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Best Site for Selling Smartphone Photos

What is the best site for selling Smartphone Photos?

What is the best site for selling Smartphone Photos?

In this article I explained How to Make Money Taking Stock Photographs on Your Mobile Phone. So now let's dive in and see What is the best site for selling your Smartphone Photos?

My short answer is to start with these two:

  • Shutterstock
  • Dreamstime

Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion.

My Research for Best Site to Sell my Images

So I have started taking pictures with my mobile phone in order to sell them online. I wanted to find out what is the best place to sell these pictures that I have taken with my mobile phone.

To do so I tested a few sites to see how easily my pictures would be accepted and I looked into other factors such as pricing and earnings per photo and the availability of mobile apps to directly upload and manage my images.

Other factors that are important are the availability of FTP uploads, the minimum payout amount, the payout methods available and the minimum image requirements.

Results of Testing Six Stock Photo Sites

I have tested the following most popular sites:

  • Shutterstock
  • Dreamstime
  • Depositphoto
  • Bigstockphoto
  • 123RF
  • Adobe Stock

Below is a table showing my findings for each site across the most essential features.

Most essential features for six stock image sites

Sources: Contributor help pages from all the different sites in 2018

SiteShutterstockDreamstimeDepositphotoBigstockphoto123RFAdobe Stock

Earnings / photo USD

0.25 – 1.88

0.34 – 2.38

0.3 – 1.69

0.50 – 3.00


0.25 – 1.10

Royalty %






Ease of approval







Ease of submitting







Contributor app





yes, but


Minimum image requirements

Jpeg, 4MP

Jpeg, 3MP

Jpeg, 3.8MP

Jpeg, ?

Jpeg, 6MP

Jpeg, 4MP

FTP uploads







Payout methods available

PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, check

PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, check


PayPal, skrill, check

PayPal, Payoneer, skrill

PayPal, Payoneer, skrill

Minimum payout USD







Let me explain the features a bit more first so you can know what I mean by them exactly. And let’s then review each site.

Most Essential Questions to Answer

There are a few essential questions I wanted to answer and these are:

  • Which stock photo site pays the most?
  • Which stock photo site is easiest to start selling images?
  • Which stock photo site is most accessible for mobile-only users?

Which Stock Photo Site Pays the Most?

To answer this question I looked at which agency has the best revenue sharing percentage and I looked at the range of potential earnings per photo.

Which site pays best?

Which site pays best?

Which site pays best?

Revenue sharing percentage

The revenue sharing percentage is the average percentage that the photographer gets from the selling price. Most site will share higher percentages with more successful photographers. In other words, the more you sell the higher your cut.

Also if you decide to sell your images exclusively on one particular site, you will get a higher percentage. A higher revenue share does not automatically mean you will earn more.

Very well optimized Stock Photo Sites that sell your images easily, might give you a lower percentage of revenue share, but make you more money overall, because they just sell way more or at higher prices. So revenue sharing percentage is not the only feature to look at.

Potential earnings per photo

Each site has its own marketing strategy and corresponding pricing scheme. Some offer their customers monthly subscriptions and others offer credits or bundles.

It is impossible to do one on one comparisons for earnings per image, because there are so many variables, like images size, package deals, discounts, revenue shares, etc..

However, it is possible to compare earnings ranges per photo at the different sites. So in the table, you will see earning ranges from typical minimum royalties to maximum royalties.

Which Stock Photo Site is Easiest to Start Selling Images?

If you are just starting, it is important that the whole process of submitting and getting your images approved is easy. And finally, getting paid should be as easy as possible as well.

Ease of approval

I have rated the process of getting my images approved by the site from one (1) to five (5). Where five is extremely easy and one is rather disappointingly hard.

The rating takes into account both how long it took to get images approved as well as what percentage of the total uploaded images finally got approved.

By far the easiest and fastest approval process I found to be at Dreamstime. Almost all my images were approved and approvals were usually done within 24 hours.

I experienced the hardest approval process with Depositphoto and Adobe Stock. Depositphoto did not approve my account based on 5 example images, while these five images had already been approved by other Stock Image sites. At Adobe Stock my account got approved, but my approval rate there was much lower than at the other sites.

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Ease of submitting

Before you even get your images approved, you need to upload them and add descriptions and keywords. As I upload to multiple sites, it is most convenient to prepare the images on my laptop with meta-descriptions, titles, and keywords and then upload them via FTP. Luckily all sites offer FTP upload.

After the upload, I still need to login to the site and categorize the images and submit them one by one. This process is most convenient with Shutterstock and Dreamstime. Shutterstock and Dreamstime both offer keyword suggestions based on the description and first few keywords. This really works well, especially in the Shutterstock mobile app.

