With so many photographers disillusioned with the paltry returns and bad deals being offered by so many mainstream stock libraries, it’s worth taking a look at some of the other great websites out there that are actually on your side… sites that can help photographers of all levels generate some useful income from their photography.

Here’s a selection of the sites we recommend to GlobalEye Photographers. Not every website will suit every photographer’s business plan, but it’s always worth exploring all your options and seeing if you can add the strategy to your business, even if you aren’t totally sold on the specific website.

Around here we’re big fans of Set-and-Forget strategies, so you’ll find you can take a bit of time to set most of these up, and then pretty much forget about them. So even where the projected income isn’t likely to be life-changing, it can still be worth a few hours… or days even… to get it set up properly!

Have a look, see what you think and feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. If you already use any of these, please give them a rating, to help other photographers in their evaluation. If you have others you think should be on the list, let me know and we’ll review them and add any thing we thing is suitable.

 

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1. Redbubble: Stationary, Prints & Décor

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Redbubble is an online art community featuring wall art, design, photography and t-shirts by artists worldwide. It is a fullfilment platform, meaning you simply upload your images and designate which products you want to make available, and Redbubble does everything else.

So you get a ready made eCommerce Store, completely managed. When visitors want your photo products, Redbubble takes the orders, creates the items real-time, ships them and pays you.

I use Redbubble mostly for prints and paper products using a small selection of images chosen for each format. There’s a wide variety of print formats… framed, canvas, metal and more… and I couldn’t possibly handle the printing, framing, packaging and shipping — anywhere in the world — for what is costs me through Redbubble.

They also offer a range of stationary… gift card and calendars in particular… that are excellent options to link to from you personal website. Again you just upload a batch of suitable images, ‘create’ the products and add them to your store. Redbubble does the rest.

(They also do extensive clothing lines, but personally I think Zazzle is a better option for those items).

Earnings Potential vs Time Required

Most people should be able to set up a Redbubble Store with 20-30 images available in a dozen different product lines in a weekend.

If you use that time to fully optimize each listing… and follow the instructions on the site to promote your store… you should get enough interest… and sales… to more than cover your efforts in 3-6 months.

However, if  you can send your own qualified traffic directly to your own pages, you can do a whole lot better. While the site does get some good visitor numbers, and you have every chance that some of those people will view and order your work,  sending your own visitors directly to your own products will result in much better sales.

So ideally you’ll want to add links to the inside pages of your website… connect specific subjects with a good call to action and a link to similar content on Redbubble… targeting private buyers looking for prints or gift items.



2. Zazzle: Personalized Gifts & Products

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Zazzle is another fullfilment site where you upload your photos, ‘create’ a range of products and then leave everything else to Zazzle… taking orders, accepting payments, manufacture, packaging and shipping, are all done for you.

What I like about Zazzle is it’s extensive range of gift items. If you have your own website, you can use these as ‘impulse buys’ … set up a small selection and add image links to relevant internal pages on your website, targeting those visitors who’s main interest is your subject matter rather than your images.

Once you’ve created your product lines, you can use the ‘Share A Product’ option to create mini ad banners, you can ad to any page of your site. The key here is to take a little longer be super-specific in adding ads to your pages.

For example… if someone is on your site looking at photos of Labrador dogs, your ad image should show a Labrador dog. Showing that visitor anything else is a wasted opportunity!

You should also be prepared to test this one a bit, to find out ‘who’ your visitors are… add a broad variety of gift items using just one or two of your best images to start with, then once you see some clear preferences for specific item types, go back and add more images for those.

Earnings Potential vs Time Required

Again I’d suggest a weekend dedicated to creating your account, uploading a selection of images and setting a broad range of products. Add some links to your website, run through the basic promo tasks recommended by Zazzle and then let it run for a while… 2-3 months… before you spend any more time on it.

After that, take a good look through your stats and see what product types work best for your audience and your photo content, and then create additional products and load more images accordingly. Link to those from the relevant pages on your website and then just let it run. If you have a mailing list of social media following, you can share your links, but otherwise, it should be pretty much hands-free from there on.

(Zazzle does have a number of print and stationary items, but I tend to prefer Redbubble for those. For convenience you might find it easier to use just one of the two, but I’d still recommend trying both for starters to see which works best for your subjects and style of work).



