Can you earn money from selling Photographs?

Like me, most of us who take photographs regularly will no doubt have had the thought cross their mind that if I like an image then maybe someone else will too and buy a copy. So where did I start after all there are a number of ways to approach this and at the time I was only looking for a way to help support my hobby.

Option 1  – Create prints, frame them and try and find a buyer possibly at a local market, For – all the profit you make is your own, Against – It costs financially and in time to print, mount, frame, buy equipment and hire a stall on the off chance someone will buy it on the day. I decided quickly that this option was not for me.

Option 2 – Joined a local art gallery, provided them with a few framed images so that they can sell them for me. For – the gallery does the selling, the gallery holds regular exhibitions, Against – Annual membership fee, they keep a percentage of the sale price.

Option 3 – Provided digital images to an online agency that does the printing, framing, shipping and handles sales. At present I am using Fineartamerica, Redbubble, Zazzle and Crated, if you want to check out my shops the links are on the front page. For – I can upload any image and determine which product it sells on and for how much, they contain social networks for all artists to promote each other, Against – Some have an annual membership fee, Fineartamerica for example charges $30US pa for premium but does provide a personal website.

Option 4 – Provided digital images to an online shop to sell as digital downloads, currently giving Etsy a try. I could also sell prints through Etsy but that would still give me the problems of printing and shipping. For – I can upload any image and determine its selling price, contains a social networks for all artists to promote each other, Etsy handles the sale finances, Against – Etsy charge 20 cents for each image uploaded and a percentage of the selling price when sold. The link to Etsy is on this page.

Option 5 – Upload images to a stock library, these are the images that are used every day in magazines, advertising etc. The images are sold under licence so the returns will vary depending upon what level/size is bought. I’m currently uploading to Dreamstime, Bigstock and 123RF. If this is for you the links are at the bottom of the page. There is no joining fee for these libraries. For – Once the image is accepted they handle everything, returns per image can be small but regular as the same image can sell over and over.

The type of image needed can vary, for example in one library this picture of Stonehenge has sold 47 times while the UK Notes has sold 22 times.

Stonehenge Sunset England

Stonehenge Sunset England

UK Notes

UK Notes

Against – Having millions of images in their library they only want the best and so will reject any that do not meet their criteria.

Up front I had to decide where I wanted to spend the majority of my time, either taking and editing the photograph or running back and forwards between the printers, framing and post office. Taking the image works for me every time.

So there you have it, there are obviously many other ways of selling but these are my current methods, its a bit daunting at first but If anyone has any queries then please contact me and I’ll try and help, it all depends on how much time you want to spend on it.


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