Making Money with Photography Licensing

Making money with photography licensing is a great way to get rewarded for your hard work behind the camera. Photography licensing is where you sell a license to use your photo. For example, this might be for use in a marketing campaign.

Photography licenses are ideal because they bear no real costs to you since you just have to provide a digital file to the customer.

Let’s take a look at how you can start making money with photography licensing.

What is photography licensing?

Whilst you may be used to selling physical prints of your photos, you can also make money from photography by selling licenses.

There are two main types of license to know about:

  • Non-exclusive licenses allow your client to use your image, whilst retaining your ability to sell the image to others and use it yourself;
  • Exclusive licenses allow your client to be the only user of the image for a set period of time – and that includes limiting your own use.

Typically, a non-exclusive license is the go-to type of photography licensing that will occur. But if you do sell an exclusive license, you can charge a premium for it.

Making money with photography licensing
Photo: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com

How to sell a photography license

You can sell photography licenses yourself without any third-party involved. This is the way you can keep all of the money, although finding clients is a lot harder.

Typically, you will need to wait for a company to approach you to use your work. There is little point in approaching companies and offering photography licenses.

Also, you will need to look at producing your own licensing contract. We’ve got a template that you can use in our Breaking Into Business eBook which teaches you how to make money from photography.

Consequently, lots of photographers also look to work with stock websites. These websites are the typical port of call for companies looking to license photos.

You can register to sell images with many different stock websites. For example, a recommended option is Alamy, but you can also look to the likes of Shutterstock (but beware their fees are very low).

Types of licenses on stock websites

There are two types of licenses that a stock website will sell:

  • Rights-managed licenses attract higher fees, and charge based on the final use of the image;
  • Royalty-free licenses are a lot cheaper and offer a license that can be used widely.

Why would you go for royalty-free licenses? Well, with the cheaper fees you are banking on the volume of sales. Many photographers prefer rights-managed licenses, which you will find with the likes of Alamy.

selling photography licenses
Photo: Gergely Zsolnai / Shutterstock.com

What to charge for a photo license

Obviously, you’re here because you want to be making money with photography licensing. So getting the price-point right is important when selling a private license (not using a stock agent).

You don’t want to price yourself too high that the client stops replying to your emails, but at the same time you don’t want to be too cheap that you are undervalued.

So how can you get this exactly right?

A great way to do this is to search for an image on Alamy. Make sure you’re looking at one that offers a rights-managed license, and then choose options from the checkout form.

This will give you a great idea as to what is the industry standard for the license you are trying to sell. Typically, I’ll offer a 15-20% discount on this price if I’m selling privately.

In conclusion

Making money from photography licensing is hard in the modern day. Prices are being driven down by “micro stock” websites that are racing to the bottom.

Even so, it’s still possible to make a good return with photo licenses. If you have a particularly unique photo, then that is where you will succeed.

Don’t forget to download the Breaking Into Business eBook which will give you professional advice on making money from photography, as well as that bonus license template to download.

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