Photography started as my hobby and passion. It took me a while to realize that I could make money from my passion, but I eventually turned photography into my main source of income.
If you’re interested in taking photography past being your hobby and turn it into an extra (or even main) income stream, then I have three way you can get started earning money from your photographs.
1. Stock photography
This is probably the most popular way to make money from your photos, and the easiest to get started with.
There are two main types of stock photography to consider: microstocks and macrostocks.
Microstock sites are the most common online stock photography agencies. They include iStock, Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and the like.
Clients don’t pay a lot for images from microstock sites, which means you won’t earn much per sale—but you can generate an unlimited number of sales from each image.
Another great benefit is that these sites don’t require exclusivity, so you can use the same images across multiple stock sites. For example, I can upload the same 1,000 photos to Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and iStock. That 1,000 has turned into 3,000 images being seen on different networks. So, despite making less per image, you can resell that same image to your heart’s content, and after a while, the sales do add up!
Macrostock agencies more closely resemble the way stock photography agencies used to work in the days before the internet.
They pay more per image, but this is normally due to your images being sold on an “exclusive” basis. What this means is that you can’t use the same images on multiple macrostock sites and/or sell said images to others. If an image is licensed exclusively to a company, that means that that photo is off the market and can’t be sold again until the exclusive license comes to an end. Getty Images would be an example of this.
2. Photography prints
Now that you have beautiful images of your own, why not sell a few prints? There are numerous ways to go about this.
Just like stock websites, there are also websites designed to sell your prints online. FineArtAmerica is one example. Once registered to one of these websites, you simply upload your images, set a price, and the company takes care of the rest. They print and ship the work for you!
If you have a website of your own, you can create your own “prints” page and sell them directly from there and do the shipping yourself. You will of course make more money this way, but also have to do more work.
Alternatively, you can take a more hands-on approach and try and sell your works locally. Take some of your prints and see if you can hang them in local coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, etc., with a price tag attached, or approach local art fairs, galleries, and exhibitions.
Additionally, if you do portrait photography, you can sell those images to your client, not only digitally, but in print form.
I do recommend working with a local print shop/lab that specializes in fine art photography prints, to get the most out of your work, or learning the art of printing yourself, which ultimately is the best way!
3. Magazines & publications
This is another great way to earn some extra money from your work! Start off by finding a magazine or publication that you like. The next step is to find their website and try to find a “submissions” page. Some publications also offer contests, where the winner gets published. Additionally, you can track down the editor of the publication and send over some low resolution samples of your work. If you happen to know the publication well, this will help you tremendously.
Additionally, you can also pitch articles to magazines and use your photos in your articles. This usually generates a little extra money.
The good news is, that there are many ways in which to sell your work, and make money from photography. With a bit of work, research, and creativity, you can start turning your photography into extra income today.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Three Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]