If you suffer from a raging selfie-taking addiction, I’ve got some terrific news for you. There’s tons of ways on how to make money selling photos of yourself.
Turn all those photographic self-portraits just sitting in the innards of your phone into cold, hard cash!
This way, you get to monetize your narcissism, turning what some people call a negative personality trait into a financial benefit.
This article will give you the lowdown on how to make money selling photos of yourself, as well as all the best places to sell them.
Table of Contents
Brush Up on Your Photographic Skills
One way to increase the market value of your photographs is to make sure that they’re of the highest possible quality.
And, one of the very best ways to do this is by honing your skills by taking a course.
Udemy offers lots of professional-level courses.
For example, the day I checked, the site was offering a course entitled “Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography” marked down from $199.99 to $14.99.
For a more experiential learning adventure, take an in-person course.
Treat Yourself to a Great Camera
No matter how incredibly talented a photographer you are, you cannot take a great selfie without a great camera.
What’s terrific about today’s smartphones is that most of them have relatively decent cameras.
But if you want to up your photography game, there are lots of next-level cameras you can buy.
Editing Your Photos
Another way to ensure you always have the highest quality photos to sell is to make them better by editing them.
There’s always going to be photographic blemishes and imperfections in any photos you take.
And, you’ll be able to remove them in the editing process.
You can try one of the free photo editing apps, such as Snapseed.
You can also use Facetune, which lets you subtly blur, shape, morph, and define specific areas of your face.
Just don’t go overboard and edit your photo to the point where you begin to look freakishly grotesque.
When it comes to photo editing, a light touch is best.
If you want optimal results, splurge for professional software such as Photoshop.
Top Tips for Taking Fantabulous Selfies
There are four essential components for taking fantastic selfies:
- The perfect camera angle
- A killer pose
- Lighting that puts you in the most favorable light
- An intriguing background
Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Important, but these are the absolute essentials.
To help get the perfect angle, shoot your selfie from above, so you’re looking up at the camera.
Also, keep your chin down, but your eyebrows slightly raised.
This will make your eyes look more prominent, and since the eyes are the windows to the soul, it’ll make you look more attractive.
Natural Lighting is Usually the Best
Experiment with the lighting—you want just the right amount of brightness that’ll highlight your facial features in the best possible way.
And for most selfie shots, daylight will do this better than almost any other kind of lighting.
Another great thing about sunlight is that it can make facial imperfections disappear like magic.
So, stand in front of a sunlit window to take your photo.
Also, avoid harsh light and shadows on your face.
Or better yet, go outdoors—as they say, sunlight is the best beauty product you don’t have to pay for!
Don’t be afraid to turn toward or away from the sun to capture better lighting.
One of the best times to shoot outdoors is during sunrise or sunset when the light is low.
Also, overcast days naturally diffuse light, creating a softness that’ll make your face look great.
Lastly, here’s a little-known trick to add a beautiful photogenic glow to your face: hold a piece of white paper right underneath your face when you take your selfie.
How to Take Great Indoor Photos
If you’re taking pics indoors in low light conditions, use Snapchat.
That’s because, with this app, there’s a flash available for the front-facing camera.
To use it, just hit the little lightning bolt on the top left-hand corner, then snap away.
The screen will explode with a profusion of bright light white, bathing your face with a bluish brilliance.
Although the results won’t be perfect using this method, they’ll be better than if you hadn’t used a flash.
However, there will be a bluish tint to your selfie, so you’ll have to tinker with it in post-production, so it’s not as noticeable.
Avoid Unnatural Looking Selfies
When you take your selfie, relax, and strike a natural pose.
That’s because you don’t want it to look like it’s staged.
Really adorable selfies look that way because they appear as though they arose spontaneously—like they were caught on the fly.
This means they shouldn’t look like you spent hours trying to get your makeup just right.
These types of photos will only have a stiff and unnatural look to them.
If you feel anxious or uptight, walk out of the frame and quickly back in again because the camera will pick up your angst, and your pic will suffer as a result.
