How to make money with your photography.
If you’re looking to learn how to turn your passion for photography into cash, you’ve come to the right place! While professional photography is a competitive field, there are many different ways to make money with your photos—including many you probably never even considered.
We’ve rounded up some of the best opportunities out there and provide lots of handy tips on how to make money with photography. Let’s dig in.
How to make money with photography online.
The internet has greatly widened the reach of photographers interested in making money with photographs. The following provides opportunities that can all be pursued from home, giving you plenty of flexibility, as you can set your own schedule, and usually don’t require investing a ton of time.
These “make money with photography” opportunities are the perfect way to make money from your photos while also holding down another job.
Sell pictures online with stock photography websites.
One of the major benefits of stock photography sites is that you can let your photos do the work for you. Once you have a collection of great images, all you need to do is upload them. If people like what they see, you can start earning money from your photos—no further effort is required!
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your stock photos. Focus on niche subject matter, keep current trends in mind, and capture authentic, candid-looking photos (as opposed to obviously staged shots).
Next, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right stock photography sites. There is a variety of stock photo sites to choose from, and they each offer their own benefits. Considerations include pay rates, exclusivity rights, and exposure. Figure out which one of these is most important to you and go from there.
If you’re looking for how to make money with photos online, Shutterstock is a great place to check out. It offers fair pay rates starting at 20 percent; many stock photographers say they earn most of their money from this site.
On the other hand, if you want as many eyes on your photos as possible and are willing to take a lower pay rate, iStock is a solid choice. Its pay rates start at 15 percent, and it reaches 1.5 million customers around the world. This may not be the top choice if you’re interested in how to make money from photos, but it is the best option if your main goal is simply to get your name/work out into the world.
There are many more sites out there to choose from—check out our in-depth article on how to make money with stock photos for more resources.
Before you start uploading those pics, however, don’t forget to update your online portfolio website. Customers who view your images on stock photography sites are all potential clients. They may head to your site after purchasing some of your stock work, so you need to be ready with a professional, organized website that shows off your best work.
Blogging is an excellent option to pursue for those of you who are interested in how to make money with photography. If you create a great blog that attracts readers and keeps them coming back, you can actually earn decent cash through advertising.
Google Ads is one of the easiest and most popular ways to do that. But don’t limit yourself to just online ads: consider going directly to businesses you think would benefit from advertising on your blog. For example, if your blog features photography tutorials, see if there are photo workshops that would be interested in advertising with you. By going directly to advertisers (instead of using a service like Google Ads), you’ll get to keep all of the ad revenue.
The key to blogging well is posting quality content regularly. Photography tutorial articles are an excellent choice, as are equipment reviews, and behind-the-scenes pieces that give readers a peek into your process.
Make sure to link your Instagram feed to your online portfolio as well. This will let clients and potential clients see even more of your wonderful photos!
And, finally, don’t forget to brush up on your SEO skills. Making sure your portfolio website is optimized for SEO means more people will find it—and more prospective clients will see your work.
Another way to leverage your blogging skills is to write for other photography blogs to increase your online presence as an influential voice in the photography industry. Some blogs and publications will even pay you to do this, making blogging an even more appealing way for making money as a photographer.
There are many great photography contests that offer substantial prize money. Winning a contest—or even placing as a runner-up—can offer invaluable exposure and help cement your reputation as a skilled photographer.
Here are just a couple photography contests that are worth checking out to help you with making money from photography:
- International Photography Awards is an annual contest that offers prizes ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 in a range of categories such as people, nature, event, fine art, and architecture.
- National Geographic Photo Contest is another annual contest with prizes up to $2,500. You can submit photos in three different categories: wildlife, people, and places. National Geographic also holds other photo contests throughout the year, and winners have their work promoted in the magazine and on the website, so keep an eye on their website to be ready for when they’re open for submissions.
Even if you don’t win, entering photo contests can lead to more opportunities to make money with photography. For instance, photo contests often promote honorable-mention entrants or feature the latest submissions. This type of exposure is great for drawing potential clients to visit your website.
If you do win a contest, make sure to mention that in the About Me page on your portfolio. It’s a killer credential for showing off to potential clients.
