If you have a passion for photography, the right equipment, and an entrepreneurial vision then you’ve already probably wondered how to make money with photography.
You’re probably working on a freelance basis, trying to generate a steady source of income, trying to get more clients and wondering if there’s even any potential for success.
Well, let’s be clear about one thing right off the bat:
If you’re looking for a way to turn your passion for photography into a profitable business, then you need to approach it as a business.
Yes, you can’t transform into a paid photographer overnight – but you can start on the process now. Being creative and imaginative is not enough; after all, plenty of photographers make a decent living with very mediocre skills.
While professional photography might feel like quite the competitive industry to try and break into, there are still plenty of ways to make money with photography.
In this article, I’ve rounded up all the different ways that will actually help you start getting paid for your photography skills.
18 Ways to Make Money with Photography
1. Pick a Niche
Now that you’ve set up your mind and decided to start making money with your photography skills, you need to pick your niche.
Marketing yourself as a photographer is great as a start, but marketing yourself as a photographer who specializes in one thing is much better.
When you pick up a niche, you get to define what techniques you need to learn and invest in.
If you’re going to choose portrait photography, for example, then there will be a set of techniques and equipment that are required from you to have.
You’ll also have a much more concentrated portfolio – it’s always much better to whip out a portfolio for a client with a specific set of images that fall under a theme, instead of random pictures from random photoshoots.
Some niches you can specialize in:
- Fashion photography
- Maternity shoots
- Nature photography
- Wildlife photography
- Wedding photography
- Portrait photography
2. Set up a Website
Your next logical step should be creating a website (if you don’t already have one). Even better if your profile has a theme that matches your niche.
What is surprising is the number of photographers who think Facebook or Instagram act as substitutes to a functional website.
While both social media platforms act as great places to generate interest, engage with followers, and network – they are still not a valid substitute.
With a website, you can create a whole experience that revolves around your photography style and your brand.
It gives the user a multi-sensory experience, easy navigation, and a seamless viewing of your pictures. This all encourages the visitor to purchase prints, contact you for shoots, or offer brand partnerships.
3. Give Your Website a Store
Now that you’ve set up your website, it’s time to set up a website store.
This is where you can sell your photo prints or even products/work items with your prints on them.
It’ll also be one of your best places to sell photos online.
4. Contact Small Local Businesses
There is an influx of small local businesses right now, and it would be a waste not to capitalize on them.
New businesses are always popping up, and they’re always looking for photographers.
From real estate agencies to marketing firms, to restaurants and clothing stores….You can be as creative as you want.
5. Start Blogging
You’ve definitely heard it before, and you will definitely hear it again – blogging can actually help you earn a decent amount of cash through your passion for photography.
If you are often left wondering how photographers make money online, this is how.
Blogging requires, both, patience and time, but the rewards are absolutely worth it. You can create a blog that attracts readers, engages with them, and adds value to their life – and then earn cash through advertising, brand partnerships, sponsorships, affiliate marketing and much more.
By having a blog, you’ll actually have an artistic platform that will give you much more credibility and allows you to share your work and shoots with the world.
And of course, it goes without saying – the higher your following is, the more you’ll be getting contacted for work and the higher you can price yourself.
Here’s how you can make money with a photography blog:
- Use display ads by Google Adsense.
- Collaborate with other bloggers from different industries. (for example, fashion or travel.)
- Publish engaging and informative content.
- Post content regularly.
- Use SEO to your advantage.
- Use affiliate marketing.
6. Work for Others First
If you’re first starting out, it’s always a good idea to work with other photographers, at first.
Help out with post-production
There is no doubt that post-production editing is a very time-consuming task, and you’d be surprised at the number of photographers who are looking for some editing assistance. You can work with more experienced photographers and edit their photos, and who knows? Maybe they’ll even hire you as an assistant photographer later on.
Work as an Assistant Photographer
Being an assistant photographer will get you directly involved in the networks of more experienced photographers.
You’ll get to network more, learn from someone who has years of experience and get a chance for people to see your work.
You’ll also get a stronger portfolio if the photographer lets you shoot a lot. It’s basically contacts, money, and experience.
I recommend being just a little bit open to volunteering at first if you’re a complete beginner. The networking opportunities and the things you will learn will be absolutely valuable, and it gives you a much higher chance of getting hired later on.
How to find assistant photographer jobs:
- Join all types of photography groups on social media platforms.
- Go to photography events.
- Network with photographers near you.
- Get involved in a photographer organization.
The bottom line is:
It’s much better to learn through trial and error instead of learning from articles & Youtube tutorials.
7. Sell Portrait Sessions
If you’re still an amateur photograph, then a great way to amp up your portfolio is by offering portrait sessions.