By walking quickly in and out of the frame, you’ll have less time to feel self-conscious, and this will make your expression more natural.
Also, for the most photographically flattering angle, turn your head slightly, because most straight-on selfies look a bit odd.
Choose an Intriguing Backdrop
To add visual interest, choose an intriguing backdrop against which to take your photo.
Truly outstanding selfies will not only capture your face but also tell a compelling story.
A beguiling background helps to do this.
Crop Out What Doesn’t Work
Give your image a once-over before you submit it.
If there’s something you don’t like or think doesn’t work, make it disappear forever by cropping it right out.
Take Lots of Selfies
One of the biggest secrets to taking fantastic selfies is that sometimes, quantity can make up for quality.
So, take lots of photos.
And, surely, from this dizzying jumble of photographic experiments, you’ll find one or two highly marketable shots.
Try taking your photos from as many different angles as possible, with varying tilts of your head and different backgrounds.
This helps your photos be a little more creative without having a boring sameness to them.
Film Your Selfie Session
If you want an easy way to take hundreds of selfies in a short amount of time, use the video function on your camera to film your session instead of taking still photographs.
Then, all that remains doing is to go through your video frame by frame and select the best of your still photos.
Use a Selfie Stick
Lots of people hate selfie sticks because not only are they one of the most ludicrous-looking gadgets ever dreamed up by humankind, they’re also a safety hazard.
When you’re in a place mobbed by flocks of tourists, invariably there’s going to be at least one guy who’s irresponsibly wielding a selfie stick.
And, if you’re not vigilant, there’s a good chance he’ll whack you right in the noggin with his weaponized photographic accessory.
However, if you want to snap the best possible selfies, you’re going to have to resort to using one.
They help you achieve the proper distance from the camera, so your face isn’t too close.
They’re especially useful for people that God didn’t endow with the gift of long arms.
Also, a selfie stick will enable you to snap your pic from a vantage point higher than your face.
This helps remove unsightly shadows, making your photo that much more complimentary.
Another thing to remember is to tip your stick forwards or backward to minimize its appearance in your photo.
The most thrilling part of wielding a selfie stick is that it allows you to be more creative by using all kinds in interesting angles in your photographic endeavors.
So, don’t be afraid to experiment.
Sites That’ll Buy Your Selfies
Dozens of sites will buy your selfies.
However, keep in mind that every site won’t buy every single selfie you take.
It simply doesn’t work that way.
You’ve got to provide them with highly marketable selfies that meet each site’s unique requirements.
Here are few of the sites:
Pay Your Selfie
Pay Your Selfie will buy your selfies provided your photo is of you doing a particular task they assign.
These selfies help the app makers to figure out what makes you tick, and they then sell this information to marketers.
These marketers, in turn, gain insights into consumer behavior that helps them sell more widgets.
You’ll earn between 20 cents and 1 dollar for each task you complete, and you can cash out when you have 20 bucks in your account.
At SmugMug, you’ll keep 85% of the proceeds from the sale of your pics.
However, you’ll have to cough up $12.50 a month for the service, as they don’t offer a free subscription.
One great thing about the site is that you’ll be able to add watermarks to your photos so nobody will be able to take them and claim them as their own.
Another nice thing is you set your own prices instead of them telling you how much you can charge.
Stylinity is a unique site in that it lets you take what they call “shop-able-selfies.”
This is where you buy an article of clothing from the site, and then take a photo of yourself wearing that same article.
In this photo, you’ll tag all the brands you’re wearing.
If someone purchases what you’re wearing after first clicking on your photo, you’ll get rewarded with points from the brand manufacturers you can trade for cash.
500px is another site where you can sell your ravishing photographic self-portraits.
And with over five million avid shutterbugs using the site, it’s hugely popular.
It has quickly cultivated a reputation as being a place where both companies and individuals can discover amazingly talented photographers.
And, they’ll be able to get a ready supply of visually stunning images from these professional shutterbugs.
If you want to be among this throng and license your selfies through 500px and their thousands of distribution partners, sign up at the site today.