There are a variety of online marketplaces for selling photos. Similar to stock sites, your images will be listed alongside those from other photographers, so there’s a decent amount of competition. But you’ll get more freedom to set your own prices and make higher profits, which is always a benefit when you’re trying to earn money from photography.
These online marketplaces offer the advantage of access to a large customer base. They also tend to be tailored to artists and art lovers, so you’ll find a different type of customer than you will on stock photography sites.
There are many different types of online marketplaces out there: some focus on selling digital images, while others focus on prints (and some do both).
Some examples of online marketplaces where you can make money with photography include:
This is an online marketplace for art and photography. It offers a print-on-demand service, so you can just upload your photos and offer them for sale as images or prints. Some of the options available include greeting cards, phone cases, shower curtains, duvet covers, posters, framed prints, canvas prints, and metal prints.
Fine Art America sets the base price for each product. Then you’re free to set the markup to whatever you want (that’s how much you’ll earn on the sale).
This is an online marketplace for original art. You can use it to sell limited-edition photography, which means your photo prints have to be signed, numbered, and be part of a print run of less than 100.
When you sell on Zatista, however, you’re responsible for doing the printing and shipping yourself. One benefit of this marketplace is it’s more exclusive than the other ones out there. It takes some effort to get accepted as an artist, but if you do, you’ll have access to a large customer base with less competition than sites that accept everyone.
To apply, you have to complete an online application where you provide a biography and write an artist statement to tell them what makes you unique. Then you have to submit three to five images for their consideration. Zatista has an art review board that meets every three months to judge the submissions and decide who gets accepted.
Freelance job boards.
There are a variety of freelance job boards that allow you to search for freelance photography gigs. Some of them also allow you to create a freelancer profile so that people who are looking for photographers can find you.
Some of the most popular freelancing sites that can help you with making money through photography are Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer. These sites typically take a percentage of your earnings. For instance, Freelancer takes 20 percent of the first $500 you make off a client; the rate then decreases as you earn more money from your photos.
While the fees might scare some freelancers off, the large amount of gigs they enable you to find makes them well worth checking out.
If you’re interested in making money with photography by selling prints, building an online store is an essential step. An online store makes it easier for customers to see all the options available and find exactly what they’re looking for.
If you’re using a good portfolio website, it should be easy to customize an online photo store in minutes. You can simply choose some images you think will sell well, and then provide some options for print sizing and quality.
When it comes to pricing your prints, don’t forget to account for all of your costs, including materials, labor, overhead, and shipping. For more detailed tips, check out this guide to pricing your photography.
There’s no need to print out your photos in advance. Instead, wait for someone to place an order, and then print them on demand.
How to make money with photography locally.
If you’ve just started diving into how to make money as a photographer, these freelance gigs are an ideal way to begin. These opportunities offer an easy way to get started and make some quick money. They can also help you build your photography portfolio and lead to better gigs.
By focusing on local opportunities, you won’t have to compete with as many photographers as you do online. When taking on these local opportunities, you’ll be making many new contacts face-to-face. Make sure to have an attractive business card so you can easily direct people to your online portfolio.
Art shows and craft fairs.
Local art shows and craft fairs are a no-fuss way to start selling photo prints. While it will cost you some money to set up your booth, it’s still a pretty cost-effective way to make money in photography. For one, it is a great way to meet potential clients.
To begin, make some small prints and inexpensive items like postcards or calendars. While large prints can make quite the impression, they also limit the field of potential buyers. However, it’s a good idea to offer a wide variety, because art fairs are an ideal way to find out what sells best.
Since you’ll be selling to local buyers, consider bringing photos that have a local focus, like a landscape of an easily recognizable spot.
Want to know how to make money with photographs? Offering your photography services to small businesses is a great place to start! These businesses need professional images to help promote themselves online, but may not have the budget to hire more well-established photographers. That’s where you come in.
Start by looking around your neighborhood for businesses that might be able to benefit from your services. Remember: nowadays, every business needs an online presence, so it doesn’t matter what type of business it is. Introduce yourself to the owner and bring along some examples of your work. Then explain how some great photos could help them promote their business online.
