If you’ve been trying to sell photos online without much success, this article is your turning point! 

Packed full of handy tips and useful information, we cover everything you’ll need to get started selling your photography online with ease. We’ve split this guide into two key parts to get you started: 

Part One: Choosing the right online platform to sell photos

Part Two: Beginner-friendly tips for selling photos online

Part One: Top Platforms for Selling Your Photos Online

If you’re thinking about selling your photography online, one of your first questions is probably where do I sell my photos?

While plenty of platforms accommodate both professional photographers and beginners who want to sell their images, some provide greater control over your brand and enhance your chance of generating a sustainable income.

In the following sections, we’ll explore top platforms where you can sell your photos. Before we drill down into the details, here’s a brief overview of the various photography-friendly platforms:

PlatformInitial CostTransaction FeesCategoryFunctionalityRelevant Features
WordPressVaries (Hosting & Domain)Varies (Payment Gateway Fees)CMSWebsite building, blog integration, SEO toolsFull control, SEO tools, various gallery plugins
Shopify$29/month (Basic Plan)2.9% + 30¢ per transactionEcommerce platformOnline store creation, product management, marketing toolsEasy setup, marketing tools, scalability
Adobe StockFree to join15% – 35% commissionStock Photo MarketplaceSell/license stock photos, integrated with Adobe Creative CloudLarge audience, Adobe Creative Cloud integration
ShutterstockFree to join15% – 40% commissionStock Photo MarketplaceSell/license stock photos, large audience, global reachLarge audience, global reach
AlamyFree to join40% commissionStock Photo MarketplaceSell/license stock photos, editorial and commercial contentGlobal reach, editorial content
iStock PhotoFree to join15% – 45% commissionStock Photo MarketplaceSell/license stock photos, diverse marketing toolsLarge audience, marketing tools
Getty ImagesFree to join20% commissionStock Photo MarketplacePremium stock photo sales, high visibilityHigh visibility, premium clientele
500pxFree to join60% commission (non-exclusive)Photography-Sharing PlatformPhoto sharing, community engagement, licensing optionsCommunity engagement, licensing options
PhotoShelter$10/month (Basic Plan)8% – 10% per salePhotography-Sharing PlatformCreate custom photography websites, client proofingCustomizable websites, client proofing
Etsy$0.20 per listing6.5% transaction feeEcommerce platformSell handmade/vintage items, niche market focusNiche market, strong community

Each of these platforms has its unique advantages and potential drawbacks, which we’ll delve into in the upcoming sections.

The Best Platform for Selling Photos Online: Your Own Website

Creating and managing your own website allows you to have full control over how your photos are presented and sold, offering the greatest potential for building a unique brand and a loyal customer base.

Here are the pros and cons you can expect from building your own photography website: 


  • Full control: Complete ownership over your website and content, including design, pricing, and policies.
  • No commission fees: You keep all the revenue from your sales, aside from payment processing fees.
  • Customization: Ability to customize the site to reflect your brand and showcase your work in the best possible way.
  • SEO benefits: Opportunity to optimize your site for search engines, increasing the likelihood of organic traffic.
  • Direct customer relationship: Ability to build and maintain direct relationships with your customers, which can lead to repeat business and personalized marketing efforts.


  • Initial setup and maintenance: Requires time and possibly technical expertise to set up and maintain the site, including managing hosting, security, and updates.
  • Cost: Ongoing costs for hosting, domain, themes, and plugins can add up.
  • Marketing efforts: Responsibility for driving traffic to your site, which can require significant effort in marketing and SEO.
  • Limited immediate audience: Unlike established marketplaces, you start with no audience, and building one can take time.
  • Customer support: You are responsible for providing customer support and handling any issues that arise.

Two of the most popular options include WordPress and Shopify, which we discuss below.

1. WordPress (With WooCommerce)


Your first option is the one we strongly recommend: Set up your own WordPress site

WordPress sites are affordable to set up – you just need a managed WordPress host, a good theme, and a few plugins. You’ll pay for most of these as annual or yearly fees, which are usually very reasonable. 

If you want to process transactions on a WordPress site, we recommend also getting set up with WooCommerce, which has all the Ecommerce functionality you’ll need to start selling your photos. 

One of the biggest benefits of selling photos with WordPress and WooCommerce is that you have full ownership over your website and content, and you don’t need to pay any commission fees on any photos you sell. 

You can set your own prices, unlike many of the platforms that require adherence to their pricing rules. 

One drawback is that you won’t have any help with distribution or marketing through the standard version of the platform, but because WordPress is an SEO-friendly platform, you can optimize your content for search engines so that people find your photos through organic search.

