When people say you can make money doing almost anything, they’re telling you the truth. This time, we’re talking about how to make money selling photos of yourself. In other words, we’re monetizing the “selfie” by making our photos available for purchase.
Turning your photos into an income can be a great way to build up passive income or earn some extra cash quickly for the weekend night out.
Whether that means building up an audience to sell your photos to, becoming an affiliate marketer for the fashion industry, building your own website, or using popular photo selling marketplaces; you can make some extra money selling photos of yourself in no time. We’ll show you how.
How to Make Money Selling Photos of Yourself
In order to make money selling photos of yourself, you need an audience to sell the photos to. That means getting access to a market of people who would pay money for your photos.
Ever wonder where the photos on the covers of magazines come from? Or, how about the photos of individuals wearing new clothing to promote a new style? They have to come from somewhere.
Once you have an audience, you need to put a price on your work. This all depends on who you’re selling to and what you’re selling. Different marketplaces have different audiences, and thus have the potential to make different amounts of money.
A marketplace where bloggers go to get quick photos to add to an article, they created may only be willing to pay a moderate amount for a good photo. Other marketplaces like the fashion industry will pay an arm and a leg to have someone wear their new clothing and promote it to their following.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make money selling photos of yourself, below you’ll find a list of marketplaces and strategies to sell your photos.
1. Become an Influencer
In the age of social media, influencers are a hot commodity when it comes to getting a business’s product in front of a lot of people. An example of an influencer may be someone is as well known as Kim Kardashian, or someone who has a large following on Instagram. Most of us will fall in the latter category if we’re pursuing this path to sell photos.
How do you become an influencer? It starts by defining your audience and creating content that caters to your target audience. Because fashion is such a big player in the influencer market, we’ll use that as our go-to example.
Perhaps I love fashion and trying out new styles of clothing and accessories. I would start by building social media profiles on popular platforms and apps like Instagram. I’d begin networking with other like-minded individuals on Instagram, making friends with people who fit my target market profile, and posting relevant pictures of new fashion pics to build up attention.
Over time, I may have gained 100,000 followers that love my pictures. At this point, I begin reaching out to fashion brands and companies to promote their products for a fee. As you build up connections with other fashion brands, you begin to gain more followers and sponsors to wear their products. You are now an influencer with a lot of power to reach a large market in the fashion industry concerning trending apparel and accessories today.
While this can take some time to create a large audience, it can be a rewarding business, to say the least. All it takes is consistency, proactive outreach, some social media skills, and learning to take eye-catching photos of yourself!
Vecteezy is a website where anyone can go and download free images (photos and vectors). Whether it be bloggers, social media influencers, small businesses, or large corporations, they can use Vecteezy to download relevant images for their needs. Some of the images are free and others require a Pro subscription.
This website attracts a lot of people because it has millions of free resources. As a result, the ability to make money is limited in the beginning as you build a reputation on the platform. In order to make money with Vecteezy, you need to begin by applying as a contributor. They will ask you a few questions about your work to ensure you meet the platform’s expectations.
Next, you can start uploading your quality “selfies” – or other photos for that matter – for people to download for free. The more people that download your images, the more money you can make. Vecteezy will pay photographers $5 for every 1,000 downloads they receive. While this isn’t a huge amount of money, popular photos on free photo sites can be downloaded thousands or even millions of times. Over time, you can build up a decent chunk of passive income and a reputation for making great photos! This is a great starting point for anyone looking to sell photos of themselves.
In their own words “Stylinity makes social media shoppable…” In other words, they are a social media-like website where people can create profiles with their own pictures wearing shippable items. If users like a certain person’s style, they can choose to follow that person and get notifications about new posts from them.
In order to make money on Stylinity, all you have to do is create a free account to start posting your images with links to the items you wish to promote in each photo. It’s one of the fastest ways to start making money from selfies.
Stylinity can serve as a great starting point for new sellers and can be a great addendum to your current methods of making money selling photos. All you need is some great photos with affiliate links to the websites that sell the products you are wearing. Learn more about how Stylinity works here.
4. Create Your Own Website
Building your own website is perhaps one of the best long-term options for selling your photos. Why? Because it’s a platform that you own and manage. Other platforms may have changes in their terms of service, causing you to lose sales. Regardless of your method of selling photos of yourself, building your own website should be a long-term focus.
How do you make money selling your photos on your own website? First, you need a website address, or domain name, such as MySelfiePhotosForSale.com. Of course, you’d create something unique to your brand and style.
Next, you need to host that website with a platform that lets you list products for sale and the ability to take payments online. Examples of websites that allow you to do this without any coding experience are Shopify, Wix, or WordPress.
Once you’ve created your website, it’s time to start listing your photos for sale and attracting your audience to your website through social media, search engine optimization (SEO), paid marketing, and word of mouth.
All your other forms of making money selling your photos should complement your website, and ultimately send your customers to your website to grow your presence over time.
If you’re not sure how to set up your own website, please see our article How to Start a Blog. That article was obviously written with bloggers in mind, but it shows how to sign up for web hosting and install WordPress, which you can use to power your website.
5. Sell on Stock Photo Websites
A stock photo website is one where people can go to browse a large library of photos and purchase them either via subscription or pay per photo. Stock photo websites get their photos from contributors like yourself who have photos to sell and market.
Some popular stock photo websites to consider using are:
As a contributor to these websites, you will make money as you build your own library of photos available for the platform. The more downloads you get, the more money you will make over time, and most likely the more views you will get on your photos as users search the photo library.
