12 Best Photography Websites To Make Money in 2019 That Aren’t Microstock

For over 10 years I've been posting my photos online to a number of different sites. Some of these sites work, some of them didn’t. I'm going to save you the time from going to the ones that didn't. And I'm going to show you the 12 sites that aren't Microstock that I've made money from and let you know how much I've made from each of those sites.

I'm going to go through 12 different sites, but you can really group these sites into four different groups.

Large Social Sites

  1. Facebook

  2. Twitter

  3. Instagram

  4. Pinterest

Photography Community Sites

  1. Flickr

  2. 500px

  3. Smugmug

  4. Viewbug

Print on Demand Sites

  1. Fine Art America

  2. Redbubble

Free Stock Photography Sites

  1. Pexels

  2. Pixabay

Facebook

I probably made about a thousand dollars on Facebook, primarily selling prints. So people will go to my Facebook page, then like my Facebook page, and then they'll follow me and they'll eventually purchase prints.

One of the things to know about Facebook is a number of years ago it was much easier to get an organic following on your photography. These days, Facebook has changed, their algorithm changed and they really to do well on Facebook these days. I find that you really need to pay for ads.

Instagram

The next site is Instagram. Now I think you can be very successful and on Instagram as a social influencer, so really growing a large following with your photography and then basically going to different brands and getting them to pay you to put on posts.  However, I primarily sell my photos is stock and prints, so I haven't really invested the time to grow my following on Instagram. One of the reasons that I haven't done that is I kind of see that in the future. Facebook may change the algorithm so that you have to pay to reach your followers. Very similar to the way they did on Facebook a number of years ago.

Pinterest

I haven't really invested a lot of time in Pinterest. I did play with it a while back when it first came out and I know, but I don't post that regularly.  I've found is that people have gone to other sites and they've pinned my photos specifically fine art America and Flickr. And what I see when I look at my stats on Fine Art America or look at them on flicker, I find that I get a lot of traffic coming in from Pinterest. So what's happened is people have gone in and pinned my photos on Pinterest, they often pinned them on boards.

This has actually worked out quite well for me, especially for Fine Art America. There's a couple of photos that have gone viral on Pinterest and they link back to my fine art America. And although I don't think those are my best photos, I've found that they've made a lot of more fine art America sales.

Twitter

Now Twitter isn't a very great place to post your photos and you don't see a lot of photographers posting their photos on Twitter, but I have found is a good spot to get stock sales for your photos.

The reason is you can post a landscape photo of a particular location and then if you Hashtags with that location a lot of small businesses will be following that Hashtag and then they'll go in and they're looking for things to retweet, so they'll see your beautiful photo of their location they'll see and they'll retweet it to their followers. Great. That gets you more exposure but doesn't make you any money. But what I've noticed is that the places that retweet your photos will then often come back and buy licences for those photos. I think I've made about $300 that I can attribute to Twitter.

Flickr

Flicker was the first site that I started uploading my photos to now that was almost 10 years ago. And things have changed a lot since then but back then the microstock sites weren't that good. So a lot of people would go to flicker if they wanted to buy stock photos and they would search for photos on Flickr or find those and they contact you through Flickr. That's actually how I got into stock photography and selling my photos of stock because people would go kept asking me on flicker to buy licenses to my photos. So I thought, well maybe I stumbled in the microstock sites.

Flickr got bought up by Yahoo and changed the platform and things changed. So five years ago I stopped making as much money off Flickr. I really even stopped using it that much recently got bought by Smug bug and I do find myself using it more. They haven't made a lot of changes yet, but then the changes they have made I think are good and because I think SmugMug is a good company and they're going to keep moving in a good direction. So I am trying to get back into flicker. Looking back at my stats, I think I've made about $2,000 off stock sales that I can attribute to flicker over the past 10 years.

500px

I've actually made $3,700 on 500px. So I was uploading photos to 500px even before they were sold as stock. And when they first started, I could make $175 per licence sale on 500px and that was very lucrative for a while. But then things changed again. And they announced a partnership with Getty and they also got bought out by a Chinese company. Since then the size of sales has gone down and 500px is now much closer to being a Microstock site.

