Most of us who love to travel and like taking pictures have thousands of images stored on our phones and computers. Some of them are quick snaps and selfies, stuff you just keep for the memories. But, you likely also have some images you could sell for a side-income.
While there are a lot of different ways to sell your photos, these are my three favorite ways to get started without needing new gear or special skills—and with very little set-up.
1. Online Stock Photo Agencies
If you’ve never sold any photos before, selling in online stock photo agencies is perhaps the easiest and most fun way to start. It’s not likely to make you a full-time living, but it will help you set up a passive income stream with photos you already have.
The beauty of stock for beginners is that you don’t have to do any printing, marketing, or selling. You simply upload your photos to a number of online sites, and they do the grunt work for you, sending you royalty checks while you’re off doing other things.
My favorite agencies for beginners are:
To start selling in any of these agencies, simply go to the website, sign up as a contributor, and go through their tutorial or submit a few sample photos to get accepted. Once you’re in, you’re ready to upload your photos for sale.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending in the kinds of photos that sell. Popular topics include travel destinations, environmental themes, inclement weather, food and beverages, active seniors, small business, healthcare, architecture, and more.
Read through the tutorial section of each site for more details about what they’re looking for and requirements for your photos (such as good focus, proper exposure, etc.).
Magazines, blogs, and travel websites are in need of travel photos, and they’ll happily accept first-time photographers if you can give them what they’re looking for.
To sell your photography as editorial you’ll want to start by approaching small, local publications and blogs. Head to your local bookstore to see what kinds of local publications are in your area. You might be surprised to find some you never knew about.
Getting published is faster if you can also write a small article to go with your photos. It doesn’t have to be big and writerly. Simple is best. Check out the magazine’s writer and photographer guidelines to see what they like to publish, and how they like to receive articles. Then read through back-issues of the publication to see what they’ve already run in the past.
Finally, pitch an idea to the editor via email. For this, you’ll also want to have an online gallery to share some sample photos. Stick to no more than 30 photos, and really make sure they’re the best of what you have. For this, you can use simple free services like Dropbox or Flickr.
3. Fine Art
Fine art can be a fun and lucrative way to sell your photos while also gaining a new community of art friends. Try starting with local coffee shops and businesses who regularly display art on their walls.
Put together an online gallery with 10 to 20 of your very best photos. Fewer is better, and stick to a theme if you can. This can be as simple as storing them in a folder on your phone or tablet, and having it ready so you can show them when you need to.
Next, check out your local area to see who hangs work on their walls, and ask a few shop or café owners what the process is for showing yours. They might want to see some sample shots or set an appointment to chat.
Finally, print the pieces you’ve decided on. Online printers such as Bayphoto or Mpix do great work and give you lots of options for surfaces to print on, such as canvas, watercolor paper, or even metal.
When it comes to pricing, make sure you’re factoring in the cost of printing and any other costs you’ve incurred, then set your prices above that. It helps to look around at what others are charging in the area, too.
Try any (or all) of the above markets with the photos you already have on your computer. Where you decide to take it from there is up to you.
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