Photo Selling Apps: Earn Money With Your Cell Phone Images

Whether an amateur, hobbyist, or established photographer, photo selling apps are a great way to make money online. Selling photos on various photo selling apps also helps supplement freelance work and can be a welcome source of passive income simply by uploading pictures taken straight from your phone. 

How Do Photographers Make Money on Photo Selling Apps

After uploading images to a photo selling app marketplace, the photographer receives a royalty payment for each picture downloaded by a customer. The percentage or amount will vary by company and the photographer's skill level. 

Some of the apps that pay are in the low-cost segment of the stock photography industry, referred to as microstock photography, where photographers sell images for a small amount. But in many cases, the photographer still owns the copyright of the images and can upload them across several different apps to earn money, which increases the earning potential for photographers. 

The following are selling apps to consider when looking for a digital space to sell photos straight from your phone. 

1. Shutterstock

The app to install is called the Shutterstock Contributor app. Shutterstock is one of the most established stock agencies. Once photographers register and submit their work, Shutterstock takes 1 to 2 days to review submissions against their technical and compliance requirements. 

Each time a customer downloads a photo, they are purchasing a license. The photographer earns a percentage of the price they pay for that license. Payment is typically 15% to 40% of the sale. Earrings depend on:

  • The type of plan used for the purchase
  • The kind of license included with the plan
  • The photographers earning level as a contributor at the time of the download

Shutterstock encourages contributors to upload regularly, use titles and keywords, group content into sets by the subject, concept, and creative trend and keep up-to-date with current trends to make more money. 

Another reason to use Shutterstock Contributor is their deal with Facebook. Every time someone uses an image from Facebook advertising, the contributor gets paid a subscription-rate download royalty. 

2. Istock by Getty Images

Formerly known as iStockphoto, iStock and Getty images have formed a powerhouse relationship as both companies are world-renowned for their stock photography. Photographers can contribute photos to iStock or even the parent company Getty Images upon approval. Download the Contributor by Getty Images app to get started. Contributors should submit at least 3 to 6 images for the agency to review. 

iStock pays non-exclusive submission a 15% royalty per image sold. Contributors can apply to become exclusive, where they can earn between 25% to 40% per sale. Getty's images are exclusive and will pay 20% of every sale.

3. Foap

Foap has attracted some major brands like Nivea, Kraft Heinz, and Volvo to its photo selling marketplace. One feature of Foap is that it sets up ‘missions' or competitions where photographers submit photos and videos that meet specific criteria. If an image is selected, contributors can make a few hundred dollars. 

In the regular marketplace, contributors get a 50% commission on sold images. There is a little more work involved as Foap requires that for every photo uploaded, contributors must rate five pictures from others, which helps images rank. 

4. Stockimo

Alamy is the parent company of the mobile app Stockimo and is one of the largest stock photo agencies. Photos are sold through Alamy, but Alamy's commission is 50%, and the Stockimo app pays 20% on the sale of mobile phone images. 

The upside is that photographers can get better exposure by selling through a large site like Alamy and the sale prices tend to be higher. This app is only available on iPhones and not for android yet. 

5. Adobe Stock

Fotolia, now known as Adobe Stock since 2014, is another large stock photo agency. Adobe provides free access to Adobe Portfolio, a custom website to sell your stock photos. Contributors benefit from Adobe's machine learning intelligence and creative cloud apps to upload, input keywords, and sell images. Contributors can also import albums directly from the photo editor Adobe Lightroom for quick uploading. 

Adobe Stock pays contributors 33% royalties for each sale. Considering the Adobe brand's establishment, contributors are likelier to get some attention and make sales. 

6. Snapwire

Similar to Foap, contributors can earn money using the same two methods. 

1. Requests and Challenges

Like the ‘missions' Foap sets up, businesses and brands post requests with a brief description, and photographers worldwide can make submissions that meet that criteria. Getting a photo selected can result in earning 70% of the photo's sale. 

2. The Marketplace

Contributors can earn 50% of the sale of each picture. Contributors that move to higher levels can collect more points as their photos receive nominations. Levels give photographers access to other app features such as invitations to requests, direct commissions, and more exposure. Contributors can also sell from a personal portfolio or directly in the stock photography marketplace. 

7. Etsy

Etsy is a giant e-commerce marketplace, receiving millions of visitors every day. Etsy isn't a typical microstock agency. However, it's still an excellent option for photographers. Users of the Etsy app can set up their page or storefront and upload their photos. 

Etsy charges for the use of the platform, including a flat rate charge of 0.20 USD per listing, and Etsy collects 5% of the total item cost. Photos require keywords, thumbnails, and descriptions as well. With all the potential exposure users can get on Etsy, it's worth setting up a shop on this platform.   

8. Crestock

Crestock is another photo selling app that is great for creators. Crestock is an easy platform to navigate, and pictures can be uploaded individually or in bulk by using FTP. New contributors are restricted to uploading ten weekly images and will be adjusted over time as approval rating increases.

Crestock's royalty rate is calculated on a progressive scale, based on the total number of images sold since joining. A single image license has a royalty payment range from 20% to 40%, depending on the aggregate number of downloads. The image download through a subscription ranges from $0.25 to $0.40 per image sold, depending on the total number of downloads. 

9. Eyeem

EyeEm partners with some of the world's leading photo agencies to get work seen by many buyers, such as Getty Images and Adobe. 

There's great potential to earn more, but the competition is fierce. EyeEm offers a 50% commission and has missions or challenges available for contributors to try to get their photo selected by a major brand. Partnerships include The Huffington Post, Waze, and Humana.  

10. Dreamstime

Dreamstime is another large stock image site that's worth contributors to check out. Contributors can sell photos in the following categories:

1. Stock Photos

Each time a buyer downloads a photo, the contributor receives a royalty payment. Dreamstime says contributors can earn up to $12 per standard license. Extended licenses can earn more. For a regular sale, contributors can earn a 25% to 50% commission. For the sale of a photo with an exclusive license, contributors can get an additional 10%.

If a contributor becomes entirely exclusive to Dreamstime, they can earn 60% of the revenue share, with a bonus of $0.20 for the first 100 photo submissions. 

2. Newsworthy Editorial Photos 

Contributing to a bonus of $5 per image can upload editorial photos. They must be very recent and be the subject of an event or something else of importance. 

Make Money With Cell Phone Images

With many people already housing thousands of images on their cell phone image libraries, selling photos online seems like an attractive gig to try out. Free sign-up and minimal risk also make selling photos to stock-image agencies worthwhile. 

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.


Nadia is an M.B.A. graduate and freelance writer. She also likes to write about all aspects of mom life, co-authors the blog This Mom Is On Fire, and advocates for better dementia healthcare for seniors.