Making Money off your Photos

In the tightening economy, many of us are considering additional ways of supplementing our income, and as hobbyist photographers, we all have wondered at times whether we could parlay our hobbies into sources of revenue.  For a short time I even considered this blog as a possible method for generating revenue.  By and large though, I found that the blog was not well-positioned to be a significant source of revenue, for a number of reasons.

So, I decided to turn the idea arond, and think about whether my photography could be considered as a source of revenue.  Thus far I have resisted the urge to do so, primarily because I don’t want to add the stress of running a side business to my enjoyment of photography.  Nevertheless, I have considered it seriously, and in so doing, read quite a bit about it.  And what have I learned?  Quite a bit actually.  But today, I’d like to share 5 tips about how to make money off your photos.

5 Tips for Making Money off your Photos

  1. Magazines – Magazines are always looking for fresh images for stories.  Get yourself a copy of The Photographers Market (most recent publication year is 2008)), and find out the magazines that match your interests most and send them the appropriate information as specified.  Don’t be dejected if at first you don’t garner much interest.  There are many others like you also submitting images regularly and it can take a while.
  2. Stock Photography – Stock photo sites like Getty, iStockPhoto, Crestock, and a host of others offer a great venue for tapping into the enthusiast photographer market.  You simply create an account, upload some sample images, and once you get enough “approved” you are off and running.  The problem here is that your images are being sold for mere pennies (in your pocket).  So, in order to generate sufficient revenue, you need to have hundreds upon hundreds of sales.  In turn this means you need a portfolio of at least that many images available to get any kind of penetration into the stock market genre.  This is becoming quite crowded, but if you are talented, and have the library – upload away!
  3. Consignment – An often untapped resource is local restaurants and businesses.  Go talk to small business owners whether it be a restaurant around the corner, a body shop, or other such enterprise, and offer to decorate their walls for free.  In exchange, you get free exposure and possible image sales.  Often the business owner will want at least a cut on the profits, so don’t be shocked if they ask for it.  It also helps to have several images all ready to hang, so go prepared with at least 5 images in 3 different sizes.  I would suggest a 5×7, 8,10, and 11×14 matted and framed out to 8×10, 11×14, and 16×20 respectively.  Be sure you are also prepared to be told “No.”  Persistence and self-confidence here is key.  It also helps if you scope the place out ahead of time.  You can do so by eating a meal there, having some auto work done, or going in for a cup of coffee (whatever, you get the idea).
  4. Medical Offices – Here is a real sleeper that can pay off in spades.  Doctors offices love to have fine art on the wall – it can sooth anxious or sick patients.  Even if they have a set of artwork already displayed, it never hurts to ask.  Simply offer a rotation for the next month, or 2 months, or 6 months, and be prepared to offer a portion of image sales to them (doctors like to make money too – or so I’ve heard!).  Also, don’t limit yourself to the traditional image of a doctor’s office – go see dentists offices, orthopedists, optometrists, orthopedics, etc.  As always, be prepared and quick – these guys (and gals) make money off their time, so the more time you spend trying to convince them it’s a good idea, the less time they spend seeing patients, and the less time they are making money.  Go in, be quick, be professional, wow them with great images, and get out.
  5. Banks are another great resource.  Try seeing if your local branch will let you set out cards on display, or perhaps hang an image or two.  Some banks even offer this service to local businesses.  WHen I was in SC, my local bank had one day every week where a local business was featured.  I put my cards out, and once or twice I even had my info up on display.  It generated some interest and even a few gigs.  Once I found out about our move to Colorado, I stopped though, for obvious reasons, and once we’re more settled down here I’l be doing the same.

So, there’s 5 tips for you on how to make money off your photos.  The common theme here is to have your images out there.  If you don’t put your images into the hands of potential buyers, no one will ever buy anything from you.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to keep at least 5-10 business cards or calling cards with you at all times.  Keep ten in your car, ten in your wallet, and ten in your coat.  You never know when someone will say “Do you know a good photographer?” and you’l be kicking yourself for not having a card wth you!

There they are, 5 tips for making money off your photos.  Anyone else used these tips with any success?  What about other tips?  Feel free to share your own thoughts, suggestions, and ideas in the comments section (or via email.)  Hope everyone’s weekend was good, and we’l see you back here tomorrow for the weekly podcast!  Happy shooting!