Not that long ago, the only way to make a living as a photographer was to open a studio or work for a news outlet. These days, the ability to have a professional photography website and engaging social media channels make it much easier to reach clients; but the essence of the craft still relies on photoshoots and on-location gigs. So, what happens when the possibility of getting booked all but disappears?
During times of uncertainty, finding the right photography side hustle to monetize your work can be the lifeline keeping your career afloat. With this in mind, we’ve put together a carefully selected list of ideas to monetize your online presence. Rather than a temporary fix, consider these photography side hustle ideas an investment in your long-term success, as most of them can become a steady source of income.
Tip: Just starting your photography side hustle? Use a photography name generator for inspiration and ideas on what to name your business.
Photography side hustle ideas to make money online
01. Sell prints and digital copies
Selling prints and digital copies of their work is, undoubtedly, the most popular photography side hustle among professionals and amateurs alike. After all, is there a higher form of flattery than someone loving your work so much that they pay to have it in their home?
When it comes to selling photos online, the options are nearly endless. Renowned photographers often offer a limited number of high quality from a small selection of their portfolio, that they sign and ship themselves. On the other side of the spectrum, hobbyists tend to use third-party platforms on which they have no control of the way their images are displayed and marketed.
As it often happens, you should be looking for a middle ground between these two polar opposites. The best way to do so is by creating a photography website that offers you full control over how your work is displayed and then pairs it with the right web app to sell your work. For example, using the Wix Art Store, you’ll be able to sell prints and digital copies of your images, deciding on the format and licenses you want to offer. Once you have everything set up, the platform will take care of everything for you, including packaging, shipping and payment processing.
02. Develop photo editing presets
Digital photography opened the darkroom doors to the masses, allowing photographers of all levels to be part of the technical process that brings their shots to life. Instead of developing their images in a red-lit room using sensitive chemicals, however, today photographers can do so with free photo editing software that allows for unlimited development on each image. Yet, just like in the darkroom, the talent and knowledge it takes to make each frame perfectly match the captured scene is still rare and highly valued.
This created a great popular demand for presets: a configuration of settings designed to achieve a certain look that users can download on their personal computers, and use in their pictures. As a result, creatives across all genres started to market their unique photography style as a series of preset packs designed to help others follow their steps.
One of the biggest benefits of selling presets is that, unlike with other products, you don’t need to worry about tracking shipments, updating the content, or displaying seasonal goods. Once they’re available on your online eCommerce website, all you need to do is make sure people know about them.
03. Offer personalized merch
In addition to prints and digital copies of your best images, you could also offer products that feature your work such as mugs, pillows, tote bags and phone cases. While this type of offering is not considered a self-sufficient photography side hustle, it can prove highly profitable when used in combination with prints and digital artwork, particularly on holidays and special occasions.
You can sell products featuring your photos from your own site with Wix Art Store, where you’ll have full control over how they’re displayed and handled, or by joining third-party platforms such as Society6.
04. Join a stock agency
Macrostock and microstock photo sites allow you to upload pictures for businesses, blogs, and online publications to license and use across their channels and marketing materials. Unlike the work you might want to sell on your photography website, stock images are usually much more generic in their appearance and subject matter, as they’re aimed to be licensed to numerous buyers with different goals.
If you’d like to know more about the different types of stock agencies and how to choose which pictures to submit, take a look at our guide on how to sell stock photos.
05. Collaborate with brands
Love it or hate it, social media has redefined the way brands find and work with photographers. The kind of collaborations once limited to a few select names in the industry are now open to anyone with the right vision and drive. Needless to say, this type of photography side hustle doubles as a powerful tool to build up your reputation in the field.
There are many ways to reach out to brands as a photographer, from tagging them in social media to writing an email pitch. The easiest way to make your way in, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities brands are openly offering. Look out for initiatives such as Wix Contributors, which encourages photographers to regularly submit their work for specific briefs and get paid for it.
06. Find freelance photography jobs
This one is probably quite obvious, but freelance gigs are among the best photography side jobs you can find. For once, you will be able to work from a brief and know beforehand how much you’ll get paid for your work. On the downside, freelance photography gigs that don’t require on-location shooting are rare and hard to come by.
Take a look at this curated list of sites to find online freelance photography jobs to get you started.
07. Participate in photo contests
While it cannot really be considered a steady photography side job, participating in photography contests is something you should be doing regularly. Even though you most likely won’t make much money from it, it only takes one win to take home a few grand in cash or valuable equipment. Furthermore, this success goes hand in hand with recognition from your peers and the industry, which will certainly lead to more clients and thus a higher, more regular income.
08. Write a photography blog
As a photographer, you wholeheartedly believe that an image is worth a thousand words. However, complementing your visual work with actual words has proven to be a great photography side hustle. While there are numerous photography blogs out there catering to a similar audience, the number of people looking to learn more about the art keeps on growing every day.
In order to create a blog that is successful in the long run, focus on a specific niche that you’re particularly knowledgeable about. This will help you find a dedicated audience more easily, as well as position yourself as an expert of reference in that field. This could be anything from a specific type of photography or reviews of professional gear, to post-processing advice and business tips.
Learn more about the wonders of blogging on our complete guide to how to write a photography blog.
09. Create an online course
The globalization of photography has led to a huge increase in the number of new shutterbugs eager to learn how to become a professional photographer. Whereas back in the day most professionals had little to no formal education in photography (having learnt through practice and mentorship), there are now hundreds of thousands of people all over the world willing to pay for access to online courses.
This is arguably the most challenging photography side hustle idea on this list, as becoming a teacher for future generations requires more than the right photo skills. You’ll need to be able to structure your knowledge so that it’s easy for beginners to understand, and communicate it in a way that is not only educational but also engaging.
Most photography courses focus on specific genres or styles, covering the topic with a series of digestible videos that can be consumed at the student’s own pace. You can sell your online courses on global platforms such as Udemy or from within your own website with Wix Video.
10. Start a podcast
Video might have killed the radio star, but podcasts are here to take revenge. In recent years the medium has seen a fast rise in popularity, with 41% of people in the US listening to podcasts on a monthly basis. While photography is certainly a very visual subject, there are numerous photography podcasts out there proving that there is a high demand for theoretical photography content.
The most common ways to monetize a podcast include affiliate marketing and sponsored content. As a photographer, you could do so by reviewing photography gear or partnering with local businesses. Once you have made a name for yourself in the industry, you can take this venture one step further and turn it into a more steady source of income with premium content or coaching sessions.