Smugmug

Right now I use smugmug to run my website, which is souvenirixels.com. I've only been running on SmugMug since the summer. I used to run it off of Squarespace, but I found it was just way too difficult to manage the uploading of the photos and the pricing of the photos took too long. So I moved my entire website and now all my stock photos sales that aren't on the microstock sites or other sites, all my sales go through SmugMug.  I haven't been using for a long, so I've only made them a $300 I think as of right now. So all the stock sales that I do directly to the consumers happened through SmugMug now.

Viewbug

The last social community site that I'm going to go over is Viewbug is a photography contest site.  You can do is you can upload your photos and then you submit them to contests.

Now, the way that I make money on this is I won a contest once. I was the winner and I won this little portable screen. So I got that screen, I tried it a bit. I didn't really use it because I never really found it as a time where I have a laptop and I need a second screen. So, I eventually sold that and I sold it and I made $80 off Craigslist.

Fine Art America

So before I started selling my prints on Smugmug, I sold them on five of FineArtAmerica.com and for a number of years, that's where I send people to buy prints.  Over time I have made over $2,500 Fine Art America. It's much easier than printing or your own photos.

Redbubble

Before I used Fine Art America, I used red bubble. And what red bubble is, is a similar site but has a lot more types of products that can be purchased.  The reason that I used red bubble is back a while back, probably like five years ago, I decided to put out a calendar and they didn't, there was no easy way to do a calendar on FineArtAmerica. So what I did was I did it on red bubble. Because of that, I have some photos up there and so every once in a while someone will go and you know, find my photos through the search or something in the buy something.

Pexels

I've made about $110 on Pexels so far.  I really started uploading a lot of my older photos a couple of months ago. So $110 and a couple of months actually isn't that bad for starting out a new site. One of the crazy things I think about this, I don't know how they calculate their stats, but if you look at Pexels, I've got like 48 million views on my photos and that's over a very short period of time. If I look at my Flicker account that I've had for a very long time, I've only got 4 million views. So you know how or they're getting so many of you that don't know exactly how they're calculating it out, but they do show you very, very big stats. I also have 300K downloads on Pexels which is crazy high.

So these sites, they are very popular and they are getting, a lot of people are going to them and a lot of views. Now what you'll see is when you go and download a photo, they will encourage you or give you the option to click on a button and donate. Right now a very small percentage of people donate money, but because such so many people see them, that small percentage adds up. And again, for Pexels it's about $110 for me. So I do plan on uploading more of my photos to the sites, probably photos that are older.

Pixabay

Now Pixabay I've made about $70. I haven't, uploaded as many photos there. I haven't been as active, but again, it's still not nothing. Um, and if you're going, if you look there, there's a lot of views on Pixabay as well too.

For more details on these sites and screencasts in the demo, check out our Youtube video related to this post.

Free Marketing Strategy for photographers

There's two primary reasons people post their photos online, to get them seen and to get them sold. I'm going to show you my strategy to make those two things happen.

I've been posting my travel and landscape photos online for about 10 years now and I've had a lot of successes and probably even more failures, but through that I've come up with a strategy that really works for me for posting my photos online.

Before I get into my strategy, I really need to define what my goals are. My primary goal is to share my travel experiences and the beautiful places that I see as well as I really like to inspire other people to travel to those places. However, as I got better at photography, I added another goal where I would like to make enough money from my photos to pay for all my camera equipment as well as pay for my travels.

Goals.jpg

One of the important things to note here is that for me, those goals are in order, meaning that it was really more important for me to create beautiful photos and share them with people online than it is to make money.

My strategy is to:

Regularly upload single photos to many popular websites with full data so they can be found.

Now what I'm going to do is break down each of those items.

2017-07-05 James Wheeler Photo 4378-HDR.jpg

The reason that I say to upload single photos regularly can really be summed up in two words: Social media. If you think of what a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook, most people are going to initially discover your content by going through and looking at a feed. Now when they go through and look at a feed, they're primarily going to be shown one image so it doesn't make sense to go and put them in a carousel and Instagram or add them to a gallery and Facebook because as they're scrolling through and only see the first image.

