Making Money blogpost (MSN)

Make money selling your photos online

You don't have to be David Bailey to make money from your photos. If you're a good amateur you can make money from your snaps

By Jasmine Birtles 04/10/2010 10:43

Hello and welcome to my new Making Money blog. You could make some extra money through your photography (Image - Getty Images)This blog is going to give you loads of ideas for making a bit of extra cash on the side. We would all like to make a bit more money and there are all sorts of fun and easy ways to make extra money, often by using your hobbies. Even if you're stuck at home there are still lots of ways you can make money. I've found hundreds of them and I'm going to share many of them with you.


To kick off, let's look at photography. Do you love taking photos? Are you the one your friends always ask to "bring your camera with you" to parties or weddings? You could make money out of it!

I’m certainly not a good photographer. I even have trouble taking photos with my mobile phone. I keep pressing the ‘off’ button when I want to press the shutterConfused

But if you’re a bit of a David Bailey on the sly, you could make a regular little income out of it.

How do you do it?
Thanks to the internet your digital photos can be uploaded to an online photo agency and sold to anyone around the world. If your photos are popular (and you’d be surprised what is!) you could keep getting commission from them year after year.

You don’t have to be a professional either. Digital cameras are so good nowadays that anyone with an interest and a bit of an eye for a picture can take good shots. But they’re not generally interested in your holiday snaps (unless there are some really cool close-ups of tropical birds or perhaps a classic deserted beach with a single palm tree shot among them). They want photos that could be used in a professional context anywhere in the world.

The best way to sell your pics is to join up to one or more of the online photo agencies. The main ones that take shots from anyone are:


Submitting your photos
Each agency has its own registration process and it might take a while to get a response once you have submitted your photos, but be patient. They all have a lot of photos coming in and many of them are not worth looking at.

They also have their own technical requirements for submissions but most follow the basic principle that if you want to submit a photo to sell, it has to be an RGB JPEG saved at a high setting (such as Photoshop level 10 setting or 48 megabytes in size). They must also be uncompressed file sizes.


On the whole, the higher the image resolution, the more you’ll be paid, particularly when it comes to Alamy which tends to sell to the high-end market.

How much can you make?
Picture Nation pays the best rate. They pay 40% commission on all pictures, beginning at 40p for a subscription website resolution up to £30 for highest resolution.

With Fotolia, the minimum commission you can earn is 33% or up to 50% with a good ranking. It pays 5p for an extra small photo, £1 for a small photo and £2 for a medium photo.

The commission you make from 123RF is based on the package that buyers have, which means you could earn a different price for the same photo. The minimum amount you can earn is 35p for a blog resolution photo, and up to £1.34 for an ultra-high resolution photo.

iStockphoto generally pays 20%, but you could make up to 40% for exclusive pictures when your ranking is high (you can get a higher ranking as users vote for you). However, their rates of pay are very low and depend on the buyers, so you may not get anything for web resolution photos. This site is probably only good to look at when you can sell high resolution photos of very good quality.

Alamy supplies a high-end market of editorial, advertising and publishing companies so you have the potential to earn 65% commission. Their prices begin with £35 for a web resolution royalty-free photo, and up to £230 for the highest resolution royalty-free picture.

What kind of photos sell?
Don’t think that all your pictures need to be pretty to sell. Quite the opposite. Sometimes it’s very bland things like a close-up of a lightbulb or an open gate that are particularly popular. These photos are often bought by news operations and information websites which often need pictures to illustrate news stories or technical features. So if you want to make a regular income, think about topics that often have to be covered such as financial news, politics, food, health, education and weather and come up with unusual ways of illustrating them.

Be careful when it comes to selling photos of people and property though. If you take a photo with someone’s face in, they have to sign a waiver form to say they’re happy for the photo to be sold. If you plan to sell pictures of children you need to get their parents to sign a form to allow the images to go out.

It’s the same with property. You can’t just take a picture of a nice-looking house – or have a photo that includes someone’s house in it – without getting the owner’s permission to sell the picture. You can get free templates for waiver forms on the internet so just print some off and take them with you when you go out with your camera.

Now go through your photo library and see which ones could make you some cash!


