How to Make Money Online by Selling Images & Photos

Amateur and professional photographers as well as graphic designers can now make money online by selling images. There’re several dedicated websites where people sell and buy images. These websites are from reputed companies and are flourishing as new blogs and online businesses grow. If you would love to make money online selling images, there’re some basics you should know.

Know What Type of Images Sell

Obviously, nobody is going to pay you for a family album or pictures of good times you enjoy with friends. People need very situational images, the first rule to make money online selling images is to know what sells.

  • Pictures of nature and natural phenomenons.
  • Photos of celebrities, VIPs and candid shots during events they attend.
  • Amateur and professional pictures of accidents, disasters and tragedy.
  • Pictures that qualify as ‘adult’ content.
  • Photographs shot with drones and from aircraft.
  • Unique pictures of flora and fauna.
  • Images of monuments and historical places.
  • Rare pictures of aircraft.
  • Genuine and verifiable photographs of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)
  • Any pictures that depict inexplicable or paranormal occurrences.
  • Graphic designs such that can be used as company or brand logos.
  • Designs that reflect unique ethnic patterns

In fact, a good rule of thumb is that any image CAN sell. Whether or not people buy them, that’s a different story.

Points to Remember

  • You can sell only images and pictures you create. You cannot sell pictures shot by someone else, unless they belong to you and you own the copyright.
  • All pictures and images you wish to sell should not be altered using Photoshop or other software. Let the customer control what you do.
  • A buyer has right to know the time, date and place where pictures you’re selling were shot.
  • All pictures and images, including ‘adult’ content has to comply with existing laws of the country.
  • Pictures and images should not be offensive to any community, race, religion or ethnic group.
  • Any picture that can potentially expose military and civilian installations to risk of attacks cannot be sold. Trying to sell them can land you in extremely serious problems with the law.
  • A customer may seek information about the equipment you used for pictures including camera make and model, details about the film if any.

Armed with this information, you’re now ready to make money online by selling images. Here’s the list of best websites where you can sell images online to make money.

To make money online by selling images, you’ll have to register on what are commonly known as stock photo portals and create an account. These websites will watermark your images for two reasons: firstly, an interested party knows where to buy them. And secondly because nobody can use them with a prominent watermark. You can make $10 or more from each of your photos. There are some types of images you can sell for as high as $100 on the following sites.

Adobe Stock

As the name suggests, Adobe Stock is a website by Adobe Inc., the multinational software company renowned for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Reader, among others. You can sell stock photos, vector images and graphics online. These images are also sold by Adobe on its other platform, Fotolia.com.

Create an account on Adobe Stock website. Upload your pictures and images with an amazing description that attracts buyers. The website promotes your pictures, vector images and videos to clients worldwide.

Payment Terms: Whenever someone buys your pictures and vector images, you get 33 percent of the amount as royalty. For videos, they pay 35 percent of the sale price as royalty. Refer to their Stock Contributor User Guide for further details on payments.


Shutterstock ranks among the biggest and best paying websites where you can make money online by selling images. In2016, Shutterstock signed a partnership agreement with one of the largest news media companies of the world- Associated Press (AP).

To make money online by selling images, sign-up as Shutterstock Contributor and start uploading photos, vector images, videos and much more. Pictures, graphics and vector images from Shutterstock are popular worldwide. And they pay well too.

Payment Terms: Shutterstock has complex but very lucrative payment terms for contributors. You can get lifetime royalties under four levels: $0 to $500, $500 to $3,000, $3,000 to $5,000 and $5,000 to $10,000 and above. Read their Earnings Schedule to learn more about this.


Topmost companies of the world including Google and Deloitte among others are customers of 123RF. In fact, 123RF ranks among the pioneers of stock images. Therefore, you can make a lot of money online by selling images through this excellent platform.

Additionally, 123RF also offers an affiliate program. This means, you can also promote own pictures through own blog and sell those from other contributors to earn extra money. Create an online account and start uploading images on 123RF. They also provide superb guidelines on hottest selling images so you can make money quickly.

Payment Terms: 123RF has a rather complex but very attractive payments schedule for contributors like you. You’ll get monthly or annual commissions depending upon the number of downloads of your images. Refer to their payments guide or write to their contributor helpdesk for more details.

Getty Images

Getty Images is around since 1994 and flourishes till date as one of the largest stock photo and vector image selling websites worldwide. Getty Images also owns three more stock photo selling platforms, Photos.com, iStock.com and Image.com. The company has over 200 million image assets in its archives.

When you sign up as contributor with Getty Images, your pictures, vector images and designs will also feature on iStock.com. Thus, your images reach potential clients on two different websites. This ensures your images get added exposure to customers and sells faster. Getty Images has a wide customer base worldwide.

Payment Terms: Photos and images you upload on your Getty Images/iStock.com platforms fetch very attractive royalties and subscriptions. Furthermore, customers also have an option of hiring you independently to create images or shoot pictures that meet their specific requirements.

There’s a lot of money to make money online by selling images. If you’re a professional photographer or amateur, it’s possible to sell stock photos. Graphic designers and videographers can also use these platforms to sell their creations. If you are not a graphic designer, you are not alone. There are tons of courses online, YouTube videos, and even courses through online academies. Several people have been taking courses from Udemy to increase their professional resume.

The bottom line is this: You can still money online, but you have to start somewhere.

Ruben Roel

Ruben Roel is a Marketing Professional based out of Dallas, TX. He is the Executive Editor for Vtrep. Fluently speaks digital media, small business development, and search engine marketing. Ruben can be reached via email: editor@vtrep.com