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How to Earn from Your Photos Online - a Beginner's Guide

Updated on November 20, 2014
Becoming a good photographer will help you start earning from your photos.
Becoming a good photographer will help you start earning from your photos. | Source

It's not a secret that a lot of people earn from their photos and they earn big time. And a lot of them are not professional photographers (though some are, of course). I'm not talking of people who have their own studios and get orders from big clients via their websites. I'm talking about people like you and me. So, can you make money from photography online? You certainly can! Here are some tips that will help you get started.

Everybody can take photos these days - all you need is a cheap point-and-shoot camera or even your mobile phone. It's also dead easy to upload your photos to sites like Flikr to get some exposure. But earning from your photos is a bit harder than that. To earn from your photos, you must make sure that:

  • Your equipment is good enough. If your photos are low quality, you will only be able to make cents rather than dollars.
  • You know some basic composition principles
  • You know what exposure is and how to deal with it
  • You photos are of interesting things (your cat or dog doesn't usually count as interesting)

Now that you know what is expected from your photos, let's have a look at where you can post them to earn some money.

1. Microstocks

Microstock photography websites are the best source of revenue for professional photographers and for advanced amateurs. True, your equipment has to be excellent (don't bother sending your photos for approval unless you have a DSLR). And don't bother sending unprocessed photos - they won't be accepted. So, if you want to be serious about microstock, get yourself a copy of Photoshop and Lightroom. In my experience, Fotolia and BigStockPhoto are the best places to start, as you can submit one image at a time. When you images start getting accepted, you can apply for approval at Shutterstock and submit 10 images for assessment. If at least 7 of them get accepted, you're in. If not, you'll have to wait for a month before you can try again. If you try hard enough, selling your photos though Microstock agencies will really pay.

2. Flikr

Yes, Flikr! Did you know that Flikr partnered with Getty Images and now accepts work for sale? All you need to do is have photos on Flikr (good photos, not your cat) and join the Getty Images group. If you get approved, your images will become available for sale. The great thing about this group is that millions of people search Flikr for images, so the exposure you get will be tremendous.

3. RedGage

Now, RedGage earnings will never match microstock earnings. But the good news is that all you need for RedGage is a point-and-shoot camera. Your phone will do too. You will be able to post your photos to share with the world, meet new friends, improve your photography skills, and earn a bit of money too. Quite a few professional photographers use RedGage to showcase their work, so there is no reason why you shouldn't too.

4. Zazzle

Another way to earn from your photos is to open a Zazzle store. Zazzle is a great website where you can create your own custom products, from postcard and stamps to T-shirts, bags, and canvas prints. So, if you think you have photos that will make good postcards, prints and posters, give it a go and sell photos on Zazzle.

These are only a few ways how you can earn from your photos online. Hope these tips will help you get started.

Are you a Nikon or a Canon person?

Which dSLR brand do you prefer?

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks so much for the info with tips. I hope to move in this direction in the new year.

    • Savva Pelou profile image

      Savva Pelou 6 years ago from London

      Redgage seems quite intriguing

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      2uesday, thanks for your comment!

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 6 years ago

      Hi great advice, RedGage is the easy option to start with and friendly too. The idea for using Flkir is interesting too.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      blogtipper, thanks for your comments and tips. All of them are correct. I think that's the subject for another hub. :)

    • profile image

      blogtipper 6 years ago

      One more tip to get your photos accepted in to the microstock websites is to do photoshoots that involve indemand photoshoots of business concepts. Search the photo stock website to see what kind of images are selling. If you have pictures of clouds, they might be interesting but probably not what the stock site wants. Also, you can't have any branded items in the shot and if any human appears in the photo they need to have signed a model release form.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      adrienne2, you are welcome!

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

      Thanks so much for explaining it a bit. I am going to take a look at your other article.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Hi adrienne2, thanks for reading and bookmarking the article! dSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera. Basically, it's a camera with a little mirror inside. I won't go into the technical details here, but cameras with that little mirror produce much better quality photos than any other type of digital cameras.

      Have a look at this article for dSLR comparison:

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 6 years ago from Atlanta

      Hi Snurre, Awesome article for beginners to earn with photos. I dont want to sound like a dummy but maybe I missed it in the article. What does DsLR stand for? I use to snap shots with my camera phone, and made a few dollars here and there. I got out of the swing of taking photos you have awaken my snap a photo of something interesting again. Voted up, and have bookmarked!

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      CZCZCZ, thanks for your comment! Glad you found the hub useful.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 6 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks for this hub. I will be sending it to my wife who loves to take photos and has been looking for ways to benefit financially even if it is small from her passion of photo taking.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      Perfect! Thank you

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Good choice! Yes - all you need to do is make sure the white balance is absolutely correct.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      It's a Nikon D7000 and I don't have Lightroom. I do have Aperture and Adobe. Will either of those work?

