Even if photography is your hobby, wouldn’t it be nice to earn some money from your photos? There have never been more ways to earn money from photography as there is today. But unfortunately, it’s probably also never been as tough to do it as it is now. The competition is fierce and you are battling in a market where supply far outweighs demand. But with some persistence and hard work you can earn money from your photos. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.
1. Stock Shots
The chances are that at some point every photographer has come across a stock shot website. The big players are the likes of Getty, Alamy, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and so forth who cover every genre and type of photo. You would be hard pushed to find a search term that they wouldn’t have photos of. But there are many other independent and more specific stock shot agencies. For most photographers, this represents a great way to earn some income from photos that you already have in your collection. But don’t expect vast amounts of income. Prices have steadily fallen over the last 20 years and most stock photographers now earn a fraction of what they used to earn.
The other thing to be prepared for is that it will take time to earn any significant monthly income from stock sales. But if you have a big collection of photos and have the patience, it can all add up over time. But make sure you do your research before signing up to an agency as the commission that they charge on any sales can vary dramatically. There are also vast differences in the prices that these agencies charge the clients. So ask yourself if you would be happy earning a few cents for each photo?
If stock shot sales are too slow and don’t earn you enough of an income from your photos, another option is to sell prints of your work to customers. There are two ways to do this. You can either do this by finding a website who take care of all of the production and take a commission in the same way as a stock shot website, or you can do it yourself. By using an existing website you usually just upload your images and they can then offer a selection of finishes, frames, and sizes based on their existing website. They will also usually take care of the QA and postage to the customer. But naturally, this comes with a heavy cost compromise where they will take a big chunk of commission.
Obviously, the benefit of doing it yourself is that you will get to keep all of the profit you make. But the downside is that you will be responsible for everything from printing to postage and packing.
But ultimately for this type of business to be successful, you need to have a client base to sell to. That means finding and targeting potential customers because no matter how good your photos are if no one sees them then you won’t make any money out of it.
This is an avenue for photographers to earn money that simply didn’t exist 30 years ago. But arguably this channel represents the best way for earning an income from your photos. More and more companies these days are looking for content for their websites, blogs or even social media channels. These could range from simple posts on social media to writing articles for their blogs. Depending on how good you are in your chosen field and what type of content you provide, you could earn anything from a few dollars to hundreds per content piece.
But like anything, there is lots of competition and most companies are pretty savvy in how much to pay for content these days. The key is to target a brand or site that you are passionate about and supply content based on your skillset. For example, if you are a sports photographer, target sports blogs. If you know about food and that’s your genre of photography target sites that are about cooking. The more credible you are the more likely that you will be to be accepted and paid for your photos.
Another avenue that has grown in recent years is the opportunity for sponsorship. This is where you are paid by a brand to promote a specific product or service. This will usually only come about if you have a large following who you can influence. Sometimes brands will pay for promotions and sometimes they will offer you commission in direct sales that come about from you from affiliate links.
If you are well known and respected within your sector and have a large following, they may even pay you to become a brand ambassador for them where you are paid a fee to represent their brand. These are of course great ways to earn money but will take a time and effort to materialize as you will first need to build a strong dedicated group of followers.
Most photographers strive to earn money from assignments. Whether that is from a magazine or newspaper or a brand, getting paid to photograph for a client is incredibly satisfying. But whilst this may seem like the holy grail for photographers, it shouldn’t be the only thing that you focus on. More and more clients these days are turning to other methods because of budget constraints for their photography needs such as stock shots. But if your goal is to get assignments then you should create a long-term strategy for achieving those goals. Start by making a list of potential clients. Learn about their brands, style and what they need. When you are confident that you know what they want, approach them and be willing to have to try again and again. It will be difficult, but if you can get them, assignments can provide a good income.
Photography is a great hobby to have and whilst not everyone wants to become a full-time photographer, earning some money is a great way to fund your hobby. But beyond that, it is also a great way to get recognition for your work which in turn can motivate you to do more. Imagine seeing your photo on the front cover of a magazine. Wouldn’t that make you proud? With so many opportunities, if you are not already making money from your photos, then you are missing out. So go ahead, see if any of these 5 ideas to make money for your photos work for you.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.