The Tools & Strategies You Need

Before you can make a living selling photographs online, you need to think about what you specifically want to sell. Physical prints of your photos? Digital downloads? 

An editorial use license grants the buyer the right to use the photo for editorial purposes. This could include using the photo in a newspaper article or blog post. It does not allow the buyer to use the photo for commercial purposes like in advertising or on a product.

Commercial use license

You can also click across the top of the screen on each tab to customize specific aspects of your store. Let’s explore those specifics now. 

6. Pick payment gateway(s)

The great news is that you may be able to mix and match the kinds of sales you make. Selling digital downloads of stock photos doesn’t prevent you from also offering products through print on demand companies or pitching photography services for those with custom requests. 

Choose an ecommerce platform

Input your store’s address (or general location) and customize the options, including selling locations, shipping locations, and your store’s default region. 

initial settings in WooCommerce

Today we’ll discuss how to sell photographs online and cover everything from choosing a niche to building your store the right way. 

Why you should sell photos on your own site

So what are the best places to sell photos online? While it depends on the specific needs of your business, creating your own store is almost always a much better option than stock photography websites. 

Next up, you need to configure your settings. This includes things like adding your payment methods, shipping options, and tax rates.

So, which is the best place to sell photos online? If you’re just starting out, selling photos on stock photo sites might seem like the easier option. But if you’re serious about making money from your photography, eventually you’ll want to sell your photos on your own website.

Look&Seen, a store built on WooCommerce, offers prints of photographs from renowned photographers. 

product page with a beautiful, neutral design

You can find all of these settings by logging in to your WordPress dashboard and navigating to WooCommerce → Settings.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your niche. The more unique it is, the easier it will be to stand out from the crowd. 

Some themes come with these types of layouts built in. But you can also use extensions like Product Photo and Video Gallery or Product Gallery Slider to achieve unique photo designs.

Then, you’ll need to scroll down the page and configure the specifics about your product. If you’re selling just a single type of product or stock photo, you’ll want to use the “Simple product” type. If selling digital downloads of stock photography, be sure to click the box next to Downloadable

The more you do this, the more likely it is that people will find your site. 

Ready to earn money with your photos? Get started today!


Learn more about ecommerce shipping. 

8. Set up taxes

If you’re going to sell via print on demand, you’ll want to configure your settings so that your products are automatically sent to the printer when an order is placed. Printful and Printify are two popular options. 

Second, if you sell photos online that contain people, you may need to get model release forms.

These are just a few examples, but there are plenty of other extensions available for WooCommerce stores.

12. Add pages to your photography store

So if you’re looking for an ecommerce platform that ticks all the boxes, WooCommerce is the way to go.

WooCommerce is designed to be easy to use, even for beginners. Where other platforms can be complicated and time-consuming to set up, you can get started with WordPress and WooCommerce in a matter of minutes.

When selling photos online, it’s important to be aware of the different licenses that buyers may want. Make sure you’re familiar with the terms of each license so you can offer the ones that are right for you both creatively and financially. 

Decide exactly what you want to sell

If you plan on selling other products in the future, make sure to choose a theme that’s easily customizable and can be adapted as your business grows.

4. Install the WooCommerce plugin

Other sites want more fresh, quality content just like you. Partnering to write guest posts on ones with similar audiences is a great way to spread your brand and gain links, which indicate to search engines that you have valuable information – like amazing stock photos – to share. 

4. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Are you an amateur photographer looking for ways to monetize your passion? Are you a pro looking for a new way to make some extra cash? 

You may also want to install WooCommerce Shipping, a free extension that simplifies order fulfillment. It allows you to purchase and print shipping labels directly from your dashboard and save up to 90% on rates from USPS and DHL. There are even options for international shipping. 

While it may seem like common sense that the person who took the photo owns the rights, this might not always be the case. For example, if you took the photo during the course of your employment, your employer may own the rights. 

The first step in building an online store is to choose a domain name and web host. A domain name is what visitors type into their browser to get to your site, like If you don’t already have one, you can usually purchase one from your web hosting company.

With WooCommerce, you own your data. This means you can export your products, customers, and order data at any time. On other platforms, you may be locked into their system and unable to get your data out. 


Most serious customers will search specific keywords – “art deco architecture pictures,” “pet hamster photos” – not generic terms like “photos for sale.” 

Beyond the subject of your photography, it’s a good idea to think about how your photos will be used. Will businesses use them on their website? Will people print and hang them in their homes?  Will they use them for their social media profiles? 

Select the one that works best for your needs including your location, your target audience’s location, and your personal preferences. 

7. Set up shipping

Want more options? Check out the full list of payment gateway integrations.

Once your niche, licensing, products, and services are decided, you’ll need to choose which ecommerce platform will be best for selling your photos online. In your search, consider factors like price, ease of use, content ownership, flexibility, and scalability.

There are hundreds of ranking factors, but to get started on the right path, simply focus on creating a safe, fast, easy-to-navigate site with plenty of high-quality content. 