In addition, WooCommerce’s marketing integrations, can help you to integrate with various marketing platforms to help get your photos in front of your target audience, wherever they’re most likely to be. Useful integrations for selling photography on WooCommerce include:  

If you opt for a WordPress site, we recommend using a performance-optimized gallery plugin like FooGallery. This is an essential plugin for photographers as it lets you set up customizable, professional-looking photo galleries anywhere on your website. 

The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin

FooGallery is an easy-to-use WordPress gallery plugin, with stunning gallery layouts and a focus on speed and SEO.

Here’s an example of how your photography site could look with the addition of a plugin like FooGallery.

sell photos online using FooGallery and WooCommerce

For more information, read our full step-by-step tutorial on selling images with WordPress, FooGallery, and WooCommerce.

2. Shopify


Shopify is another leading Ecommerce platform that you can use to create your own photography website. 

Shopify’s benefits include its easy setup and management, professional themes, customization options, and extensive app store for additional functionality. However, compared to WooCommerce, Shopify is typically much more expensive. 

Shopify offers several pricing plans, starting at $29 per month for the Basic plan. This includes everything you need to create and run your online store. Upgrading to a higher plan probably won’t be worth it for your particular needs, but you’ll miss out on a few important features, such as advanced reporting. 

You won’t need to worry about hosting, as Shopify takes care of that for you. Additionally, Shopify offers a variety of themes and customization options, allowing you to create a professional and visually appealing storefront to showcase your photos.Shopify charges a transaction fee of 2.9% + 30¢ per sale if you use Shopify Payments. If you choose to use an external payment gateway, there may be additional transaction fees.

Top Stock Photo Marketplaces for Selling Photos

A stock photo site is ideal for photographers looking to sell high-quality images to businesses, marketers, and content creators, but you do so under the terms of the site. In other words, images must meet specific requirements, and you will pay a commission for selling them via the site. 

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons you can expect from selling your photos on a stock photo platform: 


  • Large customer base: Access to a global audience, increasing the potential for sales.
  • Passive income: Ability to earn passive income once photos are uploaded and accepted.
  • High visibility: Photos are showcased to millions of potential buyers, enhancing exposure.
  • Marketing support: Platforms often market their libraries, which helps your photos reach a wider audience.
  • Contributor resources: Many platforms offer tools and resources to help contributors succeed, including insights and trends.


  • Commission fees: Platforms take a commission on sales, typically ranging from 15% to 45%.
  • Competitive marketplace: High competition among photographers can make it difficult to get photos noticed.
  • Limited pricing control: Prices are generally set by the platform, giving contributors limited control over pricing.
  • Approval process: Photos must go through an approval process, which can be stringent and time-consuming.
  • Exclusive agreements: Non-exclusive agreements may limit the ability to sell the same photos on other platforms.

If this sounds like the right option for your photography business, here are a few popular stock photo marketplaces you can choose from:

3. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is free to use and you keep the rights when you upload photos. But there are a number of conditions: all of your content will be reviewed before it is accepted on Adobe to ensure that it meets the requirements (such as high quality, keyword accuracy, legal standard, and commercial value). You’ll also need signed model releases for any images of recognizable people or release forms for private properties. 

The other point to note is that the royalties that you earn start at 33%. And you can only request payment after you reach at least $25 in royalties, and at least 45 days have passed since you first sold an asset. 

4. Shutterstock


Shutterstock is another popular platform from which you can sell your images. Again, you need to have full ownership or copyright of the images before you can sell them, and you’ll need release forms for any models, private property, artwork, or trademarks featured in your images. 

While you retain ownership of all of your photos, you also enter into an agreement with Shutterstock, giving them permission to use your images. Your account will be regulated to ensure that you follow the guidelines and adhere to regulations such as using relevant keywords. 

Shutterstock’s royalty payouts are structured in levels based on the number of image licenses you sell. Here’s how it works:

  • Level 1: 15% for up to 100 image licenses.
  • Level 2: 20% for 101 to 250 licenses.
  • Level 3: 25% for 251 to 500 licenses.
  • Level 4: 30% for 501 to 2,500 licenses.
  • Level 5: 35% for 2,501 to 25,000 licenses.
  • Level 6: 40% for over 25,000 licenses.

Video royalties follow a similar tiered structure, but the number of licenses required for each level differs. You only start receiving payments once your earnings reach at least $35​​.

This tiered system rewards contributors who sell more licenses with higher royalty rates, meaning it’s a more challenging route for those in the early stages of starting a photography side hustle or building a photography brand.

