How to Make Money as a Photographer

posted by Chris Valentine


Setting out to develop a career that doesn’t have a clear set of steps that you need to follow can be very exciting – but it can also be difficult to get started. This is especially true for artistic careers; not only do you need to develop your talent to the point that other people will be interested in purchasing your work, but you also need to find ways to get your work “out there” to potential buyers in the first place.

If you are a budding photographer, the first thing you need to do is get your hands on the best new or used  equipment you can afford. This isn’t a substitute for your own talent, but it definitely helps.   The next thing to do is to is develop a great portfolio of images. It might seem that the way to do this is just begin taking pictures of everything and anything, and gathering them all together. In part, the logic is good – the more pictures you have, the more chance you have that you will have “the” picture that someone is interested in.

But unless you are interested in developing a business that is dedicated to the producing stock photography (which can be a very lucrative business!), you should think twice about hitching your plans to a generic portfolio. Think instead about finding and cultivating your own, distinctive artistic voice through your photography. Find what it is that you enjoy photographing and that you photograph well. Develop your talents and techniques by taking lots of photographs, and begin to pull your best and most original photos together in an organized and meaningful way. This could be by subject matter, by technique, or by some other theme. The key is that you want your portfolio to be organized and easily accessed by potential customers. Continually curate your portfolio with an eye to showcasing what is important to you and what best represents your current work. Don’t hold include images just because they have an interesting backstory or some sentimental value.

Once you have a coherent portfolio, whether specialized or intended for the stock photography market, you need to make it available to your potential audience. Many photographers choose to create websites to gain exposure, and this is definitely one of the best ways to gain exposure. But if you want to actually be able to sell your work online, you should go the extra step and create an ecommerce site that will make online sales easy and secure for you and your customers. Gospaces makes the process very simple and allows you to sell your photos online through a custom platform.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are done at this point. You will need to make sure that you have fresh content with a continually updated portfolio, but if you want to make money, you need to treat this as a business. A great ecommerce website is an important step, but it won’t market itself. You need to invest time and energy in getting the word out to direct traffic and customers to your ecommerce site through online and traditional marketing strategies. You can join professional organizations and local business associations to start networking, and participate in local festivals and galleries to showcase your work. Above all, be sure to include your ecommerce site’s url on everything you do to maximize your sales potential.

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