You’ve cut your teeth and paid your dues to earn your title as a professional photographer, but doing photo shoots alone is leaving money on the table. Your bills are covered, but what about earning a little extra on the side?
You’ve already tried rescuing your old clients, and you know you’ve got a portfolio filled with killer shots. But where’s that extra profit? Let us show you some alternate ways to earn additional income as a photographer with little-to-no up-front costs.
With just a few steps outside of the box, you could easily earn additional income as a photographer. You yourself know that there is more to being a photographer than just point and click. And in the age of the digital nomad, you have more resources and passive income making opportunities available to you than ever before.
There are always opportunities to make more money with photography, and in this article, we’ll dig into some of the lowest-hanging fruit. Let’s get to it:
Ways to Make Money with Photography in 2021
1. Sell your presets on FilterGrade
You’ve spent years honing your style and building a library of readymade filters – why not profit from them also?
A great way to make money online as a photographer is to sell your Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions on sites like FilterGrade. Read more about selling here.
Selling your preset filters will not only give you exposure but pay you back for all that time you’ve spent perfecting the editing process.
And don’t worry about others “stealing your style”. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and like many self-made artists, having a tried and true starting point can be a real confidence booster. So why not share your creative styles with your audience who may be seeking inspiration, or someone looking to streamline their editing process.
After all, a filter alone doesn’t make the photograph, right?
2. Sell stock photos
We know you’ve heard this before, and probably even thought it to yourself. But we’d be silly to miss this off the list.
Selling stock photos can be a fantastic way of earning passive income as a photographer. We’ve written about it before.
Stock photo websites are like a virtual farmer’s market for photographers. In short, you register with sites like DepositPhotos, iStock, and ShutterStock to name a few, upload your photos for review, and receive a commission every time your photo is downloaded.
Different sites policies, licenses and price per download vary, so be sure to read the fine print and do your research before committing. Just like setting up a booth to sell your wares, the more stock you have, the more likely you are to gain traffic.
Make sure that you have a size-able amount of images and your content is up to date. The quality of your photos should be enough to stand out in a sea of stock images as well as fit in with what’s trending.
It’s easier said than done, but you never know until you give it a try!
3. Start a photo booth business
Remember going to the mall as a kid and paying a couple of dollars to sit in a booth and snap silly photos of you and your bestie? A strip of photos would print out and you would tape them up in your locker?
Well, the photo booth business is back and it is booming, but it doesn’t quite look like what it used to. Instead, savvy business people are setting up mobile photo booths at a wide range of events and charging the organizers a pretty penny for their presence.
Right now people are willing to shell out the big bucks to share memories of their special days with family and friends; from weddings & birthdays to sports games & corporate events. As a photographer with the necessary equipment, you can profit from this nostalgia.
If you already own a DSLR camera, you needn’t buy a custom-built photo booth. Instead, you can use off-the-shelf software like DSLRBooth, pair it with some DIY photo booth templates from sites like TemplatesBooth, and you’re ready to start “boothing”.
With the know-how and equipment you can make upwards of $1,000 per event for running a photo booth business. Seriously!
And typically, it’s a lot easier than standard event photography as there’s no requirement for an editing process.
4. Lease your studio space
This is probably one of the easiest ways of earning an extra income as a photographer. If you’ve got your own studio space and travel a lot for work, or perhaps find yourself with large chunks of unbooked studio time, consider leasing your space to other local photographers.
If you suddenly decide to take off to travel for a month or so, you can sublet your space to help pay the rent with no upfront costs.
Maybe you fall in love with a new country and decide to extend your stay. Renting your space out can fund your travels for longer.
It is also a good idea to check local listing websites to see if any students out there need the space for a project. As long as you aren’t using your space, why not let someone else take the space and you get paid for the privilege?
5. Host photography classes
Hosting photography classes and workshops is not only a great way to share your skills with others, but it’s also a great way to earn additional photography-based income..
Offering a beginners course for people wanting to learn the workings of a camera is easy for you to host and can be fairly priced at $50-$100 per person.
You may even find that someone is willing to pay you for private lessons, which can go much higher.
When an amateur enthusiast has just spent $500-$1,000 on camera equipment, paying an additional $100 for professional lessons makes financial sense.
You can host workshops on any aspect of photography – from camera basics to editing, styling, and more.