5. Alamy


Alamy is a well-known stock photography platform that offers a robust marketplace for photographers to sell their images. It is especially favored for its generous commission structure and diverse range of content.

With Alamy, you can sell stock photos, panoramic shots, vectors, and videos. Your contract allows you to submit content that meets Alamy’s requirements, and then have Alamy sell it for you. However, you do have control over your submissions, and Alamy says they won’t be edited. 

Alamy offers a competitive royalty structure:

  • Non-exclusive contributors: Earn up to 40% commission on each sale.
  • Exclusive contributors: Earn up to 50% commission for images that are only available on Alamy.

Additionally, Alamy offers 100% commission for students who submit their work through the student scheme.

6. iStock Photo

iStock by Getty Images

iStock bills itself as a site created by creatives for creatives. It offers a range of benefits and opportunities for contributors, particularly those who produce high-quality and unique content, making it ideal for photographers wanting to sell photos online.

Joining iStock as a contributor is free. You simply need to apply and submit samples of your work for review. If accepted, you can start uploading and selling your photos through the platform without any upfront costs.

iStock operates on a royalty-based payment system where contributors earn a percentage of the sale price of their photos. The royalty rates depend on whether you are an exclusive or non-exclusive contributor:

  • Non-exclusive contributors: Earn between 15% and 20% royalties on each sale.
  • Exclusive contributors: Earn between 25% and 45% royalties, depending on the sales volume and type of content.

Exclusive contributors typically receive higher royalties and benefit from additional exposure and marketing efforts by iStock.

7. Getty Images

Getty Images

Getty Images boasts more than 800,000 users, giving you a wide audience to whom you can sell your photos or videos. But to do so, you first need to apply by uploading original content via their app. If you then get accepted, you’ll be sent a non-exclusive agreement to get started. 

If you do become a contributor, your content could be shown on both Getty Images and iStock (see below). Royalties can be between 15% and 45% on licenses sold, with the opportunity to earn higher commissions when you become an exclusive contributor. 

However, the typical royalty rates you can expect as a photographer at Getty are as follows:

  • Royalty-free still images: 20% royalties on each sale.
  • Royalty-free video clips: 25% royalties on each sale.

You keep the copyright to all of your content. 

As you can see, while there is plenty of opportunity to submit photos, it may take a while to start earning. While there is the potential to earn quite a bit, there is also a lot of competition. So, to make money, you’ll need to sell a lot of stock images.

Photography-Sharing Platforms

These sites are different from your usual stock photo website, as any photographer can join and build their photography portfolio without having to get approval first. However, they still take a commission on whatever photos you sell, and you will have to ‘compete’ with other photographers who may have more visibility on these platforms.

8. 500px


500px is a popular photography-sharing platform that allows photographers to sell their images. It combines community engagement with a marketplace, making it a great option for photographers looking to showcase their work and monetize their talent.

Joining 500px is free, and the platform offers free and paid membership plans. The free plan allows you to upload a limited number of photos, while paid plans (starting at $5 per month) provide additional features, such as unlimited uploads and advanced statistics.

With 500px, joining up and getting started is simple—download an app and start marketing yourself as a professional photographer. However, as the community is already 18 million users strong, standing out will take some work.

You will also receive royalties from what you sell, but the higher-end royalties are available only when you license exclusively with 500px.

The royalty-based payment system is offered primarily through their exclusive distribution with Getty Images and VCG (Visual China Group):

  • Non-exclusive contributors: Earn 30% royalties on each sale.
  • Exclusive contributors: Earn 60% royalties, but the photos must be exclusive to 500px.

9. PhotoShelter


PhotoShelter is a cloud-based platform from which photographers can store, promote, and sell their photos online. Photographers can create a portfolio, price and sell prints or image licenses, and deliver files to customers securely. But portfolios are limited to the features and cloud storage provided, determined by the plan you take. 

PhotoShelter offers three pricing plans, each with varying levels of storage and features:

  • Basic plan: $10/month (billed annually) with 4GB of cloud storage.
  • Standard plan: $25/month (billed annually) with 100GB of cloud storage.
  • Pro plan: $45/month (billed annually) with unlimited storage.

PhotoShelter will also charge a transaction fee based on your account type:

  • Pro plan: 8% transaction fee.
  • Standard plan: 9% transaction fee.
  • Basic plan: 10% transaction fee.
  • Starter plan: 30% transaction fee.

Ecommerce Marketplace Platforms

Another option is to sell your photos on popular Ecommerce marketplaces. These sites provide a marketplace where individuals and businesses can sell a wide range of products, including photos, directly to consumers. 

