Ten Websites That Pay for Photographs – Best Microstock Sites on The Web

Sun, Aug 30, 2009, by Armywriter

Money Making

Here is a comprehensive list of microstock websites where an amateur or professional photographer can earn money.

The first five found below are probably the best on the web. However, they are also going to be more demanding than smaller companies. Some have longer wait times for approval than others. Some require you to make more before paying out than others. It is always good to do personal research before signing up for any particular site simply because you need to know what you are getting into. Good luck!


Fotolia has a ranking system and multiple ways to sell and make money. The ranking system is good if you are awesome at what you do. Not so good for amituers I’m afraid. Still, while they do review each submission they have a fast turnaround time (24 hours). Depending on your ranking and whether your photos are exclusive or not you can earn between 30%-61% commission. Pretty good. You get paid once your account reaches 50 credits (50 dollars roughly) and can be through either paypal or moneybookers.


Shutterstock is a popular microstock site that is user friendly. They have a referral plan as well as a set payment plan. You earn $0.25 every time your photo is downloaded. While that seems low you do have the potential of making a lot of money here if your work is good since shutterstock has such a large cliental.


This is another big site with a large variety of ways to make money. Like the others on the top five list they require an application. Each photo is reviewed before it is approved. They also have a referral plan. There are a variety of options of how to sell your photos and the cool thing here is that they have a system already in place for payments depending on the sale or download.


If you want to sell your photos exclusively I think this should be the place. They are probably the biggest and most artistically minded site on the web. 20% commission for non-exclusive, 40% for exclusive. While that may seem low you’ll probably find a lot of business here if you are good. They require an application so be prepared.

Big Stock Photo

Big Stock Photo is a very popular and top of the line microstock site. They pay through paypal once your account has reached over $50. They require the “provider” to only provide high quality photographs. They have tutorials and helpful guides that will give you an idea of what they are looking for. This site has huge payout potential, as you can make anywhere from $0.50 to $60 per download.

Here are five more sites worth checking out. They are not as big or popular as the ones found above but could add to your income. Remember, you do not have to limit your portfolio to one site! A photograph can make you money at multiple sites at the same time. Just remember to read the fine print carefully as some sites want only original photos that cannot be found anywhere else.


Payouts here begin at $50, as is common with most other microstock sites. They seem to pay pretty high, $7.50-10.00 per sale. Also, they pay $0.30 per subscription download. From what I can tell they are a pretty professional looking site with a lot to offer. You should look at the different programs they have to offer. (See terms of use)

123 Royalty Free

Here you receive 50% of the sale or $0.36 per subscription download. They are vague regarding minimal payouts and seem to concentrate more on just getting a potential contributer to sign up… something commonly found with newer or smaller sites. Still 50% is good.


This one doesn’t seem as good as others but should still be under consideration as they are growing fast. Their commission is lower, only 25%, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made. Your account must reach $50 before they payout. You retain all rights to photographs you provide which means it is all non-exclusive.


This seems like a good site to start. They payout after you make $20. They pay to paypal, moneybookers or check. They seem to have a growing number of photographers and clients. The site also seems fairly easy to use. Also, if you grant them exclusive rights to a photograph you make 50% commission. For non-exclusive rights you make 40%. Non-exclusive means that you can post your photograph elsewhere.


This is for buyers only but I think a fairly important site to visit for aspiring photographers. Here you’ll find the largest market for buyers on the web which in turn could teach you a lot about how and where to sell your photographs. They are affiliated with a lot of microstock sites.

Final Word:

This is simply a referral list and by no means is a guide on how to use the sites listed above. There are also many more microstock sites out there on the internet. Please, if you have experience with the sites listed above leave a comment and share your knowledge. If you know of a site that is not listed please leave a comment whether it is a praise for the site or a warning.

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6 Comments For This Post
  1. Orson Says:

    You can found more detailed article about best microstock sites here: http://sellinggraphics.com/4/Best-microstock-sites-selling-photos-illustrations

  2. Storm Jackson Says:

    Good list of sites for photographers. You forgot to add the Triond photo site, Picable.

  3. Armywriter Says:

    Picable doesn’t pay per download; they pay per click. Also, you have to make sure your picture has not been published elsewhere prior to publishing it on Triond.

    Still, good reference. Thanks for reading.

  4. R J Evans Says:

    Useful information – thanks!

  5. Shutterstock Says:

    you forgot about Canstockphoto.

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