Do you love taking photos of yourself? Do your friends always make fun of you for being narcissistic because of all the selfies you have in your camera roll? Most importantly, do you want to make some pretty easy money? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this post is for you!
In today's day and age, it's easier to make money than ever. All you need to do is have some determination and some creativity, and you're off to the races. This post will be discussing one such method that you may have never expected: taking selfies!
Selfies “officially” were originated in 2013, when a lot of people first got their hands on a phone which could take pictures. Even though most people just took them for fun, there soon emerged an actual market for them. You may or may not know this, but selfies are a great way to engage with the audience and boost sales of products.
Agencies and companies grasped this concept quickly and started implementing entire campaigns and pouring tons of money towards selfies. If you know what you're doing, you can significantly help a business with their brand with just a selfie (and they are more than willing to pay for it).
So yes, this is an actual way to make money, and no you don't have to be a professional photographer to take advantage of this income source. We'll cover the best way to take photos of yourself (to maximize profit), where to sell your photos (via stock photos or on your own website), and the easiest way to market yourself. Here's how to make money selling photos of yourself.
Photo Taking Tips
Before we get into the details of which social media platforms to use and how to use an online marketplace, it's important to know how exactly to take photos so that they sell online. There are a few points that you'll want to take note of, including to:
- Using proper photography gear
- Editing your photos with editing software
You don't need extensive photography skills to sell photos online but you do want to make sure you have a good camera for the job. A lot of smart phones have great cameras, but if you happen to have an older smartphone with a less advanced camera (or don't have a smartphone at all) feel free to check out these cameras to take photos with:
- Nikon D3500
- Fujifilm X-T200
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
- Panasonic Lumix G100
- Nikon Z fc
Any of these cameras well do a stunning job at taking good photos and you can trust that you'll be able to use these for other purposes in the future too. If you end up just going with your phone, be sure to also grab a selfie stick to make your life easier.
Another thing you'll want to take note of is editing software. Just because you take a great photo doesn't mean you can't touch it up to make it better! Almost all photos on stock photography sites and popular social media accounts are edited before publishing, so why not do the same to your own. If you're unsure of what photography editing software to use, check these out:
- Adobe Photoshop
- DxO Photolab
- Adobe Lightroom Classic
How to Sell Your Photos Online
You can take the best selfie in the world, but if you don't know how to market it, you won't sell anything. If you want to learn how to make money selling photos of yourself, you need to first learn some basic marketing. Knowing how and where to sell your photos can go a long way in making or breaking your small photography business. Here are some ways that you can sell / market your photos:
One of the most popular ways to sell photos online is through stock photography websites (like Getty Images). These stock libraries are often huge and constantly looking for new additions. Because of the increasing amount of content that's produced, this demand will only continue to increase.
When you sell your photo to stock websites, you can expect it to end up anywhere from posters to flyers to book covers to logos and more! Also, you'll get either a fixed payment or royalty payments (or a mixture of both) when you sell your selfies to a stock website.
Your Own Website / Blog
One of the best places to market your photos is your own website / blog! Even if you just want to take photos of yourself for fun, having a website can really help to distinguish you from everyone else trying to sell their own photos.
You might be thinking right now “I'd love to set up my own website, but I don't have thousands of dollars to invest in it!” Contrary to popular belief, you can actually set up and run a website for as low as $5 a month.
Once you have your basic website up and running, you can start learning more about SEO and page speed and whatnot, and once you really start turning in some solid traffic, you can start selling your photos directly on your site!
If you already have a photography blog (or any blog in general), good news! You can use it to advertise your photos. Simply insert your photos in your blog posts and wait for them to gain traction on Google. Then, you can start offering them for sale to your audience. Bonus if your blog is in the photography niche already.
Running a giveaway contest is another awesome way to promote your photography, and the best news: it probably doesn't cost as much money as you think it does! Not only will the giveaway contest directly give you some photo sales but it also works to increase your brand awareness and generate more leads.
To do this, you simply need to get together some gifts which you think people might like (photo books, gift baskets, and even a cash prize all work), then make it known on social media that you're doing a giveaway. For someone to participate, they'll need to do something like:
- Subscribe to your mailing list
- Sign up for a free photo collection email from you every month
- Make a tiny purchase from your own photo collection
When run right, a giveaway can engage your existing customers and also attract new ones!