Make sure to include a pricing list or online scheduling tool on your photography portfolio. That way, prospective clients know up-front if they can afford your services, and will be more likely to get in touch if it’s a fit.
Newspapers and niche publications.
One way to create your own freelance photography opportunities and make money as a photographer is to pitch your shots and ideas to local publications. For instance, if you know of an upcoming event that will make for some great photo opportunities, call up a local newspaper and see if they would be interested in some photos.
Alternatively, you can start by just shooting and pitching your photos after the fact. Local papers and niche publications are much easier to break into than larger publications. Pitching your work there can lead to some quick money for your photos. It also gives you the chance to get some exposure and make contacts for future gigs.
Also, remember that your location can be an asset for publications that aren’t based in your area. For instance, if there’s an automotive convention coming up in your area, see if there are automotive magazines that want some coverage of it. If the magazine is based in another location and doesn’t already have photographers that it works within your area, it can make it that much easier to sell your photos to them.
When pitching to publications, you should be open to the idea of doing a little writing. That’s because some editors prefer getting a complete piece that includes both an article and photos. Eventually, as you build your portfolio, you may want to start pitching to larger publications and websites, providing you with more ways to make money with photography!
Working as an assistant photographer offers the opportunity to get involved with jobs that normally wouldn’t be available to you. Teaming up with a more experienced photographer is an excellent learning opportunity. They’ll also give you the chance to make important contacts in the industry—which is how to make money from photography in the future.
If you want to make money from photography, some of the ways to find assistant photographer jobs include:
- Getting involved with local photography organizations
- Joining photography groups on social media
- Networking with more established photographers in your area
- Attending events where other photographers must be present
- Joining Facebook groups for aspiring photographers in your area
As you get involved with these networks, keep your eye out for photographers whose work you admire. Then, let them know you’d be interested in working as their assistant and direct them to your site where they can see some of your work.
Also, be open to volunteering at first, as it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. When you’re trying to work with another photographer, they might not have the money to risk hiring an untested assistant. Once you prove yourself, you may find they’ll be more than willing to pay for your services.
Specializing in a particular type of shooting can make it easier to establish yourself as a professional—and make money as a photographer.
Portrait photography is a great option, as people are always looking for beautiful shots of themselves, whether it’s for their Christmas card, business website, or social media.
While it would be ideal to have a studio space for shooting your portraits, it’s not a requirement. That’s because many clients are often looking for location shoots or outdoor portraits. More important than a studio is making sure you have the proper equipment, including the best portrait camera, lenses, and photography accessories for your needs.
Keep in mind there are many different types of portrait photography that you can specialize in. Some examples include:
- Sports team
Want some more tips on promoting your portrait photography? Check out our guide on how to market a portrait photography business.
When it comes to how to start making money with photography, event photography is another potentially lucrative option. From company events to weddings, there are lots of opportunities out there for skilled event photographers.
In addition, event photography is one area that lends itself to finding new potential clients. When people see a photographer at an event, they often want to check out the photos of themselves. If you hand out some business cards at the event, this can lead many potential clients to your portrait photography website.
Also, the event’s organizers will often want to show off images from their event, which means they’ll promote your work for you. Speak to the organizers beforehand and see if they’re willing to include links to your site when they’re showing off your photos.
When compared to portrait and event photography, it’s not as obvious how to make money with photography that focuses on landscapes. That’s because you likely won’t have clients willing to hire you to go out and shoot landscapes for them.
However, if you get skilled at taking stunning landscapes, there are many ways to make money off it. As we covered above, that includes selling landscapes through an online store, pitching your images to magazines and websites, and posting landscape photos to stock photography sites.
Landscape photographers tend to be in demand for photography teaching jobs like hosting photography workshops, as landscape photography is particularly popular with hobbyist photographers who may be looking to sharpen their skills.
There are also many different types of landscape photography you can specialize in to help establish yourself as an expert. They include:
- Wilderness and wildlife
- Architecture and cityscapes
- Representational, impressionistic or abstract
Your expertise in photography is valuable, so why not make money with photography by teaching it? There are a number of ways to do this, from workshops to photography tours. Let’s talk about each:
- Make money from photography through workshops
When promoting workshops on your website or social media, remember to clearly state all the details people will want to know. That includes the location, the cost, the length, the maximum amount of people who will be involved, and exactly what topics the workshop will cover. Another thing to consider is what photography skill level your workshop will be aimed at.