3. Blurb: Create, Sell & Distribute Pro Photo Books

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One of the best ways I know to build authority and credibility in your field is to publish a book… so much so, the fact it can also generate ongoing passive sales is almost a bonus!

Blurb is the platform of choice for creating your own photo books… you can get started quickly and easily using their pre-made templates, or get more creative with your own layouts. There’s even a powerful Lightroom tool that will let you complete most of the process in that software, on your desktop.

However you go at it, you have complete creative control, and once done, you can connect it directly to the Blurb bookstore, the Amazon marketplace, or if you have a website of your own… order some hardcopies and sell them directly to visitors on your site.

Depending on your content, you might even sell hard copies through local retailers. Order a few copies to take around and show the store owners, and then place you larger order once you know there’s good interest. This can be a very good strategy is you live in any kind of tourist destination and your photo book captures any of the attractions or historical sites… small retailers and tour desks are always looking for additional items to offer.

Once you’ve made the connection, be sure to ask them about other items such as calendars, prints and post cards from your Redbubble Store!

This publishing process will take some time to do properly and you should plan to spend a couple of weeks on it. Most important is to take regular breaks during that time and come back fresh to spot any problems. ie: don’t try to create and publish a gook in a weekend or you are almost guaranteed to miss something and make mistakes! Having someone you can call on to check your work is also invaluable.

Once you’ve done the initial work though, the potential earnings are again dependent on the time and effort you want to put into promotion. The cost per book will vary on size, format and page count, but you set the price to cover that with a suitable profit margin, so you should be able to make $10 or more from a high quality photo book.

A starter-strategy would be to list your book in Amazon and Blurb, add links to your website, and then announce it in your social media accounts. Make sure you ask your friends to give it a review on the distribution sites… that will significantly increase your exposure and sales.

You should also order a few copies for yourself from both platforms… it will help your rankings and thus your exposure, plus once you have the books on hand you can call in to see a few potential distributors!



4. Google AdSense Website Monetization

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If you have a website this is probably the ultimate set-and-forget strategy. Basically you just add the Google Adsense code to your web pages, they show their ads based on the content on the page, and you get paid varying amounts anytime someone click through on one of the ads.

The amount paid is totally depending on how much the advertisers are prepared to pay, and some categories of ads can be very lucrative. Unfortunately, none of those are going be relevant to the content on the average ‘photography’ website, so most photographers don;’t make much this way.

Clicks we get on our average photography pages are in the $0.10 to $0.30 range. So given that you need to earn the $100 threshold before you get paid, it can be a long wait if you don’t get much traffic.

This is how most photographers use Adsense and to be brutally honest, they may as well not bother

They just add the code to their footer or header so the ads appears on every page of their site offer the same low-paying generic photographic-related content. Even worse, Half the time the ads will be recommending a microstock outfit… so if the photographer does actually get the click, they are making a few cents off a visitor who might have spent a whole lot more if they’d stayed.

So first of all, block the microstock libraries in your settings, either by domain or by keywords. No point advertising your cut-price competition on your own site!

Then avoid the blanket approach entirely. Look at your collection and see if you can set up pages based on other specific subjects that might generate better paying ads? Re-do the SEO for those pages and really focus your efforts on the subject of your images, and play down the photography/photographer aspects.

You’ll find you still get the same sort of traffic, but the ads Google generates will be focused on the subject, not photography per se. So they’ll pay more and impact less on your own sales and leads.

For example… say you do a lot of product photography and have a page on your website showing samples of your work. The average photographer would have the page SEO focused on ‘photography’ … lots of talk of photos and images, and other photographic terms… so Google would show low paying photography related ads.

The savvy photographer would talk instead about jewelry, watches, hand bags, fashion accessories etc, whatever is visible on the page… so now Google shows ads for those kinds of items, for which you could get paid 10-20 times more!

If you have a potential Client looking over your work, thinking about hiring you, they still see a good selection of your work… but if it’s a subject-visitor, then there’s a good chance that they might spot one of the Google Ads and leave… making you a few dollars for the click.

So I guess the verdict here is, if you’re prepared to do it right Google Adsense can be a useful passive income for your photography business. If you aren’t prepared to set it up properly though, you’re really better off avoiding it entirely!