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Duchess OBlunt, you are very welcome. Is your a Nikon or a Canon? Just make sure you edit your photos in Lightroom before you submit to stock sites like Shutterstock. Otherwise they will be declined.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips! I so love my new DSLR! and I enjoy taking pictures. I will have to consider this, and research it further. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 6 years ago

      Thanks for your generous sharing Liz, I love taking photos, this hub might help me much...voted this up!

    • RobertDCrandell profile image

      RobertDCrandell 6 years ago

      Great business idea! Love taking photos!Useful hub!

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      doodlebugs, thanks for mentioning Cafepress! I've heard of it but never had the time to check it out. Will do now.

      Arunii, thanks for your comments on my hubs.

      Karen, thank you!

    • Karen N profile image

      Karen N 6 years ago from United States

      Very creative, I would have never thought about earning from my photo's.

    • arunii profile image

      arunii 6 years ago from Delhi

      Very innovative article. I use redgage just for uploading links and videos but never think of uploading image so this is a wake up article for me !

    • doodlebugs profile image

      doodlebugs 6 years ago from Southwest

      Good info. I've found Cafepress to be far superior to Zazzle in terms of sales, but I guess it can't hurt to use the image on both sites to increase your chances.

    • giteshtrivedi profile image

      giteshtrivedi 6 years ago from USA

      Excellent article on earning from photos and providing resources for beginners. Awesome information.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Xenonlit, thanks for your comment. I suggest you try RedGage - you can start earning from your photos even with your current camera. If you sign up using the link I provide, you'll automatically become my friend and I'll get some lottery points :)

    • Xenonlit profile image

      Xenonlit 6 years ago

      I would have never thought of selling my photos to stock sites! Thanks for the information. I will wait until I get a better camera than my smartphone or my HP Photosmart...even though that little sucker takes a useful picture.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Rai2722, you are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

    • rai2722 profile image

      rai2722 6 years ago

      nice idea on stocking photography. thanks mate!

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Julz09, lavender3957, kripkrip420, thanks for your comments!

    • kripkrip420 profile image

      kripkrip420 6 years ago from In relation to what?

      Thanks for this Hub. I am actually really interested in becoming a photographer! I just need to get the camera...And learn about the techniques...And then I may be ready! Great hub! Voted up and useful!

    • profile image

      lavender3957 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. It is wonderful to know ho to make money for the things you enjoy and want to share with others. Nice hub.

    • Julz09 profile image

      Julz09 6 years ago

      Excellent information! Really easy to follow.

    • madmoneyalerts profile image

      madmoneyalerts 6 years ago

      Thanks a lot for this superb information & unique ideas.Once again thanks for sharing.

      Stocks to Buy

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      You're welcome, Susan! Thanks for your comment!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this. Never realized that you could sell your photo's online this way.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Thank you!

      Dawn, try RedGage. You'll be able to share your photos, get feedback and earn some cash.

    • LeisureLife profile image

      LeisureLife 6 years ago from USA

      Great article! Thanks for sharing

    • Dawn Conklin profile image

      Dawn Conklin 6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Great hub! Thank you for the info Snurre, voted up. I have recently taken up a hobby of taking pictures. I think that's what happens when I buy a smart phone with a good camera :) Will have to check these sites out, at the moment I have just been sharing pics on my photo blog. Never really thought about earning money from them since I am by far not a pro.

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 6 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Very interesting! I knew pictures could be sold, just didn't know how. Always thought they (Shutterstock etc.) have photographers on staff.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Thanks for your comments, everyone! Glad you found this hub useful.

      CWanamaker - basically, any DSLR will do for a start. I have Nikon D5000 and it does the job very well.

      J.S.Matthew - try uploading your photos on RedGage. It's fun and rewarding.

      vicogon40 - cool, then you should definitely try Fotolia and other Microstock websites.

    • vicogon40 profile image

      vicogon40 6 years ago

      i have a lot of quality photos that is lying fallow in my camera and systems. i think, i have to give it a try by posting and uploading my photos on these sites. all the same thanks for sharing

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I have been accumulating photos for years and you have helped me look into something new! I don't know if I'll be able to earn money from my photos but I can try. Thanks for sharing! Voting up and sharing.


    • laidbacklady profile image

      Linda 6 years ago from Plumsted Township, NJ

      Thanks for the information Snurre! Very interesting and very useful. Voted up! Will be looking into this for sure!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      This is a very useful hub. I never thought of selling photos online...Thanks for sharing!

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 6 years ago from Arizona

      I've really put some thought into doing this, I just need a decent camera. Perhaps for the upcoming holidays.