As with previous platforms, there will be costs, such as monthly fees to run your store and a fee on every transaction. The added disadvantage is that many shoppers on these sites may not be looking for photos, so the potential audience is quite narrow.

Here are some of the pros and cons to consider:


  • Large customer base: Access to a vast audience of potential buyers makes it easier to reach customers without extensive marketing efforts​​.
  • Ease of use: These platforms are designed to be user-friendly, allowing sellers to set up their shops and manage listings with minimal technical knowledge. 
  • Payment Processing: Ecommerce marketplace platforms offer integrated payment systems, simplifying the process of accepting various payment methods from customers.


  • Fees: Selling photos on these platforms involves various fees, including listing fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees. 
  • High competition: The large number of sellers on these platforms means high competition, making it challenging to stand out and attract buyers​.
  • Limited customization: While platforms under this category offer some customization options, they are limited compared to building a standalone Ecommerce website.
  • Branding limitations: Establishing a unique brand can be challenging due to the uniform appearance of listings and the platform’s branding. 
  • Policy and rule compliance: Sellers must adhere to the platform’s policies and rules, which can change and affect how your photos are sold.

Platforms like Etsy, a well-known online marketplace, come under this category.

10. Etsy


While platforms like Etsy have become popular for photographers to sell prints, digital downloads, and other photo-related products,  you may struggle to find an audience dedicated to photography. 

Setting up a shop on Etsy is relatively inexpensive:

  • Listing fee: $0.20 per item listed, which is renewed every four months if the item doesn’t sell.
  • Transaction fee: 6.5% of the total sale price, including shipping.
  • Payment processing fee: Varies by country; in the U.S., it’s 3% + $0.25 per transaction.

There are no upfront costs besides these fees, making it relatively inexpensive to start selling on Etsy and other Ecommerce marketplaces. 

There are no upfront costs besides these fees, making it relatively inexpensive. However, sites like Esty are arguably better used to set up a photography side hustle or as a way to diversify your revenue streams away from your main photography website. If you choose to go down this route, other popular platforms such as eBay and Amazon Handmade are available.

Part Two: Top Tips For Selling Photos Online

Looking at all of the options above, it’s clear that using your own WordPress site is the most beneficial way to make money selling photos. You have more control over how and what you sell, and you’re not limited by marketplace requirements or hefty commissions. 

To help you make the most of your WordPress site, we’ve put together some beginner-friendly tips for selling photos online:

Defining A Niche For Your Photography

As a photographer focused on building your photography career, you probably have a particular passion – for photographing people, nature, architecture, or something else. It’s a good idea to build your reputation as a photographer specializing in one area, because customers will know to come back to you for similar work in the future, and it’s a good way to stand out from other, more generic photographers.

For example, being a nature photographer is a broad field. But perhaps you have a passion for macro or micro photography. Or maybe you specialize in long-exposure shots of waterfalls or telephoto wildlife photography. By defining your niche, it’s more likely that you’ll build an audience of people who are interested in the exact kind of photography you sell. 

example of macro photography

Understand Market Demand

Another strategy is to align your passion with what the market wants to buy at a particular time, and that’s changeable – for example, did you notice how many images popped up since 2022 featuring the national colors of Ukraine? During the COVID-19 pandemic, photos of people wearing facemasks were in demand. You can use tools like Google Trends to research what kind of photography is in demand online.

By contrast, there are some classic photographic niches. Just take a look at some of Shutterstock’s top-selling photos. You may be surprised by how unremarkable a lot of these images are, but there is clearly a common need for brands to visually articulate everyday activities like buying a car, buying a house, or shopping online. 

If you can align your niche passion with market demand, you’ll be off to a good start.

Installing The Right Tools To Sell Photos Online 

Once you’ve built a functional WordPress site, you’ll likely need some additional digital tools – or “plugins” – to both display and sell your photos more effectively. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress but we recommend you focus on the three biggest assets for selling photos online: a gallery, a lightbox, and eCommerce functionality.

First, you’ll need a digital gallery. A website gallery lets you display your images in their best light, makes images scrollable and mobile-friendly, and lets you add supporting information to all of your photos. 

To do this, we recommend using FooGallery.

I looked at all the galleries when I was building my new photography site. I wanted one that was elegant looking on all platforms and let me tell a story for every photo. Foo was the best.


FooGallery PRO Commerce is the ideal plugin for this, particularly because it integrates with WooCommerce (another essential plugin for an online store). This makes it easier to set up and sell images directly from your gallery. With the WooCommerce integration, customers can add photos to their carts from the gallery itself, making it easier for them to complete a purchase.

