How to Make Money Selling Photos as Stock Images

Olivia O'Neill
August 19, 2020

I recently started selling my photos to stock websites…all because of a TikTok.


Sell your photos for on-going income 👌🏻 #fûckingmint #onlineincome #stockimages #alamy #stockimo #futuretech #xyzbca #fyp #letsdodesign

♬ original sound – Meg, Maker of Things

Let me lay it out for you. 

The girl in the video is a photographer, and she explains that she just figured out how she can sell a bunch of photos on her old hard drives. She said that you could use pictures from your iPhone or images on a DSLR from vacations you’ve gone on, pictures of food, random scenery if you have been to a popular tourist attraction, or just images of nature around where you live. 

As soon as I saw the video, I knew I needed to do some research and start selling the photos I have on my phone and my camera. 

The first thing I did was look up the websites mentioned in the video on Google and sent in applications for a few of them. The ones that gave the most money and were the easiest to use were iStock from Getty Images, Alamy, and an app called Stockimo

For the application, you have to submit some sample photos along with your basic information. Which sample photos you choose is the most essential part—you need to show the robot (or actual person who is viewing your application) that you have photos that will be able to sell on their website. For each of those websites, I used pictures from my phone and DSLR that were from a trip to Ireland a couple of years ago. The only one I haven’t heard from yet was Alamy…but it’s fine. 

If you don’t already have high-quality photos on your phone or a DSLR, you can shoot at restaurants or go around your backyard or Main Street in your town to get some for submission. If you do have photos on your iPhone or DSLR, choose your favorite 3–6 of your favorite images and upload them. I tried to use pictures that didn’t have super heavy editing on them and were of relevant scenery for the submissions. Also,  keep in mind that these photos are going to be used as stock photos, so they can be really generic. 

When you are uploading your pictures for the application or submitting them to be sold on the websites or app, you NEED to make sure that you are tagging them appropriately. For example, I uploaded a photo from the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. I tagged that picture with literally anything that could be related to Ireland or the Cliffs so that when people are searching for anything related to Ireland, my picture will come up. It may sound confusing at first, but all of the websites do a great job of providing instructions on how to do everything. 

Now you probably think this is cool and all, but how do I get paid? Easy. On iStock, you can get paid a few ways, but I decided to use direct deposit. Once someone is interested in your picture, iStock will contact you and let you know how much your picture was worth. You get paid each end of the month, depending on if someone has purchased your pictures or not. 

If you have some extra time on your hands or are looking for a smaller stream of income, I would highly recommend sending in applications for these websites and giving it a try!