In-Depth Guide on How to Make Money With Photography (For Beginners)

In-Depth Guide on How to Make Money With Photography

how to make money with photography

5 Step Process on How to Make Money With Photography for Beginners:

  1. Become a local best with Google My Business
  2. Make Money From Photography While Creating Word of Mouth
  3. Make Money From Teaching Photography
  4. Explore the Side Income from Photography
  5. Creating a Sustainable Career in Photography Business

Meet Simon, the president of the college photography club. He has been taking pictures for college events, magazines and website for about four years and has been the locus of attention on the campus. He is often woken up by a text or a call in the middle of the day when he finally goes to bed after retouching the pictures all night and morning. The text or the call that he receives says, “Bhai photos bhej de!” and he wonders if his interest in photography is really a career choice he should be considering.

How to make money with photography

After he graduates his college, two paths lay in front of him – get a job and have a secured stress-free life or be a photographer and bet your chance on success by living on instant noodles for several years. The logical reasoning should be quite clear, get a decent job and don’t stress yourself out on a chance of maybe getting a break. However, Simon argues that he would be a lot happier pursuing photography and besides, he does have four years of college life experience living on Maggi.

After about a year, Simon is three months due in his rent and has about 100 rupees in his wallet and don’t even get me started about his bank balance. Maybe he really has hit rock bottom and maybe it is time he reconsidered choosing photography as a career choice. Perhaps, creative career isn’t as glamorous as he had thought it would be.

Akhil Khatri of Almost Social, who is a professional photographer, YouTuber and blogger faced a similar struggle when he decided to quit his job to pursue photography as a full-time career. In a YouTube video with two famous photographers from India, namely Angad Kahai and The Photography Blogger, Akhil recalls the time he struggled to pay his rent and loans.

Should he quit on his dreams?

Winners never quit, right? Well, wrong. Winners quit almost every time but they just happen to quit the right stuff at the right time and it is called strategic quitting. How do you know when it is the right time to pack your gear, put it in a closet and only open it during occasions? 

Maybe you are starting to wonder that you are not here to learn when to quit but to learn how to make money with photography. However, the question of how to make money with photography (or your art) depends on the following question that addresses when you should quit. 

I know, it is a question-ception.

Can you be number 1 in what you do? Can you stand out from the competition?

The best way to get paid doing what you love is to be the best at what you love doing. If you cannot be number 1 in your field, it makes sense to quit. Becoming number 1 requires the investment of time, money and energy. Can you do it?

Before I go any further with the article, I would like to mention that the upcoming sections will specifically be for a photographer (and artists) who believe they can be number 1 in their field.

1. BECOME A LOCAL BEST WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

The best way to be number 1 is to stand out from the competition. In the digital age, so many micro markets have come into picture due to the advent of search engines like Google, thereby making it easier to win in these levels. So instead of trying to be the best photographer in the world, you can start by putting your efforts into becoming the best in your particular area.

1.1 Get Listed on Google My Business

Do not underestimate the power of Google and the area where you live. In simple terms, Google+Your Locality+You=Success. Let us assume you stay in Kalimpong, West Bengal. You might be surprised to see how many queries people make on Google for the search term, “Best Photographer Near Me” and when someone from your locality hits enter, you are nowhere to be found.

Google My Business has a conversion rate of almost 5% and it has been increasing by almost 25 % each year and therefore it is important for creative service businesses like photography to start getting listed on Google. 

Google My Business

Use these features to rank higher in Google and stand out from the competition:

a) Google Maps: Google maps allow potential clients or customers who are looking for your service to easily find you especially if you are in their locality.

b) Business board: The business boards come with a feature to add blog posts and content that not many are utilizing. If you use this feature, you will have a higher ranking than those who don’t.

c) Questions and Answers: The question and answers feature provided by Google My Business can be used to generate queries and address some frequently asked questions about your business. This feature is also not being used by everyone so make the most of it.

d) Business Description: This is the chance to tell the visitors what differentiates your business or your service from the others. Make sure you do not promote your sales offers and URLs, however, you can add your phone number and email address.

e) Google Reviews: 82% of customers make a purchase decision when they see a review. Therefore, make sure you ask for a review every time you work with a client or a customer and constantly reply to the feedback.

f) Services: The services option allow you to include the services you provide, thereby, making your chance of popping up in their search results when they search for terms such as “wedding photographers near me”.

g) Videos: Businesses who use videos have proven to have a higher rate conversion than business who do not use this feature and Google My Business allows you to do just that. However, make sure you are using relevant and authentic footages on your business page. It gives you a competitive edge if you record yourself talking about your service.

h) Booking button: Make use of the booking button directly into your Google My Business Panel which will allow users to make a booking directly through your listing. It will help you stand out from the crowd and turn viewers into customers much faster and easier. 

i) Direct Messaging: Existing and potential customers can message directly to your business. This can easily turn your visitors to customers. However, this feature is for users who are searching for you on their mobile.

j) Free Business website: If you don’t have any coding skills and complicated graphic design software skills, this feature will allow you to set up a website easily with drag and drop features. That is obviously if you are not looking to build your own website.