By doing so, you’ll be entering the potentially highly profitable world of the stock photography market.
Stock photography licensing gives a purchaser permission to use one of your photos for a set amount of time.
However, as a paparazzo-artiste, you’ll always maintain the copyright to your own work, which is a good thing.
By signing their contributor agreement, you’re allowing the company to manage the licensing of your photos on your behalf.
The company will offer your pics for commercial use including advertising for both print and digital media, marketing brochures, and product packaging.
Another way your photos could be bought and used is by newspaper and magazine editors and bloggers who need a captivating image for their article.
Also, by textbook writers who think your photographic self-portrait will be the perfect complement to a chapter on narcissistic personality disorder (just kiddin’.)
There’s a paid version of the site, and there’s a free version.
You can always get the free version if you don’t think you’ll need more advanced features and merely want a no-frills way to market your charmingly self-referential selfies.
Or, if you think you’ll need greater functionality like unlimited uploads, use of Adobe Photoshop, and priority technical support, cough up a few more bucks for the higher-tiered plans.
Although you’ll pay for these plans, this might turn out to be money well spent if having these features helps you to sell a whole lot more selfies.
How it works is buyers purchase a license to use one of your photos.
There are two types of licenses that buyers can purchase: exclusive and non-exclusive.
Exclusive means that 500px and their distribution partners are the only ones who can use your photo, and you haven’t licensed it to any other individual or company.
Having an exclusive agreement means you’ll get 60% of the licensing fees.
If you have a non-exclusive license, this means that you’ve given other people permission to use an image, and you’ll only get 30% of the licensing fees for the use of it at 500px.
It also means that you’ll be able to continue to offer your pics for sale through other commercial licensing vendors or buyers besides this site.
So, as you can see, exclusive licensing deals offer you the most significant revenue-producing opportunity.
Also, exclusive photos are featured much more frequently at the site, which means they show them off to potential buyers much more often.
Additionally, exclusive licensers get the opportunity to partner with the company on all kinds of mutually beneficial projects.
Licenses aren’t for an indefinite period, but for a set amount of time.
However, if you think that by offering your photos for sale, you’ll get a steady stream of residual income for the rest of eternity, dream on.
That’s because all the pics offered for sale here are on a royalty-free basis.
This means that once a photo is bought, no other fees will be incurred for the user for the predetermined amount of the licensing agreement time.
However, even with this limitation to the amount of money you can earn, there’s still a vast potential to make a lot of money.
So, if you work hard at your craft and are lucky enough to get a lot of your snapshots featured on the site, this could be an amazingly lucrative income stream for you.
Standard licensing fees go for around $250, and some photographers license images that earn them several thousands of dollars or more each year.
Submitting Your Photos
It’s ever so easy to submit your photos to 500px, only taking a few quick clicks to do this.
To submit a photo, simply visit your “Photo Manager” or “Licensing Manager.”
Next, choose the photos you think are submission worthy.
Next, enable the licensing option at the top of the right-hand sidebar.
Add a few highly targeted, relevant keywords to your photographic submission to make it easily discoverable by those most likely to purchase it.
You’ll also have to include a signed model release giving permission for your photographic likeness to be used.
Getting Your Photos Approved
500px won’t indiscriminately accept every single photo you snap, because they have an exceedingly rigorous submission process.
After you submit a photo to the site, you’ll receive feedback from a reviewer on whether your picture passed these stringent standards.
Some of the things they look for when considering whether to add a photo to their gallery of stunning images include technical quality and execution and commercial viability.
They’ll also check for originality and uniqueness and overall visual aesthetic.
But even if you get a bunch of your photos rejected, don’t give up.
This means you might have to hone your photographic skill.
And if you work long enough at your craft, your pics will be much more likely to grab the attention of the reviewers.
Look at the site’s featured photos to try to ascertain what makes them so visually alluring.
Then, use this knowledge to improve the quality of your own photos.
As you do, you’ll start gaining a worldwide audience for your work, which could open all kinds of doors for you.
