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How To Sell Photos Online: A Detailed Guide With A Checklist

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If you have a smartphone or camera and a creative mindset, it’s time to sell your photos online and get passive income. You only need to do what you enjoy most—take memorable pictures. There are many specialized sources on the web where HD-quality visuals are accepted for sale. Find out all the necessary information in this article. Read on!

First steps to sell stock photos 

Before learning how to sell stock photos, it’s important to cover the basics. It sounds easy to capture and sell images on the web, but a true photographer should keep abreast of photography trends and be aware of social representation skills. 

#1 Learn photography basics and techniques 

Like any other type of art, photography has specific rules which help creators develop impressive storylines and compositional accents. You can’t form your unique style without an initial understanding of the basics. Thus, learn about composition, light, and camera settings first. This allows you to find and capture remarkable settings, whether in motionless portrait photography or ever-changing landscape scenes. 

You can also learn useful photography techniques, such as the rule of thirds, contrast creation, and rhythmic repetitions. For example, understanding the rule of thirds can help you accurately compose the main objects in a frame, while rhythmic repetitions are useful for creating harmony. These techniques are optional. Nonetheless, they greatly facilitate the photography process.

#2 Find your niche

Photography is a vast creative space where you can opt for exciting genres. Each direction has unique features, so professional photographers choose what they’re most interested in. You should also decide on your preferable niche, e.g., portrait, street, food, or still-life photography. This will allow you to develop your skills and find your personal style. 

#3 Create an extensive portfolio

There are approximately 750 billion images on the internet. When selling photos online, you undoubtedly face competitiveness among photographers. Moreover, buyers often require many different pictures for their promotions. Therefore, uploading one image for sale is not a successful strategy. It’s better to gather multiple photos and then offer a wide choice of visuals to customers.

Best stock photo sites to sell your images 

Stock content marketplaces are one of the best ways to sell photos online. These platforms offer extensive libraries replenished by photographers, designers, and illustrators from all over the world. Each photo stock has specific requirements for its contributors. Some sources partner with professional photographers only, while others are beginner friendly. You should choose a platform and get familiar with its terms in advance. 


Depositphotos is one of the most reliable websites for selling photos online. The platform, accessible at, connects its contributors with businesses and creatives that require high-quality royalty-free content. You can upload your photos, vectors, illustrations, patterns, icons, sound effects, music tracks, and videos and find a buyer. 

Becoming the platform’s contributor is possible for beginner and amateur creators since it provides simple terms for collaboration. The main requirement is to be over 18 years old and pass an easy exam. The test is needed to check your photography skills; upload up to five of your best works and wait for approval. After successful enrollment, you can access advanced promotional and analytics tools to improve your contributor level and increase your income. You will receive a royalty payment for each sold file. Also, you can find free images which you can download at

What photos sell best on stock content marketplaces 

When contributing to a stock content marketplace, explore their demand and offer visuals that are bound to interest buyers. Here are some best-selling categories: 

  • Pictures of people. These visuals are popular among many businesses since they deliver trust to consumers. When capturing pictures of people, you can experiment with environmental conditions, styles, and poses. Nonetheless, it’s better to make your shots more or less universal, so that they can be applied in various designs.
  • Lifestyle photography. Businesses frequently use these photos to convey specific values to different audiences like millennials or baby boomers. In your shots, you should consider the specifics of each generation. It’s also possible to create photosets for various business purposes. 
  • Business meetings. This topic is demanded among B2B companies that provide their services to other businesses. If you want to capture such scenes, several models are required, while your main goal is to create a sense of sincere dialogue and cooperation.
  • Futuristic designs. Photos like this can be sold to technology related companies. Usually, it’s hard to explain their services and products ordinarily. Thus, futuristic designs are a great option to highlight the benefits of implementing innovations. To produce such visuals, you should have a rich imagination and props due to the genre’s abstraction. 
  • Conceptual still life. This topic is in demand among food delivery and health nutrition companies. Currently, photographers are moving away from typical object arrangements in a frame. It’s better to create a unique, vivid composition. 

A brief glossary of terms for beginner stock photographers

To better understand the inner stock photography market, you should be aware of its basic terms:

  • Exclusive rights—a right reserved specifically by a particular person to dispose of a picture after purchasing. This means the author cannot resell the image to third parties. 
  • Non-exclusive rights—allows anyone to buy and use a picture. The author can sell the image an unlimited number of times to different people. 
  • Royalty-free license—allows a person to buy a picture once and use it multiple times without paying extra fees. 
  • Extended license—allows a buyer to utilize a picture without copy limitations or usage restrictions.  
  • Creative Commons license—allows the content to be shared and reused as long as certain conditions are met, e.g., attribution.  
  • Editorial license—allows a person to use a picture for illustrative purposes only, while commercial promotion is prohibited. 
  • Model release—a document that gives a photographer permission to use an image of a model commercially or for selling. 
  • Property release—a document that permits using visuals showcasing a property in commercial projects.

A checklist for selling photos on stock content marketplaces 

To avoid confusion when it comes to selling photos on stock content marketplaces, follow these step-by-step instructions: 

  1. Acquire photography skills to take appealing photos that others will purchase. 
  2. Start capturing photos on your smartphone or camera to develop your photography skills. 
  3. Create a vast photo collection (30+ files) to offer customers a wide choice of visuals.
  4. Choose a stock content marketplace that offers pleasant contributor features. 
  5. Register as a contributor on preferred photo stock(s). 
  6. Pass an exam by uploading some of your artwork for review. 
  7. Upload your photos to create an excellent stock content portfolio. 
  8. Add relevant tags and descriptions to images, so that users can find your visuals in the library. 
  9. Examine the photo demand statistics in your contributor account. 
  10. Offer some free pictures, so that users can get to know your work before investing in premium visuals. 
  11. Increase your contributor level to receive a better royalty payment. 
  12. Replenish your account with fresh visuals to ensure users stay interested in your artwork. 

Bottom line 

Your photography hobby can be an additional source of passive income. The easiest way is to partner with online stock content marketplaces where you can sell your photos. To begin, learn photography basics, find your niche, and choose a platform. You can follow the instructions provided in this article.

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