percentage royalty doesn’t necessarily mean more income overall.
Actually Getting Paid for Taking Pictures
To some degree, just about everybody is a photographer. That makes it much harder to get paid for taking pictures.
After all, it isn’t hard for people to pull out their phone and take an image, regardless of where they are and what they are doing.
Stock photo sites are a great way to go but they typically receive a lot of submissions. Only some of those images will ever get purchased by customers.
For example, most sites have no shortage of beautiful scenery shots and you can even find many similar images on free stock sites (like Pexels).
For that matter, many people who look for images (like bloggers) have the ability to take that type of image themselves. This makes supply pretty high and demand low.
So, if this is the type of image you’re selling, you probably won’t get all that much interest. But, if you can take unusual images, then you have a much better chance.
Doing so involves a bit of planning.
What about taking a look at sites you plan to submit to and look for gaps?
You could also look at which images sell well and which ones make the most popular lists. This may give you an idea about the types of images that sell and why.
Figuring out what is likely to sell before you take the photos can make all the difference in the world. Doing so gives you an edge over your competition and increases your chance at earning money.
Some people choose to specialize in a fairly narrow area. For example, business-related images are often popular, partly because there are so many blogs talking about making money.
Yet, even so, the competition is tough and there isn’t a lot you can do to make sure people notice your images.
Other Types of Sites
If you’re taking relatively generic photos, a stock photo site makes sense. These sites do have a broad audience, so the potential to make sales is high. But, there are other options too.
For example, some people sell photography through sites like Fiverr. Often that involves selling photography as a service, so you end up taking photos of what people want you to.
There are also some sites where you have the ability to develop storefronts to sell your own photos. The site SmugMug appears to be one example of this, as is PhotoShelter and it is also possible to sell rights to your images through Flickr.
The Power of a Website
The simplest way to get paid for taking pictures is literally that, to use a service that pays you for images. There are lots out there and I’ve only covered a handful in this post.
In most cases, the pay is pretty low, especially when you get started. But, you may have more potential if your photos are unique or stunning.
Even so, there are a ton of potential photographers out there. Most have some type of camera with them constantly and may have more time than you.
Photo sites are also jam packed with images and many of them are astonishing in their own right.
That makes for a pretty saturated market and intense competition.
Without a doubt, it is possible to get paid for taking pictures and many people do. If your images are unusual in some way, the process may even be worth the effort.
Nevertheless, this isn’t a way to get rich quick. In most cases, you’ll need to spend time planning the images you take and getting good shots. Even then, many of the images that you put online may never sell.
If you’re a photographer at heart – or even if you have another passion – developing your own website actually makes a lot more sense.
For one thing, combining your own images with a site tends to work extremely well. Doing so gives you the chance to showcase your passions, whatever they may be.
This is also a great way to make a site more personal and unique.
Now, websites are powerful tools for making money, especially if you combine them with good images.
One technique would be to use a website to actually sell the rights to your images, or even physical copies. Some people do this successfully. But again, you face fierce competition and people simply won’t buy unless your images are extremely unusual.
The alternative is to use your images to complement a website.
Here, you’re not making money from the images directly but they are still helping you to make money. In fact, some of the best websites are the ones that heavily rely on their own images, like the site below (Feast: An Edible Road Trip).
With images, you have the chance to create something truly unique.
At the same time, a website lets you target pretty much any topic that you can image.
There are blogs on:
- First Person Shooters
- Jewelry Making
- Game of Thrones
- Beer Making
- Vegan Foods
…and the list goes on.
The options for topics are endless – and you can make money off just about any type of website.
Doing this involves a process called affiliate marketing. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it before (and you can check out a guide here) but that’s simply because affiliate marketing is so powerful.
The idea of affiliate marketing is making sales for a commission. That sounds like a drag but the process is easier than it sounds.
Affiliate marketing works so well because it’s all online. This means you don’t have to directly make sales to people.
Instead, you focus on building a site and creating good content.
The end result is that you get to make money by writing about things you love. Doing so also lets you build up a reputation in your field. You can even end up using your site as a way to promote yourself, if you have skills in a particular area, like photography or writing.
Because you’re not making sales directly there is a lot of potential to scale up a website-based business. Over time, this could even mean that you’re making a full-time income, while the amount of work involved may stay the same.
Aside from all of these advantages, there is one simple reason to get involved in affiliate marketing.
It’s easy to learn.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert and you don’t need to know coding. In fact, you can be a complete beginner in every single area and still succeed. More than anything, you just need patience and a willingness to grow.
There are a number of ways to get started but the best one that I’ve found is a training site called Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy Affiliate isn’t like other programs. It doesn’t try to trick you into buying a lot of things you don’t need and it doesn’t offer outdated advice. Instead, the information is up-to-date, with new training being added as the internet marketing world changes.
The site also offers a strong community support structure, which gives you the chance to learn from others and get feedback along the way. That aspect is a rarity but it is what makes Wealthy Affiliate so perfect for beginners.