Deciding how to sell your photos online is an important step in any freelance photographers journey to a successful business. And it is not an easy decision as there are many different ways and sites to choose from.
Each of these decisions depends on what direction you want to take your business and can affect how successful you are in your business online.
The main choices are to have your own website hosted, submit your photos to a stock library or use a portfolio site.
There are also other methods but these are the main ones that most photographers will use either as a stand-alone or a combination of the options.
- 1 What are the Options on How to Sell Photos Online?
- 2 You Can Sell Your Photos From Your Own Website
- 3 You Can Sell Photos Using Stock Image Libraries
- 4 There is a Third Choice – Multi-Hosted Portfolio Sites
What are the Options on How to Sell Photos Online?
There are several different ways to sell your photos online. You can choose to sell them yourself through your own website, you can sell them via the many stock libraries that are online or you can use a portfolio site or even a combination of the three choices.
You Can Sell Your Photos From Your Own Website
You can choose to have your own website to sell your photos from either as a standalone or in addition to having your images on stock libraries.
There are several advantages to having your own website that goes beyond branding. By having your own site you have complete control over your online presence and your pricing levels.
If you choose this method you will need to buy a domain name and have some form of hosting ideally with MySQL databases on so that you can use WordPress which will help you easily create a website without having years of web design experience.
The Advantages of Having Your Own Photography Website
- You have control over your site
- Pick your prices.
- You get to keep all the profits of a sale
- You can easily brand yourself
- You become known and people will search you out
The Disadvantages of Having Your Own Website
- There is a huge learning curve for creating a website and learning online marketing. Website maintenance and the cost of running it are seen as expensive. People think that you need a web designer and that it is too difficult for them. And if there isn’t a cost there is the time element to think about.
- One of the main issues for many businesses with a website is being found online. Let’s face it it can be a full-time business in itself and there is a huge amount to learn about getting your site found, with everything from SEO (search engine optimization) to Socal media.
- You need to build up trust.
- More upfront costs.
You Can Sell Photos Using Stock Image Libraries
Photo libraries are very popular because they take out all the stresses cost and time issues in having your own website. You can do very well with stock libraries if you put in the effort.
To be successful using stock libraries you need to submit not only very high-quality photos but a lot of them. You also need to submit what the libraries are looking for You can have the perfect image but if they already have too many in that area it won’t get accepted.
Having said that, photographers have a lot better chance of submitting and getting their work accepted to the libraries than they did in the past.
The Advantages of Using a Stock Library
- No need to build your website.
- They handle all the hosting and some marketing for you.
- People already know about them and will search them out.
- They are a great way to start as you can see what the requirements really are.
- Once your photos uploaded your time is relatively your own.
- You can easily sell all over the world.
- Sell the same photo over and over again and get lots of sales because the price is low.
- You can get started now with little or no cost.
- Minimum SEO needed and they guide you.
The Disadvantages of Having Images with Image Libraries
- You need to submit a lot of photos.
- You have no control over the look, layout or design of the site.
- You have no control over what is and is not accepted.
- You have no control over the price.
- Initially a low price ticket.
- The customer isn’t yours, they are the stock libraries.
- Your photos may never be seen as they probably have thousands if not millions of other photos in their stock.
- A percentage of your earnings are theirs.
So, With This in Mind What is the Best Choice to Sell Your Photos Online?
That really depends on you as an individual and what your aims are online with your photography and your budget. Stock libraries are a time-honored tradition that predates the digital age. They are a great way to get your photos out there and get an income from them.
Starting out with a stock library is much faster and easier than building a website. Although website ease of use will depend on your knowledge of online technology. These days anyone can have a skeleton website up and running in a matter of minutes.
There is a Third Choice – Multi-Hosted Portfolio Sites
For those that do not feel that they can or want to have a website but would still like to display or sell all their photos themselves, there are online portfolio sites that give you either a page or a mini website where you can have your photos. These are usually paid for monthly.
The Advantages of Using These Sites
- You do not need to have a website nor deal with the hosting or maintenance.
- Own portfolio.
- They are usually well known so you are more likely to be seen.
- You look professional and can brand.
- You have control over your images.
- Reasonable monthly cost
- A well-known site gives you credibility.
The Disadvantages Of Using a Portfolio Site
- You do not own the website.
- Monthly are fees payable.
- You still have to market your photos.