How To Get Paid To Take Pictures
In the Internet age, you no longer need to stick to soul-crushing work just to make ends meet.
People everywhere are monetizing their creative passions through side hustles.
Next to writing, one of the biggest creative pursuits that’s easy to monetize is photography.
And let me tell you, there is a lot of opportunity out there if you know where to find it.
Have you ever thought about making money through your photography, but don’t know where to start?
Whether you’re looking only to pocket some extra cash on the side or you want to make photography your full time career…
You’re about to learn all about how to get paid to take pictures.
But before you can get make money from your photography, you need to know some basics!
What You Need To Get Started
Photography is a relatively easy pursuit to start.
In fact, you don’t even need a degree.
Still, you can’t just jump right in without some form of preparation.
Photography requires some some basic skills and a few items to get started.
The first item is the most obvious.
You need a camera!
Phone camera technology has made drastic advancements in recent years, so you can get some solid photos with your smartphone alone.
But if you’re serious about earning a sizable photography income, you’ll need to invest in a real camera.
It doesn’t need to cost thousands, but you need to invest some money in a quality camera.
Also, not all cameras are created equal.
Some cameras are better at certain tasks than others, so make sure to do your research so you can select the best camera for the type of photography you’d like to do.
Your camera is useless if it breaks while you’re transporting or storing it.
Invest in a good-quality camera bag to protect your camera from damage.
Unfortunately, lenses aren’t one size fits all.
There exists a variety of different lenses that help you take different types of photos.
Depending on what types of photos you want to take, look into grabbing a few different lenses.
For those shots where you need a steady hand, a tripod will be a massive help.
Even the world’s greatest photographers don’t take the perfect picture every single time.
And that’s where editing software comes in.
Two of the most popular photo editing software programs are Adobe Photoshop and Canva, but there are a ton of other options.
Find one within your budget that’s intuitive to use.
A Good Computer
Second in importance only to your camera is your computer.
Without a computer, you can’t edit your photos…
But you also need your computer so you can communicate with current and prospective clients, sell your photographs, establish your online presence as a photographer, and store all your work.
A Quick Note On Equipment
Everyone has a different budget when it comes to investing in a new hobby or side gig.
If you don’t have the funds to get all the items listed, don’t worry about it for now.
You don’t want to go bankrupt simply for starting something on the side or the whole point of monetizing your photography becomes moot.
Anways, time to learn all the ways to make money from your photos.
Related: 30 Online Jobs That Are Real, Pay Well, And Are Flexible
Sell Your Photos on These Apps
Got a thing for snapping smartphone pictures of beautiful sunsets or gorgeous mountain views at just the right time?
You could snag some cash with such a talent.
The marketplace for digital images is absolutely massive.
There are tons of apps with a variety of features for making money on your mobile photography, but here are some of the best.
Starting our list of apps is Snapwire.
On Snapwire, you can make money in two ways:
- Customer sales
All you have to do for the first method is build your portfolio by uploading your photos to Snapwire.
Then, sell these photos to customers that want them.
Unfortunately, Snapwire takes half of your sales as commissions, so this is not the best way to make money on the platform.
The contests, also known as challenges, work like this:
- Customer creates a contest by requesting a certain type of photo and setting a submission deadline.
- Competing photographers submit their work.
- As the competition rolls on, the customer can award points to photographers who submitted the “best” images given the requirements so that new entrants can understand what the customer is looking for.
- Once the deadline rolls around, the contest ends and the winner is paid.
As for the prize money, you can win $25, $50, $75, or $125 for submitting a simple photo!
Snapwire takes a 30% fee on your contest winnings, but that still leaves you at least $17.50 richer even at the cheapest reward level.
But as you slowly build your Snapwire presence, you might start getting buyer requests.
To be honest, you can’t earn as much as you’d like to on Snapwire because of the fees and competition.
Still, it remains an easy way to make a few extra bucks right from your phone.
On Foap, you can sell your phone photos at $5 a pop.
But they aren’t gone once you sell them once; you can sell the same photo as many times as you want!
Keep that phone hand ready at all times if you want to make some quick and easy cash; you never know when the perfect moment might strike.
Foap is available for both Apple and Android devices, so anyone with one of these smartphone can monetize their hobby.
Clashot combines the “selling your phone photos” concept with a social media type of look.
First of all, when you open the app, you’ll notice you have a “Feed” of recently uploaded photos.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see two tabs labeled “Friends” and “Trends”.
So yes, you can both add people as friends and you can see the most popular photos at the moment.
In addition, you can like, comment, and rate photos in your feed.
