How To Make Money Taking Pics And Selling Them Online As Stock Photos

dukeo.com

I bet you didn’t even realize that if you’re good with a camera you can make money taking photographs and selling them online as stock photos. And you don’t have to be an Ansel Adams, either. There’s a huge market for images on the Internet and all you have to be able to do is point, click and upload.

stock photo money online

Look at any blog post or article on the Internet and you’ll find it includes at least one photo. Images are important because they not only help the reader visualize the content, they help break up the text and they attract attention. But where do those photos come from? Do you think every blogger in the world steps outside his door and snaps a pic before he posts? Wrong! There are bloggers out there blogging about cake recipes who don’t know a spatula from a screwdriver. They’re just passing along information. They have no intentions of baking that cake just so they can take a picture.

So where do those pictures come from? Some bloggers just copy them from other websites, which is totally illegal. Most pictures posted are the property of the person who took them. Unless, of course, they purchased them from someone else. Someone like you!

There are two ways you can make money taking photographs and selling them online as stock photos. The first is to list them with one of the sites that specialize in stock photos. Like iStockPhoto.com, for example. These sites allow photographers and graphic artists to upload their work and sell it online. Your pictures are watermarked so someone can’t just copy and paste. But, after they pay a fee, they can download your pictures and use them on their websites.

On these types of sites you can sell multiple copies of each picture. One person might buy your picture of a pile of puppies, or hundreds may purchase it. Either way, each person who pays the fee owns the right to use your picture in their promotional materials. As you can probably guess, the more pictures you include in your online portfolio, the more money you’ll make.

What kind of pictures sell best? Any kind really. It’s hard to know what’s going to trip some blogger’s trigger. Take a look around iStockPhoto.com and you’ll see pictures of everything from A to Z. When you list your photos on these sites the key is to use as many keywords as possible to describe them because you never know what that blogger is going to be looking for. I’ve even searched for images of running farmers with blue shirts!

You’ll find hundreds of stock photo sites on the Internet. Some specialize in certain types of images, some have different pricing structures, etc. but most operate the same way – you take the pictures and then upload them to the site and assign the keywords or description. The site also makes money off of each download and they handle the promotion.

If you’re a little more daring you can set up your own website and sell your own photos. Choose one of the free blogging platforms like Blogger or WordPress or set up your own self-hosted site. When you list your pictures with a stock photo site, there may be hundreds of similar pictures for the buyer to choose from. But on your own site, your work is all the buyer will see. The drawback, of course, if that you’ll need to know how to maintain and promote your own site.

If you’ve always been interested in photography then get that camera out and get snapping. You could be making money right this very minute taking pictures and selling them online as stock photography.

Stéphane Kerwer
Article written by Stéphane Kerwer (1995 Posts)
Bonjour from a french guy. My name is Stéphane Kerwer and Dukeo is my blog. I do most of the heavy lifting in here but from time to time, you may see some guest posts. To receive updates from Dukeo, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
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24 Comments (Add one)

  1. Liz
    Liz

    WOW! this is TOTALLY my scene! I bet I’d make a killing at this, I am all over photography! Damn, thanks for the post! Gonna go snap some photos and like right now..

    1. Dana
      Dana

      Love your enthusiasm, by the way. :) It’s super adorable!

  2. Michelle
    Michelle

    This is a truly wonderful idea, and I would imagine you’re right, that it’s not something most people would think of on their own!

    1. Anon
      Anon

      It’s true. But you know, those are most often the very best ideas. That’s where there is money to be made. Anyone with an eye for what is needed, for what there is a demand for, can end up being very successful.

  3. Dana
    Dana

    It’s funny that it is these sort of niche things that people have to have the imagination to think “I wonder where people get *this* from, who is their supplier?” Because honestly this is something I never really questioned. I knew you can’t copy a picture from just anywhere, you have to look for pics that aren’t copyrighted. But to make money off of this is a new and brilliant idea. You’re wonderful at this, you know that?

    1. Sarah
      Sarah

      That’s why he’s the expert! He really knows his stuff. I wish I had any eye at all for photography, but sadly I’m photography-challenged. I can even take good pics with a disposable camera, I always get someone blinking or they come out all fuzzy. Not really my thing, lol.