Most people won't click into look at the big gallery, so if you have four photos that are similar, it's often best to upload those four photos on four separate days as single photos as opposed to uploading them as a gallery because you'll get more exposure that way.

The second point in the strategy is to upload to many different sites. Some people may disagree on this depending on their goals. If your goal is to build a community around your photos and around your photography, then it may be a better idea to focus on one site and put all of your energy into uploading and building the community on one site before moving to multiple sites. However, if you want your photos just get seen by a lot of people and to be found by a lot of people, I find it's much better to upload them to a lot of different sites.

Different types of people are going to use different sites. So if you really want to get the most out of people seeing your photos, you need to upload them a lot of different places.

That brings us to the last point in the strategy and that's to make sure you include metadata in your photos and if you don't know what metadata is, it's just data that describes other data.

So in the case of photography, what you want to make sure you do is that you have captions and descriptions and keywords associated to all of your images. Also, if you're posting them on social media sites, you want to make sure you've also got them tagged with different hashtags.

The reason this is important is that when people go looking for your photos, what the search engines do is they use this metadata to decide which photos to show them.

Let me show you an example. If I type in Galiano island stock photography in Google search, you can see that a number of these photos here on my photos and I know from experience that people do search on this, find my photos, and then we'll go in and purchase purchase licenses.

Metadatasearch.jpg

So it's really important to include this metadata in all of your photos. Also, one thing to note, if you're doing outside photography or travel landscape photography, another piece of metadata that's really good to include is the geotagging information and that's it. That's my strategy for posting photos online. Here the YouTube video for this post.

The Ultimate Social Media Marketing Workflow for Photographers

Many photographers struggle finding the time for social media. Not only is it time consuming to post and engage, but keeping up with which sites to post to and all the social media best practices can be a full time job.

This used to be my stuggle but now with the help of Photerloo, I can now post a photo to 9 different websites, including my website in only 3 minutes. I believe I have developed the ultimate social media marketing workflow for photographers.

I currently market my photos on these sites:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Twitter

  • Flickr

  • Smugmug (my photography website with my own domain)

  • Shutterstock

  • Adobe Stock

  • Alamy

  • BigStockPhoto

Not only am I posting, but I also include titles, descriptions, keywords and hashtags for each site. This gets me maximum engagement on my photos and ultimately more revenue from my photos.

Here is a video walking through my workflow, I even include a timer so you know I am not exaggerating that it only takes three minutes.

I have decided that video is a much better way to communicate my messages and demo Photerloo so plan on posting more regularly to our Youtube channel. I will be focusing the video on social media and online marketing for photographers. Click the button below to subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss any of the great upcoming videos.

 
 

Alamy, Bigstockphoto and Post Scheduling Now Available

This most recent release includes our three most requested features! Posting to two new stock sites: Alamy and Bigstockphoto, and scheduling photos.

The addition of Alamy and Bigstock photo brings our stock site count up to 4 sites and our total site count up to 8 sites. So, it is now possible to upload one photo to Photerloo and have it show up on 8 different photography sites, not bad, but that isn’t all.

We also added post scheduling to Photerloo. So, you can upload photos in advance and have them automatically be uploaded to sites in the future. We all know that it is important to post photos online regularly, but how many of us remember to do it EVERY DAY. This is why scheduling is so critical, if you know you are going to have a busy week, upload the photos to Photerloo the week before and schedule them to auto post while you are away. Then spend your social media time, engaging not uploading.

At Photerloo we prioritize features based on what photographers ask for, so if you have a favorite site you would like to post to, or any other feature request, let us know in the comments below and we will add them to our list.