Likes on your photo alone won’t earn you money, but your profile will gain a lot of helpful exposure to others.
The money lies in selling your pictures on Depositphotos, the agency behind Clashot.
Oh yeah. You want to hear about earning potential, don’t you?
Clashot royalties fall around 44% of each sale.
Not too bad!
If you use Clashot right, you can make some money AND get some exposure to others in the industry.
Perhaps one of the simplest apps for selling your photos is SnapCape.
All you do is browse your phone’s photo gallery, choose the pictures you want to sell, set their prices (anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00), and wait for the magic to happen.
But if that doesn’t satisfy you, they offer more ways to earn.
SnapCape hosts daily photo contests for the more competitive photographers.
Not only that, but buyers can create Tasks by requesting certain types of pictures.
Fulfill the task, and you’ll get paid!
How does getting paid work, though?
Most other apps make you reach a minimum balance of some sort before you can cash out your earnings.
And since you won’t make much at first, it can take a long time to earn enough in sales to actually withdraw your cash.
But what’s great about Snapcape is you don’t have to deal with any of those annoyances.
As soon as you make a sale, the money’s yours!
No waiting until you’ve earned $50 to take what’s rightfully your’s.
Sell Your Stock Photos To These Websites
Licensing your photos to stock image websites is perhaps the easiest way on the planet to earn passive income if you’re handy with a camera.
Plus, your work will gain massive amounts of exposure, opening all kinds of doors for you as a photographer.
If you’ve ever browsed Google images, you’ve most likely come across a Shutterstock-watermarked stock image.
Shutterstock is one the largest stock image sites in the world.
In fact, they’ve paid over half a billion dollars out to their contributors!
The great thing about Shutterstock is that it’s completely free to register as a contributor.
That’s right; no registration fees and no monthly subscription payments.
Competition is unfortunately fierce; to register, you have to submit 10 of your photos and 7 of them must get their seal of approval before you can start contributing.
But if you can get 7 of your photos past Shutterstock, the earning potential is very nice.
They have 4 “Lifetime Earnings” tiers:
- $0 – $500
- $500 – $3,000
- $3,000 – $10,000
More information about their compensation structure can be found here.
As you earn more money, you move up through these tiers.
Thus, your earning potential increases.
It doesn’t look like you make a lot per image, but one or two home runs could score you some serious passive income for life!
Oh, and you can earn ever more money in the form of referral bonuses. You can refer your photographer friends to be contributors OR you can refer your non-photographer friends to be customers!
What makes all this better is you get to keep the copyright to your photos.
If you want to sell one of your Shutterstock photos somewhere else in addition to Shutterstock, it’s completely within your rights to do so!
Formerly Fotolia, Adobe Stock is another stock image site that’s free to join as a contributor.
Although not as big as Shutterstock, you can earn more as their commission rates tend to be higher.
According to Adobe Stock, you can earn anywhere from 20% to 63% royalties on the sale price of your images.
Similar to Shutterstock, Adobe Stock has a rank system. As you move through the ranks, your earning potential increases.
In other words, you start at only 20% but you can quickly advance in rank and compensation.
Joining Adobe Stock is much simpler than Shutterstock; you just need to be 18 years of age and provide a Social Security number or EIN.
They’ll only judge your work when you upload it.
Seeking higher royalty compensation for your photography work?
Take a look at 500px Prime.
They claim that you can earn up to 60% royalties on your images; that’s a hefty amount for a digital image on a website.
Also, their signup process is more lax than other stock image or photo licensing sites.
But 500px Prime goes beyond simple royalties.
You can create a “Services” profile on their website that allows you to apply for photography projects with high-profile clients.
Oh, and clients will sometimes seek YOU out!
If you fill your 500px Prime portfolio with plenty of high quality work, you could quickly find yourself attracting all the right attention.
Unfortunately, 500px Prime’s free plan is quite limited.
If you want to gain access to other useful features, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee.
They offer 3 plans:
- Pro and Adobe
You’ll most likely be fine with their cheapest plan, the “Awesome” plan. This one’s only $3.99 a month.
And if you think about it, a few bucks a month is a drop in the bucket if it means extra cash and more work coming your way.
Sell Your Art At These Places
Passive income via royalties on stock images is cool and all, but you can also sell your print photos to people instead of licensing digital images to stock image sites.
Now, you could make your own website and try to sell your stuff on there.
But that’s a long, uphill battle if you have little to no online presence.
Using established sites like the ones listed takes the guesswork out of your photography.
Not to mention that you’ll instantly gain exposure to thousands of customers the moment your store goes live.
So consider selling print photos on some of these sites.
