How to Make Money Online Selling Pictures and Videos

In this digital age, where visual content dominates online platforms, stock photography emerges as a profitable industry for creatives aiming to make money online.

Stock photography, a collection of generic imagery, is extensively used across various mediums including websites, blogs, advertisements, and promotional materials, serving as a backbone for visual content needs.

Unlike custom-made photographs tailored for a specific client’s project, stock photos provide a versatile solution for content creators looking for ready-to-use images, creating a striking difference in the field of photography.

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In addition to providing a wealth of chances for photographers and videographers, this field also encourages a passive income stream by selling pictures and videos online from the comfort of home.

Venturing into the world of stock photography and videography, this article will guide you through essential steps to turn your creative passion into profit.

From understanding the dynamics of stock photography platforms to capturing high-demand content and optimizing your submissions, we’ll explore how to sell your images and videos online effectively.

Whether you’re looking to make money online fast or are interested in building a sustainable source of passive income, mastering the art of selling photos on renowned platforms like Shutterstock and Getty Images is key.

Brace yourself as we dive into practical tips to market yourself as a photographer or videographer and build a captivating portfolio that stands out in the bustling online marketplace.

Understanding Stock Photography Platforms

Diving into the world of stock photography platforms can feel like navigating a vast ocean, but focusing on a few high-earning ones can be your compass to success.

As a beginner, it’s crucial to target platforms that have a broad audience and offer competitive compensation for your creative work. Here’s a snapshot of some of the top players in the industry:

  • Adobe Stock: Pays a fixed 33% for photos and videos. It is known for its seamless integration with Adobe Creative Suite, making it a favorite among those who use Adobe products for editing.
  • Shutterstock: Offers contributor levels that range from 15% to 40% based on sales volume. Its vast library and global reach make it a go-to for many photographers and videographers.
  • iStock by Getty Images: While Getty pays a lower 15% to non-exclusive contributors, iStock provides a platform with a wide reach, albeit in a competitive environment.
  • Alamy and Pond5: Both pay a generous 40% to non-exclusive contributors, with Pond5 being particularly popular among video content creators for its fair compensation and vast customer base.
  • Microstock Sites: Sites like 500pxDeposit Photos, and Photo Dune by Envato, require a keen understanding of SEO and keyword optimization to ensure your content ranks well in searches.

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It’s also worth noting the different types of earnings and licenses that can affect your income:

  • Earnings Type: One-time licenses for enhanced rights can fetch hundreds to thousands of dollars, whereas standard licenses typically bring in less but offer more frequent sales.
  • Licenses: Macrostock images, sold for $30-$3000 a year with royalties, contrast sharply with microstock images, which go for around 20¢ to $10 on a royalty-free basis.

Lastly, staying informed and adaptable is key. Over 90% of my earnings come from ShutterstockAdobe StockDeposit Photos, and Pond5, highlighting the importance of focusing your efforts where they pay off the most.

Engage with platforms that offer tools and analytics, like Alamy’s sales tracking, to refine your strategy over time.

Remember, high-quality images and volume are essential for making a significant income, with trends and buyer needs constantly evolving.

Keep your portfolio diverse and up-to-date, and never underestimate the power of research and community engagement on platforms like 500px to stay ahead in the game.

Capturing High-Demand Content

In the quest to make money online selling pictures, understanding what content is in high demand can significantly boost your revenue. Here’s how you can capture images that sell:

Consistency and Current Trends:

  • Regularly posting photos on various sites and social media platforms can increase visibility and, subsequently, sales. For instance, business-themed images, such as meetings, handshakes, and professional attire, are always in demand due to their wide applicability in corporate materials.
  • Leveraging tools like Google Trends helps identify what subjects are currently popular or emerging. This insight allows you to create content that’s more likely to be searched for and purchased.

Specialization and Audience Understanding:

  • Finding a topic not only helps in standing out but also in becoming an expert in a specific domain. Whether it’s lifestyle, nature, or urban photography, specializing enables you to produce content with depth.
  • Knowing your audience is crucial. Designers and marketers often look for images with negative space to overlay text, so consider this when composing your shots. Additionally, creating images with a purpose, such as seasonal themes or images reflecting cultural shifts, ensures your content stays relevant and desirable.

