Alternative Income: Selling Illustrations, Photos or Videos

What’s the best way to earn alternative income? The simple answer is that it is different for different people – but I know this answer doesn’t help you much. A better answer is that the best way to earn alternative income is through doing something that you enjoy.

Alternative income image
Photo by ralphbijker at Flickr

A lot of people seem to enjoy playing with their digital cameras and some are pretty good in doing that – and I want to share few ways to earn income while doing it. Making illustrations usually requires more effort and some talent but making money from them is similar to the other two, so I will talk about illustrations as well.

Alternative Income From Selling Photos

If you enjoy taking pictures this can be a great source of alternative income for you. If you are able to make high quality digital photos, you can try to sell them online. Doing so might be easier than you think.

The straightforward way to do it is to sign up in websites which sell royalty free photos. Usually they will provide you with a platform to upload your photos and will put them in the front of thousands customers. In exchange you have to share the profits from the photos you sold.For example on 123 Royalty Free you will receive 50% of the sale price of each of your photos. The price of the photos is defined from the site and you cannot set yours. The prices are also quite low (I buy web-sized photos for my web projects for $1 – $2. Photos with print quality are more expensive). But note that each photo can be sold many times and in many sizes. So if you want to make $1,000 this doesn’t mean you should sell 1000 different photos. You can make that much with just one picture. The “catch” is that your photo must be good enough to make people buy it.


Other way to profit from making photographs is to freelance (more about freelancing). Most freelance marketplaces have some photography related options but Guru has a special section about photography and videography with many active projects.

You can also set up your own store for selling your photos. The advantage is that you don’t need to share your profits with anyone. You can set your own prices and define high prices for photos that will be sold only once. The problems with this method to earn alternative income from photos are mostly two:

  • Development of your photo store may cost you a lot of money or at least time.
  • It’s harder to get found by customers compared to submitting photos in 123 Royalty Free and similar sites. You have to work hard on search engine optimization and promotion in order to get buyers.

One great way to attract buyers for your own photo store is by publishing free images on Flickr. Flickr lets your photos be noticed by a lot of people who look for free pictures for their blog posts for example. Many of these people are also interested in buying, so they can go to your photo store following your Flickr profile link.

And one hint: Don’t spend thousands on expensive photography equipment. A decent middle class camera is OK for the beginning. Better spend your money to travel and visit places where you can make good photographs. Everyone can make photos with a good camera – this is not what makes the good photographer.

Alternative Income From Selling Videos

Selling videos is a bit harder. People don’t usually look for videos for their websites in the same way they look for images. Most people need custom videos. These who want a video to illustrate a blog post may not need custom ones, but then they would go and link videos for free from YouTube.

You can try your luck at CreateSpace where you can sell a lot more than videos. But as you will see there are special requirements and you have less freedom and probably lesser market than with selling photos.

Of course you always have the freelancing option. Again on Guru there is a special section for videography projects. Many other freelance hubs also have video recording and video editing work.

The smarter way to earn from videos is indirect. As much as YouTube hurts you by offering millions of videos for free, it also helps you because you can put some of your videos in the front of million eyes. By recording a good video you can advertise a product or service – just have a link in the description or display your website address in the beginning and in the end of the video. Hint: don’t make your video look like an advertising itself – only really interesting, sexy, funny or really useful videos “make it” on YouTube.

Alternative Income From Selling Illustrations

If you are good in drawing, you have the chance to make more money than the photo/video fellows. No offense to photographers, but making a quality illustration is harder than making a quality photo. That’s why there are much less people who try to sell great drawings online than those who sell great photos – therefore you have less competition and can earn more.

There are many sites where you can sell your art – for example Yessy. If you are good in making clipart images, Crafty Clipart is one site where you can sell them and get 50% of the profits. The business model is the same like the first one in photos section.

If you want to work on freelance drawing projects, there is probably more work for you – not only Guru, but also Elance and other big freelance hubs have special sections about illustrations and design.

For selling on your own site or making indirect profits you can again use Flickr with quite good results – there are much less illustrations available there than photos. So the chances your good illustrations to be noticed and then the user to land on your site or blog are much better.

Since this short article can’t cover all the details about earning income from photos, videos and drawings, I would recommend you to search for more information. Certainly each of these methods is good to earn alternative income – many people even make living by selling photos, videos and/or illustrations.


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Jose L. Aguilar- Author

Being able to Invest & Trade on your own is the most amazing road to financial independence & optional retirement. I was very fortunate to have amazing mentors and read many amazing authors, I hope you enjoy my articles & books suggestions which are made with the intent to share my experiences as simple as possible.

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By Jose L. Aguilar

Being able to Invest & Trade on your own is the most amazing road to financial independence & optional retirement. I was very fortunate to have amazing mentors and read many amazing authors, I hope you enjoy my articles & books suggestions which are made with the intent to share my experiences as simple as possible.

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