Taking a hobby that you enjoy and turning it into a way to earn some cash is an amazing dream. If you love photography, you can turn this dream into a reality.
Whether you’ve been taking photos for years or you’re new to the trade, there are plenty of different ways to make money with this skill.
Depending on how much effort you put into it, photography can become a career for you. It’s also a great side-hustle to make extra cash in your free time.
With dozens of possible ways to make money with photography, I’ve narrowed down the top ten for you to consider.
Take Pictures For Small Businesses
Every business needs visual content. Whether it be for their website or social media channels, the demand has never been higher.
If you’ve got a decent camera and some basic photography skills, you can pitch your services to local businesses. Drop by and introduce yourself in person or contact them via phone or email.
You can take pictures of their storefront, products, vehicles, or even their employees. Local restaurants might need professional shots of their food for the website, digital menu, or social media posts. The opportunities here are endless.
If you’re new and having trouble getting your foot in the door somewhere, take a couple of shots ahead of time to show off your work.
For example, let’s say you want to work with a local pizza shop. Take some photos of the building’s exterior. Go inside, order a pizza, and take a few pictures of your food. Now you can approach the owner to showcase the quality of your work.
Teach Photography Skills
If you’ve mastered the art of photography, you can sell your knowledge through a wide range of channels and mediums.
Consider writing an ebook or digital tutorial on basic, intermediate, and digital photography skills. This will be the best way to reach the most amount of people. You’ll have to put in some work to create these, but the investment is extremely low, and mostly consists of your time.
Alternatively, you can sell seats to photography webinars. In this case, you’ll give a photography lecture to a live digital audience.
The highest-paying photography education would be in-person lessons. You could charge for one-on-one or small group sessions to photographers in your area.
You can even make money by giving free photography lessons. Upload a wide range of photography tutorials to YouTube. If you drive enough traffic to those videos, you can monetize them with advertising revenue.
Sell Your Original Photographs
If you’ve been a photographer for a while, you probably have hundreds or even thousands of pictures saved on your computer, cloud, or external hard drive.
Create a portfolio with your best shots and sell them. There are lots of different ways to do this.
To sell your work at a higher price point, you can offer physical prints as well. Use a popular website builder like Wix or Squarespace. Both of these platforms have specific tools and features for selling photography.
Alternatively, you can take your original prints to local markets and art fairs. Register for a booth and sell them in-person. This will require a bit more work, and you’ll need to spend the money in advance on prints. But some larger prints can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars at these types of events.
Blog About Photography
You can make money with photography without selling a single photo. If you’ve got good writing skills, consider starting a photography blog.
There are endless topics that you can publish on your blog. Here are a few general ideas to get your mind thinking in the right direction:
- Photography “how-to” guides
- Camera reviews
- Photography tips, tricks, and best practices
- Travel photography stories
- Editing software tutorials
- Best bags for camera storage and transportation
- Niche photography categories
The list goes on and on. You can even use your blog as an extension for some of these other methods, like selling photos and teaching skills.
Once your blog starts generating traffic, there are plenty of ways for you to monetize it. You can sell advertising space, digital products, prints, or join a photography affiliate program.
For example, let’s say you become a Cannon affiliate.
If you write reviews on their products, you can use your affiliate link to direct your visitors to the Cannon website. When someone makes a purchase using your referral, you’ll earn 2.5%+ in commission. Considering that those cameras can sell for thousands of dollars, your commission can add up quickly.
Partner With Real Estate Agents
Like most industries, the home-buying process is moving in a digital direction. Buyers are only considering houses with a wide range of high-quality photos online.
This has created a high demand for skilled photographers in the real estate industry.
Agents are willing to shell out big bucks to photographers who can help them sell houses. You can probably photograph the entire inside and outside of a home in just an hour or two at most.
At a minimum, these types of jobs can easily pay a few hundred dollars. If you’re photographing a high-value home, the agent might have the incentive and budget to pay you more for your work.
You’ll definitely need some good photo editing skills to offer the full package to your real estate clients. But once you establish a relationship with different agents, you can establish a nice stream of ongoing income each time they list a new property.
Become a Social Influencer
One of the most cost-effective ways to make money with photography is by uploading your content to social media. I’m sure the majority of you already have an Instagram account. If not, you can create one for free.
Dedicate your Instagram page to photography. Learn how to get more followers by interacting with other photography accounts and using relevant hashtags.
Once you start to gain thousands of followers, you can leverage your following by partnering with brands.
Companies can pay you to promote their products and services. The more followers you have, the more money this will pay.
For example, a backpack and luggage company might pay you to showcase their bags for transporting camera equipment. A protein bar business could pay you to promote their products as a snack you eat while shooting outdoors. The possibilities here are endless.
Influencer marketing has been trending upward for years now, with no signs of slowing down in the near future. More brands are allocating higher budgets to spend on influencers.
If you’re starting from scratch, the path can be a bit slow at first. But once you hit that 10k follower mark, it will be much easier to make money using this tactic.
Carve out a niche by offering your photography services at events. Depending on the gig, these jobs can range anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.
Examples of events include:
- Birthday parties
- School plays
- Town fairs
- Bar mitzvahs
- Anniversary parties
- Industry conferences
- Company events
The pay will obviously vary based on your skill level and magnitude of the event. For example, a small family birthday party likely won’t pay as much as a full-day wedding where you’ll need to travel to multiple locations.
Master Your Editing Skills
Knowing how to use photo editing software is just as valuable as knowing how to take great pictures. Lots of other money-making photography tactics can be applied to photo editing as well.
For example, you can teach other photographers how to use different editing software. You can also join an editing software affiliate program and use your blog to give editing tips.
Editing will definitely come in handy if you’re working with models. They might want some of their photos touched up, enhanced, and brushed before they consider submitting shots to magazines or uploading them to a personal portfolio.
Start a Local Photo Tour
Do you live in an area with exceptional photo opportunities? As a local, you’ll know all of the best spots to capture these images.
Maybe you live by a beach and know the perfect location for catching the sunset. Or perhaps you live in the city and know how to get a cool perspective of the buildings. Does your town have a historic district with old buildings and beautiful fall foliage?
Regardless of the scenario, you can take other photographers on a local tour.
The pay for these tours will vary on a wide range of factors. For example, people are willing to pay more money for a full-day tour with transportation provided to multiple sites compared to a two-hour walking tour.
But you’ll be able to dictate these terms based on your availability, resources, demand, and location.
Enter a Photo Contest
One or two of your photos could strike gold if you win the right contest. Winning the right contest can also have a huge impact on your brand.
The International Photography Awards has awarded $290,000 in cash prizes to date. They are giving away $47,500 in cash prizes at an upcoming photo exhibition.
National Geographic runs annual photo contests as well.
While winning thousands of dollars in a big photo contest might be a longshot, the exposure you’ll get from entering can help you make money using other methods. Plus, there’s always the possibility that your entry will result in a cash prize.