Selling your photographs crosses many photographers’ minds no matter their level of experience.
Being able to turn your hobby into a source of income is an exciting prospect as it can give you the opportunity to spend more time doing what you love – and of course, it’s exciting to consider people supporting you by buying your work.
Many photographers might hold off on selling as they question whether it’s the right move for them. It’s important to know what you want to sell and why, and how you want to do it.
Figuring out what is compelling you to sell your photos will help you decide whether it’s right for you, and how to go about it.
We’ll go through some of these here to help you decide whether you’re ready to take the plunge!
A common incentive for people who sell their photography is that it’s an opportunity to convert their hobby into a source of income.
If you spend a lot of time on your photography ventures and would like to monetize your leisure time, then selling your photos is an option.
For some people, selling their photos allows them to fund their photography passion, and even transition to doing photography full-time, though this can be difficult to achieve.
Another reason why people are interested in selling their photography is simply that they’d like to share their art as it can be very rewarding to share with an audience.
If you share your photography through social media or an online portfolio, the transition to selling them can be smoother as you may already have an audience.
When people purchase your work to display in their homes it can help you feel confident and inspired by your hobby.
Both of these are legitimate reasons for selling your work, but you could even just be curious about trying it out and seeing how it goes too!
Depending on what your reasons are, it could affect which method of selling your photos will be most suitable for you.
There are a few ways you can go about selling your photography online, and we’ll list some of the options below so you can see if any of them appeal to you.
Selling your photos as stock images is a convenient method – this is where many photographers go to sell their photo library quickly and easily.
Once you’ve uploaded your photos, there’s no more work required from your end. Stock photos can be used by bloggers and news websites, businesses for their marketing and advertising campaigns, and digital artists.
If you like the thought of your work helping someone else bring theirs to life, selling stock photography may be for you.
Another option is to sell photography prints.
There are a number of ways that you can go about this and the option that you go with will likely depend on how much involvement and control you want over the sales and distribution of your prints.
Selling prints gives you a larger degree of control over what you can take pictures of and how you edit them.
Stock photography can be classed as microstock and macrostock, with macrostock photography generally being reserved for professional photographers or experienced hobbyists with professional-grade equipment.
If you’re taking macrostock quality photos, you’re likely doing so with the intention of selling them in the first place, so we’ll discuss microstock photography for the average hobbyist here.
Microstock photography is more accessible, though stock image platforms do have guidelines that need to be followed for uploads to be approved and sold. Platforms that you can use include Shutterstock and iStock.
Microstock photography is a popular and competitive market, which signals two things; that there is a large enough market for there to be competition and therefore be worth getting into, but also that the competitiveness may make it difficult to get satisfying results.
You can find a more uncommon niche that will eliminate some of the competition, but the likelihood of someone requiring a more obscure stock image is also smaller.
The best way to enter the stock photo market is by uploading hundreds, even thousands of images.
The income per photo is relatively low, so you need to emphasize the quantity of work you’re producing and uploading.
This can mean that overall, you’re putting a fair few labor hours into this side hustle, but once the images are uploaded you can move on to the next project.
The most popular stock photos won’t necessarily be of interesting subjects – think textured materials, coffee cups, office-type scenes, and generic items and buildings.
Getting into stock photography will be well suited to someone that enjoys researching what is popular and taking photos that emulate this.
If you’d like to be producing manufactured images rather than getting to exhibit more creative freedom, then stock photography could be for you.
It is also a popular choice to sell your photography as art. Selling prints offers a more creative opportunity than stock photography, as you can create whatever you like without guidelines and limitations.
There are a few ways to sell your photography as prints.
If you want to run your own shop and oversee the quality control, packaging, customer service, and delivery, then you can invest in a high-quality printer and packaging materials to do everything yourself from your own home.
You could also order prints to be delivered to yourself, and manage the packing and shipping only.
This can be time-consuming, but having full control over your side business and a more personal connection with your customers can be very rewarding and also yield higher profits, as you’re doing everything yourself.
Another method is drop-shipping, where you work with a company that will print and ship your products on-demand and directly to your customer.
This can save a lot of time and responsibility but will reduce your profits. A benefit of this sort of method is that your customer can customize the product that has your photo on it.
There are many platforms like Fotomoto that allow you to upload your images, and the customer then decides what size and finish they’d like the print to be, whether they want it framed, or even as a canvas, and once they have customized it, the drop-shipping website will handle the manufacturing and shipping for you.
This is a useful way to offer your photographs in a variety of formats without having to make any costly investments.
Drop-shipping is becoming much more common, with sites like Amazon allowing you to upload images that they then distribute in various forms of merchandise like t-shirts and mugs.
If you already have your own website or social media platform, using those to sell your products can be very rewarding.
So, we’ve talked you through some things to consider before selling your photographs and have suggested how you could progress.
The most important thing to keep in mind is whether you want to sell your photos in a convenient manner and generate residual income, or if you want to take a more personal approach and control more aspects of your sales yourself by running a small business.
Thoroughly consider whether you have enough time to invest in the latter.
Whichever method you opt for, it’s always rewarding to be able to share your passions and be supported by people who believe in you, so good luck!
If we can't teach you, no one can!