A lot of people are willing to pay to have their pictures taken: from graduates to amateur models. It’s a great way to get your name out there and add more pictures to your portfolio.
The general game plan is:
Get paid to shoot a picture someone wants.
8. Write an E-book
Did you go on an insane trip recently and took hard-to-compete-with pictures?
Did you dive with a shark and take pictures?
Did you take unique pictures of a tribe abroad?
Do you have a story to go with it?
Pair a really good experience with fantastic photos, compile them in a simple e-book and sell it online!
9. Contact News Outlets
The best thing about news outlets and print media is the fact that they’re straying away from full-time staff to hiring more freelancers.
This gives you an incredible opportunity to hustle!
There is a definite growing need for digital images for digital newspapers and publications and you can easily make a decent amount of income by offering your services.
One rule of thumb though:
The faster you submit, the more you’re likely to be picked up. All you need to do is follow major news events, take pictures, develop them and submit them as soon as possible.
10. Hit up Digital Publications
There is pretty much an online digital publication for everything you can imagine.
And guess what?
They’re always looking for freelance photographers for their works. Choose a topic you’re particularly interested in, research at least 10 publications, and offer to freelance for them.
When pitching to publications, it’s much better to be open to doing a little bit of writing. The more you build your portfolio, the bigger the publications you’ll be pitching for are going to be.
11. Join a Photo Contest
This is more of a short-term solution, rather than a long-term one. But it will be a stepping stone to bigger opportunities.
A lot of photography contests offer up to $10,000 in prizes and even if you don’t win, you get some much-needed publicity.
12. Host a Workshop
If you know that you’ve got valuable expertise in photography – why not share it with the world and make money at the same time?
You can teach attendees everything from learning how to capture great photos to how to prepare for a shoot.
All you need to do is prepare a Powerpoint presentation, compile a list the things you’ll be teaching and promote your workshop through social media. You get to choose between 1:1 workshops, larger workshops, and full-on photography tours.
Which brings me to the next point:
13. Give a Photography Tour
Do you live in a major touristic city? Is your city the hub for all things trendy? Do you reside in a place that is surrounded by lush greenery and nature?
Your knowledge of where you live can be a major asset that you can use to your advantage.
You can venture off to “hidden gems” on a photo tour, all while teaching them valuable photography tips and tricks.
14. Start a Youtube Channel
You can create a Youtube channel to share your expertise with the world.
You can include tips and tricks, interesting stories, photography advice and much more. Later on, you’ll be able to make money through advertising.
15. Obsess over Social Media
One of the best places to sell your photos online is on your own social media feed. If you’ve got a Shopify website, you can link that directly to your Instagram feed and start directing your followers straight to your store.
I want you to think of every social media platform as an unparalleled chance for you to network. Reaching others to see your work will greatly help you expand your reach and sell more.
Think of it this way:
Your feed is your portfolio. Your followers are your potential clients.
Impress, engage and stay consistent, and you’re bound to see results that transform into sales.
16. Download and Use an App
There are plenty of smartphone apps that you can use that will help you make money for your pictures.
Some of the best include:
17. Sell Prints
Selling prints (basically printed copies of the pictures you take) gives you unparalleled freedom. Use a high-quality printing lab, and sell your pictures in galleries or weekend fairs.
You can also try venturing into the world of print-on-demand.
This is a very simple way to make money using your prints.
Basically, you print out your pictures on merchandise (keychains, mugs, mouse pads, mugs) and then sell them.
18. Sell Out to Stock Photography Websites
If you’re still wondering how to make money with photography – then this is my final and most valuable tip for you. Use stock image sites where you can “sell” your photos online and make a steady stream of passive income.
Just make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into with stock photography and don’t end up like the guy who made $1.88 while Walmart made millions off of his image.
There are a variety of stock photography websites you can choose from, including:
- Shutterstock – Pay rates that start from 20% (one of the highest paying.)
- iStock – More viewers, and 15% rate.
- Alamy – If you’re a student, you get 100% of your sales price for two years. If you’re not a student, then you’ll get 50%.
- Picfair – You set up the amount you want to get. Competitive.
- Dreamstime – Offers up to 60%.
A few things to bear in mind:
- The more quality pictures you upload, the more money you get.
- There are plenty of websites that accept pictures from, both, amateurs and professionals.
- Stay on top of trends when shooting for stock websites.
- Capture the most high-quality images you possibly can.
- Photos of people are always in demand, no matter what.
- Always check the account terms – learn how you’re going to be paid and when, and most importantly, how much.
- Add a lot of keywords to your images.
If you want to learn more about how to make money selling stock images, go here.
How do you make money with photography?
Do you have experience in making money with photography?
Let us know in the comment section below! You can also check out this article to learn how you can make money with photography straight from your phone!