Lessons Learned from China

Well, I have been back from China for a couple of months and here is a followup post on how things went.  If you didn't see the last blog post, on my recent trip to China I made these changes to my workflow:

  1. I only brought a Micro 4/3rds camera (as apposed to also bringing a full frame)
  2. Tried to select and edit with Lightroom CC (instead of Lightroom CC classic)

What I have found is that I am not ready to fully transition over to either of these becase there are still some cases where I need my full frame and Lightroom CC classic. However, I am going to be using my full frame camera and lightroom CC classic much less going forward.

Micro Four Thirds vs. Full Frame

I have decided that I am not going to sell my full frame camera just yet.  I found at low ISO, the quality of the GH9 is really in distinguishable from my full frame Nikon and I got some shots I love with the GH9 on the trip like this one.

Classic Scene from Donghu Lake

However, when I was out shooting at night and needed higher ISO, I was missing my larger sensor.  With the GH9 I found anything over 1600 ISO was too noisy to clean up in post processing.  Where with my full frame, I can normally clean up a 3200 ISO shot in post. Here is a shot with the GH9 at 3200 ISO that would look better with a full frame sensor (but still not that bad).

2018-03-22 192340 -_.jpg

I was really impressed with the low light landscape shots I took with my GH9 on a tripod.  I found the quality much better than with my old GH4, here is an example.

2018-03-21 190729 -_.jpg

So, going forward I see myself using my Nikon full frame less and less often but I will take it along if weight is not a factor like when I am traveling by car.  However, if weight is a factor like when taking multiple planes or hiking I wouldn't hesitate to just go with my GH9 and leave the full frame at home, just knowing that I may need to deal with a bit more noise after blue hour.

Lightroom CC vs. Lightroom CC Classic

Lightroom CC did not end up working well for me but I do still see the value in it.  The main problem I had with using CC was the speed of my Internet connection but it is also missing some key features, and is buggy, it crashed multiple times on my Windows laptop.

I wanted to upload the photos with my laptop  then do selections on the go with my tablet.  However, rather than uploading all the previews first, then uploading the RAW files after, Lightroom CC does the files one at a time, which meant that it took days for one days photos to move over to my tablet.  In addition, even though Lightroom CC Classic works very fast on my laptop, Lightroom CC was unusably slow when it was uploading, and often crashed.  I found that disabling the sync made it more stable but would have expected it to better manage my processor so I could do both at the same time.

Lastly, I use compare view and survey view in Lightroom CC Classic to find my favorite that I will process and post online.  I really missed these views in Lightroom CC and needed to go back to Lightroom for selections.  However, once my selections were made, I found I was able to process my photos in Lightroom CC without missing any features because I do heavy editing in Photoshop which works well with Lightroom CC.  However, the main portion of my workflow that I wanted to do with my tablet was the selections so this was a big disappointment.  

That being said, I loved having all my photos in the cloud and everything in sync between my laptop, desktop and tablet.  As a result, I have purchased a 1 TB creative could plan from Adobe and have adapted the following new workflow:

  1. Upload photos in Lightroom CC, this put the full RAW files in the cloud and makes them accessible from all devices and Lightroom Classic 
  2. Start up Lightroom Classic and the photos will sync in automatically, then do selections in Lightroom Classic
  3. Process the photos in either Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC.  If I am at my desktop then I still use classic for processing photos, but if I am not then I use Lightroom CC on my tablet or laptop

I have been doing this since China and it works well.  The one downside is that the RAW files are stored twice on my desktop, once for Lightroom CC and once for classic.  However, my home desktop has 7 hard drives that in total hold 21 TB of data so it isn't really an issue because I have the room.

In Conclusion

Overall, a very successful experiment, I can see how a couple of years from now I will only be using Lightroom CC but it just isn't there yet. However, I do think I will always need a large and small sensor camera.  The are just some limitations with the small Micro four thirds sensor size in low light that can only be resolved with a large sensor, but for 90% of my photos, the smaller sensor is all I need. 

Hope you enjoyed this post, subscribe in your favorite blog reader to get notified on future posts.

Photerloo Is Going to China

We have kept busy over the winter working on new features that will be released very soon.  Now that spring is in the air, I am looking forward to getting outside and taking more photos.  However, I plan on doing things a bit different this year.  

