We all carry around in our pockets camera equipment that helps us capture special memories, memorable occasions, those rare moments, our day to day lives and just for selfie sake.
The great thing about the ever rapidly increasing mobile phone photography specs are the number of people now taking up photography as a hobby.
Coming from an amateur photographer myself I can certainly appreciate the developments mobile phone manufacturers like Huawei, Apple and Samsung are making.
But, how can you really make money with photography in 2021?
- Sell your photos through a stock photography website
- Build a photography blog, and review products and software for affiliate commission
- Create a photography course and sell online through course platforms
- Design a photography workshop and teach local residents about their hobby
- Create and sell stock videos using your DSLR
- Sell your photography and designs through a gift marketplace
- Start a photography channel, or create and sell a photography ebook
Of course you may have an SLR, DSLR or even latest mirrorless handheld camera, which can have an advantage in some respects, but whether you have invested in a full camera or are using your mobile phone, there are lots of ways to make money with photography, and turn your passion in to a money making venture.
You may make a small fortune, or you may just earn enough to pay for your new camera, lenses or equipment, but either way it can be fun – and even if it’s just enough to pay for your photography hobby, it’s certainly not a bad start.
Here are some of the best ways in 2021 to earn money with your photography, photos and knowledge.
Sell your photos through a stock photography website
One of the quickest ways to make money with your photography is to sell your photos. One such way is to upload your photos to a stock photography site such as Shutterstock.
Shutterstock are an online platform designed to connect photographers and those looking to buy photographs usually for business purposes (like magazines, blogs, billboards, adverts, editorial content etc…), or to be printed and hung on a wall.
There is a lot of competition on stock photography websites, and the pay isn’t always great, but once your photo has been uploaded and accepted everything else is passive. You will earn if someone downloads your photo whether it’s today, tomorrow, next month, next year or five years’ time.
It’s always best to upload as many quality photos as you are able to. The more you have the higher your chances of someone finding and downloading your work.
Affiliate Sales through Sharing and Teaching Photography
By amassing an audience of following of your work, you gain the ability to start recommending certain photography tools (such as Photoshop or Lightroom), the latest cameras or every camera equipment.
By far the easiest way to start earning an affiliate income is to join Amazon Associates. By joining Amazon Associates you’ll be able to create individual links to share with your audience.
If someone clicks on your link, they will be taken to the Amazon website, and to the page of the product you’ve recommended, but if they decide to buy then Amazon will pay you a commission for passing the customer to them.
You need to make sure you don’t blast your audience with advert after advert, but infrequent recommendations of tools you’ve tried, and recommend, could earn you a nice affiliate commission.
You may have heard that as of May 2020 Amazon have reduced their paying commission. It’s unfortunate for Amazon to take this course of action during the current climates we face right now, but it still is by far the easiest option.
If you don’t currently have an audience, there are ways to build one. You could start an Instagram page and upload your photographs and share the stories behind them, or you could create a YouTube channel and post videos to help people understand their cameras and some how-to techniques to take better photos.
If your photos are good you should be able to build an audience, and with an audience you have a much better chance of making money with your photography.
Next Steps: You should think about create an Instagram page (if you don’t already have one), perhaps a YouTube Channel – and of course take a look at the Amazon Associates website for more information about affiliate marketing.
Create an Online Photography Course
The online teaching industry has seen a growth like no other. Tutors on Udemy are collecting up to £100,000+ a year with their courses.
These of course are the top end of courses, and it takes time to get the students and traction needed to generate an income of over £100,000 but it’s relatively easy to build an online course which earns you a good passive income.
Like many things ‘out there’ on the internet, the course you create today could still be taking on students in five years’ time – and you will earn for every student.
As all of the coursework, presentations, videos etc… have already been uploaded, ongoing support for students is relatively minor. It’s not until you start reaching a high number of students should the need for regular support be needed, but by then you could be earning a full-time income from it.
If you know of great techniques to help someone improve their photography, have excellent Photoshop and Lightroom skills to help students enhance their photos etc… you could create individual mini-course around each topic or combine everything in to one large course.