1.2 Have a killer social media presence

I know it sounds like a lot to digest but you can create a social media profile that makes it easier for visitors to find you and captivates them,

Every time you work for someone, make sure you include them in your Instagram. Especially when a potential client visits your profile, they should instantly know the kind of work that you do. Make sure you show your versatility in your feed.

Also don’t neglect the importance of SEO in your profile, by that I mean, your profile picture, your description, your username should be such that it is easily understandable about what you offer. Get rid of those “8990” and “_” in your username.

Consider uploading videos on YouTube where you can talk about photography, your challenges and your journey.

2. MAKE MONEY WHILE CREATING WORD OF MOUTH

Word of mouth is that moment when you told your friend about that momo place you visit regularly. You might not have realised but word of mouth has the potential to increase the sales of a business by about 1.25% every time somebody talks about it.

In Gangtok, there’s a local chaat vendor who goes by “Chachaji” and has successfully built his “alu-cheura” business around word of mouth. He doesn’t rely on advertising because the local word of mouth results in almost 300-500 customers lining up in his shop throughout every day. 

Here’s how a creative entrepreneur like yourself should go about creating word of mouth in your area:

2.1 Help Small Businesses

As a beginner photographer or simply a beginner in any field, we tend to overestimate ourselves and it results in making us dishonest about our skills. We have to be honest about our skills and what we deliver. Remember to always offer a helping hand and take it like a learning process and don’t be in it for money. If they offer you, that is good but your intention should be to create relationships and learn the necessary skills.

Here’s how you could help small businesses.

a) Suggest Ideas: You will be surprised to know how many travel service businesses, hotel businesses, homestay businesses have come up in recent years and guess what they need? good pictures, man! And guess who could do that? You, man! 

So next time you see meet someone who is starting or running a business, offer them how you can make their brand more visible, suggest them ideas and offer to help them. Free for now!

b) Don’t be too pushy: You want to help them, not scare them. So don’t overwhelm them with technicalities and jargon only you would understand. Just tell them what you could deliver them if they let you work with their business.

2.2 Become Versatile

I understand that you have your own style and interests when it comes to photography. However you also need to explore other styles that are outside your interests, it could be portraits, events, wildlife etc. You need to know every aspect of these topics and then see which style works for you. Excel in one but know all styles. You never know what kind of opportunity might knock your door.

Peter McKinnon is mostly known for his YouTube channel on photography and filmmaking. Most people know him as a travel filmmaker and photographer but his first paying gig happened to be product photography and he did it for several years.

2.2 Portfolio Work

With the advent of social media and the internet, the demand for photography has upsurged even if it does not feel like it. So many influencers, entrepreneurs and models need to create a good portfolio to thrive in their work. You can offer to shoot headshots, create portfolios and even create pictures for their social media.

2.3 Become a part of the community

You should be joining Facebook groups, local photography community to expose yourself and your work to people who are in the same field. Ask for suggestions and give feedback. You can join our Facebook group for free, a community of creators where we discuss, share our challenges, share resources and help each other out.

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP

3. MAKE MONEY BY TEACHING PHOTOGRAPHY

You have more skills than you realize and you should teach about it. Ankit from Almost Social found a way around paying his rent through photography by conducting a photography workshop by charging 500 rupees per one student and that is one avenue you could explore. 

You don’t need some massive expertise to teach photography as a few basic knowledge that you already possess can also be something someone could learn from you. You just need to create a good presentation and practice speaking in front of the mirror. Doing this will give you extra skillsets, that is, public speaking and teaching photography. 

How to make money with photography
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

You can even create online classes on your website. If you need consultation regarding this, you can send us an email at ‘redendron@gmail.com’ and we can provide it for free. You can teach your skills on platforms such a Udemy, Teachable and Skillshare but there can be a lot of competition in these websites.

4. MAKE SIDE INCOME FROM PHOTOGRAPHY

4.1 Stock Photography: 

You can submit your work on stock photography websites such as I-stock Photo, Gettyimages, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, etc. In these websites, there’s a chance of getting a lot of clients but you need a lot of images in a wide variety of industries. Make sure you take pictures often from various industries such as Travel, Medical, Corporate, Music etc and post them onto these sites for a quick extra income. 

You can even upload the unused images that are sitting in your hard drive all rusty and old. However, these websites. The money you make on each download depends on the platform you are putting your work into, the license and other factors. You should make sure to read the guidelines carefully, as some platforms might restrict you to submit the same images to other competing websites. In any case, this is a good way to earn a little extra income on the side.

