Start Your Own Business - Selling Your Photos (part 2)

3 Ways to Sell Your Photos Online

Which one suits you?

There are basically 3 ways you can sell your photos online:

1) Subscribe to a photo portfolio service online, such as iStockPhoto.

2) Use a stock photo library. Simply upload photos and just get paid when your photos sell. You will have a link to your photos, but you won't be able to set your own prices.

3) Buy some software, install it on your own domain/host and manage it all yourself. You have total control and responsibility and can price your photos how you like

1) How to Sell Your Photos by Subscribing to an online photo portfolio service

 - Sign up for the service. There will usually be a monthly fee.
 - Sort out and upload about a dozen photos. Only a dozen as you need to concentrate on what you are doing, look around the system, read all the options carefully so you can think about what is going on
 - Look at what you've achieved after you've uploaded your first 12. Could you have done something different? Better? If so, change those 12 about until you are happy you know what you are uploading, what items you are selling and at what price
 - Set yourself a daily or weekly goal of uploading new images and stick to it.

Don't expect overnight results. You can't upload 12 photos and at the end of it check your Inbox to see if any have sold yet ... then look the next morning to see and be disappointed that nothing happened! That is unrealistic. If that is all it took to make money then we'd all be doing it!

Photographers who make a good living from selling their photos have at least a thousand in their portfolio. That sounds a lot now, but if you were uploading just 10 a day you'd have that within 3 months. That's probably a very realistic target for most keen photographers. You've not only got piles of old photos you're sitting on, but think about all the new ones you will take now you have a way to sell them!

If this appeals to you and you want to get you started straight away, I've found what looks like a nice professional service. Try out PhotostockPlus, you can click on their advert on the right and gat a free 30 day trial, during which time you could have a look around, upload your first photos and really start to see how it all works. Having worked for a photographer running a photo library before - and currently working for one, I'd say that it is unlikely you would sell anything in that first three months, your portfolio won't have had time to get noticed or to have built into something large enough. But set yourself a target of 1000 photos minimum in the first three months and you'll be surprised at the results! You should by then be turning in quite a few sales a month. Although I know some good photographers who are literally selling a photo almost every hour!

In the next couple of weeks I will look at option 2 from the list above, selling your photos through a stock agency.

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2) Selling photos through a picture library/stock photo agency

Stock photo agencies or picture libraries enable you to upload your photos, then they sell them and you get paid every time one is sold.

Usually a stock photo library will set the price at which your photos are sold - although with some there is flexibility for you to increase your prices as you've sold more through them.

If you want to upload your photos and sell them through a picture library, then make sure you understand:

  1. What sort of photos does the picture library manage? If you have photos of celebrities, you might be better off putting them on a specialist library
  2. How much do they pay, how and when?
  3. Do you keep your copyright? What licenses and rights do the buyers get when they buy your photo

3) Create your own website and display and sell your own photos

Of course you can go down the route of completely creating your own website and actively selling your own photos online. This might be the best route if you plan to take photos and sell them offline in exhibitions or at craft fairs. Don't forget to put a discrete sticker on all your work telling people your website address, so your customers can find you easily again.

You will need to buy or write photo website software. But you will also need to answer all the buyer questions too, so you need to think about your turnaround times and how you will fix/support your website if there are problems. 

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