Millions of people have been leaving their jobs to strike out on their own. If you’re a passionate professional or hobby photographer, using those skills to make money is only logical. If you already have a photography blog, it shouldn’t be hard to monetize your site. You can also sell prints online through an ecommerce store, join stock photo sites, and more. Here’s what you need to know to get started making money online as a professional photographer.
How Much Does a Photographer Make
How much you can make as a photographer depends on several factors, but it can be a very rewarding and lucrative career. Independent photographers average $45,000 to $72,000 per year. That might not seem like much, but when the median income in the US is just under $36,000 per year it’s nothing to scoff at.
Of course, how much you can earn as a photographer depends on what photography services you are planning to offer, or where you will sell your photos. Stock photographers actually earn very little, at an average rate of less than $1 per image per month, and most of them offer services or prints elsewhere as well. Stock images with
You can also sell prints online. Framed wall art can go for as much as $300 to $400 per piece, depending on the quality of the frame and photo. Canvas prints can go for as much as $250 a piece. You can also sell calendars and other custom items through
Wedding photographers earn a lot more than other photography services, with average freelance photographers earning over $87,000 per year on average. You don’t have to limit yourself to just weddings — any event photography small business will average the same.
Finally, portrait studios can be very profitable. You can charge from $150 to $300 per session, adding to the fee with each person in the shoot. If you’re new to portrait shoots, you might be wondering how much a beginner photographer can charge. Ultimately, if you offer
Ways to Make Money With Photography
Not sure how to make money with your photography skills? There are a lot of options for a professional photographer, and you can choose to offer as many photography services as you like to increase your earning potential. Here are the most popular types of photography that make money.
Monetize your photography blog
If you already have a blog where you post content or photos, it is a very easy matter to monetize the site. You need to purchase a domain name and upgrade to a business plan if you are currently using a subdomain with free hosting. A photographer blogger can link to an online store to buy prints or custom items, or you can make blog posts featuring travel photography and affiliate links to associated products.
Real estate photography
The pandemic has pushed the real estate industry into using remote technology to buy, sell, and rent homes. This has created an increased demand for real estate photography. Offering those services could earn a pretty penny as the market is still fairly fresh.
Stock photo websites
Many photographers offer stock photography on one or more stock photo sites, but you won’t earn a living from stock photos. There are two primary reasons to upload photos to stock photo websites.
First, if you have photos that are not being used elsewhere, these sites can give you a chance to go ahead and earn a bit from them on the side. Second, if you can build a name for yourself in stock photography, you can use them to drive traffic to your site and your more lucrative photography services.
Photo contests are a great way for beginners to start building a portfolio and increase awareness of their work. When you join photo contests you are primarily doing it for exposure rather than money. (They don’t pay much if anything.) Social media photo contests can give you a huge boost in traffic to your online store, photography bio, or online portfolio.
Selling prints online
You can always sell photos directly from your own website, blog, or online store. It’s easier (and cheaper) to set up than you might think. You can sell photos digitally, photo prints, or framed prints. By using a
Wedding photography or event photography
If you don’t want to have your own studio, you can shoot weddings and events on location. A wedding photography business is quite lucrative, and you can offer the couple a digital album, framed prints, or customized items.
Shooting events of any kind can be a big moneymaker, and you should definitely consider offering them among your photography services. If you photograph expos, conferences, or retreats you can partner with a
A portrait studio can also be very lucrative. You can offer portraits for professional headshots, family photos, or photo shoots designed specifically for babies and children. You can also offer portrait shoots at schools, universities, large companies, or any other entity that requires photo identification.
With 90% of people shopping online stunning photographs of products are in high demand. Even if a small business doesn’t offer online ordering, presenting images that clearly describe the product can increase conversions and sales. Marketing agencies often work with freelance photographers for the same reasons. You can also shoot photos of provided services on location.
Be a photography tour guide
Do you live in an area that gets a lot of tourist traffic? If so, you should consider offering services as a photography tour guide. Photography tours allow you to show the visitors the best tourist attractions in the area while snapping photos for remembrance. Again, with a print on demand service you can also offer the tourists items customized with photos from their vacation.
It might seem that teaching photography online is impossible, but there are ways that you can earn money by teaching aspiring photographers. Photography tutorials can be offered as exclusive paid content, or you can monetize free photography tutorials on YouTube or TikTok. Mentoring or offering internships to local aspiring photographers is also beneficial as it gives you an assistant. You can also offer photography classes in your local community.
What You Need to Start Selling Photography Services Online
Setting up a photography business online isn’t as hard or expensive as you might think. Still, there are some things that every photographer will need to do to set up their business regardless of the photography services and products they offer. To get started selling photos online, you will need:
- Even if you aren’t offering ordering directly on site, you will still need your own website and domain, including an online portfolio and bio showcasing your photography skills.
- Your own studio for portrait and headshot shoots, with a dark room if you still use traditional film for some projects.
- Photo editing software so that you can edit photos before adding them to your site. Many photographers choose Adobe Lightroom for the convenience of photography presets of custom filters for a cohesive catalog.
- Business account with a
print-on-demandservice to offer printed pictures.
- Merchant account for processing payments (PayPal, Stripe, etc.)
- An ecommerce platform like Ecwid where you can add custom items, photo prints, or framed wall art to your online store. Tasks can be integrated and automated so that you can focus on taking more pictures instead of spending time maintaining your online offerings.
Still not sure that starting a photography small business is the right move for you? Start selling photos online with Ecwid or another ecommerce platform. If it doesn’t work out, you haven’t lost a large investment. If it does work out, the online store can grow with your business. Take the plunge and earn money from your passion for photography.