4.2 Photography blog:

They say the golden days of blogging are over but it is far from dead because it is still the best way to give value to others, grow your business, promote yourself and improve yourself. 

Here’s how you should start blogging:

How to make money with photography
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

a) Guest posting: One way to start blogging is to start writing for photography websites and blogs that are already thriving. You can send an email to the owner of the blog and request to write for them.

b) Write on Medium: Medium hosts a wide range of articles from bloggers from various industries. Even professional bloggers write on Medium from time to time as it has a wide reach and Google loves Medium posts. There’s a high chance you will get attention from many readers.

c) WordPress free blog: If you are a little tight on your budget, you can begin writing on the free WordPress blog and upgrade it to a personal website in the future.

d) Personal Website: Having a personal website gives you a competitive edge, improves your portfolio and you will stand out from the crowd. There will be initial costs involved but a good website will often pay itself very quickly as there are various ways your website could be monetized.

Initially, you might have to depend on Google Adsense for creating a little passive income but you can also explore the affiliate marketing side of photography wherein you can earn passive income by referring someone to the gear you use, products you prefer etc. 

The learning curve to building a great website that Google loves and audience prefers is long and it requires some time but we can help you do that in less than 15 days. If you want us to help you, you can write to us. 

4.3 Submit your work to media companies

There are a lot of fresh news outlets, media companies and bloggers rising to the scene. You can research on the industries that might need a photographer and call them to ask for a gig. 

4.4 Enter photo contests

Entering photo contest is an easy way to earn quick side income, all the while making professional connections and improving your skills. SHUTTOUT is a website that offers photographers to enter contests and win money. It is an amazing way to collaborate, to improve, and money.

4.5 Events and Weddings

Wedding photography is a good way to make money as it is a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of couples and they are willing to spend a lot of money to have stills from the greatest day of their life. Make sure you deliver your best work and on time as it can also be a part of your portfolio.

Events are another huge market where you can offer to help them with a good amount of money. Events and Wedding offer learning experiences, good money and delicious free food. 

5. CREATING A SUSTAINABLE CAREER IN THE PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

Let’s face it, you do not need some killer MBA skills to sustain a creative career in the photography business. All you need a system that can generate income on automation but here’s the catch, you need to start thinking of yourself as a brand.

A Creative Marketing Strategy looks something like this

Creative Marketing Strategy

5.1 Awareness

The different ways to generate awareness are as follows:

a) Content: Create content that let people know about what you do and what you offer. You can post valuable content as you learn and post it on various channels such as your Google My Business panel, your social media account, YouTube channel and websites like Quora.

b) Search Engine Listing: You need to visible on Google and the best way to do that is to build a Google My Business account, having a professional-looking personal website that is optimized for search engines.

c) Word of Mouth: The tips we have mentioned before, if executed properly will undoubtedly create word of mouth for your business.

5.2 Call To Action

Call to action, put in simple terms, means directing the viewer or visitor to decide to do business with you. You can include a call to action in your content, your portfolio and social media profiles.

5.3 Appointment

As the name suggests, it is when you meet the potential in a professional setting to talk about your service or pitching. 

5.4 Pitch

Pitching is the act of expressing the idea to a potential client to do business with you. While starting, you may find it difficult but it is something which can be developed over time. 

5.5 New Client

After the client is satisfied with the ideas that are discussed in the meeting, they become your new client.

5.6 Service

In this section, you and the client come with ideas that you will have to execute and deliver. You have to subject yourself to constructive criticism and suggestions from the client until they are satisfied.

5.7 Closing

This is the part where you get paid and therefore, make sure you close the deal properly as they have the chance to refer you to other potential clients. It’s a cycle.

Bonus Tips:

Things to keep in your arsenal to make this process smooth and professional:

a) Contracts

b) Charge Well: Check this article on how to talk about money as a creative.

c) Checklists

d) In-voice

If you need any help in building a creative career in photography, you can join our newsletter where we send weekly insights on how to thrive as a creative in the 21st Century.

Click here to join the newsletter.

Extra Bonus Tips:

  1. Always ask for advanced payment. Most money is in the air.
  2. Have a unique style. Do not follow what everyone does. You need to stand out from the crowd. At least local.
  3. Think local. Take pictures for yourself, your friends, and local cafes.
  4. Always have a backup course and a degree. Just in case you fall face first.
  5. Photography is about composition and capturing the moment. It is not about your gear.
  6. You should know how to market yourself. There are many photographers but you cannot succeed if you cannot market.

SHOULD YOU QUIT?

Most often what seems like rock-bottom could be just a dip. A dip is a point in any career where one faces a temporary setback which results in improvement if one pushes just a little bit harder.

When Should You Quit

Simon picks up a piece of paper and writes down the terms and conditions to quit. He asks himself if he has given his best and surprisingly enough, he finds that there are so many ideas and avenues he should explore and decides to quit only after he has given his best.

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