How to Sell Photos Online with WordPress
If you want to create a website to sell your photos online then this post is just what you are looking for. In this guide to setting up a website to sell photos online we will look at some themes you can use to style your website, and then give you an overview of some of the best free and premium plugins which can add a shopping cart and a whole lot more eCommerce functionality to your photo store. The post finishes off with a guide which will allow you to start selling your photos online with a free plugin that only takes a few minutes to set up.
Choosing a Theme
If you haven’t done so already, choosing a suitable theme for your WordPress website is the first place to start in building a platform for selling your photos, and perhaps those from others, online.
Thankfully there are plenty of great photography themes available for WordPress that give you an impressive way to display your work online. Some of these photography portfolio themes have been built specifically to integrate with a eCommerce plugin which makes the task of adding shopping cart functionality to your online gallery very straightforward. A smaller number of themes of this type even give you the ability to let other visitors sign up at your site and also list their photos or other items for sale on your site, helping you to create an online marketplace.
Creating a Multi-Vendor Marketplace with WordPress
One of the advantages of creating a marketplace where users can sign up and list their work for sale is that it’s a great way to quickly build a store with a large inventory. A large selection of products can help bring visitors to your store, while having multiple vendors promoting their work on your store, and in turn your work, will also help raise awareness of your store.
Depending on how you configure your marketplace, you can also earn commission on each sale your co-vendors make. Alternatively you can charge a flat fee for letting them list their items at your store. The downside of allowing other vendors to list their work alongside yours is that you might lose some sales to them, however if you have a great selection of photos on offer this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Some features to look for in a theme and plugin combination if you are thinking of creating a multi-vendor marketplace include:
- Front end login and submissions forms
- Vendor dashboards
- Compatibility with a suitable plugin (Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, etc)
Features to Look for in a Photography Theme
While the most popular online shop plugins for WordPress will work with any theme, it can be a good idea to look for a theme that advertises eCommerce plugin compatibility. This usually means that the theme designers have created specific pages for the online store section of your site, including the shopping cart and checkout pages. The inclusion of these pages can help create constant user experience as the customer makes a purchase, and can save you a bit of time when setting up your website.
Here are some themes to consider for building on online photo store with WordPress (and you can view a large selection of great photography WordPress themes here).
Stocky is a stock photography marketplace theme built with Easy Digital Downloads so you can easily sell your own photographs. And with support for the premium Marketplace Bundle you can even have 3rd party vendors sell their items.
With Total you can create a fully custom photography website, or simply import the Nouveau demo to get started. Add your portfolio, start a blog or even sell your own images with WooCommerce.
Marketify is a fully functioning marketplace theme with support for Easy Digital Downloads and most of it’s premium extensions (frontend submissions, commissions, wishlist, reviews and more) making it great for starting a photo sales site.
Choosing a Plugin for Selling Photos Online
Once you’ve chosen a suitable theme for showcasing your photographs online, and perhaps the work of others also, it’s time to select a plugin. There are tons of great WordPress plugins, but these are a few of our favorite e-commerce plugins to help you sell your photographs online.
Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) was built specifically for the purpose of selling digital files that can be downloaded from your WordPress website, making it a perfect choice for your needs.
The core plugin is free, and contains more than enough functionality to allow you to sell your own items online with ease. If you have more advanced requirements there is a growing library of add-ons available for EDD which allow you to do even more with your store.
If you are interested in the idea of letting other photographers sell their photos on your store alongside yours, then the developers of EDD have put together a special marketplace bundle of add-ons which contains all the features you need to create a fully functioning online marketplace. There is also a premium add-on which lets you to sell physical products with EDD.
WooCommerce is another popular free eCommerce plugin for WordPress which can be made even more useful thanks to its great library of add-ons. Out of the box though it will allow you to sell your photos online, plus any physical products you want to make available to your visitors.
If you plan to also list physical products on your photo store, such as photo frames or any other times, then WooCommerce is probably a better choice than EDD due to its out of the box support for physical products.
WP iSell Photo
WP iSell Photo is a free option that has been developed for the task of selling photos online. The plugin will convert your WordPress galleries into a photo store on an individual basis. This is the quickest way to start selling your photos online with WordPress as you will see in the guide coming up.
WordPress Photo Seller Plugin
WordPress Photo Seller Plugin is a shopping cart plugin that has been built specifically for selling downloadable photos online in addition to physical prints of your images. The plugin gives you the ability to offer your photos in a range of sizes. Furthermore you can automatically watermark the photos in your gallery to dissuade people from downloading them without paying.
The WP Photo Seller Plugin does seem to have all the features you would ever need to present your photos online and sell digital downloads and physical prints of your work with WordPress. However, it’s not a free plugin and will set you back $68.
How to Sell Photos Online in 3 Easy Steps
As you can see there are plenty of possible theme and plugin combinations to choose from when building the platform for your online store. This means it’s unlikely that any two photo stores will be setup in exactly the same way, however in order to give you an idea of how to get started, here are the basics steps to start selling your photos online.
