How to Sell Photos Online
A photographer cannot just concentrate on the creative side of his business alone, he also should be knowing how to sell photos online in the digital age.
A photographer simply cannot shoot and shy away from the marketing side of things, arguing that it is not his area of specialization. These days that excuse simply don’t work. There are a lot of extremely good photographers out there who, despite their immense talent, simply cannot see their potential convert into a decent amount of money by the end of each month.
A lot of them simply quit after a few dry months. The reasons most likely attributable to this phenomenon are:
- lack of marketing acumen and
- knowledge of avenues on how to sell photos online.
This is what I will be addressing in this article. Let’s delve deeper into this and find out how to sell photos online.
WordPress Plugin: Photo Seller
If you already have a WordPress blog or website, you can install the Photo Seller WordPress Plugin.
Video: Photo Seller WordPress Plugin > How to sell your photos online
With the WP Photo Seller you can sell your photos, images, prints from your WordPress blog securely. This plugin gives you the ability to upload lots of photos and then automatically create photo selling galleries.
Paypal Buttons & Integration
It is inexplicable these days, to not have a website, especially if you are a photographer. It is even more baffling to have one and not to have a way for viewers to purchase photos. You probably don’t realize it, but the absence of the ‘Buy Now’ button is making a huge dent on your bottom line.
It is actually very simple to create a payment solution for your website. Just sign up with an online payment processing provider and that's it. PayPal provides this for free to all its users. There's a chunk of HTML code that needs to be copy & pasted into your website to enable the Pay Now button (for detailed instructions, see here).
Installing Paypal Buttons
If you use WordPress, you can use this free and easy to use plugin to sell your photos online: Easy Digital Downloads
Your viewers would be able to purchase a photo that they like, simply by clicking the ‘Pay Now’ button. On clicking the button they will be redirected to the payment page, which is hosted on the servers of the payment processing gateway provider, i.e., PayPal in this case. All they need at that point is to enter their credit card information and that’s it.
You could alternatively, choose to implement a full-fledged payment solution on your website that accepts major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal payments. This allows a viewer to enter all the details on your website itself.
On submission of the details, the payment gets processed in the background. Your visitors never have to leave your website. This adds to the whole confidence level of the user as well as add a bit of convenience to the whole purchasing process.
Sell Your Photos online with Gumroad
If the PayPal HTML button or full payment integration are just too complicated for you and you don't want to hire a website developer, then there is a new and easy alternative available called Gumroad.
Gumroad is ideal for freelancers and photographers to sell their digital products and photos online.
Watch this video on how easy it is for a photographer to sell his prints using Gumroad:
Store, Share, and Sell Your Photos Online
If you don't have a website yet or if you are ready for a new and fresh web design, then you can opt for a service which provides you with a website, photo storage, galleries, blog functionality, payment solutions etc. and even shipping options.
You can check out some of the best full website solutions for photographers here:
- SmugMug (get your free SmugMug 14-day trial today, and save 15% on a subscription), also read SmugMug vs Zenfolio.
Sell your images on Microstock Sites
The digital world has opened up opportunities like never before for a whole bunch of work-at-home people. Photographers, too have benefited from this expansion of the digital domain.
Back in the days of film photography, when bricks and mortar stock agencies ruled the business, the whole process of selling stock photos was far too cumbersome and time-consuming for smaller players to make any money.
Things have become a lot easier now with microstock platforms such as:
If you don't want to spend time with uploading your photos on microstock sites, you can even make money by selling your iPhone pictures directly through mobile apps.
Microstock has been around for several years now. Those who made an early start and have built a huge portfolio of images are now being able to make a lot of money doing nothing else but selling stock throughout the year.
Yuri Arcurs is the best example that immediately comes to my mind. He is the world's leading stock photographer with a very professional set-up that literally churns out a-photo-a-minute. He is also one of the pioneers of the microstock industry.
Video: Yuri Arcurs interview | How to sell stock photos online
Microstock has become competitive with many new photographers joining the bandwagon. Thanks to improved DSLR cameras and relative ease of making imagery.
The rules, however, have changed somewhat.
Simple compositions no longer work the way they used to do before. Marketing managers demand imagery that does more than just look good. They look for images that reflect the changing dynamics of the society that we live in.
Passive selling using sites like Flickr or Facebook
There is yet another avenue. This one’s mainly for testing the water for your skills as a photographer.
We all use Flickr. It is one of the best sites for sharing your work among like-minded photographers and photography enthusiasts from around the world. I have always enjoyed looking at the work done by other talented photographers from around the world. I enjoy this more on Flickr than I do on Facebook.
Flickr's future is uncertain
Flickr’s tie-up with Getty Images a few years back had given photographers, who otherwise would not have thought about actively selling their work, an easy option to sell their digital photos online.
This option is, however, no more available as Getty Images terminated the partnership with Flickr. Flickr's future is now uncertain and Yahoo may put the entire Flickr platform up for sale.
What about selling your photos on Facebook?
With Flickr's future being uncertain, let us look at Facebook. Selling photos on Facebook without a third party integration is not possible. Shopify is one of those integrations, which allow you to sell your photographs on Facebook.
We haven't really looked into this solution in-depth yet, but we will do a full review of the Shopify store soon. If you have any experience with selling photos through Shopify, please leave a comment below.
Why Passive Selling may be the Best
Passive selling means you are making money without actively working for it. Let’s say you have a successful day job and you don’t need to divert your attention to another side profession.
Make no mistake, selling stock photos is a full-time job. But if you already have a full-time job you may not be in that much of a hurry. But still, an extra bit of money won’t harm. So in order to test out the water and to find out if your images can get some traction, you can list them on any of the best stock photography websites. By doing that you give yourself a chance to make some money.
- Rajib Mukherjee
- Kindle Edition
- Edition no. 1 (04/19/2016)
Free eBook: Make Your first $1,000 with Stock Photography
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 7 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.