I recently purchase a Panasonic G9 and have been experimenting with Lightroom CC.  Tomorrow I leave for a three week trip to China and am planning on learning a lot more about both of these on the trip.  Here is a quick video where I explain how the tweaks I plan to my photography workflow.

I will follow up with more posts and musings while I am on the road and after I return to let you know how things went.

The best websites for photographers in 2017?

Keeping up on the new sites and apps for photographers could be a full time job in itself.  New sites are being created every day and old sites are going out of style and not worth posting to anymore.  Here is a list of the top sites to consider posting your photos to in 2017.

I have broken the list up into six high level categories to group similar sites together.  

Photo by  William Iven

Photo by William Iven

Social Networks

In 2017, social networks have become part of most photographers daily routine.  It is hard to get noticed without a presence on at least one of these networks if you aren’t already a world famous photographer.

Instagram

With its start as the premier mobile phone social photo app with filters that made it easy for anyone to process photos in interesting ways quickly, it has grown to the #1 site for photographers.  Facebook still has more users but Instagram is more photo centric and a recent review of the top photographers on social media revealed that even though Facebook has more users, photographers get as many followers on Instagram.  Also, Instagram hasn’t been fully monetized with advertising yet so it is still possible (although getting harder and harder) to build a following without paid ads.

Main advantage - Massive number of users and can still grow a following without paid ads.

Facebook

Usage may be slowing with the younger generation but it is still the largest social network. However, as Facebook continues to monetize the platform, it has become more difficult to build and reach followers without paying for ads.  If you are starting out with social media and don’t have a budget for advertising then it may be easier to grow a following on other sites.

Main advantage - Largest social network with great tools to build a following if you have a budget to buy ads.

Twitter

Twitter is a better place for discussing photography trends, than posting photos.  You will find that photos are posted to support the accompanying tweet rather than as a main focus of conversation.  It is still worthwhile for photographers to post photos but you will need to do more than post photos to get a large following on this platform.

Main advantage - Best for joining the public conversation about photography related topics.

Tumblr

Nearly half of Tumblr users are 16-24 years old, and you can tell when you use the platform.  Some photographers have found real success and huge followings on the platform for certain types of photos.  

Main advantage - Reach a large younger audience who love to reblog things they like.

Pinterest

Pinterest allows you to pin photos and articles into collections or boards.  The main demographic of the site is female and photos of food, DIY projects, fashion, and travel destinations can get added to “Dream boards”, “Bucket Lists”, and “To Try Out” boards and very quickly drive traffic back to your blog or website.  Photos will do well on this site that focus on items that can be added to visual boards.

Main advantage - Reaching a large audience of females and drying traffic back to your blog or portfolio site.

Google Plus

A couple of years ago, G+ would have been near the top of the list for photographers.  When Google plus was first released, photographers were the first to jump on board and loved the full sized images and photo related features. However, G+ never caught on with the general public and photographers began to focus their social media efforts on sites with more users like Instagram. 

Main advantage - Being owned by Google, many believe participating in G+ helps with SEO.

Photo by  Alex Holyoake

Photo by Alex Holyoake

Niche Photography Social Networks

The majority of the users on these platforms are photographers so when you are followed it will typically be a professional or advanced amateur photographer. On these sites you will find much higher quality images and more advanced conversations about techniques and the art of photography.  

500px

500px started as a site that had a unique scoring algorithm that allowed the best photos each day to become popular and get a large number of views.  Now they have expanded and could also be listed in the portfolio sites and Microstock sites section as well.  In 2017, it is growing increasingly difficult to get a photo on the top popular page without a large following or extensive use of bots to grow your following.  

Main advantage - Viewing inspiring photos from other photographers and a growing sales from the sale of uploaded images as Microstock.

Flickr

Flickr was once a great photography community but a number of mistakes and lack of growth after being purchased by Yahoo has left their growth flat while sites like 500px has been slowly pulling users away with better features and upgrade.  There was a time when agencies and advertisers scoured flickr to find unique photos to buy licences and it was a great place to redirect them back to your website to sell photo licences, however those days have passed and Flickr has become more of a place to store your photos online then a way to get traffic back to your site or blog.

