How to Make Money with Your Photos: Top 10 Insights from Yesterday’s 500px Prime Q&A

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We’ve pulled the Top 10 insights from our Live Q&A on How to Make Money With Your Photos into this post for you — ISO created, Prime approved.

If you’re interested in selling your photos on 500px Prime and making money with your photography, scroll down for some Top Tips.


Top 10 Insights from on How to Make Money With your Photos Q&A

1. Keyword, Keyword, Keyword

A theme that came up over and over throughout the Q&A is the importance of keywording your images when they go into Prime. The main points to keep in mind:

  • Without keywords, nobody will find your work.
  • Use at least 5 keywords for your photos, but the sweetspot is between 15 and 20
  • Make your keywords relevant, obviously irrelevant keywords will get you penalized
  • Do your research. See what keywords bring up what photos. If you were a buyer who wanted your image, what would you be searching on Prime?


2. Update your contact info so we can reach you and sell your stuff!

One of the issues the Prime team runs into time-after-time is not being able to get in touch with users whose photos buyers are interested in. If a buyer gets in touch with us about a specific photo, but we can’t get you to the negotiating table, the buyer will go elsewhere. You’re potentially leaving thousands on that table (see #3).

Update your contact info so you’re easy to reach when the time comes.

What would I want?

3. Users are making money on Prime, sometimes several thousand per photo!

We don’t sell as much as some of the massive, established stock photography companies (at least not yet) but we do sell photos, and usually our users make a much bigger cut per sale (you take 70, we take 30). Photographers like Max Rive have licensed different images several times over, and we’ve even had individual photos sell for as much as $20,000!

But when a buyer comes to us wanting to license a photo exclusively for big bucks, we have to be able to reach you, so don’t forget #2 above.


4. Do research, and “shoot and upload stuff that nobody else is shooting.”

Director of Content Nuno Silva put it well when he told users to do their research and “shoot and upload stuff that nobody else is shooting.” Find the holes in the collection, the keywords that are underrepresented, or shoot popular keywords in a way nobody else has. Stand out, get noticed, get sales — easier said than done, but crucial nonetheless.


5. Always check your photos at 100% for quality.

We will, so you might as well do it first. Zoom in to 100% and make sure you’ve got a sharp photo that is free from the issues that only really become obvious when you get close. You don’t know how large the buyer wants to blow your photo up, but you want to make sure they can go as big as the file’s resolution allows.


6. Exclusive photos sell for more

There’s one thing all those photos that sold for thousands had in common: they were exclusive to 500px Prime. If you’re exclusive with us, we have a lot more bargaining power on your behalf.


7. Buyers are asking for real lifestyle images instead of posed, cheesy stock photography

Buyers want real photos. Lifestyle photos that aren’t the kinds of obvious stock photography they can find all over the place. If you’re already taking photos like that on your travels or in your every day life with your friends or clients, make sure you keep model releases handy so you can license those photos later on.


8. Prime submission requirements

When you submit a photo to prime, make sure you’re submitting a photo that is at least 3000px on the long side, and is devoid of watermarks. The photo we’ll display on Prime will be low-res and watermarked to keep it safe, but we need the high-res, no watermark file or else we’ll have to chase you down to get it when a buyer comes calling.

Into the Poppys

9. What does “Royalty-Free” mean? What about “Editorial Use Only”?

Royalty-free means a buyer pays a larger, one-time fee to use your photo multiple times on multiple types of media. That way they can use it in multiple campaigns without coming back and relicensing it every single time.

Editorial Use Only images are photos of current events. Photos that have news value. They cannot be used for selling and marketing purposes, but only to illustrate truthful news, culture, sports, politics, entertainment or other topics of interest to the public. The majority of Editorial Use Only photos don’t need to be model or property released, but there are restrictions so send an email to if you’re at all unsure.


10. Current buyer requests, and where you can keep up with them.

The team outlined a few recent buyer requests in the Q&A: Lantern festivals, night shots, Canon-shot images of family, Costa Rica, and Chelsea Market in NYC — just to name a few. To keep up with requests as they come in though, be sure to follow the 500px Prime Photo Desk on Twitter.


If you want to dive deeper into each of these points or find out what else was covered, carve out an hour this weekend and check out the full Q&A on YouTube.

This was just the second of many more successful Prime Q&As to come though, so if your question didn’t get answered, you’ll have plenty more chances in the months to come. Plus, you can always email our team at, where a real human will reply to your question.

P.S. All the photos in this post are top-sellers. To license them, sneak a peek at their keywords, or just be inspired by them, click on each image individually to head over to its Prime page.

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