Overall the keyword suggestion capability in Shutterstock works best. And having a lot of good keywords helps to generate sales. None of the other sites have keyword suggestion tools.
After FTP upload the unsubmitted images are visible in the dashboard and can be updated (description, keywords, category, etc.) and submitted. With Shutterstock and Dreamstime this can be managed from within the mobile app.

Ease of withdrawal

After you made some sales you like to get paid right? So I looked at the payout methods available and the minimum amount needed to request a payout.

Almost all sites offer the same payout methods. Only Depositphoto seemed to only over payout via bank transfer. Oh and all sites require you to upload a copy of an official ID document (passport, drivers license, etc.) for identification.

Dreamstime and Shutterstock apps side by side

Dreamstime and Shutterstock apps side by side

Which Site is Most Accessible For Mobile-Only Users?

What if you have no access to a computer but just have a smartphone? Which site is the best in that case? Clearly, the best two sites for mobile users are Shutterstock and Dreamstime.

And I think Dreamstime is slightly better then Shutterstock if you only have internet access via your mobile phone as their app offers more account and image management features. A very handy feature in the Dreamstime app, for instance, is the ability to create a model release form on the phone and have it signed on the phone as well.

Even though both apps are great, you would still need to login to the normal websites in order to handle advanced actions like removing already submitted images.

Sell Your Photos with the Dreamstime Companion Photography App

Review of Six Stock Photo Sites

So let’s review the six sites, starting with my least favorite to my most favorite. But first, let me say that all sites are good options for selling your photos online. Only some are better suited in my experience for selling images from your mobile phone.

6. Depositphoto

Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to test their service as my account application was not accepted based on my five sample pictures. My guess is that they do not focus on mobile photography, but more on traditional photography. That is fine. I might submit normal, non-mobile photos later. For my Smart Phone Stock Photography images, their service seems not to be a match.

5. Adobe Stock

As said, my lowest approval rate was at Adobe Stock. The contributor dashboard is not mobile friendly and there is no mobile contributor app. So even though Adobe is a big brand in the photography world, I still rate them number five out of six in this test for mobile phone photography. Like Depositphoto Adobe seems to be more focused on traditional photography.

4. Bigstockphoto

The approval rate of Bigstockphoto is the same as that of Shutterstock. This makes sense as Bigstockphoto is owned by Shutterstock. The potential earnings, however, are about double that of Shutterstock for images that are sold directly on their site and not on partner sites. Still, the dashboard is not mobile friendly and there is no mobile app.

3. 123RF

123RF had the second highest approval rate after Dreamstime and before Shutterstock and Bigstockphoto. There is also a contributor app that lets you upload your images directly from your phone. However, it lacks the advanced abilities to manage your account and photos.

Also, their minimum image requirements are highest of all (6MP), which is fine, but it gives fewer possibilities to upload cropped images. For instance, my camera shoots 13MP images. If I crop an image to half the size then I am already at their minimum image size and my image might be rejected because of this.

2. Dreamstime

Dreamstime could be my number one for selling my Smartphone Stock Photos. It offers all the tools needed for the best possible workflow. The earnings per photo seem reasonable. If you offer your images exclusively to Dreamstime you even get paid just for uploading them and your royalties would about double.

1. Shutterstock

Still, Shutterstock has the highest brand-recognition of all six sites when it comes to stock photography. Before I knew of all the other sites I knew of Shutterstock. So it is my gut feeling that there is a higher sales potential with Shutterstock, just because they are more known. Also, their mobile tools are good enough to work with them on your mobile. I think that as a photographer it helps to have a portfolio that has been approved by Shutterstock.

Introducing the Shutterstock Contributor app for iOS and Android and iOS


If you do not give a damn about brand-recognition by Shutterstock, then go exclusively with Dreamstime. This will increase your potential earnings with Dreamstime and will highly simplify your workflow. Else, start with both stock image sites.

Always keep your images in a library on a laptop as well, so you can always upload them in a batch later to other stock image sites. But for now, I suggest you will focus just on uploading to these two sites.

Why Only Start With Two Stock Image Sites?

I suggest you start with only one or two stock photo sites because I have found that a lot of time is spent on submitting the images across sites. Focus on building a portfolio first.

Find out what works and what images sell best first. And then later you can submit your full portfolio to other sites. To make this easy, be sure you store your final images with descriptions, titles, and keywords in the meta tags on your computer or maybe even your phone or external storage device.

If you liked this article and found my suggestions helpful, please feel free to share it!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Dave Tromp

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