How To Make Money With Photography (17 Things You Can Do Now)
You take great photos: both you and your friends love them. But what if you could get paid to do what you love? We’ll show you how to make money with photography.
There are plenty of opportunities to turn your photos and photography skills into cash. Plus, a wider audience will get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Read on to discover how to make money with photography.
There are plenty of ways to make money from photography. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon.
1. Sell Your Images Via Stock Photography Websites
There is one simple way to make money: sell photos online. But how do you do this? There are plenty of options.
Bear in mind you need great photos to start with. It will take time and effort to get there, but once you have a good collection, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy a passive income.
Stock photography sites provide a go-to place for anyone looking to use royalty-free images. A commission is paid to the photographer each time an image is used. Some genres tend to sell better than others. For example, shots featuring people, activities and seasons tend to be in more demand than sunsets and flowers.
Photos that feature people and convey emotion are popular on stock photography sites. Photo by Frank McKenna.
Here are the most popular stock photography sites to get you started:
The Foap app offers fun missions to earn money and is a great example of how to make money with photography.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for ‘popular photos’ sections on these sites, so you can see what is in demand. Some sites also have a ‘photos needed’ section too.
2. Enter Photography Competitions
There are plenty of photography competitions to choose from, with prizes running into thousands of dollars.
Some competitions may be genre-specific, or others may be devoted to different photography themes and genres. There are even competitions specific to your camera manufacturer.
You’ll have to pay to enter some, but there are also plenty of free contests. As well as cash prizes, it will give you the opportunity to have your work seen by many: which could lead to further selling opportunities.
Entries for the various competitions usually close in the first half of the year. Familiarize yourself with some of these top competitions and be ready with your 2020 entry:
It’s always good to know what you are up against–thankfully, established competitions will display past winners on their websites.
Enter photography competitions for a chance to win big money. Image by Rawpixel.
3. Run Your Own Photography Courses
Photography is a skill that takes years to master. If you have paid your dues, why not share your skills with others for a fee?
Photographic courses come in a variety of forms–in person, online, or via written or video material.
While everyone needs to learn general photographic skills, it’s niche topics that will draw people to you. If you have a talent and have built up a following in a particular genre or style, people will already have a curiosity about how you created those shots.
Run your course direct via your own photography website or blog, or use a dedicated course platform. A course platform will give you the tools to enable you to share your skills. They’ll also help you reach your customers.
Check out the following platforms:
- Skillshare: try for free before signing up to the premium plan to run paid courses;
- Udemy: become an approved instructor to run paid courses;
- Thinkific: great for building a course from scratch; and
- Ruzuku: interact with students via webinars.
Try some of the thousands of courses available to help you plan how to share your knowledge.
Consider teaching online photography classes to diversify your income.
4. Sell Images on Online Marketplaces
One of the biggest challenges of how to make money with photography is getting your work seen. Ultimately, the more people that see your work, the more you will sell.
Online selling platforms are a great solution on how to make money with photography. They provide a steady influx of interested customers who are searching for images and products that are similar to yours.
The more well-known the site, the more potential customers you will reach. Popular online market places for photography include:
- Etsy is a great place to start and has a customer base ready to buy unique, handmade goods;
- Photoshelter lets you build your own online shop using one of their nine website templates. You’ll need to sign up to a subscription plan, but there is an option to try before you buy with a free trial; and
- Traditional sites like eBay also work for selling photography work
Sell photos via a third party website to maximize customer reach. Photo by Justyna Faliszek.
5. Organize Photo Tours
We all have our favorite photographic locations: throw in some photography skills and you have the recipe for a photo tour.
If it’s a place you love, you’ll know what time of day and year it is at its best, plus you’ll know the best angles. Hence, this is a great example of how to make money with photography.
Keep groups small so that you can give each participant enough attention. Happy customers spread the word and good reviews should send more your way. Remember it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. So if access to the location becomes difficult or the weather takes a turn for the worst, you will be prepared.
People will pay to be shown some of your favorite locations.
6. Put Your Images on Products
The potential for selling your photos doesn’t stop with prints. These days, just about anything–from mobile phone cases to T-shirts, and even home decor items–can be customized with a photo.
To set up production yourself and market your items is very time-consuming. Thankfully there are websites that take the hard work out of the process.
Check out Society6 or Red Bubble: both offer a print-on-demand service to get your photos on to all sorts of products. They also serve as a market place, connecting you directly to customers. Plus, these sites also fulfill orders themselves (printing and shipping)
You can create products featuring your photos on the Soceity6 site.
7. Make Money with Your Editing Skills
Photo editing, or post-production, plays a huge role in creating final images. If you are good at editing, that’s a great way to make money with photography.
You can offer your skills as a service: whether it is to simply fine-tune images or to create more complex masterpieces. There are a ton of clients looking for such skills on platforms like UpWork, Freelancer, or Fiverr
8. Sell Lightroom Presets
It’s also possible to sell custom presets and filters for programs such as Lightroom or Photoshop. These allow users to apply your edit settings to their photos with just a few clicks. For example, presets are particularly invaluable in wedding photography, where a consistent editing style needs to be applied simultaneously to a large number of photos.
Related Article: Lightroom Tutorials
There’s a market for Lightroom presets that can be added to batches of photos. Image by Chí Nguyển Quốc.