Udemy’s payments can be very low (as low as £1-£2 per student that signs up to your course) but Udemy has the benefit of being a popular marketplace, so once your course is uploaded they do some of the marketing for you, and you can make money without any further work.
Udemy often have sales. So the course you have up for sale at £79 may be put on sale for £10. You of course earn commission on the £10 sale, not the £79 original price.
You can opt out of these sales but considering 90%+ of all Udemy course sales happen during one of their regular sales, you could be missing out on sales if you opt out.
Teachable is also a course platform which is slick and user friendly as allow students to enroll, pay you and take your course. Teachable allows you to keep all the monies from your students.
So, if you charge £79 for your course, you get to keep all £79 – but of course Teachable needs to earn money for their services and they do this with a monthly fee.
You can have a free account to get started (although it is a little limited and you will have to pay Teachable a commission for every student you enroll).
Paid subscriptions to Teachable start at £39 per month with an advanced subscription at £99 per month. These give you access to better tools, faster payments, you’ll owe no commission to Teachable and can use your own website address too.
It’s worth noting that Teachable are a software provider, not a marketplace. Teachable has no audience, so they won’t market your course. If you can’t find paying students to enroll, you won’t earn any money but still have to pay Teachable their monthly fee.
One other distinct advantage of using Teachable other than Udemy is you get access to your student’s contact details. So, if a student enrolls on your course on Udemy you can’t contact them about other courses you may develop. With Teachable you have full access to your student’s contact details.
Start a local photography workshop
A lot of the options we’ve gone through so far have involved being online. For those of you who prefer being outdoors, rather than stuck inside on a computer screen, you could look at offering local photography workshops.
So many people are getting into photography, and so many people don’t really know where to start or are becoming overwhelmed by the available photography tips and help found online. It can be mind-blowing!
As more and more people are setting up online ventures to make money through photography, less are doing so offline in the big wide world.
If you live near to an interesting historical city or perhaps near coastal routes with amazing views – or are within regular travelling distance of London – you could hold outdoor workshops in those locations. Taking your attendees on the best places to take photos, exploring the local area, as well as teaching them photography techniques they can try out immediately.
A real, hands on, outdoor course can be a better learning tool than learning indoors and trying to remember what you picked up on your next photography outing.
You could charge £99 for a 6-hours outdoors photography workshop – and within just 5 people attending this would bring in £500 in revenue, with little cost other than time and travel, for just one day a week work.
You’ll ned to know your stuff and you need to be an expert in your local area, or the area you wish to take people to. It’s best to practise the route a number of times and in different weather conditions so you know the optimum places to take your attendees during all weathers.
Next Steps: To get started with this option you need nothing more than attendees. You could try advertising in local newspapers and magazines and also see if local photography or printing shops would pass leaflets to their customers to spread word about your business.
Make money with stock videos
You may be wondering what producing stock videos has to do with photography?
Well actually quite a lot. Many DSLR cameras have the ability to record video as well as take photos, and almost all smartphones now allow you to take full HD video.
As we’ve already seen, it’s possible to make some extra money by selling your photographs through a website such as Shutterstock but as I already mentioned, it’s a crowded space.
As technology is becoming more powerful, and the bandwidth cost for everyday users is lower than it has been since the internet began, it means people can stream more videos to their phones, tablets and laptops.
Advertisers have also discovered the power of video marketing, as well as traditional photo and text adverts. This, along with an increase in YouTubers and online marketers, means the demand for stock videos is really growing – and the supply is no where as big as it is for photos.
This could give you an amazing advantage to create good stock videos using your DSLR or mobile phone using the HD setting, and sell these through stock video websites.
The supply of stock videos is still low enough that it’s possible to make a return of £30 for a single download of a single HD video. This is a much higher return than a photograph.
Next Steps: To see the type of stock videos in demand have a look at the video section of sites like Shutterstock Stock Videos and iStockPhoto Stock Videos. Look for a stock video niche in demand and see if can help others find the stock videos they want, as well as giving a nice boost to your income in the process!