Main advantage - Ability to upload 1TB of images and an online tool that help manage them. 

EyeEm

Like 500px, EyeEm has been slowly transitioning from its origin as a mobile social network like Instagram to a microstock site like Shutterstock.  Indications are they want to me more of a Microstock site than a social network but right now they are a bit of both.

Main advantage - Mobile photography social site where you can make a couple extra bucks from Microstock

1x.com

The best description I have for 1x.com is a “Fine art photography site for Europeans”.  It isn’t solely for Europeans it does seem to be much more popular in Europe than North America. A main feature is beautifully curated lists of fine art photos.  

Main advantage - Finding inspiring photos and exposure for fine art photography.

Photo by  rawpixel.com

Photo by rawpixel.com

Portfolio Sites

Portfolio sites are designed for photographers to create their own photography websites.  While social networks are great for increasing your following, your own website allows you more control over the design and pages.  Typically you want only one website and will have your social networks profiles link back to these sites for more information or purchase items.

These portfolio sites allow more marketing tools and customization than what you will get on social networks.  Many also allow selling licences or distributing photos to clients. These are typically targeting professionals and advanced amateurs who are making money off of photography and normally come at a monthly cost to get the benefits of the full version. Each has its own set of features that are too numerous to list but these are the top portfolio sites photographers are using in 2017.

  • Smugmug
  • Zenfolio
  • Squarespace
  • Photoshelter
  • Medium

Microstock Sites

Microstock sites have a primary purpose of selling licences to your photos, either via a subscription or a one time fee. They are called “Microstock” because they sell for a fraction of the price stock photos were sold for previously.  However, the industry has spoken and Microstock prices have become the typical price for many types of photos (good luck selling a photo of two people in suits shaking hands for more than $10 in 2017).  All the stock sites are similar in that you upload your photos and they will sell licences then give you a percentage of the sales.  This percentage is often quite small but it can add up as these sites have many clients who are constantly purchasing photos.  In 2017 these are the most popular sites with stock photographers in order of popularity.

  • Shutterstock
  • iStockphoto
  • 123RF
  • Adobe Stock
  • Alamy
Photo by  Alif Ngoylung

Photo by Alif Ngoylung

Photo Contest Sites

Photography contests are nothing new but a couple of years ago sites started to pop up that focused on these contests.  These sites have a social aspect but the main draw is to submit your photos to contests to win prizes and recognitions.

Viewbug

This is my favorite contest site, maybe because I have actually won a contest on it, but mostly because of great engagement from the community and a really well designed site.  There is a free version but to get access to all the contests you need to upgrade to a pro account.

Main advantage - Submitting photos to different themed contests.

Pixoto

The unique feature of Pixoto is you need to vote on a number of others photos before you can upload your photo. This ensures that all photos get a chance to be considered for the contests and prizes rather than only photographers who have a large following.  It is a great concept but the site hasn’t been updated in years and it seems to be fading out, rather than growing.

Main advantage - Each photo gets a quality score that is based on user votes, not number of followers.

Other Sites

Here are a couple of other sites that are useful depending on the type of photography you shoot.

Fine Art America (FAA)

FAA is a print on demand site, which means, you can upload your photos and they will sell prints to those photos. When someone buys a print, FAA handles everything including the printing and shipping to the purchaser and just sends you a payment that you can set when uploading the image. There are a lot of sites like this out there but I have photos on many of them and have found that FAA is the only one that has a large enough number of buyers to get consistent sales.  

Main advantage - Selling your photos as prints and allows you to set how much profit you make per sale.

In Conclusion

In 2017 there are increasingly more sites to upload your photos than most photographers have time for.  This is why we created Photerloo.  Photerloo allows you to upload once and have your photos posted to multiple sites with no extra work, we don’t support all the ones on the list yet but a good number of them, signup for a free account to try it out.

Did I miss one of your favorite sites, add it to the comments and let me know why you love it.