As time goes by attentions can naturally change for a photographer from blissful enjoyment to ‘how to make money from photography’. This is what we’re going to reveal today.
These ideas on how to make money from photography focuses more on side business rather than a full-time job – but it’s possible to upscale these ideas if they seem profitable to your situation.
There are several ways in which you can make money from photography, but first you need to be aware of what forms you can see a photo as. Here are the most common:
• As digital downloads (phone wallpapers, computer backgrounds, background files for composites)
• As prints (like you get from a photo booth)
• Mounted prints (printed photo with a hard foam backing for rigidity)
• Print on aluminium (a more modern approach but great for adding clarity and luminance)
• Fully framed (print/mounted print framed behind glass/plastic)
Giving your customers options allows them a choice. Everyone will have a different need, room, décor and space to fill so offering variety on how you can deliver those images will appeal more.
In terms of what sizes to sell, we’d recommend sticking with 3 different size options maximum, to begin with. Think of it like small, medium and large. 7”x5” (inches) is a good size to place on a surface.
15”x10” is a better option for a medium wall mounted piece and then have a bigger option around 20”x16” as an impact piece. If you are selling framed images make sure the frames at the sizes you choose to print at are available easily and cost-effective.
There are number of 3rd party websites that you can sell your photos on these days. They are set up for beginners to simply upload a photo and choose sizes/products that you want to have available to customers.
Places such as Red Bubble and Etsy are great for this but be aware they will take a percentage of the sale.
If you’re not a fan of online selling, then look to discover your local markets and opportunities to sell to customers directly.
Arts & Craft fairs are brilliant places to meet your customers and make money from your photos. You’ll need a more substantial capital investment first to make prints your prints, frame them and wrap them – alongside designing marketing banners to establish that brand look.
To balance out the investment on your stock, attending these fairs as a seller is relatively cheap, you’ll be glad to know. Look out local notices and start to build a network with other creative retailers who attend these fairs as they tend to be regulars.
Much like 3rd party websites that offer to sell your photography for you, stock sites are very similar.
If you are thinking of making money from your photos using stock websites, then be careful. The return on the effort you put in shooting, editing and uploading is very small. You’ll need a large back catalogue of photos and consistency on every shot for a decent commission.
There is a market for making money from your photography in a more novelty fashion. Having your photos printed on t-shirts, cups, keyrings, postcards, greetings cards etc is possible and cost effective, but does it do your photography justice you have to ask?
If you feel more confident about selling yourself and your skills, then why not directly approach local businesses and offer your services as a freelance photographer?
Head to local businesses in your town and take samples of your work. Show them images you think would look great in their business. Food photography in cafes and delis. Or how about pictures of the town they’re in for book shops and other independent retailers.
Go in with a plan and a set price of what you can offer the business but be prepared for a little haggling.
Remember to set yourself a floor price that you can’t go lower than, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the project would cost you more money than you’d get paid.
The question that all photographers ask when thinking of making money from their photos is ‘how do I price my work?’. Everyone’s answer will be different so there is no universal answer we’re afraid of.
You need to consider your fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are the bills you need to pay every month (mortgage, rent, insurance, utilities etc). Variables are things like petrol, food, luxuries etc – things that can change every month.
Knowing these outgoings, you can start to weigh up the hours spent on creating your photography business against the return you need to make it worthwhile.
It is important to add in the cost of your own experience too. All the learning, equipment, practising and editing you do in your photography needs to be costed into your pricing too. Create yourself an hourly rate and see if the hours you put in would give you a decent return (and profit) to selling your photos.
Alternatively, if you want to keep complete control of your work and sales then selling photos through your own website is perfect. You can set up a website with a shop function for a low cost.
Here are 7 tips on building a website and using social media to sell your photos.
1. Demonstrate only your best images on a website (it’s not a game of quantity, only quality. You need to be hyper-critical).
2. Don’t be random – keep a consistent style and genre of images to the ones you want to sell. This helps establish you as a brand and consistent photographer.
3. Make it personable and friendly – give a little backstory to each photograph to make it appear loved.
4. Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and WordPress all have simple website builders that are user friendly for beginners. Many have free versions to try out.
5. Make sure you have at least 2 social media channels for contact (not everyone uses Facebook). Remember though, the more you have, the harder you’ll have to work to keep up to date.
6. Instagram allows you to place a link to your website in your bio. You can build an audience, update whenever you want, offer sales, discounts, limited editions etc. It’s a very accessible network.
7. You can cross-post all your photos from Instagram to Facebook too without having to switch apps using Facebook’s Creator Studio.
Hopefully this guide has been useful to give you an understanding on the options of how to sell your work and make money from your photography as a newcomer.
You need to be driven and prepared for a long commitment as sales don’t always come fast or regularly. But with updating your portfolio, taking new photos and being determined to improve can really show to your customers.
Aim to invest in the right lens/equipment whenever possible. As they say, ‘speculate to accumulate’ and cutting corners will always show.