For many people, photography is not just a hobby or a way to document their life but also a business—perhaps even their livelihood. And often, photography can be a lucrative business opportunity if you know what to look for.
If you have always been interested in photography and want to figure out how you could make it a side hustle or primary career, there are many different ways to go about it. In this article, we’ll discuss some tried-and-true methods of making money with photography. Who knows? You might even discover a new career path.
One of the most popular ways to make money through photography is by taking and selling stock images. While the first thing you imagine when thinking of stock images might be a generic photo of an object against a white background, there are actually many different types of stock images. Some of these images include depictions of people, activities, objects, jobs, and more. There’s a stock photo for virtually anything you can think of!
Being a Shutterstock contributor means being one photographer within a massive network of stock image photographers. But how does Shutterstock work?
First, you gather photos you’ve taken you think might qualify as “stock images.” Then, you’ll upload them to the site, and they will either be accepted or rejected. If your photos are accepted, you will make money every time someone downloads that photo from the Shutterstock site (usually between 25 and 38 cents every time).
iStock by Getty
iStock by Getty Images is essentially the same as being a Shutterstock contributor. The site is a massive network of stock images offered to customers for editorial or commercial use. Every time a user downloads one of your photos, you will receive royalties for that photo. For example, on iStock, you’ll receive 15 percent royalties for photos, 20 percent for videos, and 20 percent for illustrations. And you could earn between 25 and 45 percent if you become an exclusive creator.
EyeEm is an online marketplace where you can sell your images for commercial use. These can be images you took in any photo shoot, as long as you have express written permission from other people in the photos. The primary difference between sites like iStock or Shutterstock and EyeEm is that all images purchased on EyeEm are primarily for commercial use rather than editorial. EyeEm has four payout tiers, ranging from 25 percent to 55 percent commission.
Snapwire is a platform made for visual and digital production creators. Small businesses and large brands use Snapwire to find and purchase photos and videos from creators for their business. Snapwire allows you to sell virtually any digital asset that brands may want. They even have special features for creators that allow them to reward their top performers with even more sales opportunities.
Set Up Photoshoots
Another exciting way to make money with photography is by setting up personal photoshoots. Plenty of people want pictures of themselves and their partner, family pet, or new baby. You could also set up more generic photoshoots with your friends or household items and then commercially sell those photos to earn royalties on them.
Make Your Photos Into Art
If you don’t find success selling your original photos or prefer something a bit more artistic, you could try turning your photos into original works of art and then selling those. Even if you are not a graphic designer, there are plenty of simple tools to enhance your images. And you can even turn your photos into prints, books, postcards, or more. The possibilities are quite literally endless! In addition, making your photos into a piece of artwork can help attract a different audience and help your photos sell better.
One great place to sell your photos-turned-art online is on Etsy. Digital creators on Etsy make a lot of money selling digital products, especially since it is an entirely passive income stream. For example, suppose you want to turn your photos into digital prints, coffee table books, planners, postcards, or other printable/digital assets. In that case, it is effortless to do so using free graphic design tools like Canva. Once you have a product you want to sell, all you need to do is attach the Google Drive link or download link to your listing, and it will be automatically delivered to your buyer upon purchase. This means you don’t even need to do any work once you start making sales!
eBay is similar to Etsy in that you could sell digital downloads, but you could also sell things like handmade photo books, prints, or postcards if you are interested in printing things like that yourself. In addition, eBay has a large community of artists and creators, so there is definitely a niche out there for you if you want to try selling your work on this auction platform.
Make A Zine
Making a zine (slang short for magazine) is another popular option for true artistic types. A zine is typically an informal, small-circulated, self-published magazine composed of text and images. Usually, it is reproduced using a copy machine.
However, newer sites like Blurb have allowed people to make more professionally printed zines themselves! So, however you choose to do it, you could make a zine out of your photos and combine it with poetry, short stories, interview transcriptions, or other interesting content and sell it through social media marketing or hosting on your own website.
Once You Become Better
Many options above are great for newer photographers, but some forms of money-making should be left to the pros. Below are a couple of additional options for those with a stronger background in photography or who have a lot of experience selling their photos.
Big life events are constantly happening! Whether it’s a wedding, high school or college graduation, new baby, or other milestone, people will almost always want their special moments captured in pictures.
If you are just starting out in this niche, you could offer to photograph events for cheap or free to build up your portfolio. Then, after your services become more in-demand, you can start charging more as you build your client base.
Teach An Online Course
Once you become proficient at photography, you could actually do others a favor by offering a paid photography course. Similar to selling a digital product, you could create an online course by recording yourself and publishing it on YouTube or Vimeo. From there, you can make the link unlisted and attach it to a landing page, allowing people to view it only if they purchase your content. Online courses can not only help you get paid, but also help others learn your craft!