Now, set up the methods that will be available for each zone. For example, you might offer free shipping to those in your immediate area, and flat rate shipping to all of the other zones. If you want to get even more detailed, you can use the Table Rate Shipping extension to create detailed rules based on weight, cart total, and more.

Or, perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle. You’ve sold some beautiful shots to a stock photography site and have a steady flow of shooting and editing, but you’d like to expand your business to make more passive income. 

It should also include features like a gallery or portfolio to showcase your work, as well as integration with WooCommerce so you can start selling those photos.

demo of a WordPress theme on three devices

Beyond that, you may also want to create pages to build trust with your visitors, explain important information, and demonstrate your expertise.

But if you’re stuck on how to create an online store to sell photos online, you’re in luck. WordPress and WooCommerce give you the power to bring your vision to life – while leaving you in full creative control. 

Email marketing is another great way to stay in touch with your target audience and lead them from onlooker to customer. Email marketing platforms like MailPoet – designed specifically for WordPress sites – take the guesswork out of creating and sending newsletters, special offers, and other promotional emails. Learn how to create an email marketing strategy. 

3. Blogging

The Google Listings & Ads extension is a great way to create and manage product advertisements from within your WooCommerce dashboard and take advantage of free shopping listings. 

A creative commons license allows the buyer to use the photo for free in certain ways. For example, the buyer could use the photo on their website or in a blog post. However, they might not be able to sell the photo or use it for commercial purposes.

Public domain

Variable products allow customers to choose from a variety of options. For a shirt, they might select a size and color. For your stock photos, you’ll instead create options for types of license. Each variable can have its own price – so an editorial license can cost less than a commercial one. 

Building an online store enables you to sell your photos and reach new audiences without having to worry about fees that are common with stock photography sites. And with WooCommerce, you can do it all yourself. 

A rights-managed license means that the buyer must pay the photographer every time they use the photo. The fee depends on how the photo will be used.

Creative commons license

This helps you narrow your audience further and identify potential search terms to target. Once you have some ideas in mind, do some research on the subject and see what other photographers are doing.

Paid advertising is another great way to get the word out to sell photos online. You can run ads on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok, or try pay-per-click ads (PPC) on Google. PPC ads are like an express lane to the top of search results, but you’ll have to pay for each click. 

Google Listings and Ads extension

No matter your reason for building additional pages, the WordPress Block Editor simplifies the process. You can use it to drag and drop elements like paragraphs, headings, product grids, images, and more to create a completely custom look. It even includes block patterns for things like testimonials, FAQs, and pricing tables. These are ready to go, allowing you to quickly create full page layouts, then customize them to your brand.

Market your photos

In order to successfully sell photos online, your WooCommerce store will also need some standard pages like About, Contact, Terms and Conditions, Shipping and Returns, etc.

Stock photo sites are a great way to reach a large audience of potential buyers. And since the sites are already established, there’s no need for you to invest any time or money in setting up your own website. However, you’ll have less control over how your photos are presented and advertised. And since there’s so much competition, it can be hard to generate interest in your portfolio. 

Or if you’re into nature photography, you could focus on specific animal or plant species indigenous to your area. It may be hard to rank for generic terms like, “plant photographs for sale,” but much easier to rank for, “pictures of Pygmy Date palms.” 

When customers arrive on your site, how will they browse your selection? You might want to display a grid of thumbnail images on your store’s homepage, with each image linking to the product page for that stock photo. Or, you might want to showcase a slideshow of featured products.

That’s why WooCommerce is the perfect choice for selling photographs online. Not only is it free to use, but it’s also highly flexible and scalable. Plus, as an artist, you’ll appreciate that it gives you complete control over your design and content. You own your site – it can’t be taken down at the whim of another organization. That’s not the case with most other platforms.,

After you’ve chosen your web hosting company and registered your domain name, the next step is to install WordPress. This can usually be done with a single click from your web hosting control panel or cPanel. If not, don’t worry; it’s still pretty easy. Just follow along with the official guides on how to install WordPress with popular hosting plans.

3. Choose a WordPress theme

You can always purchase premium extensions to quickly add special functionality, but you absolutely don’t need to buy anything to create a beautiful, highly-functional site. 

On the downside, setting up and maintaining your own website takes more effort. And unless you work to generate your own traffic, you might not sell as many photos. 

Social media is a great way to reach new audiences and promote your products. This is especially true if your customers will primarily be individuals rather than businesses.

A web license allows the buyer to use the photo on their website – that’s it. You can choose to offer variations of this license for corporate vs. nonprofit usage or even add stipulations for where and how many times the image can be used on a website. It’s totally up to you!

Exclusive license

The most relevant option for those selling photographs online, however, is WooCommerce Payments, which allows you to accept payments in more than 135 currencies via credit card, debit card and express pay options like Google Pay and Apple Pay, among others. 

You can add as many shipping zones as you want to meet the needs of your customers. 

Another option is to sell digital downloads of your images or stock photography. With this method, buyers can download the high-resolution files and print them on their own or use them online. You’ll still need to set up a payment system and a way to deliver the files, but you’ll make more money per sale this way.