Almost every stock photo website will require you to go through an approval process before your contributor account is active, so be sure that you take the approval process seriously. The most important part of the application will be the sample photos that you upload for them to review. They’ll want to see samples of your photos to make sure that you’re qualified, so take plenty of time to find your best photos that will help you to get approved.
6. Start a YouTube Channel
If you haven’t spent a few hours binging on YouTube, then you’re probably living in a cave (only half-joking). Since this is true for most people reading this, you can see that YouTube has major potential to reach a lot of people.
So, what do you create your channel about? Simply creating YouTube videos about your photos is enough to create some traction. The best option is to focus on one niche to start, like outdoors, for example. Perhaps you like taking photos of yourself in different landscapes, around different parts of the world. This would create an easy opportunity for you to showcase your photos along with your love for landscape pictures and world travel.
No doubt there is a large market of like-minded individuals that will enjoy your content. Once you reach YouTube’s requirements to start monetizing your channel, you can start having ads show on your channels and make money in perpetuity every time someone watches your videos. (The YouTube Partner Program requires you to have at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months in order to monetize your channel with ads.)
Other benefits of creating a YouTube channel to sell your photos are:
- Brand recognition: Build a brand that people begin to recognize and follow on other social media platforms and your website.
- Website authority: Send new traffic to your own website to gather more viewers and email addresses of interested buyers.
- Industry reputation: As your following grows on YouTube, you’ll gain credibility and reputation over time within the photography industry.
- Monetization: Sure, you’re making money through YouTube ads over time, but that also transitions into people buying your work on your other platforms as well.
A YouTube channel both makes you money in the long run from the platform ads as well as makes you money by marketing your photos to be purchased on other platforms like Instagram, your own website, and other stock photo libraries.
7. Sell on SmugMug
SmugMug is a popular platform that makes it easy for photographers to create their own website. You can get a professional-looking website that shows off your photos for prices that start at less than $10 per month.
Best of all, SmugMug makes it easy for visitors to buy photos directly from your website. You’ll have full control over the options related to selling digital photos as well as prints. SmugMug will even integrate with leading print labs that will make the fulfillment of your orders hands-free.
If you have a library of photos ready to go, you can upload them to SmugMug and start using their templates, filters, drag and drop editors, and optional HTML/CSS tools to magnify your photos selling potential.
As you build up a library of professional photos, you can sell them to buyers through SmugMug and begin making passive income!
8. License Your Photos With 500px.com
500px is a website where contributors can license their photos for commercial use and get paid a fee each time someone decides to use on of your photos. The great thing about licensing your photos is that you will get credit for your photos while also getting paid when people decide to use them. This builds up your income and your credibility over time.
To become a contributor to 500px, you need to review the contributor agreements and make sure your photos meet the submission requirements. Once approved, you’re eligible to start making money! To learn more about how to license your photos, visit 500px.com.
What You’ll Need
What do you need in order to start making money selling photos of yourself? The initial investment can vary, depending on the quality of products you wish to purchase upfront. In short, you need a camera, a tripod, a selfie stick, and photo editing software to make your photos professional quality. You can start with budget gear and upgrade to better gear once you start making some money.
When purchasing a camera, make sure it has the features that you need. If you plan on taking videos as well as photos, then you will want to make sure your camera has the ability to take quality videos with a decent microphone for quality sound.
Other features to look for are whether it’s Wi-Fi enabled, requires an SD card, is compatible with different computers, how long the battery life lasts, etc. Ultimately, you want to purchase a camera that fits your budget and has the features needed for your top photo-taking priorities.
A tripod allows you to mount your camera to take stable photos or videos. One way to take selfies is to mount your camera to a tripod and use the camera’s timer. With the help of the timer, you can trigger the camera and then get yourself into position.
Tripods are pretty cut and dry, some offering different features that allow you to maneuver your camera easier when taking photos from different angles. The biggest feature you will want to look for with your tripod is whether it meets your height requirements. Will most of your photos be taken from outside standing up? Or will you likely be inside behind a desk?
You can purchase tripods as tall as six feet, or as short as six inches. Tripods cost anywhere from just $20 to as much as a few hundred dollars or more (pro tripods can get pretty expensive) for those who want a lot of options for mounting your camera and taking pictures with different angles.
Of course, if you’re selling photos of yourself for money, you will probably want a selfie stick. Ideally, a selfie stick that has a remote button to take pictures at the selfie handle is the most convenient. Otherwise, you’ll have to set your camera on a timer to give yourself a few seconds to pose for the picture while you adjust your selfie stick.
Another feature to look for is whether the selfie stick can be mounted onto a tripod stand or not. Some sticks let you mount a small six-inch tripod at the bottom, allowing it to be both a selfie stick and a tripod together.
Some selfie sticks come with additional lights attached to help enhance the lighting which can be useful as well. Otherwise, it all comes down to making sure your selfie stick is long enough for your needs. You can pick up a quality selfie stick for as little as a few bucks.
Photo Editing Software
Anyone can take a quality photo, but where that photo becomes a major asset that can make you money is when you edit it. Photo editing software is one of the most important tools you need to start making money selling photos.
Most photographers use Adobe’s software to help them make edits to enhance their photos. Adobe has multiple products you can use such as Photoshop or Lightroom. The photography plan for Adobe’s Creative Cloud costs $10 per month and gives you access to both Photoshop and Lightroom.
Otherwise, if you want a quick solution that is also free, Pixlr.com is a reputable product that lets you edit your photos online with relatively little experience needed.
While you shouldn’t expect to get rich or replace your full-time job with this approach, it’s certainly possible to make some extra money in this way. If you’ve ever wondered how to make money selling photos of yourself, you’ve now seen several different options and the gear that you need to get started.