Quality and Composition:

  • High-quality images are non-negotiable. This means paying attention to both the shooting technique and post-production. Utilize compositional guidelines like the rule of thirds or leading lines to enhance the visual appeal of your photos.
  • Adobe Stock’s creative trends and strategic insight reports are invaluable resources for aligning your content with market demands. Incorporating a mix of trending, seasonal, and evergreen content can optimize your portfolio for success.

By focusing on these key areas, you not only increase the chances of your work being featured and sold but also establish a strong presence in the stock photography market.

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Remember, authenticity and relatability in your photos can make a significant difference, as can a keen eye for detail and a proactive approach to content creation.

Optimizing Your Submissions

Optimizing your submissions for stock photography platforms involves a careful approach to ensure your images stand out and sell. Here’s a streamlined process to refine your submissions, enhance their appeal, and boost your online earnings:

Preparation and Editing:

  • Shoot in RAW format: This preserves the most colors and details, giving you more flexibility during editing.
  • Use Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop: Edit photos using ProPhoto RGB color space and 16-bit depth for maximum color preservation. Focus on correcting colors, shadows, contrast, and highlights.
  • Final Touches: Before saving, remove logos and unwanted objects, and retouch the skin. Save your final product in sRGB color space as a JPEG file, the preferred format for most stock photography websites.

Submission Process:

  • Batch Submissions: Submit photos in batches, ideally of 500, to keep the process efficient. Use a uniform naming convention, naming image files with at least 5 digits, to easily track a large number of images.
  • Metadata is Key: Embed titles, keywords, descriptions, and other necessary metadata into image files using Exiftool. This step is crucial for SEO and helps your images get discovered.
  • Tracking and Management: Maintain a tracking spreadsheet to manage the submission process. This should include file names, license types, descriptions, keywords, and the status of submissions. Organize photos into folders based on categories and use cloud backup for data security.

Quality Control and Legalities:

  • Selectivity: Choose only the best images for submission. Provide different frames and orientations to cater to various needs.
  • Technical Checks: Ensure the horizon is level, remove distracting elements, and inspect images at 100% magnification for flaws. Adjust overall brightness, contrast, and color balance for a natural look.
  • Legal Precautions: Obtain model or property releases for recognizable persons or properties. Use accurate and respectful descriptions for people, especially those from diverse backgrounds.

By adhering to these guidelines, you not only improve the quality of your submissions but also increase their marketability.

Remember, the goal is to create compelling, high-quality images that meet the needs of stock photography buyers, thereby maximizing your potential to make money online.

Building a Portfolio

Building a robust online presence begins with crafting a professional website, a central hub showcasing your best work, your unique style, and a clear call-to-action for potential clients or buyers.

For those of us not versed in coding or design, platforms like Strikingly offer a user-friendly solution to create sleek websites without the need for technical expertise. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your portfolio:

Website Foundation:


Purpose: To create a professional-looking portfolio without coding knowledge.


  1. Choose a template that aligns with your aesthetic and professional goals.
  2. Upload your best images or videos, ensuring they are high resolution.
  3. Clearly articulate your services and how potential clients can contact you.

Demo Reel Creation (for videographers):

Tool: Adobe Premiere Pro or similar video editing software.


  • Keep it concise but impactful, showcasing a variety of styles and subjects.
  • Include your most compelling work in the first 30 seconds to grab attention.

Portfolio Diversification:

  • Focus: Aim for a wide variety of subjects and styles within your niche.
  • Advice:
  • Resist the urge to upload everything. Selectivity is key to a compelling portfolio.
  • Think in series to provide designers with options and increase your sales potential.
  • Stay updated on market demands and adjust your portfolio content accordingly.

As we navigate the intricacies of stock photography, remember that quality trumps quantity.

High-quality images can come from various cameras, including your cell phone, as long as the content is compelling and well-executed.

For beginners, focusing on mastering keywording and titling skills is as crucial as building a diverse collection of images.

Accumulate several thousand photos or videos before branching out to other agencies, and remember, rejection is part of the process. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow, not a setback.

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In building your portfolio, it’s also essential to maintain your passion for photography or videography. Your enthusiasm for your craft will shine through in your work, making it more appealing to potential buyers.

