No matter how talented you are with a camera, selling your photographs is a pretty daunting task. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a basic guide to help you out. Here are a few ideas of where to sell your shots online, plus some tips on ways to get your work get noticed once it’s listed.
What shots, where?
Do your research. Depending on the kind of photography you prefer to take, there will be sites which are better suited to your style than others. So rather than approach every photo-selling site, take a few minutes to consider which ones will provide the best marketplace for your creative work.
If you tend to take product shots or commercial photos then a microstock site is the best place for you to try. Below is a quick roundup of the best-known ones out there.
A microstock agency is a digital library where photographers can upload and sell their work. The most well-known microstock agencies include Fotolia, Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. It’s worth listing your work with more than one agency to ensure it reaches the widest possible audience. Before you sign up to a microstock site, make sure you read all the small print and the Ts and Cs to be absolutely certain that you understand your rights. Every agency will have slightly different commission rates and rules you need to adhere to.
If you sell your work on Fotolia, what you earn depends on several factors including the image’s exclusivity and your ranking in the site. Percentage-payments vary from 20% to around 60% for a single shot download. Fotolia has a range of subscription plans available for photographers, which can get a little confusing – take your time to think about your requirements before you sign up.
In terms of commission payments, Shutterstock offers one of the highest rates. Also, as it’s one of the best-known microstock sites the potential for large-volume sales is also much higher. However, there is a strict vetting process to go through before they’ll accept your work on the site.
iStockPhoto is probably the most famous microstock sites and the first port of call for most people searching for affordable stock photography. Commission rates range from 15% to 45%, but you’ll have to pass some strict vetting before they will accept your work. And with almost every photographer vying to get their work on the site, don’t be surprised if iStockPhoto turns down work that other sites have accepted; they can afford to be super picky.
Although not all the images on microstock sites are commercial, they are the ones that tend to sell the best. If your work is more artistic than corporate, you might want to consider approaching a creative online gallery.
Etsy is a brilliant online marketplace for creative arts. You have complete control of your output and are free to name your own price for your products. However, you will have to go to the extra trouble and expense of printing and posting your photographs. It’s a good idea to offer your work in more than one print size and engage in a little self-marketing within the site to really help your photos fly.
SmugMug offers you an online portfolio to present your work and is a popular choice for many photographers who want to sell shots. There are three account options to choose from. The entry level package gives unlimited photo uploads, unlimited traffic and a choice of portfolio themes, while the top-end pro account will let you name your prices, create coupons, run promotions and sell digital files.
Red Bubble is fee-free to sign up to and a slick way to showcase your work. You can sell your photos as framed prints or print them onto a huge array of items such as mugs and t-shirts. There’s a strong digital community behind the site, so the more regularly you use it and interact with others, the more likely it is that your work will sell well on there.
You’d be pretty naive to think that you can just pop your work onto a website and it will sell – you need to do more than that. The first thing to make sure that you’re correctly cataloguing your images. Label your work with as many appropriate tags as you can think of. This means that if someone is searching for a specific image they are more likely to come across your work – this is particularly relevant if you’re showcasing on microstock sites.
Promote your photos
You won’t get very far without your own online portfolio – with your own domain name ideally. One of the easiest ways to do this is using WordPress or at a digital portfolio site such as Carbonmade. It’s also important that you take advantage of the opportunities for promotion presented by social media. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are all great ways to drive more traffic to your site.