Photography services

For instance, if you’re selling digital photographs, you’ll need a platform that makes it easy to showcase your work and sell photo downloads. At the same time, you’ll want one that won’t break the bank and that can scale as your business grows.

It integrates seamlessly with major payment providers, like PayPal and Stripe, as well as international options and digital wallets, like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay. This makes it easy to sell your photos to a global audience. And with the WooCommerce Payments extension, you can manage all your transactions directly from your WordPress dashboard, making it even easier to get paid for your work. 


You can share about your latest photography session, provide tips and advice for others who want to learn the trade, or simply write about your latest inspirations. The key is to consistently write content related to your target audience. Your goal is not to create a sales letter, but instead provide helpful or interesting information. 

Here are a few extensions that are great for photographers:

  • WooCommerce Memberships: This extension lets you sell access to digital content, create subscription-based products, and more. This could be used to sell things like access to stock photo libraries.
  • WooCommerce Photography: This allows you to watermark each stock photo, protect your images, and create galleries, among other things.
  • Image Watermark: As the name suggests, this extension lets you watermark images in your store. This is a great way to protect your stock photos from being stolen or used without permission.
  • WooCommerce Bookings: This extension lets you sell appointments, rentals, and other time-based bookings. This could be used to schedule in-person photo shoots, print consultations, or other services.
  • WooCommerce Product Add-Ons: This extension lets you offer customization options for your products, like frame choices and matting options. On a stock photo product, for example, people could check a box to add a commercial license.

Now that you have WordPress and a theme installed, it’s time to install the WooCommerce plugin so you can start setting up your store.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site so that you’re found when people are looking for what you have to offer. If you want to sell photos online, it’s an important skill to learn. Much of this has to do with the content on your site (which is why blogging is important), but engines like Google also consider technical elements like accessibility, site speed, and user experience. Finally, search engines look for other indications that vet the quality of your site – like links from others and mentions of your name or brand around the web (which is why writing guest posts can be helpful). 

We’ve barely scratched the surface, so learn more in our guide for Google Search Ads for Beginners. 

Sell photographs online 

Just like with shipping and payments, WooCommerce comes with a few different built-in options, as well as plenty of other tax methods available as plugins. WooCommerce Tax is a popular option that automatically calculates taxes based on location at checkout. 

9. Add photography products to your store

Product pages on the site allow customers to select the size of the print as well as the frame style.  

There are plenty of extensions available to add functionality to your store – from tax software specific to your region to marketing tools and design functionality. This enables you to truly create a custom site, something you can’t do with stock photography websites. 

You might need to adjust settings and features with your hosting provider as your business grows. After all, the last thing you want is for your site’s performance to crash during peak traffic times!

Before you build anything, however, you need to pick a niche.

Choose a photography niche

You can also take additional measures to secure your store, like installing a WordPress security plugin or using two-factor authentication. 

These pages are important because visitors expect to find them and they can answer questions so you have fewer messages to respond to each day. They also provide content for search engines to learn about your site and take care of compliance and legal requirements for payment and shipping partners.

No matter your specific situation, selling your photographs online is a great way to share your work and generate revenue.

When it comes to photography, it pays to focus on a niche. Not only will this help you connect better with your audience, it will also make it easier to sell your photographs online.

Building your store on WordPress gives you an inherent advantage because WordPress was built for blogging! And unique, high-quality content is a cornerstone of being found when people search for you online. 

Additionally, stock photo sites typically take a large cut of the profits – as of this writing, iStock’s standard cut is 85%! So, if you do sell a photo, you won’t make as much money as you would if you sold it on your own website.

Selling photos on your own site

One of the most important settings to configure is your payment gateway. This is how you’ll actually get paid when you sell your photos online.

Pricing is completely predictable; you pay for the functionality you need, not the number of sales you make.

Ease of use

Before you start putting your pictures up for sale, there are a few things you need to know. 

Install the extension you need, activate it, and connect the print on demand service to your WooCommerce store. 

10. Organize and display your photos

You can also add a WordPress backup tool so that a copy of your site is saved in case of a security breach or even if you make a simple mistake. With something like Jetpack Backup, your site is saved in real-time, so all you have to do is pick a restore point and your store will be up and running again with a single click. All of your work and customer orders are safe!  

WooCommerce comes with a few different built-in options. For instance, you can set up direct bank transfers, checks, and cash on delivery. 

payment methods on a WooCommerce store

However, you may want to offer multiple license types for the same stock photo. In this case, you’ll want to select “Variable product,” and select Downloadable

A royalty-free extended license allows the buyer to use the photo in ways that are not typically allowed under a regular royalty-free license. For example, the buyer could use the photo on a product or in an advertisement.

Rights-managed license 

Remember, be specific about the kind of stock photography you’ll sell – both the subjects you’ll shoot and the way the photos will be used. You can expand beyond a single niche in the future, but starting with a focused approach will help you attract and convert visitors faster. 

Consider usage rights and licenses

Plus, if you’re familiar with WordPress already, choosing WooCommerce is really a no-brainer.

Content ownership

Check out this breakdown of the real-deal benefits of choosing WooCommerce over other ecommerce platforms: