Whether you want to turn your passion for beautiful landscape photos into a full-time career or just make some extra money on the side, we’ll show you the best way to sell your landscape photography online. From the pay rates to the level of exposure, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing where to sell landscape photos. Start your own store? Stock agencies? We’ll will help you figure out the pros and cons of each option, so you can figure out which markets are best suited to you and your needs.
1. Start Your Own Online Store
Best for: Those who want total freedom in setting prices and controlling the look and feel of how and where their work is being sold.
You’ve already got your online photography portfolio up and running and it’s looking fantastic. So, rather than selling landscape photos through a middleman, why not build a store right into your portfolio? This will allow buyers to come to you direct. It also gives you the freedom to present your photos the way you want and set your own prices (with no need to pay out a commission or fee to anyone else). Format has this feature built right in, so you can start selling your work, right from your existing portfolio—and fast.
Another benefit of having your own store? It encourages potential buyers to view your whole portfolio before clicking away, showing off more of your work. (Stock websites generally mix your photos in with other photographers’ work.) Have a particularly great travel portfolio? You want prospective customers to see as many of your great shots as possible, from Beijing to Copenhagen! To help attract people to your online store, post a few of your best photos to free stock photography sites and include a link to your store.
You can also build customer interest and loyalty by creating engaging content for your site and social media channels. Starting a photography blog will help attract visitors. Are you a gear expert, for example? Share your expertise on the best cameras, lenses and accessories for landscape photography with fledgling shooters. Instagram is another great way to grow your online presence as a landscape photographer. The ‘gram is the perfect place to display your work, as landscape photos can build your followers very quickly.
2. Pitch Your Landscape Photos to Websites and Magazines
Best for: Photographers who are open to writing opportunities
There are lots of magazines and websites out there that are willing to pay big bucks for beautiful landscape photos.
Getting started selling to these types of publications can be as simple as emailing an editor and pitching your work. Some professional photographers recommend pitching ideas for articles with accompanying images. This way, you give the editor an idea for a complete story and show them how your landscape photos could be used.
But, before you make your pitch, it’s a good idea to ensure you thoroughly understand the publication, including its style, focus, and the type of photos it publishes. Start with some magazines and websites that you regularly read yourself and are already familiar with. Once you’re ready to start selling landscape photography to less-familiar brands, make sure to read through a big stack of back issues or several months’ worth of posts first, so you know what they’re in the market for.
There are lots of niche publications out there that receive far fewer submissions than the high-profile ones—meaning they’re much more receptive to pitches from freelance photographers. To find some magazines that could fit well with your work, magazines.com has a comprehensive list of publications organized by category.
Best for: Photographers short on time who want to start selling prints.
If you like the idea of selling landscape prints but don’t know how to get started, you should check out FineArtAmerica. This website offers an online marketplace for everything, from posters to canvas prints.
While you can always sell these types of products directly through your own website, FineArtAmerica is another good option if you want to diversify. Best of all, it offers a good way to get your work seen by buyers who are specifically in the market for landscape prints, thanks to an entire section devoted to beautiful landscape photos.
The site also provides a print-on-demand service. Once you find a buyer, FineArtAmerica can handle all the rest. The company can make your images into a variety of products including framed prints, posters, greeting cards, phone cases, canvas prints, acrylic prints, and metal prints.
The company has a base price for any product it manufactures. For example, the base price for a 26-inch by 36-inch canvas print is $50. So you’re free to decide how much you’ll earn on each sale by setting the markup price.
Alternatively, if you plan on making your own prints, you can simply use FineArtAmerica to find buyers for free and keep 100 percent the profits. Visit their website to get more details on selling landscape prints with FineArtAmerica.
4. Photo Contests
Best for: Photographers who may not have a large portfolio yet, and are looking for a simple option to start getting their work out there.
While contests are not technically a place to “sell” your landscape photos, they can offer the potential for some decent prize money. Winning a photo contest can help you start building name recognition, credibility to your reputation as a professional photographer, and draw people to your online portfolio—and store.
Some contests involve a fee to enter, but there are plenty that don’t. One good example is the Smithsonian.com photo contest. It has no entry fee and offers a grand prize of $2,500. There are six different categories in this contest and landscape photos could be entered into most of them. For instance, the categories include Travel, Natural World, and The American Experience.
That is just one of the many free contests out there; there are a few helpful websites that provide a listing of all of them. One of the best is Photo Contest Guru, as it outlines all of the contest requirements at a glance, and can help you keep track of the entry deadlines.
Now, what about stock agencies? We’ve divided up the players into two categories: those that offer more money, and those that offer more exposure.
Best for: Photographers seeking consistent earnings from their landscape photos.