Once you’ve built a network of students, your classes will become easier to book and word will surely spread. You can also start to charge more for exclusive training and workshops with limited availability.
6. Take on freelance work for sites like AirBnb
I was surprised recently when a photographer told me he paid for his travels with freelance AirBnb gigs.
It turns out that AirBnb is always hiring professional photographers to shoot their most popular rentals on behalf of their clients. By providing professional photos to homeowners, it helps boost bookings and price, so both parties win.
As a photographer, it’s also a great way to make that side-hustle money.
Check & apply for freelance AirBnb gigs here. At time of publication, Airbnb is offering 208 openings in 57 countries!
As a market listing photographer with AirBnb you need to meet a few requirements to get assigned properties within 30 miles of your home location. All you have to do is submit a test shoot to AirBnb and have a professional-grade DSLR/Mirrorless camera with Full-frame or APS-C sensor & resolution of at least 16mp.
They do ask for a few more things, but that is all listed on their website when you apply. You could also consider advertising to local real estate agencies to take listing photos of properties.
7. Shoot local sports events
I recently took part in a half-marathon and noticed a local photographer at the finish line. He was selling finish-line pictures for $10 each.
In a single Sunday afternoon, he sold hundreds of photos to runners who finished the race.
You could be that guy at the finish line.
Don’t be afraid to get in touch with local schools or community centers who host sporting events. Homecoming parades, football games and field days are always events parents will line up around the block for photos of their family.
Offering your services at local events like these save the families attending the worry of getting the perfect shot. They can come and give their full attention to the game. You can offer a professional quality momentum for them to take home and enjoy in turn spreading the word about your photography business.
If you can’t offer prints on the spot, you can always edit them at home later and post in local facebook groups with watermarks on your shots.
8. Upload your images to free photo sites
This is similar to uploading to premium stock photo sites, except this time you don’t get paid per download – you give your photos for free.
I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me a moment…
While this is not the most reliable way to earn income it doesn’t hurt to give it a go, especially if you have a hard drive full of unused photos, or your images have been rejected from the premium stock photo sites.
Friends of mine who upload to free stock photo sites have told me ranging stories of donation numbers. Some walk away with a bit of beer money if they’re lucky, whilst others consistently earn a few hundred bucks or more.
As it happens, there’s a lot of good people out there who do value the work of us creative folk, but if nothing else, uploading to these sites at least gains us exposure, experience, and can lead to traffic back to your site and social media accounts.
Some other great sites to share free photos/videos are:
9. Sell your photos via print-on-demand
If you feel your photos are quality enough to be hung on someone’s living room wall, then why not sell your photos as fine art on sites like ImageKind?
All you need do is upload your images, and ImageKind does the rest. Potential customers shop around, and when they’ve chosen a photo they like, ImageKind prints and frames it. You needn’t lift a finger.
Once you are set up you can organize your images into themed galleries. You can tag your work and categorize it for higher ranking in searches. You can even use your customized ImageKind URL to advertise your work on your personal blog or website.
10. Create an online course
If there is something to be learned, chances are you can learn it on the internet.
Psst: Sean Dalton has some amazing classes on Skillshare, we recommend checking them out if you’re looking to learn about topics like: Growing/Monetizing Your Instagram, Smartphone Photography, and more!
And just so: professionals like you can create courses to teach students around the world.
So, just like creating a class or workshop in your local community, you can now expand to a broader online market. With virtual learning sites, you sign up to share your skills via a video course. As a pro photographer, shooting high-quality video productions should be no problem at all!
Creating an online photography course is a great way to earn some passive income as a photographer, especially if you love sharing your knowledge and skills with others.
11. Host a Photo Walk
Photo walks are organized group walking tours for photography enthusiasts, typically hosted by a photographer with knowledge of the local area.
Photowalking hosts guide groups around the best local areas for capturing good photos.
As a professional photographer, you probably know excellent spots in your local area to capture beautiful photos – and as photo walks are growing in popularity, this could offer an opportunity to make additional income.
However, similar to free guided walking tours in tourist destinations, hosts typically don’t charge a fee for the tour but instead receives donations and tips at the end.
So if you’re going to be out taking photos on a Sunday afternoon anyway, why not offer to take other photographers along with you?