If you have your own YouTube channel, be sure to take advantage of it by marketing your photos! The cool thing about selling selfies is that your target audience is so broad (brands, businesses, and individuals alike) that regardless of what kind of YouTube channel you have, you can advertise on it.
On a similar train of thought, it doesn't even need to be your own YouTube channel for you to successfully sell your pictures. If you have a special skill that you can leverage, you can do some sort of trade where you provide a service and in return your friend markets your photos on their YouTube channel!
To make some extra money selling your photos, consider going to a photography conference. Photography conferences are the right place to meet like-minded people and even professionals in the industry who have similar goals to you.
Having an online presence is of course important, but don't forget about how powerful in-person networking can be. If done right, you'll leave the photography conference with tons of new contacts who are willing to cross-promote your work or even refer people to you.
Just be sure not to come off as too materialistic. It's always a good idea to be genuinely interested in everyone you talk to instead of just viewing them as another contact in your phone. Do this and your photos are sure to get some good exposure (and potentially sales!)
The final marketing strategy you can employ to sell your photos is to engage in photography contests. If you win, that's instant promotion of your work and you're sure to get many new sales coming your way.
Even if not, you'll still get some exposure. The contest website / sponsor will often show off good entries which could earn you a few publicity points. Just be sure to submit high-quality images that really show off your prowess as a photographer.
Still, if nothing else, photography contests are a great place to sharpen your skills while also broadening your creative library AND giving you more opportunities. Potential clients? Check! A good chance to win? Check! Competing with the best photos in the industry? Double check! Photography contests truly have it all.
How to Make Money Selling Photos of Yourself: Websites
Sure, maybe 30 years ago if you were trying to sell photos you'd have to do it “salesperson” style and try to make sales in-person. But nowadays, there are many many online avenues for you to take advantage of.
Each of these following websites is unique and can benefit you in different ways. Here are some of the best websites for you to sell your selfies on!
Stylinity is an “internet marketing service” that connects brands, influencers, and shoppers with one another. The way that you make money is by wearing the clothes from Stylinity's partner shops and taking selfies. When your pics get posted online, potential buyers will click on them and it will direct them to a link where they can buy the piece of clothing you were wearing in the photo. For every sale that is made, you'll get points that you can either redeem as cash or as products from Stylinity!
To try out Stylinity, simply go to their webpage, click “post” in the top right corner, and you can get started.
Scoopshot presents you with an easy way to make money off your selfies, right from the comfort of your smartphone! The scoopshot app lets you upload your photos to a sort of digital marketplace where people can pay to have access to your selfies.
Every time somebody buys one of your photos, you'll get a notification and your balance will also be updated. Scoopshot will also run occasional contests and potentially use your photos in their advertisements (which could earn you some more money). What's more, if somebody REALLY likes your work, they might even reach out privately and hire you to take more photos for them.
Pay Your Selfie
You might be sitting there reading this article and thinking: “woah this is so intense… I just want to make some money doing what I love (taking selfies)… I don't want to know all this stuff about professional photography and marketing…”
If so, don't worry, there's an app for you: Pay Your Selfie. Pay Your Selfie is a free iOS and Android app that lets you upload selfies and complete “selfie tasks” worth cash. These tasks can include showing your tattoo off, attending a concert, or even taking a sip of your favorite soda. You can even import existing selfies from your camera roll.
The payment structure is also pretty simple. These selfie tasks will pay you anywhere from a few cents to a dollar, and once you reach $20, you can cash out! To be fair, it isn't a ton of money compared too some of the other websites/apps, BUT you do get to do fun things and don't need to put in too much work… so at the end of the day, it all balances out.
Are you trying to grow your photography gig and NEED to set up a website where you can showcase your portfolio, but don't know how to do so? SmugMug might be the answer for you!
With SmugMug, you can showcase, share, and sell your photos all in one place. Think of it as 3 different things rolled into one website:
- An eCommerce platform that matches you with a photo lab and does a lot of the heavy lifting (on the marketing side) for you.
- A photo organization that allows you to easily upload and organize all of your work.
- A website builder that lets you make a custom photography website in less than a day's time.
SmugMug is truly the right platform to use if you're looking to bring your selfie game to a whole other level. The one caveat is that unlike some of these other websites, SmugMug isn't free: they have a monthly subscription plan that costs $12.50 per month. That being said, you WILL get to keep 85% of the markup price (which is virtually all of the profits). On top of that, you can also protect your work with copyright, watermarks, and limit display sizes.
