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How to Start Making Money from Photography as a Beginner: Top Tips and Strategies

Updated: Feb 19

Making money from photography can be a dream come true for most photographers, and it can even take you one step closer to becoming full-time.


But, let’s face it, making money from photography can be difficult and overwhelming.


I’ve now been full-time with photography since June of 2023, and since then have approached going out for a shoot very differently. I thought I would share it with you, and in future blog posts discuss other ways of making money.


So for now, here is my Trying To Make Every Shoot As Profitable As Possible Approach, otherwise known as TTMESAPAPA - and don’t you forget it. 




Whilst I have yet to come up with a fancy title it is a method that is working well for me.

Before I became full-time, I would wander out on a rainy night with my camera, take a few photos, share them on Instagram and other platforms, and then move on to the next shoot.


But there is so much more I can do when going out shooting and when it comes to the sharing process.


A silhouette of a hand in front of a screen.
You never know what will sell well. This image has made me hundreds of dollars from stock photo sales.

Digital Assets for Photography to Increase Income


In short, I now don’t just go out and shoot, I have various side-projects running simultaneously that I can do alongside my core photography work. 


Here is a list of products you could use your photos for:


Passive


  • Prints/Merch

  • Presets

  • Stock photo/video

  • Wallpaper packs

  • Reference photo packs

  • Photo Books

  • Online Courses/Tutorials

  • Licensing


Active

  • Magazine stories

  • Brand approaching

  • Photo editing services

  • (There are many more ways but we shall keep it simple for now and discuss other methods in the future)


Passive Income Projects

Earning money passively is a great way to supplement your income alongside any services you offer as a photographer. Can you build up to earning $33 a day from passive income? If so you’re granting an additional $1000 a month to your overall earnings.


At the start of the month think about different projects you can work on whilst you’re out doing your regular photography. For example, I want to make a modern architecture preset pack. On all of my shoots that month I keep that project in the back of my mind and shoot content for it, and then by the end of the month my preset pack is all built.


These additional projects don’t have to be within your regular genre of photography, they don’t even have to be for your portfolio. 


An image of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul, South Korea.
Not my usual style of photo but it has potential for sales in prints, stock, presets, and more.

Active income photography projects

Are there any interesting stories happening in your area, or unknown places to the wide world that people may want to visit? You can pitch these photos along with words to magazines and media outlets.


I recently went on a cycling tour travelling the whole length of South Korea. Before I set off I pitched my adventure to several magazines that could be interested in it and found Cycling Plus Magazine. I worked closely with them to develop the story and it will be published very soon. Cycling and landscape photography is a far cry from my usual line of photography, but it doesn’t mean I can’t work on projects like that. 


You don’t have to go on crazy adventures to get published either. Here is a list of publications and websites that will pay you for your content. I also subscribe to Readly for a couple of reasons. One, I can find magazines to pitch to, and second, I can keep up to date with the latest trends in photography for advertisements. 


Where to sell your photography

Multiple sites will cover most of your passive income products. Websites like Etsy and Gumroad will enable you to sell almost everything, and then websites like RedBubble and Society6 can help you sell prints and merch. There are plenty of sites out there, and depending on your work some may suit better than others. You can also apply to sell your presets and other products on sites like FilterGrade, Creative Market and Envato. Be sure to package up your products in an attractive way and provide as much information as possible.


An image comparing a before and after neon edit of a street in South Korea.
Include before and after comparisons in your preset packs.

The important part

When you are finished editing your photos, get them uploaded to all the sites you can think of to further increase your chances of sales. Make it part of the editing process itself. You may end up procrastinating and before you know it you have hundreds of photos you need to upload and tag, and trust me, there isn’t anything more tedious than that. 


I took a Greg Williams online course right before I started full-time photography, and he gave a golden nugget of wisdom that I keep in the back of my mind. Running a photography business means you have to be 50% photography and 50% business. This may seem obvious, but going out for shoots and posting and sharing on social media isn’t business. Actively working on ways to make money, making connections, and developing products is the business side. Creatives can struggle with this, we just want to make stuff, but we can’t sit around waiting for an email from our favourite brand. 


I will probably end up repeating that plenty of times during my business blog posts. I still have to remind myself of it often. 


So think TTMESAPAPA, think about a much better acronym I can use, and above all, keep on shooting. 


Coming Soon

How to find a niche in photography, how to attract brands and a BTS of a new project I'm working on.


A little plug, but if you want to support me and my work, you can pick up a phone wallpaper pack for the price of a cup of coffee 😃



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