5. Clickbooth CPA Network

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Clickbooth is one of the most popular and fastest growing CPA Affiliate Networks. It is one of the oldest players in the industry and has earned the reputation of being one of the most reputable CPA Affiliate Networks. As an Affiliate, you can promote a whole range of products and services that might be of interest to your website audience.

Their advertisers cover a range of different categories and new offers are being made all the time, so once set up, just kee0p an eye out for new notifications, and anytime you see one that might interest your audience, give it a run. Most campaigns have a limited lifespan, so watch the dates and be ready to replace them as they run out.

For those new to this CPA stands for Cost-Per-Action or Cost-Per-Acquisition… depending on who you talk to. The idea is much the same regardless… you post a graphic or text link to an offer, and you get paid a fixed amount for every person who takes the appropriate action. Often it is submitting a phone number or email… hence the ‘acquisition’ part.

The payment to you is usually around $5-$10 per lead, so it can be quite lucrative if you find offers that appeal to your audience. It does take a little more time to do it right though, and you will still need a decent amount of traffic through your website before you’ll make consistent income.

Still it can be easier/faster results than you’d get chasing affiliate commissions… where your visitor has to actually buy before you get paid… and it’s usually much more lucrative than the few cents per click you’ll get from PPC advertising like Google Adsense.

There are a lot of CPA networks out there, so you can afford ot shop around. I recommend Clickbooth here because they’re one of the best, but also because they are relatively friendly to small websites. Some networks won’t touch small sites, but these guys are generally OK with it. If you aren’t accepted, you can try elsewhere, but maybe work on making your website look better and building up your traffic first… both will make you more money faster than simply fudging you way into a network.



6. Amazon Associates + Stream Store

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Amazon was the very first affiliate program I ever signed up for… way back in 1998! Back then we mostly used it to recommend photography books to our members and visitors, but the payouts were actually pretty impressive. At $2-$4 for an average book, it soon added up with 20-30 sales most months.

These days sales of those same books might earn us $0.25-$0.50 … so we don’t get so excited anymore. We still find it’s a useful resource to refer photographers to when they need the books, but there’s not a lot of value in for us, so there’d be even less for an individual photographer website. That’s the books though.

The good news is, Amazon now sells a whole lot more than books, including plenty of big ticket items, so it’s possible to make some serious income even with the low commission rates.

Unless you’ve got some serious web traffic the income is going to be a bit hit-and-miss though, so what I’d suggest is a complete ‘automated’ Amazon store using the plugin below. This will let you promote any of the higher ticket items… cameras, software, electronics… you name it… where you can actually make some very significant commissions… without having to spend a whole lot of time setting it up or managing it.

See Stream Store In Action Here

Stream Store is about the 5th or 6th Amazon store builder that I’ve tried in recent years, but it will be the last… because it (finally) checks all the boxes for me…

  • Fast, simple set up… you can set up a new store on an WordPress Website literally in a couple of minutes. There are a couple of steps that are a bit ‘technical’, but they’re well handled with good step by step instructions.
  • Flexible structure and design… so you can adapt it to suit your existing website. I usually create a new WordPress install in a sub-directory, make that the store, and then tweak the design to match it all up.
  • Automated Updates! … this is the game-changer. You site updates real-time, so there is no need to keep going back to update listings manually, or re-import all your products.
  • Multiple stores in any niche you like, so you can make stores that cater to any visitor group you like. The more targeted your offering, the more sales you’re going to make…

There are free plugins available for WordPress that will import products, but nothing that does it as well as this, or that updates the listings automatically. If you’re keen to sell Amazon products, this represents a small investment that will pay for itself with your first commission cheque… and that’s before you even consider the time and effort you’ll save.

For my money, this is the only way to promote Amazon. Most photographers will just plaster generic banner ads all over their websites and get very little for their efforts. If you’re going to do it, do it right… set up small niche stores offering carefully selected content and link to those from relevant pages on your site.

Want to sell cameras… write some camera reviews. Want to sell software… write a tutorial for using the software. Want to sell accessories… write some tips for getting more use out of them. Relevant content to attract the visitor, relevant offers to convert the visitor… do it right and you will have a hands-free income stream that will work for you unattended for years!

 



7. GlobalEye Photography Marketing

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OK, full disclosure just in case you missed it, this is the website you’re on!