Create your own photography website and sell prints
This may sound a little daunting, but if done right you could be charging upwards of £100+ per print, and even more if you arrange the framing and deliver to a customer a complete hanging print ready to be hung on the wall.
You won’t even need to learn any complex coding like HTML or CSS to build your website as there are a number of website builders than can help with tasks just like this.
Once your website has been created, you’ll need to find an audience. You can write a blog on your website detailing your travel and photography experiences, plus also you should think about growing an Instagram or Facebook account and look to gain a following.
Those people who like your photographs, and follow your work, may be tempted to become a customer to have prints they like hanging on their wall.
Next Steps: You could look an online web builder tools such as Wix or WordPress , or you could take a How to Start Your Own Business course over at Udemy (sign up to their newsletter and check your inbox for their regular £10 sales) and not only learn how to build your own website for free step by step, but also how to choose a website name, marketing, advertising and lots more
Sell photograph prints through an online gift marketplace
Now for those of you really in a creative mood you could combine your photography talents and your craft talents and put together the ultimate gift idea that could be sold on creative marketplaces such as Etsy, Not on the High Street or Folksy.
People are turning away from the very manufactured and impersonal gifts found in high street chains and looking towards unique and personalised gift ideas.
Could your photography lend itself to a piece of art, craft, novelty or practical item. Perhaps you could, using photography software like Adobe Photoshop, could turn your photo in to art.
There are many tools and presets allowing you to do just that. Even mobile phone software has the ability of turning photographs in to an art form.
It’s quiet fun to do. It also means, as you took the photo, you have no copyright issues with anything you sell.
This sounds quite a cool idea, and something I think we’ll cover in more detail on a future post here on Money Boost!
Next Steps: Have a look around websites such as Folksy which will give you some inspiration on products which you could add your photographs, or an enhanced art version of your photograph, that you could make or have manufactured.
I’d also recommend taking a look at Cafepress. They have set up a great service where you can design your own merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts, water bottles, cushions and even dog blankets. You can build your product on screen by uploading your photo or art.
The benefit is you won’t need to mass manufacture these, you can sell direct on Cafepress through your own online shop page for free. If you sell a product then Cafepress will produce it and deliver it to your customer. There are no up-front costs with Cafepress, and you don’t need to have anything manufactured before you start a shop.
If for example you wanted to sell branded and customised t-shirts with your photographs or design, you may find Cafepress will charge you £15.99 (just an example) to produce each one and deliver it to your customer. Therefore, if you charge £22.99 on your Cafepress shop and make a sale, Cafepress collects £22.99 from your customer, takes their £15.99 manufacturing and delivery charge, and pay you £7.
Create a photography blog, vlog or eBook
Last on the list, but by no means least, you may want to try your hand at creating a photography blog or vlog.
A blog is a website which allows you to talk about and share what you’re passionate about, whereas a vlog is a video version of the same thing which would be uploaded to a video sharing site such as YouTube.
Many people are travelling and photographing the world and living on the money made through their website or YouTube channel. As your blog or video channel can be updated anywhere you are in the world – and even just using a mobile phone – it means you can keep your followers updated with your latest travel adventures.
You can earn money through affiliated recommended products (see the Affiliate section above) or through adverts shown on your YouTube videos.
If though you have a passion for writing, you could turn your skills in to a profitable ebook. An ebook (or electronic book like the ones you would find on an Amazon Kindle) is a very low-cost way to self-publish. You could write a book on photography tips, practical advice or even a travel writing diary.
If you’re photography is particularly exceptional, and you have many great collections in your portfolio you may decide to look towards a publisher and author your own photography collection in a hard-back coffee top book.
Next Steps: For website building you may want to consider an online builder such as Wix, if vlogging (video blogging) about your travels sounds fun then you need to create a channel on YouTube. To get started with an ebook you may want to check out our ‘ become a writer and make money with ebooks ‘ helpful guide
We have only really scratched the surface here. Making money through your photography online and offline requires the same creativity that goes in to producing your amazing photographs.
The best photograph collections are the ones that see things others haven’t. The same rules apply with selling. You need to seek the opportunities missed by others. If you do, you’ll have the same success making money with your photos as you do taking them!