Even if you've never heard of it, it's likely that you've at least encountered a few photos during your life that belong to Shutterstock. This massive corporation is a leading global provider of stock music, stock video, but most importantly stock photography.
How stock photo sites work is they take your photos, turn them into their own stock images, then license them out to brands and businesses and other individuals for money. You will then receive payment proportional to how many downloads your photos get.
For Shutterstock specifically, the commission is 15% – 40% across 6 different levels. The more content that customers buy from your portfolio, the faster you rise through the ranks, and the more money you can potentially earn.
Some of the general guidelines that Shutterstock suggests (and might be useful to follow in general) are:
- Don't take cheesy photos: a lot of people think of stock photography and immediately imagine the typical heavily watermarked, overly smiley picture of someone in a business suit. You need to remember that although cliches are sometimes useful, most users won't like this and you probably won't get a lot of downloads. Stay natural and stay candid.
- Make sure to upload a lot (and often): there are a lot of people on the market who are putting their selfies on stock photography sites hoping they get picked up. To keep up with them, you need to be putting out high quality photos (and a lot of them!) The more photos you have in your portfolio, the higher the chance that you'll make some money!
- Don't worry about getting the highest quality camera: nowadays, phones are getting better and better features, including higher and higher quality cameras. A lot of the people you're trying to sell to will be viewing your photos on their phones and tablets so you can TAKE photos and your phones and tablets to cater to them.
When people think of things to sell on Etsy, they usually think of homemade crafts, little stickers, or unique coffee mugs. You don't often hear of people using it as a marketplace to sell photos online, yet that's exactly what it can be if taken advantage of correctly.
With Etsy, the infrastructure is all already there. They have everything set up already so all you need to do is upload your “prints” to your store front and set your prices. The great thing about Etsy is that there's such a large audience that any selfie you take is sure to appeal to at least some people.
Bonus: Etsy only takes 5% off sales as a transaction fee (this is MUCH cheaper than a lot of the other sites on this list). Finally, if you happen to have a special printing machine, you can sell your selfies as physical prints (instead of digital prints) and make even MORE money.
BigStock is really similar to other stock photography sites like ShutterStock with one key difference: BigStock runs on a unique credit system.
When a customer makes a purchase from your portfolio, not only do you make money on the sale, but the customer also gets a credit towards more images from your portfolio. This generally makes them more inclined to come back to you for more images (as they already have the discount on hand).
What this means for you as a contributor is that as the number of your downloads grow, they're likely to grow even more (exponentially!) This can be really exciting as your opportunity to make money really ramps up over time.
To get started, complete BigStock's contributor's tutorial, upload some images to their site, and start raking in the money!
Recap of How to Make Money Selling Photos of Yourself
In today's day and age, it's easier to make money than ever. You can do almost anything that you're interested in and there's likely to be a way to generate revenue from it. Believe it or not, this includes taking selfies! If you just so happen to love taking photos of yourself, why not also turn it into an extra source of cash.
This post has covered exactly what you need to do to make some money selling photos of yourself. As a quick recap:
- Make sure you have adequate photography equipment and that you're using editing software to touch up your photos.
- Be sure to study up on marketing strategies and pick a few to employ. It doesn't matter if you take the most beautiful pictures in the world… if nobody sees them, you won't make any money.
- There are tons of websites and apps out there that help you sell your photos. This post has provided a list of 7 solid options, but you should definitely do your own research to find one that works for you and stick with it!
So there you have it: a detailed breakdown of how to make money selling photos of yourself! If you're an avid selfie-lover and are looking for ways to make some extra money, what are you waiting for? You already have the necessary skills and the required passion to make this endeavor work! Start taking some selfies and raking in that dough!
Other Ways to Make Money
Interested in more ways that you can earn some extra money? Here are some side gigs that might interest you:
- Blogger – Write blog posts and articles for your own site and make money via affiliate sales / ad revenue.
- Freelance writer – Write for other businesses and get paid on a per article / per post basis.
- Tutor – Teach people about a subject you have expertise in.
- Golf instructor – Find a golf course or empty driving range and teach new players of the game how to swing their golf clubs.
- Virtual assistant – Work in your spare time by helping out managers and businesses virtually with their more menial tasks.
Jeff is a current Harvard student and author of the blog Financial Pupil who is passionate about learning, living, and sharing all things personal finance-related. He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys the pursuit of financial freedom. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.