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Students! Make Money From Your Photographs

How to Sell Photographs Online
We all like to take snaps don't we? Even those of us who aren't very good at photography love to have a go at capturing a few special moments with our cameras and phones.

But did you know that there are ways to make money from your photographs by selling them online?

Yes, that's right, your photo back catalogue (and more to the point, your future photo catalogue) could earn you a few quid if you know the right websites to add them to. There are tons of people who need to use photos and images everyday on websites, in magazines and brochures, on posters and elsewhere - and they are willing to pay photographers for the right to use them.

Now, don't get us wrong, unless you are a really exceptional photographer then you probably aren't going to make your millions selling your photographs online - but for any students with a bit of spare time, a decent camera and a good eye for a photo opportunity, selling photographs online can be a good way to make a bit of extra money without a great deal of effort.
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How Can I Make Money From My Photographs Online?
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There are a few different ways you can make money online from your photographs and each method has advantages and disadvantages. Some people make money by building up a popular online portfolio of photographs and selling advertising space next to them. Another method is to sell your photos for use on merchandise such as t-shirts, cups and calendars.

Other photographers build up a gallery and sell photographs directly to private clients - or make money from doing photo shoots once their name becomes well known.

The disadvantage with most of these methods, though, is that you usually have to have quite a lot of experience in photography - and a large portfolio of images to display.

So ... what if you don't have thousands of fantastic quality photographs at your disposal?

Well, one of the best ways for students to get started making money from photographs online is by taking advantage of stock photography websites.

Once you've signed up with one of the stock photography websites, you simply upload some of your photos and submit them for approval. If some of your photographs get accepted and someone spots one of your photos and wants to buy it - or at least a license to use it - then you will get a cut of the sales value from the stock photography website.
Which Photography Websites Can I Make Money From?
There are tons of websites dedicated to buying and selling stock photography online - but a few of them stand out from the rest for a number of reasons.
We've tried a few of the main stock photography sites - and we've listened to what other students and photographers have said about them all, and these are some of the most popular stock photography websites we've found. It is free to register with all these sites to sell your photos.
Royalty Free Images
Each stock photography website has slightly different rules and guidelines about what photographs they are looking for and what they will be willing to accept. For example, there are strict rules about ownership and copyright issues on any photographs you submit.

If there are any recognisable people in your photographs then you will have to ask them to sign a Model Release allowing you to use them in the image for commercial purposes. Similarly, there are rules which will prohibit you from using photographs which contain certain building, logos and brands.

Also, all of the different stock photography websites have their own commission rates and payment structures, so it's worth taking some time to read the small print to see which stock photography websites would most suit your style of photography - and which will make you the most money...

Or if you would rather launch your own personal photography website to sell your photos online, check out SmugMug. You can get your photos into your own website shop without needing to know how to code.
How Much Can I Sell My Photographs For?
The simple answer to that question is ...

... it depends!

Sometimes payment for photo downloads via a subscription can earn you just a few cents. But, the cents can add up quickly if you manage to upload a substantial set of quality stock photographs over time. And some websites pay more for photographs after reaching different levels of downloads. For example, you could get more per download for a photograph that has been downloaded 5 times than one that has had just 1 download.

Also, it's typical for sale prices to be higher if the purchaser buys a larger version rather than a smaller version of the photograph.
Diploma in Photography Shaw Academy

One more thing to consider is that some of the stock photography sites will pay you much more if you agree to submit photographs exclusively to their website and are accepted onto their exclusive programme.

For example, iStockphoto pay up to three times more commission to their exclusive photographers. In addition to paying more per download to exclusive photographers, Dreamstime also pay an additional bonus for each and every photograph that their exclusive photographers successfully submit to the site.

One of the great things about stock photography is that your portfolio can grow and bring you a residual income while you aren't even active on the website. The first photo you successfully upload could still be making you money in 10 or more year's time.
How Will I Be Paid?
Again, each stock photography website has its own rules for when and how payment is made. Usually you will have to reach a minimum threshold such as $100 dollars before you can request the money from them.

Most of the sites will pay you out by a variety of methods such as Paypal, bank transfer or cheque.
Which Photographs Sell Well?
You'll probably have to learn to deal with a bit of rejection at the start of your stock photography career. Many of your photographs could well get rejected, but it may not be because your photography just isn't up to scratch.

All of the stock photography websites have a very good idea which types of images their customers are looking for - so they won't just accept all of your photos if they don't think many people from their typical user base will buy them.

You aren't going to get many photographs of you and your mates down the pub accepted to stock photography websites - that's just not the sort of thing that people tend to be looking to buy from stock photography websites.
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Many people who purchase photos and images from the stock photography websites are looking for photos they can easily republish elsewhere. Lots of the most successful stock photography can involve very simple images on white backgrounds.

For example, lots of people look for very simple photos or images of dogs or cats which they can Photoshop onto a different background. Quite often, the simpler the photograph, the more successful it will be on the stock photography sites.

Over time, you will start to learn which of your images are selling in the highest volume - and for the most money - so you can start to build up your portfolio in a more targeted way.
Top Tips To Get Your Photographs Noticed - And Sold!
More and more people are finding out about how you can make money by selling photographs online - which means that you could face a lot of competition to get your photos noticed ... and sold!

So, what can you do to help YOUR photo rather than someone else's photo get spotted and downloaded?

Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade to help put you head and shoulders above some of the other contributors to stock photography websites:
  • If you have your own website, blog, Facebook page, Tumblr, Twitter etc, then use those channels to promote your stock photography portfolio
  • Use good keywords to tag your photos and make sure they get found in searches
  • Check what your images look like at 100% before submitting them
  • Learn from failed submissions. Most websites give reasons why a particular photo was not accepted to their database. Take note and work on improving future photos
  • Touch up your photos with editing software - but not too much!
  • Use any blogs or communities on the sites to interact and promote your photos
  • Read the onsite blogs of photographers who are selling well on a particular site
  • Don't submit dozens of substantially similar photographs
  • Use Photoshop or similar software to remove backgrounds from some images
  • Join the stock photography website forums and make useful contributions
  • Go exclusive if you are happy to work with just one stock photography site
  • Add a few photos for free download just to get buyers into your portfolio
  • Reinvest your earnings in a better camera to increase your acceptance rate
Why Not Get Started Right Now?
Now we've whetted your appetite for selling your photographs online through one of the stock photography websites, why not get started right away by signing up with the one or more of the sites we mentioned earlier?

Here they are again:
Royalty Free Images
What If I'm Just Not That Good At Photography?
If you want to improve your skills, there are plenty of cheap photography courses available from a photography masterclass to a Diploma in Photography with CPD Certification.

If photography just isn't your thing, then there are lots of other ways to make money from home as a freelancer.

You can fill out paid surveys to earn a few quid - or check out our complete guide to online freelance work now for other opportunities.

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