In addition to teaching attendees how to capture great photos, you can also cover how to prepare for a shoot, such as choosing the right equipment. In addition, your workshops could cover post-production topics such as editing photos in Photoshop.
When it comes to making money with photography, niche workshops can be a big seller. For instance, instead of holding a general photography workshop, focus on a particular type of shooting, like wedding photography or sports photography, thus providing you with another way for how to make money in photography.
Your knowledge of your city is an asset when it comes to how to make it in photography. After all, you have all the inside info about the best places to shoot in your town.
Make sure you include all the details on your photography portfolio website. Create a description of the photography tour you have in mind, including a list of some landmarks or locations participants will get to see. Add lots of images to show off the great photo opportunities that will be on your tour. Seeing these amazing photos will also show potential clients that you know what you’re talking about, photography-wise.
In addition, it’s a good idea to spotlight lesser-known locations, as that’s one major benefit you can offer as a photography tour guide. While tourists can always rely on maps to find the usual sightseeing spots, you can offer them some hidden gems that only locals know about. It’s important to include all the pertinent details in your promotions, such as cost, length, and tour group size.
When it comes time to promote your tour business, search online for travel agencies that operate in your area and see if you can partner with them. You can also join travel photography and tourist groups on Facebook to promote your business. Another way for how to make money with photography? Team up with Airbnb; they are always looking for cool tours to add to their roster of Experiences.
Offering photography tutoring sessions is an ideal option when considering how to get paid for photography. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that you have gained some experience and made a bit more of a name for yourself prior to offering this type of service.
Tutoring sessions give clients a more private experience than a workshop, offering them one-on-one time with you to help them hone their craft. This specialized experience often results in a lucrative way for photographers to make money with photography.
Photo editor jobs.
Your expertise in photography extends beyond just shooting. A simple search on most job boards will show you there are lots of job opportunities for those who are skilled at photo editing, making it another great method for how to make it as a photographer.
Photo editor jobs include duties like retouching; selecting images and managing layouts; hiring photographers; and coordinating assignments.
If you’re looking to break into this field, start building your portfolio of editing work by checking out the photo editing jobs on freelancing sites. Another easy way to start making money with your photo editing skills is to create and sell Adobe Lightroom presets.
Once you’ve gained some experience in this area, it may be time to apply to some full-time photo editing jobs.
How much do photographers make?
Now isn’t that the million-dollar question… It’s the thing that all aspiring photographers want to know prior to pursuing their careers, and we totally understand why.
While the idea of the starving artist might sound romantic on paper, you are someone who wants to actually make a living from their art, and the good news is that it is totally possible to make a full-time income from photography.
The key to making a full-time income boils down to dabbling in multiple revenue streams (i.e. selling photos online, working as an assistant, and having a blog). While some photographers might get lucky and hit the jackpot right away using one revenue stream, for the most part, trying various methods is your best bet (especially for those of you who are just launching your careers).
So, to answer your question: do photographers make good money? The simple is: yes and no. How much you make will really be up to you and how much work you put into launching your career in the initial stages. While it might seem like a lot now, the more work you put in at the beginning, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed.
Bottom line: We can’t give you an exact number on how much you’ll make as a photographer, but almost always, those who put more effort into launching their careers, generally make more in the long run.
If you want to get paid for pictures, you need to stick with it.
When you’re just getting started, it can take some time to get paid for your photography. The trick is to not give up. Many photographers take on side gigs to help support themselves while working towards their ideal career.
Try a few of the methods listed above to see which ones are the best options for you, and then stick with them. The best thing you can do to increase your chances of finding better photography jobs is to gain experience and keep building that ultimate photography portfolio website—the more quality work you create, the easier it will be to make money with your photos!
While learning how to make money with photography might seem overwhelming now, once you hit your stride and figure out which opportunities best suit your unique skills, you’ll be well on your way to making it as a professional—paid!—photographer.