How to Make Money as a Photographer at Home
Whether you’re a seasonal photographer or just stuck at home for a period of time, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t be earning money. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few different ways to make money as a photographer at home. Some of them are brand new projects, while others make use of images you’ve already shot.
We’ve put together our top six ways to make money at home as a photographer.
The vast majority of photographers are service providers, which means they sell their photography as a service. Whether this as a portrait photographer, commercial shooter, or a wedding photographer, people pay for a specific service related to photography.
With this being the case, selling printed work is often an afterthought for photographers. Digital imagery has been on the rise for over a decade, and so many clients don’t ask for printed work. Busy photographers focus more on booking the next shoot, rather than expanding out to create a revenue stream from selling prints.
However, a great way to make money as a photographer at home is to put focus on selling printed work. If you have any past shoots that you haven’t sold prints from, then you have a great opportunity.
Fine art photographers probably have it easiest, and with a good archive of photos, can pivot quickly to selling prints. From home, you can create an online gallery of images, add shopping cart functionality, and start to market the gallery.
Event and portrait photographers also have an easy opportunity, as it is still traditional for people to buy prints and albums for display from these types of shoots. Other types of photography can be harder to sell prints for, but there are still plenty of opportunities.
For commercial photographers, much of the question comes down to who owns the images you photographed. It isn’t uncommon to sell the rights for the images to the client as part of the contract. But, for the images where you still retain the rights, you can get creative with selling prints.
You also have the opportunity to talk about licensing your photos, which is what we’ll talk about next.
Related: Where to Show and Sell Your Photos
License Your Photos
In essence, licensing your photos is coming up with an arrangement for a client (or multiple clients) to use an image or collection of images. The terms define how they can use it, where they can use it, and for how long they can use it.
Depending on the type of photography you shoot, or have shot in the past, this could be a great opportunity for you to make money while still at home.
There are a lot of intricacies to licensing your photos. For starters, you’ll have to determine which photos you want to license. You need to find clients interested in these types of images and willing to pay you for them. You’ll need to set up terms and a contract for the licensing itself.
There are several places to look for clients to license photos:
- Stock photography sites: These are the easiest to get into, as they do all of the work to find paying clients. We’ll discuss this later in the article
- Magazines, online publications, and websites: These types of organizations are in constant need of unique imagery, and typically have a budget to pay for them.
- PR and Marketing Firms: These companies are running marketing campaigns on behalf of businesses and almost always need custom imagery.
Look for easy opportunities in your network, and start reaching out and making connections.
Shoot for Stock
People all over the world are in constant need of professional images. Whether for a website, presentation, or an email, most of these people turn to stock photography companies to satisfy their needs.
These stock photo sites need photos, and they need lots of them. Some of the most popular images sold on stock sites are still lives of everyday business and home life. Images with people in them sell best, and the standards are typically fairly high. All of this makes it a great opportunity for photographers to make money while working at their house.
You can sign up to be a photographer for numerous stock websites, and the process is pretty simple. They provide guidelines for best practices, and you’ll go through an approval process for every image you submit. Some of the most popular stock sites are Shutterstock and iStock Photo.
It isn’t as simple as just taking a photo. It will need to be lightly edited, and you’ll also need to provide a title, description, and keywords so that the image can be found in search on their platform.
Stock photography is a volume game. In other words, you need to take a lot of photos of a lot of different scenes in order to be successful. And, it is by no means a get rich quick scheme. The income earned on each photo sold typically isn’t very high.
But, at the same time, it is a great way to make money from home as a photographer. If you can develop a good process for shooting a variety of images and commit to consistently uploading them, you can see a nice return.
Edit and Retouch
These days, it's part and parcel that as a photographer, you’re also a decent image editor. Editing and retouching images on your computer is a part of being a digital photographer, and there are lots of opportunities to get paid specifically for editing and retouching at home.
For a Company
Depending on the specific industry of photography, there are companies that offer editing and retouching services to photographers. And, these companies need people to edit for them. Many offer work-from-home options and give you the chance to do some part-time work from the comfort of your home.
Because you’d be working for a company, this might provide you with a more consistent stream of work.