The GlobalEye group is a network of some 4 stock libraries, a couple of photographer directories and an extensive network of photography related websites and blogs… all offering a range of professional business and marketing services for our contributing photographers.

Our core offerings are built around your stock image catalogue, but what we do goes far beyond your typical stock library arrangement. We are very much of the opinion that mainstream stock has become a business that only benefits the stock libraries and their shareholders…

So we operate on a co-operative basis, where our photographers are more hands-on, they retain more control of their business and their work… and their sales. They deal directly with the photo buyers, so they pay no commissions on their sales.

Our ‘no commissions‘ structure is the most popular feature with a lot of our members, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. So if you’re looking for a stock library that will treat you with respect, value your work and give you back control of your business, then be sure to check out our photographers information page while you’re here!

GlobalEye Photographer’s Information

Without question, the real investment in any stock library arrangement is the time and effort to create a viable catalogue. And the most common mistake photographers make here is thinking they can dip a toe in the water to see if it’s going to work. We see it all the time… they’ll submit 40-50 images and then sit back to wait and see what happens before they’ll do any more…

Stock is a numbers game and you do need to build up a serious volume of work if you want consistent results.

So whether you give GlobalEye a run, or choose to try a different platform, we encourage you to do it properly or not at all…

Have a couple of hundred A-grade images ready when you start AND keep adding to it regularly for a year. Once you’ve got 1000+ images up and working for you, then you can assess your results and decide whether it’s a suitable option for your subjects and style of work!

That said… if you go with GlobalEye, you’ll find we have a number of pro-active tools and features designed to help you make sales while you build the numbers. That’s outside the scope of this article though, so check out the page above for more info!

 

 

So What’s The Best Option For You?

Unfortunately there’s no one right answer that will work for everyone. Instead you should look at the work required to set each of these up, the likely returns, and then pick the one that catches your interest and fits your schedule. Obviously there are a lot of factors that will determine your results… quality of your work, the subjects you shoot, how well you set these up, how much traffic you get through your website… so the main thing is to invest just enough time to set these up properly.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by doing a poor/rushed set up. If you’re going to do it at all, do it properly.

You might have noticed a common theme in a lot of these entries… at GlobalEye we acknowledge that most visitors to our websites… both the stock library websites and our blogs & personal sites… are not commercial photo buyers!

More often than not, they are people with an interest in the subject featured on the page they arrive at.

ie. Someone is interested in penguins, they search for penguins, they find a page on our website with photos and info on penguins. So it makes sense to offer them something other than commercial licensing options. From the examples above… penguin prints, penguin coffee mug, penguin phone case, penguin t-shirt etc.

Of the remaining visitors, the majority are most likely to be other photographers or photography enthusiasts… so again, if your only monetization option is to license and image, these people are also going to leave empty-handed. So instead we might try to tempt them with ‘better photography’ DVDs from Amazon, specialist how-to books from DPS, or even comprehensive photography courses?

So while most website owners (and most stock libraries for that matter…) will only cater to the few photo buyers in that crowd, we always look to offer monetized ‘exit options‘ for ALL our other visitors.

We definitely want the commercial buyers and do everything we can to cater to their needs, but we’re always aware that there’s a lot of other people passing through our websites and if we can direct them to something of interest, there’s a very good chance we can profit from their visit as well!

 


 

No doubt you spotted one missing option that most people would have included in a list like this… posting images to a Microstock Library. That was a deliberate omission, because I honestly don’t feel the returns compensate you adequately for the investment you’re required to make…

These days there is so much work required… post processing formatting, uploading, keywording your stock images… to then have your stock library giving your images way for a couple of dollars just doesn’t make sense.

When you also consider the fact that most libraries are still taking half… and giving your work away on open-ended RF licenses, the cost to you is going to be far greater than any sales that might eventuate.

So if you’re looking for a stock arrangement, I encourage you to look over GlobalEye’s co-operative approach. It’s a system that gives you all the benefits of a traditional stock agency arrangement, without demanding you give up control of your business… or the rights to your images… just to make a few sales.

GlobalEye Photographer’s Information

 

 

 



View the original post and more work from these photographers at: GlobalEye Photographers Blog

7 Websites That Help Photographers Make Money
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