Then you would benefit from installing a lightbox (for this, we recommend FooBox), which will give you the functionality to display the photos you want to sell in an SEO-optimised gallery (as well as other important website elements, like capture forms or important announcements) without other website content distracting the viewer. 

Below is an example of a gallery that uses a lightbox – built with FooGallery and FooBox. If you click on one of the images, you’ll see how the lightbox works!

Protecting Your Work

When selling photos online, it’s crucial to understand and manage the legal aspects to protect your digital assets and respect others’ rights. Here’s a condensed overview:

Licensing your photos:

  • Commercial use: Allows use in marketing and advertising.
  • Retail use: Permits use in physical products like mugs or tote bags.
  • Editorial use: For use in newspapers, blogs, and magazines, but not ads.
  • Exclusive rights: Sold to one buyer only, typically at a higher price.
  • Rights managed: One-time use with specific restrictions.
  • Creative Commons: Free use with conditions like crediting the photographer.
  • Royalty-free: Users can use the photo for any purpose.
  • Public domain: No copyright, free for any use (rarely applicable for selling).

Legal considerations

  • Right of publicity: Obtain consent from individuals in your photos if you plan to sell them.
  • Property releases: Required for identifiable private properties in your photos.
  • Copyright issues: Avoid using photos of copyrighted works without permission.
  • Commissioned work: Ensure clients approve the use of commissioned photos for your portfolio or commercial use.

If you’re worried about protecting your photography on WordPress, we recommend using FooGallery PRO Commerce, which allows you to easily add watermarks to protect your photos. With a watermark, your photos will display like so:

watermark on image

Marketing Your Photos Online

Effectively marketing your photos online can significantly boost sales and visibility. Here are some key strategies:

  • Run limited-time sales: Create urgency by offering time-sensitive discounts and special offers. Use plugins like FooBar to add sale announcements, banners, countdown clocks, and CTAs to your website galleries.
  • Utilize social media:
    • Instagram: Showcase visually striking images.
    • Facebook: Share family portraits or wedding photos, keeping the right of publicity in mind.
    • LinkedIn: Promote commercial images or formal portraits.
  • Boost posts: Social platforms allow you to sponsor posts and target specific audiences for greater reach.
  • Blogging: Share SEO-optimised insights into your photography process, write tutorials, and discuss themes or styles. 
  • Email marketing: Convert blog posts into email content to keep your audience engaged and informed about your latest work. Regular emails can build a loyal following.
  • Collect testimonials: Request testimonials from satisfied customers to build credibility. Display these on your website and social media platforms.

By integrating these strategies, you can create a comprehensive marketing plan that drives traffic and sales. For more detailed strategies, this article about photography marketing goes into a bit more detail about the different marketing strategies you can take.


What kind of photography sells best online? 

According to 500px, there are some types of photos that sell better than others:

  • Individuals in photos sell better than group photos
  • Candid shots sell better than posed photographs
  • Wide shots sell better than closeup photography
  • Looking away from the camera is better than facing it
  • Unidentified subjects tend to sell better
  • Most best-sellers are photographed at dawn or dusk

While we recommend leaning into the photography you’re most passionate about, incorporating some of these ideas may help you to boost your photography sales.

How much can you expect to make selling photos online?

The earnings from selling photos online can vary widely depending on several factors, including the platform you use, the quality and uniqueness of your photos, your marketing efforts, and the demand for your type of photography. Photographers selling prints or digital downloads directly from their own website can set their own prices, typically ranging from $10 to $100+ per photo.

Can I use multiple online platforms to sell my photos?

Yes, you can sell your photos on multiple online platforms. In fact, many photographers do so to maximize their reach and sales potential. Benefits include a wider audience, diversifying income, and targeting different niches/audiences.

Start Your Journey to Selling Photos Online Today

The hard truth is that making money by selling photos online is challenging due to high competition. However, when you combine talent, consistency, and the right tools, you’re stacking the odds in your favor.

Out of all the platforms we’ve discussed, WordPress (combined with WooCommerce) offers the best opportunity to sell your photography successfully. It provides full ownership of your photos and sales, allowing you to avoid direct competition with other photographers. By following our top tips, you can improve your online presence and increase your sales.

Having the right tools is essential to ease this process. FooGallery is a must-have plugin for creating stunning image galleries on WordPress. Its integration with WooCommerce enables you to sell your photos directly from your gallery, streamlining the selling process.

Try out FooGallery today to start selling your photos on WordPress!

The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin

FooGallery is an easy-to-use WordPress gallery plugin, with stunning gallery layouts and a focus on speed and SEO.