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Earn money by uploading photos to Stock Photography Sites

Updated on March 13, 2013

Ever played with your camera. Its time to think how comercially potential your photos are

If you love clicking photos and pass hours experimenting with the camera, then you are reading the right article. You can become a contributor to stock photography websites and make hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars per month. Stock photography sites are a very good place for earning money online. Yuri Arcurs, the world's top selling microstock photographer earns millions of dollars every month by selling photos. Incredible, isn't it? I myself love photography and upload photos on stock photography sites. There are two types of stock photography licenses, royalty free and rights managed. While a royalty free license can be purchased for as less as 0.1 dollars and the photo can be sold for an unlimited number of times, a rights managed license may cost thousands of dollars for a limited usage.

Top Stock Photography Sites

ISTOCKPHOTO is the most visited stock photography site on the Internet. High quality affordable photos for any purpose can be found on istockphoto. In order to become a contributing photographer to istockphoto, you have to join as a contributor (its completely free, indeed every stock photography site is free to join). Then you have to read the manual and take a quiz. If you pass the quiz, you will be asked to upload three of your sample images. Submit your best work. They will review your samples and email you regarding your selection. They pay you a royalty rate of 15 to 20 percent when your images are sold. You can even join the exclusive program to earn a royalty rate of 22 percent to 45 percent (in that case you will not be able to submit your royalty free images on other sites, while you can still submit images on other sites under the rights managed license). The minimum payout they offer is 100 U.S dollars. You should submit images in JPG (JPEG) format only. The minimum resolution istockphoto looks for is 1600 x 1200 pixels.

SHUTTERSTOCK is the stock photography site with the most number of subscribers. You will need a valid identity card to join shutterstock. I could not join it because because I didn't have an International Passport, as they prefer it to other form of identities. They pay a royalty rate of 20 to 30 percent depending on the contributor's lifetime earnings. It does not have an exclusive program. The file format they require is JPEG or TIFF. The minimum resolution for shutterstock is 4 megapixels. They payout electronically when you reach 75 dollars or by check when you reach 300 dollars.


In you will find it easy to become a contributor. The royalty rates are 20 percent to 46 percent. It has an exclusive program paying 35 percent to 63 percent. When your images are sold on fotolia, you earn credits. These credits can be converted into cash later. The minimum payout for paypal and moneybookers is 50 credits while for wire transfer it is 500 credits. They accept photos in JPEG with a minimum resolution of 2400 x 1600 or 4 megapixels.

123RF is one of my favorite sites. It allows 5 percent of your portfolio of images to be marked as favorites and these are given better search preferences.They offer a comparatively higher royalty rate, being 30 percent to 60 percent. They do have an exclusive program. 123RF accepts files in JPG format with a minimum resolution of 6 megapixels. Minimum payout is 50 dollars through paypal, 100 dollars through moneybookers and 200 dollars by check.

DREAMSTIME is the first choice for amateur photographers as they learn to become pros here. It is a very easy to enter stock photography site. They pay a royalty rate of 25 percent to 50 percent and if you become exclusive, they pay 60 percent. The minimum payout here is 100 dollars. They accept JPGs with a minimum resolution of 3 megapixels.


Register yourself to and submit 5 images to be reviewed. You will need to provide your identity. Not as strict as shutterstock, they accept any relevant form of identity provided it is genuine. It pays 44 percent to 52 percent royalty on sales. You can earn 50 percent to 60 percent if you decide to become exclusive. The minimum payout is 50 dollars. The preferred file format is JPG. Minimum resolution is 3.8 megapixels or 2400 x 1600.


After joining you will be asked to read a tutorial to understand the rules of the site and then take as test. After passing the test, you will be allowed to upload photos. The royalty rate is 30 percent with no such program to turn exclusive. The minimum payout is 30 dollars. The file format should be JPG and the minimum resolution should be 800 pixels on all sides.


I just love this site. It runs on a unique model. They offer every image for free at a lower resolution with a mandatory link back to I use this site for virtually every post I write. I do not buy the image, I just provide a link back. This way freedigitalphotos gets a lot of exposure. The royalty rates are very high, being 75 percent. They do not have an exclusive program and the minimum payout is 10 dollars. They accept files in JPG format with a minimum resolution of 1900 pixels across the shortest sites.


Its easy to register on Personally I find this site very user-friendly. The royalty rates are 20 percent to 50 percent. I do not know for sure whether they have an exclusive program yet. The minimum payout is 50 dollars through paypal and 100 dollars through check and moneybookers. Canstockphoto requires files in JPG with a minimum resolution of 1500 x 2000 pixels or 3 megapixels.

CRESTOCK always looks for high quality images. They pay 20 percent to 40 percent on royalty rates. They offer an exclusive rate of 60 percent on sales plus a bonus of 0.20 dollars each approved submission. They pay through paypal or moneybookers when you have accumulated 50 dollars in your account. They accept photos in JPEG format. They have a bar of 6 megapixels as the minimum resolution, although they prefer 8 megapixel or higher.


After creating an account on, you will be asked to upload 20 images for initial review. Read the instructions carefully as their requirements are a bit different from other stock photography sites. They offer 52 percent on sales and the minimum payout is 50 dollars, with no exclusive program. File format they require is JPEG and 4 megapixels is the minimum resolution required here.

PHOTAKI is a nice site paying comparatively higher royalty rates. It pays contributors 50 percent to 80 percent depending on the number of downloads. The more downloads you have, the more royalty rate you are offered. The minimum payout is 50 euros (1 euro= 1.30 U.S dollars approx). Photaki accepts files in JPEG format only but I am not sure what the minimum resolution they ask for is.


Just create an account and you are in. Here images are not reviewed by moderators, indeed real site users review and rate them. They pay a royalty rate of 50 percent. The minimum payout is 10 euros (1 euro= 1.30 U.S dollars approx). They look for files in JPEG format with a minimum resolution of 5 megapixels.

Final Words

There are many other sites in the stock photography business but the lion's share of the revenue is shared between the sites I listed above. If you want to know more about stock photography, read the article Stock Photography Sites for earning money by uploading photos on my blog Siteonn. Here you will find a detailed description of what stock photography actually is and types of licenses with which you can sell your photos and a brief summary of various stock photography sites, 23 of them in total. Finally, I would say that you need a bit of patience in the stock photography business but give it a try, who knows when your effort and luck clicks.


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    • Dan Kosmayer profile image

      Dan Kosmayer 

      4 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      I would like to add another stock image site to the list

    • maricarbo profile image


      4 years ago

      Very useful hub! Thanks for the information. I'm wondering, do these sites accept photos from your iphone? My iphone takes exceptionally good pictures.

    • profile image

      Peter Oluoch Eliakim Obuolo 

      4 years ago

      I will be selling my photos to them soon. Regards, Peter Oluoch,

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      i like it

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      hey u r really good thank u dear give this idea it really useful thanks yaar !

    • tandaa profile image


      6 years ago from UAE

      Nice one, thanks, I've referred a friend of mine who's a photographer, i know it will be most useful when he reads

    • Lightshare profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanx Bijit for an informative article

    • Bijit99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Bijit Sharma 

      6 years ago from Tinsukia, India

      I am glad you learned something from my hub...such comments always inspire me...

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Cool. Always wondered where they get their pictures from. I learned something new today.


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