Most of us have a smartphone with a camera that we keep on us at all times – but that doesn’t mean we’re good at taking photos. The world is still in dire need of professional photographers, for everything from capturing the spirit of major events to artfully presenting meaningful moments in our personal lives.
If you’re a professional photographer, you might be wondering how you can make more money. Fortunately, there are many strategies and opportunities available to you.
Consider Selling More Than Photography Services
Most photographers primarily make money by selling their photography services to clients directly, including both individual and corporate/business clients. But you can make more money by selling more than just photography services.
- Create and print a photo book. You could create and print a book of your favorite photos, selling it to a specific target market. If you already have a portfolio of photos that you’re proud of, it wouldn’t take much work to put together something comprehensive. Even if you only make a few dollars per copy sold, at a large enough scale, this could be a lucrative source of revenue.
- Start a blog (and monetize it). You could also start a blog about your photography, talking about your favorite techniques, exploring your personal growth, or even providing tips to other photographers. With enough traffic, you could monetize this blog with advertising, affiliate links, or any number of other strategies.
- License your images. Consider licensing your images and selling them to a stock photography service or something similar. It’s a great way to make some extra money if you don’t have any client work to tackle.
- Sell your photos in galleries. If you consider yourself artistically inclined, you could try selling your photos in galleries. If there’s an audience for your work, this could be a substantial source of revenue for you.
- Provide education, training, or consulting. You already have skills as a photographer, so why not sell those? You could provide education, training, or consulting to other professional photographers, or hobbyist photographers who want to take their craft to the next level.
- Enter competitions. If you’re exceptionally proud of your work, consider entering competitions. Top prizes range from modest to exorbitant, and if you win a few competitions, your personal brand will flourish.
Shift Your Focus and Clientele
Another way to make more money is to shift your focus and clientele. Certain types of photography jobs, and certain types of clients, pay more than others.
- Weddings. Wedding photography is a common need, and many people are willing to shell out big bucks for professional photography on their big day. That’s not to say that every wedding couple will be willing to hemorrhage money for your services, but if you’re good at what you do, you should have no trouble making stable revenue here.
- Real estate. You can also make a lot of money by photographing real estate. This isn’t the sexiest or most exciting job for a photographer, but it’s consistent, and people with high-end properties are willing to pay much for photos that help them sell.
- High art. “High art” has historically referred to specific types of art like painting, music, and sculpture, but in the modern context, it more commonly refers to any type of art more focused on appealing to people with sophisticated taste than appealing to the general masses. Think about the difference between an abstract art film with no discernable plot or characters and a billion-dollar summer blockbuster movie; one takes itself much more seriously (for better or worse, depending on how you see these things). Selling your photography as high art, if you can justify this framing, could entitle you to much higher sale prices for prints.
Build Up Your Portfolio
A more conventional way to ratchet up your earnings is to build a more comprehensive and attractive portfolio. Most of your clients are going to look at your portfolio before deciding whether to hire you, and if your portfolio is sufficiently impressive, they’ll be willing to pay much more.
One of the best ways to build a photography business is through referrals. If you do excellent work, people will enthusiastically recommend you to other people they know in need of your services. But you can get even more referrals if you incentivize those referrals; for example, you can offer discounts to people who bring you new clients. It’s an easy way to build your business, and once you have enough demand, you’ll feel justified in charging more (and potentially turning down new work at your discretion).
Consider Simply Asking for More
Amateur photographers charge $30-90 an hour, with top photographers charging $250-500 per hour (or more). Sometimes, you can get more out of your clients simply by asking. In fact, charging more sometimes indicates to people that your work is worth the higher price – a small trick that can help you earn more respect and money simultaneously. Just keep in mind that people probably won’t be willing to pay a higher price unless you can prove the quality of your work.
As you can see, there are many strategies that can help you make more money as a photographer, through new revenue streams as well as higher rates. If you’re new to the professional world of photography, remain patient; building a lucrative career takes time.