From Pratik Naik’s Pro Edu course
For Other Photographers
As they get more busy, many professional photographers choose to hire out their retouching or editing. If you know of any busy photographers in your area, you might be able to do some or all of their editing for them.
If you’re well connected and good at retouching, this might be an easy route for you to pursue. Keep in mind that you’ll be up against the seasonal aspects (and other business aspects) of that photographer.
For Friends and Family
With today’s phone cameras being as advanced as they are, everyone is a photographer at all times. More and more people take more and more photos, and the quality of the camera in the phone makes them better and better. However, just because the camera phone is better doesn’t mean that every picture looks the best that it could.
Hobby photographers and regular people are constantly snapping important images with their phones, and could use help with editing. Here are some situations that many would pay to have their camera phone images edited:
- Favorite images of their kids
- Iconic moments, such as family events and celebrations
- Vacation pictures
For many, having a professional photographer edit one of the images takes it from being a camera phone picture to something that could be hung on a wall.
Using social media, it's entirely possible to find a small but good base of people who would be interested in this type of retouching.
Use Your Expertise
As a photographer, the opportunities to make money don’t have to stop at taking pictures. With that kind of expertise, there are lots of other ways to make money from home, without even getting out your camera.
Write about Photography
Photography is a popular subject, with lots of people interested in learning more about it. Whether it's the latest trends in gear or an in-depth how-to guide, there is always a need for content about photography.
You can use your expertise as a photographer to write for online publications, blogs, or even your own website. Many of these publications pay their writers per article, while many have other forms of compensation.
Teach a Tutorial
Beyond writing about photography, you could also teach a tutorial. Photography is often best learned visually, and making a video tutorial is a great way to teach something in-depth on the subject of photography.
There are several ways to go about making a tutorial. It's relatively easy to make a tutorial on your own at home. Odds are, you’ll want it to look professional, and so you’ll need some decent technology to help you:
- Good camera with video (Canon Rebel t7i, Nikon D3500, or Sony a5100)
- High quality microphone
- Lighting setup
Marketing the tutorial can be a full time job in and of itself, so you might consider licensing your tutorial or working with someone else to market it.
Finally, if you don’t want to do all on your own, companies like Pro Edu are always on the lookout for good educators for their online courses.
Find Lateral Industries
Photography skills lend themselves nicely to other, lateral industries. Two other industries that lend themselves well to photography are graphic design and website building. These visual jobs also utilize similar skill sets to digital photography, and can be done at home.
There is no shortage of opportunities to build websites for people and businesses. Online job platforms like Upwork make it easy for you to find opportunities. While you might have to educate yourself on how to build a website, many of the same skill sets you use as a digital photographer are transferable.
Many photographers are also excellent graphic designers.
Work On Your Current Business
Sometimes the best use of time is to invest in yourself. If you already have a business that utilizes your photography, whether part time or full time, it is often best to double down and invest your time on that.
If you’re in a season where you can’t shoot very much outside of the house, consider these options to stay focused on growing your business:
Build brand awareness
While it might not be time for shooting, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good time to talk about the services you offer and the expertise you provide. Building awareness about your brand and who you serve plants the seed in the mind of your target market, and can grow help grow your business over the long haul.
Some great ways to do this are:
- Start an email list: stay in touch with your tribe but providing regular updates and helpful content through an email campaign.
- Get active on social media: post content regularly and engage with the platform, which helps build your audience and expertise over time
- Try a new platform: maybe you’re a wiz on Facebook, but have never given Pinterest a try? Now is a great time to learn a new platform to build awareness for your business.
Write Articles for Your Blog
Focusing on your website is a great use of your time, but especially when you’re taking a long term view of your business. One of the best ways to grow your web presence is by producing articles for your blog.
For most photographers, they have a backlog of photo shoots that they haven’t published on their blog. Slow times at home are great opportunities to start publishing content from past shoots.
In addition, use the time to write helpful articles for your target market. Blog articles can take a long time to provide benefits, but they are also powerful ways to drive organic engagement over time.
Whether its slow season for your business or you’re stuck at home for a period of time, you can still put it to good use and earn money with your photography. Either spend time on your core business, or branch out and start earning in other areas of photography.
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