This quick setup guide will walk you through adding basic online store functionality to your photography portfolio, using a WordPress theme of your choice and the free WP iSell Photo plugin. If you want to add more advanced store features to your site, then take a look at the other recommended eCommerce plugins covered earlier.
1. Configure WP iSell Photo
After installing WP iSell Photo, go to Settings > WP iSell Photo and enter your PayPal address, currency of choice, and the URL of your ‘thank you’ page and click Save Changes.
2. Create a Gallery
In a new or existing WordPress post or page click on the Add Media button.
Then upload or select from the exiting photos and click create a new gallery. Add any captions if required and check the gallery settings before clicking insert gallery.
3. Set the Price of Your Photos
Switch to Text view in the post editor where you will see the gallery shortcode.
To add the price for each photo in your gallery simply enter amount=”4.99″ into the shortcode.
Then preview your post to see how it looks.
For more detailed instructions on setting up this plugin and the other ways is can be used, visit the WP iSell Photo page.
By using a free plugin and your choice of theme you can quickly start selling your photos online and begin accepting payments via PayPal. For more advanced features, plugins like EDD or WordPress Photo Seller can help you build even better looking and feature rich online photo stores. If you have any tips for marketing and selling photos online please leave a comment below.
I think that easy digital downloads is one of the best eCommerce options for selling digital products. The stockify theme looks like it really hits the mark.
Thanks for the great post!
Surprised to see an article about photography themes/selling and absolutely NO mention of GraphPaperPress themes and their Sell Media plugin. Photo and video themes are their entire business.
I bought their Stock Photography theme and Sell Media plugin is very poor choice. No quantity discounts and so on. Compared to WooCommerce – it is like Trabant and Porsche.
I really like their theme with some exceptions but e-shop is really bad and that’s what maters most !!!
What do you recommend for the multi-vendor site?
Do not forget the WordPress Photo Seller Plugin which is tailored towards what it says, selling photos. We were researching a way to have a workflow of “enter unique key” -> “here’s your gallery” -> “watermarked photos”, -> “buy entire gallery” for $x -> or buy prints, or canvas as well. Add that with Booking Pro or similar you can book your time and have clients pay up front.
WordPress Photo Seller not working. The whole plugin stopped working.
That’s no good! have you tried reaching out to Tips and Tricks HQ (the developer) for help?
Thank Joe. You really help me.
Well , it is a very interesting point of view for amateur selling service but all of commented plug , themes or brands lack essentially of a very important question , it is to allow to sell a lot of pictures storage.
Actually there are not any S3 Amazon or similar compatible option to allow reduce storage cost option from hosted wordpress installation.
A simple photo job can manage some GB of image storage , you can have easily 50 – 100 GB in some galleries, so….
Really there is not options available for professionals .
Most webhosts include unlimited image storage…
You can use the WP Offload plugin to push all your Media uploads to Amazon. My plugin Sunshine Photo Cart works tandem with this and you can have unlimited file storage for cheap and sell through your own WordPress site.
Some products out there like SellMedia or similar have add-ons that will support Amazon S3 and you can throw lots of gigs to that and for dirty cheap.. most lack the ability to sell entire gallery though like DD mentioned above.
Thanks for the article! I wanted to mention that EDD (Easy Digital Downloads) is not a great choice for selling photos. I initially loved the design and huge supply of free and paid extensions; however there are no extensions or easy way to upload a gallery of photos, have them auto-resized and watermarked automatically. You’d have to do them one at a time which for me is not a viable option. I would definitely delete the EDD inclusion, it really isn’t for photographers but is a GREAT option for digital media of other sorts (software, theme, plugins, music, etc). Everything else in the article is still pretty dead on though and the iSell tutorial is just awesome. I personally went with eStore and Nextgen. Not the prettiest solution yet but had what I needed!
Hi CreativeRenee ‘estore’ with ‘NextGen’ is an interesting and – very creative – way to setup an online photo sales website. I’d like to see what you have done and how it works, could you possibly provide a link so I can check out what you’ve mastered? How is it going, and are you still happy with it and what do you mean by “It’s not the prettiest”?
If anyone else knows how you can set up a great photo library online with digital downloads, low (annual) fees with no commission and the ability to make clients observe and select an image licence choice before checkout I’d be very keen to hear from you. (I left this message reply on the 23rd July 2016).
Thanks all. 🙂
Thank you for the article. I think good starting point is to try microstocks. I have been working with microstocks for about 5 years and come with a top 7 Agencies list found here:
Thanks for sharing. This was new for me. I will try it.
Thanks for the article, I love the way it goes through all the different options. I’ve just published a tutorial about how to use WooCommerce to sell photos online, with password protected categories to securely sell photos for each client (as a lot of photographers need to do this). This will be really helpful to your readers who use WooCommerce, so it would be fantastic if you could add the article as a resource above. The link is: . Thanks!
This article has some great advice and recommendations for stock photographers looking to sell with WordPress. For client photographers, like those who do shoots for families, weddings, or other similar types, Sunshine Photo Cart is another freemium option for selling photos. The base plugin is free and fully functional with PayPal and you can upgrade to get tons of additional features.