How to Start a Photography Side Hustle
Top tips on making money from your photography hobby
Photography is not the easiest side hustle, but if it's something you enjoy it can put a few extra pounds in your pocket towards the end of the month. If you’ve started shooting photos you think might do the trick (whether with your iPhone or a dedicated camera) there are a few ways for you to get started and sell them online—though you probably shouldn’t give up your day job just yet.
If you’re looking for a side hustle to make some extra money during these hard times, one of the first things you should do is think about your hobbies and the things you enjoy doing. Photography is a hobby for millions of people worldwide. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering how you can make money with photography.
The photography industry has changed in a big way over a relatively short period of time, thanks to technology. Obviously, the transition from film to digital photography has been part of that. Along with digital photography, the quantity and quality of software (like Photoshop) has had an equal impact.
The introduction of the iPhone and other smartphones, with increasingly capable cameras, has turned many more people into hobbyist photographers. The internet and social networks have greatly increased the potential reach and visibility for photographers. All of these changes mean there's more people interested in photography now than ever before.
Best Ways to Make Money with Photography as Your Side Hustle
Taking Photos for Clients
Probably the most obvious and most common photographer side hustle is to work for clients. This often involves portraits. There are a lot of different types of photography and portraits, from engagement, maternity, newborn, family, fashion and many more.
A lot of photographers specialise in certain types of portraits, and some do all types. Specialising is obviously good for branding, which can be really effective in an industry that’s very competitive.
In order to get clients, it’s helpful if you have a place to showcase your photos online. This could be on your own website, and Facebook or Instagram is also a must. After a client session, you can post some of the best photos on your social media channels and tag the client (I’d recommend asking their permission first!). Include a link to your site or your contact information and you may get business from the friends of your client.
How To Make Money With Photography Online (Stock Photos)
If you’ve ever read any articles or blog posts about how to have a side hustle in photography, you’ve probably seen stock photography listed as an option. Many articles on side hustles or monetizing hobbies talk about stock photography as a great option. These articles usually make it seem like you can upload some of your photos to Deposit Photos, iStock, or other stock sites and start making passive income. In reality, making money with stock photography websites today is very difficult.
There are plenty of photographers that do extremely well with stock photography sites, but most of them have been doing it for years and have massive portfolios that allow them to make a high volume of sales. Getting started today with stock photography websites is difficult because your photos are likely to get buried beneath the millions of other photos that are already selling. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an option to pursue, but be realistic about the likelihood of actually making money with this method.
The good thing about selling on stock photography sites is that is doesn’t need to take a lot of time. You’ll need to get approved by any marketplace where you want to sell, which usually involves uploading a few samples of your best photos. If you get approved, you’ll be able to upload more.
If you do decide to pursue stock photography, be sure that you get a signed model release from any models in your photos (any decent stock photography site will require this). If you’re selling landscape or travel photos, you may need a property release.
Blog, YouTube Channel, or Podcast
One way to start a photography side hustle without actually taking photos for clients or selling your photos, is to start a photography blog, YouTube channel, or podcast. There are, of course, already a lot of photography blogs out there. But there are also millions of people who read photography blogs, and opportunity is still there.
A number of well-established, popular photography blogs have been around for a long time. Your best bet is to choose a specific niche or type of photography that you want to specialise in.
You could start a blog on drone photography, travel photography, street photography, wildlife photography, landscape photography, sports photography, wedding photography, camera and lens reviews or focus on specific gear or equipment. Specialising will give you a better chance to stand out, be memorable, and rank for searches related to your topic.
“If you want sales, just shoot what is in the news!” – Alexandre Rotenberg of mystockphoto.org
Current news stories can be exceptionally lucrative. In fact, Alamy has a strong enough demand for it that they’ve created a whole separate section for live news coverage with a much less stringent acceptance process.
You don’t have to travel to the big things - simply cover what’s local to you and your region. If something like a demonstration is going on nearby and it's within easy travel distance for you (or you’re already going), then make a point of capturing some excellent images.