Top 5 places to sell stock photos online

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Are you trying to find the best place to sell stock photos online? Search no more, here is the list of top 5 places to sell stock photos online.

About websites that sell stock photos

Most of the stock photos today are sold on so-called “microstock” websites such as iStock and Shutterstock. Those sites are called “microstock” because of micropayments they charge customers for the photos. Photo pricing starts at $1 for the smaller size, and increasing cost by increasing the size of the photo.

Becoming a contributor is easier on some stock photography websites than on others. Most of them don’t charge photographers to upload their portfolios. Instead, the percentage of each sale goes to the website. 

You can make from 15% up to 50% depending on your sales and whether you are exclusively selling those photos on that particular website. 

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What type of stock photos can be sold?

All kinds of photos are acceptable, but you must be cautious with photos of people and properties for which you need special permission. For photos of people, you must also upload a model release form and for properties, you need a property release form. You can find the forms on the website where you are uploading your photos.

Also, you can’t have any recognizable brands in your photos. If you do, your photo will be rejected instantly.

My tip is to check the categories on the stock photography website and then categorize your photos accordingly. 

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Do I need some special equipment to make stock photos?

Due to the limited shooting options, phone photos are not so welcomed for selling on stock photography websites. 

Instead, you should consider investing in some good DSLR camera where you can control settings and where you have more shooting options.

All photos are inspected by human eyes, so having a quality camera is the best way to get approved.

Always check photo requirements on each website before uploading. 


Keyword play a very important role in online world. If you want your photos to come up in search results, you need to choose your keywords carefully. Most websites have their own suggested keywords based on the photo you uploaded or on description, but there are also online tools. One of such tools is this website. It is easy to use and it has great keyword suggestions.

Here is the list of 5 websites to sell your stock photos online.


Shutterstock is one of the largest microstock websites with over 250 million images in their library. It is an excellent option for selling stock photos. Besides photos, you can also upload videos and music. Contributors on Shutterstock can earn up to 33% of the sale.

To become a contributor you need to register and upload up to 10 of your best photos. The admission period lasts between 7-10 days. If you get rejected, you will need to wait a certain time before trying again. If even 1 of 10 is accepted you can go ahead and submit more photos.

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You can also earn money by referring another contributor. This way you can earn $0.04 for every sale new contributor makes for the next two years. There is also a customer referral program where you earn 20% of their first purchase, up to $200.

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With over 100 million photos, Dreamstime is another eminent microstock website. Contributors can ear from 25-50% revenue, while the exclusive file gets an extra 10% bonus and exclusive contributors get an additional bonus of $0.20 for each approved submission. The contributor may request payment as soon as their account balance reaches $100. When approved, your photo is on Level 1 and as it gets downloaded it moves to higher levels and sells for the higher price. 

Upon registration, you will receive a link where to upload your photos and wait for the approval. On Dreamstime, photographers have approval ratings. The ones with a higher rating can upload the maximum number of images per week, while the one with a lower rating can upload a limited number of photos. 

Dreamstime also offers free stock photos.

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Depositphotos is the fastest-growing microstock website with over 110 million photos in its library. As a contributor, you can earn from 34-42% depending on your level. Royalty calculations are based on the amount paid by a buyer. 

After you register you will be required to pass a brief examination test (uploading a few of your best photos), when you pass the test you’ll be able to upload your photos and start selling them. 

Just like Dreamstime, Depositphotos also offers free stock photos.

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stock photos

4.Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock, formerly known as Fotolia, is known to be the very first online platform to sell stock photos. Photos uploaded on this site can be directly bought by users of Adobe applications (Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator), which means that your photos can reach more people. Contributors ear 33% of each sale, but for photos downloaded from a subscription plan, payment depends on the photographer’s rank. 

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5.iStock (Getty Images)

One of the biggest and most popular microstock websites is iStock. It was purchased by Getty Images and now incorporates Getty’s software innovations. You earn royalty from each piece sold, and it’s a percentage of what customers paid. 

To apply to iStock, you need to download an app to your smartphone and then upload 3 to 6 sample photos. It takes 3 to 5 days to get approval. After getting approved, you can start uploading your photos.

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BONUS: Your own website

Selling your photos through the microstock website isn’t the only option. Another option is to create your own website to sell photos online. This is a great option if you want more control over your photos or if you want to get what customers paid, not just percentage. The downside is difficulty to reach enough people to see your work which is much easier through existing microstock websites

Now you are ready to go through your photo library and chose your best photos to turn into money by selling them online. 

Good luck.


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