Shutterstock is widely recognized as a good choice for independent photographers. It is well-established and known for being able to offer consistent earnings. The pay rates start at 20 percent and can range up to 30 percent depending on the contributor’s lifetime earnings.
While those rates are nothing special, what sets Shutterstock apart is the high daily downloads that contributors regularly see. As a result, many stock photographers say Shutterstock is their top earner by far. In fact, the website boasts that it has paid out over $500 million to its contributors since 2003.
There were complaints in the past that it was difficult to get accepted as a Shutterstock contributor, but, since then, the agency has made the process a little easier. To apply, photographers submit 10 sample images. In the past, eight of the 10 images had to be approved. Now, they only require one out of the 10 images to pass the test, which has made it easier than ever to give it a shot.
Visit their website for more information on how to become a Shutterstock contributor.
Best for: Photographers who want the potential for high royalties—without having to reach thousands in sales first.
Dreamstime has a good reputation for treating its contributors fairly. This stock agency pays royalty rates starting at 25 percent and ranging up to 60 percent, which is high in comparison to many of their competitors.
The image prices and royalties vary depending on how well each image sells. So, unlike agencies where contributors have to reach a total earning threshold, new contributors at Dreamstime can quickly start making high rates. All it takes is one high quality landscape photo that sells well.
Dreamstime is also known for the high quality of its content, a helpful contributor forum, and holding regular photo contests that give contributors even more chances to earn some money with their photos.
Here you can delve more into becoming a Dreamstime contributor, along with their requirements and full details on pay rates.
Best for: Photographers who plan on contributing new landscape photos consistently and are looking for ease of use.
123RF is another stock agency known for offering contributors consistent earnings. One thing that sets it apart from the others: the image uploading process is very quick, as its FTP upload system works well, they review images promptly, and there are no peksy categories to fill in.
The royalty rates are another advantage; they start at 30 percent and can range as high as 60 percent, depending on your contributor level. The contributor level is based on your total amount of downloads in the past 12 months. So, if you stop contributing for a while, it’s possible you could drop to a lower tier. However, compared to many of the stock sites out there, the download thresholds needed to level up are not unreasonable.
Head here for more details on joining 123RF as a contributor.
8. Adobe Stock + Fotolia
Best for: Photographers ISO high royalties…without the need to sign over exclusivity.
Adobe Stock is another great stock agency to sell landscape photos online. One key benefit is the starting royalty is 33 percent for new contributors, and it doesn’t require exclusivity rights. Another advantage? Since Adobe bought the stock image service Fotolia in 2014, images you submit to Adobe Stock are also made available on Fotolia. That means you get your landscape photos posted on two sites, helping to widen your market.
Something unique about Adobe Stock is its integration with Adobe Creative Cloud applications and Microsoft PowerPoint. As designers work in these applications and decide they need a gorgeous vista, they can search, preview, edit, and buy landscape photography images—all directly within the application.
Adobe Stock also has a reputation for posting submitted images quickly. More details are available on the Adobe Stock Contributor User Guide.
Best for: Photographers seeking exposure who are willing to wait to see their royalties grow.
Depositphotos is a rapidly growing stock agency. The company has an aggressive marketing plan and offers a lot of special deals. As a result, it is always drawing in new buyers. Regular contributors say they often see their image downloads growing, even as more and more contributors join.
The royalty rates for contributors are comparatively high. They start at 34 percent and can increase to 42 percent as you sell more images. For example, once you reach 500 image downloads, the royalty rate increases to 36 percent. However, some people have complained it’s too difficult to reach the highest contributor levels. It takes 150,000 downloads to become a top-tier contributor, and, if the buyer has a subscription plan, each image purchase only counts as 1/3 of a download.
Since the starting royalty is already higher than many stock agencies, Depostiphotos is definitely worth a look. Getting started with them sooner rather than later would help in working towards those download thresholds. Check out their site for more info on how to become a Depositphotos contributor.
Best for: Photographers that are prioritizing exposure right now.
iStock is one of the largest stock photography providers out there, so it’s hard to beat when it comes to getting exposure for your work. They reach 1.5 million customers in over 200 countries around the world.
Since 2006, iStock has been owned by Getty Images, Inc., which has been a well-respected player in the industry for many years and is known for high-quality content. When you apply to become an iStock contributor, its editors decide whether iStock or Getty Images is a better fit for your work, and invite you to join the appropriate site.
The starting royalty rates are lower than the other stock image sites included in this list: 15 percent for iStock, and 20 percent for GettyImages. Also, keep in mind that Getty Images requires exclusivity rights on all content.
With the vast number of customers, there is excellent potential for earnings. However, what really sets iStock apart from the rest is the number of eyes it can bring to your landscape photos. The Getty Images “Work with us” page is a good place to find more details about contributing to iStock and Getty Images.