Regularly revisiting and refining your portfolio is a critical step in staying relevant and appealing to a broad audience.

Keep your portfolio dynamic, showcasing only your best work while staying true to the style and direction you wish to pursue in your career.

Marketing Yourself as a Photographer/Videographer

In the vibrant world of digital creativity, marketing yourself as a photographer or videographer is not just about showcasing your work; it’s about strategically positioning yourself in front of the right audience. Here’s how you can amplify your visibility and connect with potential clients:

  • Target Audience Identification
  • Demographic Factors: Age, location, and profession. Tailor your content to appeal to the specific group most likely to need your services.
  • Psychographic Factors: Interests, values, lifestyle. Understanding these helps create content that resonates deeper, making your work more appealing.
  • Digital Presence Optimization
  • SEO for Websites: Use relevant keywords in your website content, meta descriptions, and image tags to improve search engine rankings. Tools like Google Analytics can provide insights into the keywords driving traffic to your site.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: Ensure your website is responsive. A significant portion of users use browsers on mobile devices, and a seamless experience can keep them engaged longer.
  • Social Media Engagement: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are visual-centric, making them ideal for photographers and videographers. Regular posting, using relevant hashtags, and engaging with followers can increase your reach. Consider running targeted ads to boost visibility further.
  • Networking and Collaboration
  • Local Events and Businesses: Offer your services at local events or collaborate with businesses in your area. This not only expands your network but also provides real-world opportunities to showcase your work.
  • Online Communities and Freelance Platforms: Joining niche online communities and listing your services on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr can open up freelance opportunities. Engage in forums, share your expertise, and connect with potential clients.
  • Referral Incentives: Satisfied clients are more likely to refer others. Offering a discount or a free session for every successful referral can motivate clients to spread the word about your services.

By focusing on these key areas, you’re not just marketing your skills; you’re building a brand that resonates with your target audience.

Keep refining your approach based on feedback and trends, and remember, consistency is key to growing your presence in the competitive digital landscape.


Embarking on the journey of selling pictures and videos online unveils a realm of unlimited potential for creatives worldwide.

This article teaches you the essentials of monetizing creativity through stock photography, highlighting the significance of understanding platform dynamics, capturing in-demand content, optimizing submissions, and meticulously crafting a standout portfolio.

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Whether your goal is to secure a fast track to online earnings or establish a steady passive income stream, the guidelines outlined serve as a blueprint for transforming your creative passion into a profitable endeavor.

As we draw this discussion to a close, remember that success in the competitive landscape of stock photography hinges not just on the quality of your work, but also on your marketing savvy and ability to adapt to evolving trends.

The digital age offers vast opportunities for photographers and videographers to thrive. By strategically positioning your offerings and continuously refining your skills and portfolio, you set the stage for a rewarding journey in monetizing your creativity.

Let your dedication and the insights shared guide you toward achieving your dreams in the bustling world of online image and video sales.


Can I Earn Money by Selling My Photos Online?

Absolutely! There’s no rule against selling your photos online to make some extra cash. Many buyers are on the lookout for unique images and are willing to pay content creators, including you, for your photos.

How Can I Convert My Creative Skills into Cash?

There are numerous side hustles for those with a creative flair looking to earn money online, including:

  • Freelance writing
  • Web and graphic design
  • Vlogging on platforms like YouTube or TikTok
  • Photography
  • Selling digital products
  • Voice acting
  • Teaching or tutoring

What Are Some Effective Ways to Monetize My Creativity?

As an artist, you can monetize your creativity through several proven methods, such as:

  • Selling your original artwork online
  • Creating and selling limited edition prints
  • Teaching art classes online
  • Selling merchandise featuring your art
  • Licensing your art for commercial use
  • Setting up a Patreon account
  • Collaborating with brands
  • Working with art galleries

How Can I Make Money from My Photographs?

Monetizing your photos is possible while maintaining a full-time job. You can:

  • Sell or license your photos on stock photography sites
  • Participate in photo contests
  • Start a photography blog or YouTube channel
  • Sell prints of your work
  • Engage in freelance photography for magazines or newspapers
  • Work as a paparazzo
  • Conduct photo shoots for clients

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