When talking about making money through photography, it mostly means you’re going to spend a good amount of time and effort on your gigs so you could actually get paid. Even though the money you can make could be really great especially if you’re that good, why not take advantage of your photography skills for another source of income?
Whether you’re just a hobbyist or an actual professional photographer, if you have enough skills concerning photography to produce decent photos, there are some opportunities online that you can take advantage of for passive income.
With that said, put your thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment down, and let’s get into the methods.
1. Selling stock photos and videos
This is pretty simple. You take random great photos or videos in your spare time, upload them on stock photo/video platforms, wait till some people download your photos, and then you get paid every month. It’s that simple!
Once you get a sizable portfolio on these stock photo/video platforms, you can simply just leave them there and earn money passively. Well, assuming that you’re photos or videos are good enough for people to buy them.
Take note though, your photos don’t necessarily need to be photos of great landscapes and buildings and such. You can even upload photos as random as a window!
Yes, I know. Chances are, uploading stock photos/videos wouldn’t make you rich. Only look at it only as an extra source of passive income. Because who doesn’t want to earn potentially a hundred dollars a month with little to no effort? And you potentially could earn more than that depending on how big your portfolio is.
Some notable stock photo/video platforms:
A tip to potentially get more photo/video downloads
Photos and videos on stock photo/video websites are bought by people who will use the photos either on blogs, websites in general, brochures, online/offline advertisements, television commercials, and such. Put yourself on their shoes, and think of things that they would probably be searching on stock photo/video websites. Just to give you an idea of what kind of photos/videos would sell well.
Also, check out your mobile phone’s gallery. There might be random shots you’ve taken that you can upload to stock photo/video sites.
Should I go with photo or video?
While taking decent photos is a lot easier than taking decent videos, selling stock videos mostly tends to pay better than selling stock photos simply due to the fact that significantly more people upload photos than videos. But then again, it’s going to really depend on the quality of your photos and your videos.
Also, if you have decent photo editing and vectoring experience, you could also upload vectors.
2. Selling designs for merchandise on RedBubble
While this only partly concerns photography as it’s mostly graphic design and photo editing, we’ve decided to add this anyway as a good percentage of photographers know how to alter images anyway.
With selling designs on Redbubble, if you think you’re going to need to print or create the merchandise yourself, nope! All you simply need to do is upload your photos or designs.
- Upload your design
- Redbubble will automatically create a mock-up of your design on shirts, tank tops, hoodies, mugs, shower curtains, and such.
- Once someone buys an item with your design, you earn a commission!
- Upload designs that people will most likely be interested in, on a shirt.
- Think about things that are trending the moment you read this article. (e.g. Elon Musk and the Tesla Cybertruck last November of 2019)
- To get potentially more sales, add more and more designs to your portfolio.
3. Create a course on photography
While this is definitely going to take you a lot of effort to build, after all the initial work, everything is going to be passive income. If you create a decent guide that could potentially get a lot of people interested, this could literally be your main source of income. Also, this could be something that could earn you huge amounts of money passively for a good number of years!
As evident on how much YouTubers are now creating courses for their respective niches, this method really does work.
Should I create my own website or just sell courses on sites like Skillshare?
If you don’t have an idea on how to promote and advertise your course online, it’s probably best if you become a “teacher” on platforms like Skillshare instead. That way, while you probably won’t be able to control the pricing of your course, you wouldn’t need to do that much promotion. All you need to do is create a great course, and course platforms will do the advertising for you.
4. Become a social media influencer
No, you don’t necessarily need to be uploading videos of you dancing on Instagram or TikTok. Since you’re a photographer, photos of great landscapes, urban locations, or whatever you want your niche to be, might suffice.
Once you get a good following, you could either do one or a few of the following:
- Accept money for promotions
- Advertise your photography services
- Promote your course
- Promote your website
- Promote another business/gig
While you theoretically could do all 4 of these at the same time, always remember to not overdo it. The last thing you want is your social media pages to look spammy.
You can upload on social media sites like:
- Decide on a specific niche that could separate you from other photographers on social media. Probably focus more on urban landscapes, historical locations, creepy/spooky places, and such. Preferably something you’re really interested in.
- Upload content consistently. Once, twice, or thrice a day would suffice.
- Space out your uploads. As much as possible, spread out the uploads a few hours apart.
- Don’t overdo the promotions.
- Feel free to take a look at other photographers on social media that has big followings to gain inspiration.
5. Start your own blog
Pretty much the number 1 choice for passive income for most people, and definitely one of the most effective passive income streams behind being a YouTuber.
So, why should you create your own photography blog?
Reason 1: You’ll look a lot more professional
John and Mike are both great photographers. John has an Instagram page and a website that contains his contact information, a great-looking photography portfolio, a map of his studio’s location, and some positive testimonials from his previous happy clients. Whereas Mike, only has an Instagram page.
Now, who is going to be in a better position when a new client is looking for a photographer? Assuming that John and Mike are equally skilled in photography and both equally have a good portfolio, then chances are, John will be at a great advantage.
Let’s be totally honest here. We’re already in the 21st century. Especially in first world countries like the United States, people expect professionals or even just service providers, in general, to have their own websites regardless of profession and industry.
Reason 2: Passive income from affiliates/referrals
If you use certain online platforms and digital products, chances are, that product or platform will have an affiliate/referral program that you can take advantage of.
You could simply create blog posts with topics like “My Photography Everyday Carry“, listing all the products and items you use like your camera, camera bag, tripod, lighting equipment, etc, and simply link these products to an Amazon affiliate link. This is so your readers wouldn’t need to Google every single item, but instead, just click on the links. You earn a commission, and you provide convenience to your readers. It’s easily a win-win situation.
It doesn’t need to solely be Amazon though. Another idea would be a “Software I use as a photographer” blog post and list all the software you use along with their respective affiliate links.
Some affiliate programs to consider:
- Adobe Affiliates(Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, etc)
- Canva Pro Affiliate Program(online graphics design platform)
- B&H PhotoVideo Affiliate Program(online store for tech products)
Reason 3: Free online exposure
Assuming you have a well-optimized blog or website search engine optimization or “SEO”-wise, you should get a significant free exposure on search engines like Google.
For example, you’re from Miami, Florida. When someone does a Google search for “Photographers in Miami“, hopefully, your website would appear on the Google results’ first page.
While these listed passive income ideas is what we could do if we were into photography, take note that these aren’t the only passive income opportunities you could try. You could try other things outside photography too! Keep your creative juices flowing!