words Al Woods
Pretty much everyone who goes into photography does it because they love it. It is not a career path for someone who is just looking to earn a bit of money. There is the buying and maintaining of an expensive camera and lighting equipment, insurance costs and training.
Then there is the time to factor in – the getting up at an ungodly hour to catch that perfect sunrise or hanging about somewhere to get that shot you have always dreamed of. There is the uncomfortable squatting and crouching down for that amazing angle, and the risking of life and limb as you clamber on top of the rock because that scene is just too perfect not to capture. And let us not get into the editing – the hours and hours of curating and editing the photos to make them even more spectacular. In short, it is a job for someone that has an eye for detail and most importantly, the passion for capturing a moment.
But – money.
It is so difficult to be a photographer without some cash behind you. As we mentioned above, the equipment alone can run into the thousands, and that is without taking any other costs into account. You need to have either a flexible and well-paid job that allows you to do your photography as a hobby or a side hustle, or you need to be able to make some money from your photos. That is what we are going to look at in more detail in this post.
Image credit: Pixabay CC0 License
Take marketing images for small businesses
Pretty much every business these days has a website or at the very least, a presence on social media. That means that they need photos, and any business worth their salt knows that high-quality images are essential for marketing purposes. Blurred, poorly lit and badly arranged photos can be a massive turn-off for customers.
This is where you come in.
Pay a visit to local businesses – cafe’s, coffee shops, offices, air BnBs and hotels and so on. Have an informal chat with the owners and talk to them about what you do and how you can help them, and show them how you can attract more customers by having beautiful photos. Take your tablet or iPad along with them to show your digital portfolio.
You also should have a website that has been perfectly optimized for local citations and SEO. Many businesses will head straight for the internet when it comes to looking for a photographer, so make sure you have an up to date website that showcases your work.
Sell digital or physical copies of your work
These days, digital sales of photos are incredibly popular. You can sell them to stock websites such as Shutterstock, iStock and BigStock. These platforms then sell them onto businesses to use on their own sites or marketing material, as well as the media. In return, you, as the photographer, will earn a small commission every time a photo is downloaded. How much you make depends on the platform that you choose to sell to (be aware that some sites forbid you from selling your pictures to competitors) and the type of license. It is important to bear in mind that it is not a fast, regular or particularly well-paying gig, but if you can upload regular content, you can make a passive income.
With the rise of digital sales, you may be asking yourself ‘can I make money selling my photos as prints?’ and the answer is yes, you can.
People will always appreciate beautiful pictures. For a long time, art was considered something that only the upper echelons of society could afford, but these days, almost everyone can be the owner of a beautiful piece of art – and that includes photos.
Start a photography blog
This is a little different, as it may not mean earning money directly from your pictures. Instead, it is more from your skills and knowledge. Having a blog running alongside your photography business website will improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of it, meaning more people will find it when searching for you. It also helps to establish you as an expert in your field, giving you more authority and credibility.
How do you make money from a blog, though?
Well, there are a few different ways. First of all, you may think about incorporating pay per click (PPC) ads into your site. You know when you are on a website, and you spot adverts along the sidebars or at the top? Those are pay per click ads, and every time a visitor on your site clicks on one, you earn a small commission.
Another way of earning some relatively passive income from a photography blog is by being using referrals or affiliate links. These are links to products or services that you recommend, and if someone clicks on one and then goes on to buy something, you earn a commission. Amazon is one of the most well known for this, although the pay is far from high.
A third way is to review products or services. Sometimes you only get the product free in return for writing about it, other times you get the product and a fee to cover your time. These are generally known as sponsored posts and can be quite lucrative.
The downside to these is that you usually have to have high traffic on your website as well as a decent following on social media, and this can take a lot of time and effort to do – time away from your photography.
Lead photography tours and workshops
Do you know your hometown inside out? Perhaps setting yourself up as a tour guide may be a path to take – not just any old tour guide, but a photography tour guide. Take visitors to the region or any would-be photographers on a photo walk around your area, showing them all the spots to get the perfect shot and how best to capture it. You can team up with local travel agents and tourist centers to help spread the word.
Become a portrait photographer
Many people think that when it comes to portrait photographers, a studio is a necessity, but that is far from the truth. Many clients are happy with outdoor shots or ‘on-location’ pictures, which works particularly well if you are working on a freelance basis. People want – and need – headshots for their resume, professional website, Linked In profile and even online dating websites. The more creative and flexible you can be, the more work you will pick up.
Last but not least, one of the most popular ways for a photographer to earn a bit of cash is to shoot events. These may be weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, corporate events, proms – there are plenty of opportunities out there to earn some decent money. It can be tiring and physical, and how much money you can make is dependent on a range of factors. When giving quotes to potential clients, make sure that the fee you give them includes travelling to and from the venue, any insurance and licenses to protect both of you, the post-production time and if you offer a printing service, the costs of that.
You can combine your passion and hobby with a career that makes a decent amount of money. You need to think creatively, build up a professional portfolio and your marketing strategy to get your name out there and get the clients rolling in.