If you have a large social media following, you already have a ready-made customer base. Check which of your images have the most likes so that you know what is most likely to sell.
Simply inform your followers what is available and make use of payment sites, such as PayPal or Shopify, for payment. To encourage sales you can offer various incentives. Try promotions such as:
- Limited time availability
- Limited editions of prints
- Signed prints
Use your social media accounts to sell your images. Photo by Thomas Ulrich.
10. Sell Images Through Galleries
Getting your photos displayed in a gallery is a great way to get them seen by potential customers. Check out galleries in your local area and talk to the owners. Find out what they are looking for and be prepared with examples of your work to show them.
You may be asked to pay for wall space, a monthly fee, or a percentage of profits. Some galleries will print your photos for you, but if you prefer to control the quality of your work, it’s best to organize printing yourself with a quality photo printer.
Talk to local art galleries to try and get your photos displayed there. Photo by Alina Grubnyak.
11. Become a Photography Assistant
Becoming a photographer’s assistant is one of the quickest ways to earn extra income, learn about the industry, and improve as a photographer.
Research and find photographers you admire, then make contact with them. Enthusiasm is great but you need hard evidence of your skills: a portfolio or a link to your website is essential.
You need to be willing to take on a variety of tasks: from ensuring gear is ready to organizing & editing images.
Work as a photographer’s assistant to improve your skills and earn some money. Image by Michal Jarmoluk.
12. Publish in The Press
Have you taken photos of something that is newsworthy, like a local event? Selling your photos to the press can generate extra income and is a great example of how to make money with photography.
It’s important to take plenty of photos. Likewise, try to get as much detail as possible and from different angles. In news photography, the information conveyed in a photo is as important as composition. You can select the best for submission later.
Here are the best websites that connect photographers with journalists and press that may be interested in purchasing photos:
You could also try calling local newspapers: this is a great way to develop personal contacts to sell future newsworthy photos.
Approach your local press if you have taken newsworthy photos. Photo by Kalhh.
13. Become a Social Influencer
There is big money to be made through social influencing: millions of dollars. If your follower numbers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are into the thousands, brands will want to work with you to promote their products and services.
- Large follower numbers;
- High levels of interaction (likes and comments) on your posts;
- Original content
- Consistency in terms of subject and style.
Get paid to promote brands if you have a large following on social media. Image by Gerd Altmann.
14. Monetize Your Blog
If you already have a blog then you are half-way there. If you don’t have one, now is the time to start. Check out this guide to WordPress to help.
Here are some potential sources of income from your blog:
- Affiliate advertising: use a plugin like PrettyLinks to generate income from products you mention.
- Display advertising: get paid for clicks on ads you set up using Google Adsense. Or use AdSanity to direct sell advertising space.
- Sponsorsored Posts: get paid by companies to write about their products or services.
The key to blogging success is organic traffic. The kind of traffic you get by ranking for keywords on search engines. IN order to get organic traffic, you need killer content as well as some SEO knowledge. Checkout PhotoBlog’s guide on SEO for photographers.
Remember to tell your friends and family about your blog. Likewise, link to your blog from your social media accounts. The more visitors you get, the more potential you have to make money.
Advertising on your blog is a great example of how to make money with photography.
15. Photograph Local Events
Events provide great opportunities for photographers to make money. You’ll have a ready-made customer base in the form of attendees, who will happily pay for a photo of a memorable moment.
Look at local listings to see which events are scheduled in your area. Look out for:
- Sporting events
- Country fairs
- Music festivals
- Charity events
- Pet shows
Always contact the organizers prior to the event to offer your services– don’t just show up. It’s also a good idea to visit the venue before the event, so you can scope out the best angles.
Following the event, allow access to low resolution, watermarked images via an online gallery, so people can view before they buy.
Use a platform like Snapped4U to submit your event gallery for attendees to browse and purchase from. There’s no initial cost to you: simply set the purchase price for images and then Snapped4U retains a percentage of the sale price of each photo.
Search out local events, such as music festivals, where a photographer may be needed. Photo by William White.
16. Start a Photography YouTube Channel
Watching videos is an easy way to take in information and many prefer it to text. Billions of people visit YouTube each year, so it’s the perfect place to host a photography education or gear review channel.
The potential to make money ultimately comes down to the number of people that view your videos. As your viewer numbers increase, you’ll be able to sign up to affiliate programs that enable your YouTube channel to become an advertising platform.
Sign up to affiliate sites like Click Bank or online shops such as B&H or Amazon’s Affiliate Program, you’ll then earn money each time a viewer purchase off a link in one of your videos. The quality and popularity of your review videos ultimately determine your success.
Drive by Reviews has a popular camera review channel on YouTube.
17. Specialize in a Demanding Photography Niche
If you want to make money with photography, you need to specialize and that too in a demanding niche. For example, clients pay big money to photographers who specialize in weddings, portraits, or newborn photography (capturing big life events). Similarly, on the corporate side, product, glamour, and editorial photographers are in high demand.
You’ll be up against a lot of competition though, so it’s important your photos stand out from the crowd. Develop a style of your own via consistent post-processing, signature shots, and unique props.
Always establish expectations before embarking on an assignment. Draw up a legal photography contract and have these in writing.
Use interesting props in your photos to give them a unique edge. Photo by Douglas J S Moreira.