That’s because, between 500px and all their diverse distribution partners, you potentially can capture the delighted eyeballs of over one million paying customers.
Also, if your photos are impressive enough, they might appear in big-name ad campaigns.
This could potentially earn you thousands of dollars more each year!
A Thriving Community
What’s more, 500px isn’t merely a digital boutique hawking chic and highly marketable images.
In essence, it’s a thriving community of like-minded photographers who can give you tons of tips and inspiration.
This incredibly skilled group of content creators can help you build a business that’ll stand the test of time.
So, as you work on selling your photos on the site, don’t pass up the opportunity to pick the brains of your fellow contributors.
Stock Photo Sites
You can also sell your photos to a stock photo site.
At places like Shutterstock, BigStock, and iStock, you’ll be able to offer your high-quality selfies for sale.
Shutterstock is one of the biggest stock photo libraries out there, and it won’t cost you a cent to join.
However, you’ll have to sign a release before you can start selling your selfies because nobody at the site is exactly in the mood for any kind of legal shenanigans.
And, you can earn up to an incredible $120 for everyone who licenses one of your images!
The site has a complicated pricing structure, but basically how it works is the more lifetime earnings you accrue, the more you earn for each photo.
So, the more you sell, the more you can charge.
You can also earn four cents for every photographer you refer who ends up signing up for the site.
And for every customer you refer who ends up buying something, you’ll earn 20% of their first purchase (up to $200).
At iStockPhoto, if you sell nonexclusive photos, you’ll earn 15% of the licensing fees.
However, if you make these images exclusive, this percentage gets bumped up to a whopping 45%.
You’ll also have to take a quick quiz to test your understanding of their policies.
If you’re a native English speaker, this test will be a piece of cake.
You also must send them three sample files of your work so they can decide whether it’s of sufficient quality for the site.
If they don’t accept you the first time, just wait a while and try again.
BigStock is another photo library where you can potentially make lots of cash selling photos of yourself.
You can sign up as a contributor for free.
After you complete their Contributor tutorial, you can start to upload images.
Their reviewers will then go through your pics with a fine-tooth comb.
If they can use your photos, they’ll add them to their collection.
You always keep the copyrights to your work, which is a good thing.
A lot of people don’t know this, but you can sell your photos at Etsy.
And like everything you can sell here, you’ll make 20 cents plus 3.5% of the sale price.
When you set up your Etsy store, you set the prices, so your earning potential is limitless.
There are plenty of photo contests you can enter for prizes.
If you’re going to enter one of your selfies into a contest, make sure to have devastatingly spectacular backdrops.
This will exponentially boost your chances of snagging one of the top prizes.
And, decent photo-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop will help you to create photographs that are of professional quality.
That’s true even if you initially took them on a smartphone.
Jane Iredale ran one of these contests in April of 2018.
Entrants posted a pic of themselves on Instagram or the special contest page the company set up.
In the photo caption, you had to say which Jane Iredale product you were wearing in the photo.
If you weren’t wearing any of their makeup, you had to tell them which of their products you wanted to try.
Three lucky winners each got $250 worth of Jane Iredale makeup and an instant film camera.
Display Your Photos in Public Places
By displaying your photos in public places like coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, you get to show off your photographic talent.
And by doing so, you might even sell a photo or two.
Make sure you have your contact information on the photo, so if someone wants to buy it, they can get a hold of you.
You can also sell framed copies of your photos at craft and art fairs.
Get Paid Taking Selfies
There—I just gave you a bunch of ways on how to make money selling photos of yourself.
The fact of the matter is, you can make good money selling your selfies on the Internet.
But don’t try to hawk uninspired photographic self-portraits that are relentlessly boring and as generic as they come.
If you decide to make a go of this, unleash all that pent-up creativity that most assuredly resides deep with you.
Then, tap into it to take selfies in stunningly picturesque and exotic locales.
This will add much visual interest to your photographic self-portraits, which will send their market value into the stratosphere.
So, get out there today and starting raking in the cash!