      1. Dana
        Dana

        Practice makes perfect, my dear! You should never give up on something. If you really want to do something creative, just go for it. There’s no “wrong” way to do it. And if you stand to make money off of it, then that’s even more reason to get rid of all inhibitions and dive into something.

  4. Gorman
    Gorman

    LOL I love that part about not knowing the difference between a screwdriver and a spatula, that’s hilarious and totally me. People can write about whatever they want, if they’re skilled enough. The internet is full of information, all you have to do is do a little digging and put a post together, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an expert. But as you always say, being an expert is what’s going to bring you success in the end. Sorry, that was a little off the topic of photography, it just made me think a bit. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    1. Mitch
      Mitch

      Dude, you won’t believe the type of stuff you have to write about sometimes. I got a job blogging and doing social media for company that sells fur coats. What do I know about fur coats?? Nothing. Just gotta do the research and get it done, y’know? haha

      1. Gorman
        Gorman

        Hahahaahah! That’s hilarious, man. What a great example haha!

  5. Samie
    Samie

    This is fantastic! I do dabble in photography, just for fun really, never really done anything too professional, but I never thought I could really make any money off of it. You don’t have to be a great photographer, you say? Then this definitely sounds like it’s for me!

  6. Vijayraj Reddy

    I have a DSLR cam, but till now i have not captured photos for commercial purpose… i will try my luck soon…

  7. Mike
    Mike

    What a neat way of making money on the site, very intuitive and creative, I’m impressed. I hope that if any of the readers try it out, they will report back and let everyone know how successful they are with it.

    1. Liz
      Liz

      Roger that, will do! wish me luck!! ^_^

  8. Shad
    Shad

    I know that what I look for is something that will definitely stand out. Something that catches the eyes and makes the reader think or question the image. So you’re right, the pictures could be of anything, but if I was the one taking pictures, that’s what I would try to convey.

  9. AffMaster
    AffMaster

    This is a terrific idea! I’ve also heard of friends of mine who borrow form each others’ pages. One of them is a photographer with a photography blog, and the others use her images for their posts, with photo credits for her and a link to her site. So it’s a win win for everyone, and more exposure for all! Yet another example of why networking works.

  10. Charles P. Rutherford, Sr.
    Charles P. Rutherford, Sr.

    I think the data is very informative. But, can anyone
    tell me, what move would be more profitable for a beginner? (1).– To use a Photo site to market Pics along with other pics, & take a loss of Profits, (or) (2)- To host my own site, and show only my own Pics for prospective buyers to choose from? As, I could save money from profits, by eliminating the 2nd person.

    CPR Sr.

    1. Sté Kerwer

      Charles, this is an easy answer: go with a third-party site. By hosting your own site to sell pictures, you’ll have a very hard time attracting enough buyers to get profitable. On the other hand,, by using a 3rd party website, you can take advantage of all the traffic they are already receiving.

  11. Malika Bourne

    I do believe that I will do this. I take all kinds of photos and save them in case I need the photo. thanks, so much.

  12. Troy

    Great post and idea! I never realized how much money you could actually make from this, but it makes sense because stock photos are normally so expensive. I’ll be recommending this idea to friends who are particularly talented at photography. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph

    Ste, good to see you! I’m big on posting my travel pics; never really thought about monetizing them though. Thanks for planting the seed :)

  14. Helen Porter
    Helen Porter

    Photofolio are a customer of ours and are fairly new in the market but offering 85% of the revenue to the Photographer.

    Also if you email and ask for Amanda they are looking for people to trial the solution for free.

  15. Craig Murphy
    Craig Murphy

    A post anyone interested in photography should read, not only can you start earning money from your photos, but it’s a great way to improve your portfolio and get paid to do so, it’s also a great way to meet new contacts, people interested in hiring photographers, people who need a full time photographer to help with their eCommerce store etc

  16. Louie Sison

    Hi Stéphane,

    I am new into photography, i would like to test this one and hopefully I can earn decent dollar. Thanks for sharing!