If you’ve read our article about ways to sell your shoes online, you know that you can make some good money on Etsy.
Well, it’s the same way for photography.
Etsy’s users tend to lean towards the artsy side of things, so photography is a large market on there.
But since Etsy caters to artistic types, you’ll need to stand out.
Develop a unique brand voice for your store and work on acquiring a loyal following. Doing so will practically guarantee a steady stream of paying customers.
Oh yes, eBay again.
If you can sell your old shoes and electronics, you most surely can sell your beautiful photographs.
eBay is much broader than Etsy, but you get a HUGE audience.
When selling print photographs on eBay (or on any site for that matter), always make sure to properly package your work before shipping it off as photographs are quite delicate.
Do everything right, and you could make some solid money selling print photos on eBay.
Of course, you have to deal with eBay’s listing and selling fees.
But that’s the price you pay for exposure to around 170 million hungry buyers.
ShootProof is more niche; rather than being a general e-commerce site, it’s geared towards photographers.
And to encourage photographers to use their service, they take absolutely 0% of your earnings as commissions.
Yes, you keep it all.
Plus, they give you control over your products, prices, and fulfillment.
All that with the benefit of an established site!
But it gets better still: for photographers that are serious about running a photography business, ShootProof has a bunch of useful business tools:
- Contract creation tool
- Invoice creation tool
- Customer discount builder
Unsure if ShootProof is for you?
You can try their site free for 14 days.
Plenty of time to consider if you want to take your photography business to the next level!
Fair warning: A print photography store can be quite lucrative, but it takes a lot of work to pull in the big bucks.
First of all, competition is fierce.
There are a ton of other photographers trying to make money on selling print photography; chances are, you have competitors no matter your niche.
But the other part that makes it hard is logistics.
You see, selling print photographs is much different than licensing stock imagery.
For stock imagery, you upload the pictures and “forget” about them as you earn royalties.
But for a print photograph shop, you have to package and ship each order.
This can be quite a pain if you do it all yourself; you might need to outsource work or hire employees if your business becomes popular.
Now, running a print photo business might be a dream if you’re passionate about photography.
However, if you just want to make some easy side money, stock imagery and freelancing (which we’ll discuss next) might be your best move.
Sell Your Services
So far, you’ve learned a bunch of places that’ll pay you for your creative works.
But have you ever thought of selling your photography as a service?
That’s right, I’m talking about hanging your own shingle as a freelancer.
If you can build a small portfolio and sell clients on your photography abilities, you could book some lucrative gigs!
There are freelance photography opportunities everywhere, but some events are always in desperate need of good photography.
Engaged couples spend many months and thousands of dollars planning the perfect wedding.
Since they (hopefully) want to remember their wedding day for the rest of their lives, they tend to set aside a good chunk of change for the right photographer as well.
High School/College Graduations
Graduating high school or college is a huge feat; schools go out of their way to make graduation as memorable an event as possible for new grads, their families, and friends.
Thus, another lucrative opportunity for the photography-inclined.
Graduations can be competitive to book, especially for larger universities.
You might need to start small; try contacting a smaller, local high school or college and sell them on booking you for their graduation.
Build a portfolio of relevant work and from there, you could soon be landing some bigger graduations.
Play your cards right, and you could also get even more work from individual families that want photos of their children all dressed up in their caps and gowns!
Similar to graduations, parents will pay good money to get pictures of their beloved high school senior.
Most families book senior pictures during the summer, so you could bank some serious side cash between June and August if you take on senior picture clients.
To get these gigs, however, you may need to do a bit of networking as well as establish your presence.
Parents won’t shell out any old “photographer” if they don’t have some semblance of successful past work.
But hey, if you can book a graduation and then some senior picture gigs, you could have steady work for months to come!
A Word To The Wise
It’s fantastic that you want to make some money through a creative pursuit, but don’t forget the business side of things!
Whether you’re doing this casually or seriously, you’ll have some basic administrative work to do, like
- Recording revenue and expenses
- Tracking your time/schedule
- Marketing your self/your business
- Invoicing clients
- Adhering to any applicable tax laws
Just “Picture” The Possibilities
A good picture (be that a painting or a photograph) can sell for millions.
And although your own photography might not sell for that much, it’s quite possible to make decent money taking pictures.
If you want to sell them online, there are endless apps and sites you can contribute them to; work hard enough, and you could build a substantial passive income stream.
But if you want to make even more money with your camera skills, you could try booking some freelance gigs in your spare time.
Whether you want some extra pocket money or you’re looking to be a full-time photographer, the opportunities are everywhere.
You just have to look for them.
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