Jasmine Birtles is editor of Money Magpie

06/08/2011 21:43

Since joining ThePIC - The Printed Image Company, in Jan 2011, I've uploaded 15 images, I've sold 3 canvases in the last 3 months, my first commission payment is about to be paid into my paypal account and I have a canvas print of one of my images hanging in G's Wine Bar in Gosport Hampshire - it's not been a bad 8 months considering it is free to join and if I hadn't joined my images would only be on my hard drive and nobody would see them.

All in all I'm delighted I took the risk and so far they have been true to their word - customers and photographers should take the time to check out the website.

27/01/2011 23:19
Well ThePIC has finally gone live and I've put a few of my pictures up to see what happens - it's nothing like my whole portfolio at the moment. For me it is risk free so it is well worth a try, I guess the next few months will really tell. So please go to ThePIC website and search the portfolio of pictures, you might discover one of my pictures. Smile
11/11/2010 17:16

I've been watching and I have recently joined The Printed Image Company, ThePIC, as a new company with a new approach they are developing well and ultimately I will have a FREE and SAFE method of discovering if my pictures will sell.

In my opinion they are well worth a look. Smile​tographers

02/11/2010 14:19
yes, this is another way to make money online, i am not a photographer but let try sell photos online, thank for sharing information.
15/10/2010 14:02

I agree unless you are a pro photographer you will struggle getting your pictures sold and there are minimum / complex entry requirements to sign up to agencies listed in the article – minimum number of images, lengthy tie in period etc.

Try looking at The Printed Image Company (​tographers) it seems here the photographer will get recognition by selling prints of their pictures to people who will hang them in their homes.


12/10/2010 13:43
Snappy Snapper has never had an image sold - 'keen amatuer' means wannabe but no good so far.
If your image sells for 'thousands' through an agency yuo're signed up for - you;d get thousands in commission - the average rate is 50% - and they do all teh selling work for you and pay the web, server and legal costs. If you used a proper library and they dared to 'rip you off' you could sue them when you saw yur photo on a billboard or magazine. And that just doesn't happen.
Why not sell your photos yourself? If you can.

12/10/2010 13:35
I used to work for a photo library and we used to get loads of c*** uploaded and then people moaned that their pictures were rejected.
They are a good way of making EXTRA income if you bother to read the guidelines and do a bit of research. But if anyone thinks uploading a photo of a sunset or a daisy is going to pay off their mortgage then they are best going back to their dreamland.
It has to be fun - and you have to be good at it. I did notice that the successful photographers never posted on forums like this. They were too busy taking GOOD photos. 
Photo libraries watermark your images so they are safe from being lifted - unlike photos posted on Facebook and Flickr. Oh and another thing, I wonder how many grumblers here have ever paid for a photo? I bet though, that you've right-clicked on Google and nicked photos for your blogs or presentations without paying. 
I'm off to take some photos now of a landfill site - because they sell. 

11/10/2010 23:42

What so bad about this? Done they sell on your pictures for loads more than you get?


No ones expecting to make a living on these sites, but its good to make a bit extra £££.



11/10/2010 21:31
you would make more money selling dirty soiled knickers on ebay ..
11/10/2010 18:07
You can only make decent money if you are a professional or amateur photographer. Sometimes though, if you have taken a really good photo with an expensive camera you may get lucky. This is not a way to supplement any income. What I would really appreciate is if there are some good, honest money making tips for all those people who want to supplement their income. This is not a good way to make money you will be lucky if you make anything at all. Sorry for the truth, but it is what it is.
11/10/2010 15:26
What an unrealistic idea for making money! 90% of photos on stock sites never sell. Very few people who sell a photo break the £100 a year barrier; only a small percentage make anything like a living from it. The technical requirements are more complex than this site suggests; some stock agencies only accept photos taken with specified camera models.
11/10/2010 14:34
Light bulb        here is one for you,    and here  is another oneLight bulb
11/10/2010 13:10
I agree, as a keen amateur I know you can so easily be 'ripped off' these days.  I always have a watermark in my pictures so that cannot be done.  Plus how would you feel if you had an image that a 'stock' photographic company sold to an advertsing agency for thousands......stranger things have happened. 
11/10/2010 12:52
Yeah, lets send all our   photos so anyone can just nick them very easily! Great idea batman, think you need to re think your lightbulb moment !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  • Jasmine BirtlesJasmine Birtles

    Jasmine is a financial expert, TV presenter, journalist and humourist. Her mission is to give practical tips to help people manage their finances by spending less, making more and investing for a secure future.

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