The knee-jerk reaction of most photographers looking to diversify their income is typically one of two avenues: 1.) to create presets to sell or 2.) create a class that shares all your hard-earned knowledge (then sell it to your direct competition). Booooo!
There's better ways to make money from anywhere as a photog, and here's five of them that you probably didn't know about before today...
I've talked about this a lot on my different platforms and you guys are always intrigued. I thought it was time I formalized what this looks like.
A few years ago, I was having a casual dinner with one of my photographer friends in Atlanta. She mentioned how she wished she could make more money in between photoshoots, so I suggested she upload her photos to Creative Market and Etsy, and sell them for $8-14 each.
She kind of laughed it off, but did it anyway. In a matter of a few weeks, she was making over $750 on Creative Market. This was money flowing into her bank accounts without any kind of effort, other than the initial one to get the photos uploaded and tagged on the site.
Creative Market and Etsy are amazing platforms for this because they're shopping search engines. Users are actively looking for exactly what you have to sell. Not only are they browsing, they're also buying.
Most photographers keep the copyright to the images they take (check your contract to see if you do) and merely "rent" out the finished, edited images to their clients for a specific purpose-- blog photos, family photos, etc. This is called a photo "license."
If you as a photographer still own the images (aka, you kept the copyright and didn't assign it to your client), you can sell these client images on sites like the ones mentioned here.
As a pro tip though, leave out the identifying shots-- bloggers and business owners probably don't want them anyway, plus it could lead to trouble with your clients later.
Not so keen on farming out your images for $8-14 a pop on shopping search sites? No worries-- I've got a more boutique, high-end option for you.
Instead of picking up a sale here and there on these sites, directly reach out to a few business owners who could use your photos.
Anyone with a blog, or an Instagram, or anyone who advertises on Facebook, is constantly in need of fresh photos.
And with only so many stock photo sites to go around, and even less good stock photos on those sites, it's common to see the same ones reused by multiple competing businesses.
But you have the ability to help us!
We entrepreneurs could really use access to ten to thirty fresh photos every month, and we'd be willing to pay you. So for those same photos you've already taken at your engagement, portrait or other photoshoots, you could make them work double-time by allowing us to use them on our blog as stock photos.
Approach non-photographers you follow who maybe have a hard time keeping up with Instagram due to a lack of photo content, and offer to give them fresh photos in a gallery every month in exchange for $XXX amount of dollars.
To be clear-- I would pay you, the photographer, say... $100 a month for access to 30 photos added to an online gallery. These are photos you've already taken for other clients' weddings, sessions and portrait days, and they are not identifying any of your clients (no faces).
It's a win-win-- I get the photos I desperately need at a fraction of the cost of a brand photoshoot, and for a minimal amount of extra effort (you already took the photos), you get an extra hundo every month.
If you had ten clients like this, you'd make an extra $1000 a month, free and clear with mayyyyyybe an extra hour or so of work!!
Can't see clients face-to-face because of a global pandemic, pregnancy or extreme aversion to other people? (No judgment!!)
Have your clients mail their products and wares into you, spend a day gathering fun materials, and shoot their products, stationery or other goods from the comfort of your coffee-stained sweatpants all day, every day.
Make this as easy and simple as possible for them so that you're a no-brainer to work with.
Organize and maintain props you could re-use for multiple clients throughout different shoots to maximize any out-of-pocket investment you need to make.
And don't forget to track these purchases so you can write them off! Click here if you need help getting yourself organized in a jiffy.
Get paid to cook for your family!
No seriously, it's entirely possible with food photography.
The way this one works is food bloggers come up with recipes for their audience. Unfortunately, while many of these talented women and men are studs in the kitchen... their photography skills are lacking.
Not only that, but a lot of food, well, it just isn't pretty "as is," and needs a bit of zhuzhing up to look super savory.
Reach out to food bloggers with okay-ish to bad photography, and ask if they'd like to work with you.
They don't need to send you anything (other than money, duh!)-- you recreate their recipes and use your styling + photography skills to make their dishes look delightful.
Send them a contract (this is the exact one I'd use for this) and let's get cooking!
Unfortunately, this is an area I have a lot of experience in as of late. After exiting a 7-year relationship, I tested out the waters of online app dating. You may have heard of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OKCupid, Match.com and others.
I can vouch-- the profiles are atrocious. As a gal checking out guys, it's a bunch of trout being held above streams, jumping out of planes and blurry mirror-selfies (if you're lucky, they're still wearing clothes *eyeroll*).
You could set up mini sessions for singles in your area (bonus points if you're single too!) while following any social distance rules. (Think: the recent trend of front porch family photos.)
Or, you could offer profile critiques to online daters for $10 a pop. Try posting a service like this to Fiverr, Thumbtack, or best of all, let your photo critique skills by word of mouth. Almost everyone knows someone who's on these apps!
It's a bit of an unconventional way to make money, but once you become the "Bumble Profile Whisperer," your friends will always know where to send newly single guys and gals so your photography-based side-hustle grows organically + quickly.
Plus, if these online app daters are successful, they just might need a wedding photographer!!
Comment below if this post was helpful. I'd love to hear which one of these strategies you'll be testing out soon!
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