Are you thinking about turning your photography hobby into something that makes you some money on the side?
Or, do you dream of becoming a full time professional photographer?
But, are you left wondering: “How do I make money from photography?”
First the bad news.
There is no get rich quick scheme.
Making money from photography requires determination, effort, energy, time and a plan.
But the good news is, if you put a plan in place and follow it with determination, energy and effort you will make money from photography.
The Four Essential Foundations You Need To Make Money From Photography
Before you even go out there building your portfolio, finding clients and building your reputation, there are four essential foundations you need to have in place. Having these cornerstones puts you on a solid base onto which you can build your photography business empire.
So, what are the four essential foundations of a successful photography business?
1. Your Passion For Photography
It sounds cheesy but the first thing you need to have to make this work is a passion for photography.
Be under no illusion, turning photography from a hobby into a viable way to make money is a challenging journey.
Without a passion for photography, what is the point of going through a huge upheaval and putting in tons of effort to end up doing something you don’t enjoy? You’ve got to make sure you have a strong passion for what you are doing and that the passion is strong enough to survive the ups and downs of the journey. If you are in any doubts about your passion for photography now, seriously consider whether trying to make money from photography is a good idea.
If you are confident that your passion for photography will survive the journey ahead, you have the first piece of the puzzle in place.
Your passion for photography is what will keep you going through dealing with difficult clients, doing boring admin or working your way through a ton of editing. Your passion has got to be strong enough that you can translate that in something that works to make money.
That is the first attribute you need for success. The ability to translate your passion for photography into a real business.
2. The Potential To Be Outstanding
You can’t expect to make money from photography if you think it’s OK to be average. You have to strive to be in the top few percent of people in your field.
If you don’t yet have the ability to be outstanding you must have the belief that you can achieve a level that takes you into the top few percent of what you do. Otherwise you are going to be like millions of photographers out there who dream about doing photography for a living but don’t make it.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be the world’s best photographer. That would be too difficult. You need to become the best in the eyes of a large enough group of people that will become your customers.
Think about how you could become the best photographer in your own specific niche. Narrow that niche down enough and you’ll see that you can become the best.
Another way to become outstanding is to combine your photography with another of your skills, or with specific knowledge you have.
Let’s say you were in the top 30% of portrait photographers in your area but you also have a ridiculously good network in the corporate sector. You could then combine these two attributes to set up your successful corporate portrait photography business.
If you have specific knowledge of a certain sector you can use that to give you an edge.
If you have a great contact network within banks, families, horse riding or galleries you can use all of those to help make you the best.
The photography skills are essential, but you also need to look at ways that you can get leverage through other assets that you own, attributes you possess or networks you can access.
There are so many different ways you can combine your other abilities and knowledge with photography that will give you the initial boost you need to create your first niche that you can build on.
3. A Specific, Ambitious Goal
You need to turn this broad idea of making money from photography into a specific goal detailing exactly what you want to do.
The goal should be specific and clearly defined. Not vague.
You should be able to measure your progress against achieving the goal, and know when you have made it.
The goal should be ambitious, a stretch, but achievable.
There should be a clear deadline to when you will achieve the goal.
To achieve that goal in the long term you’re going to have to put in a lot of effort and you’re going to have to do everything you can to maximise your chances of success.
An overarching goal means you can set smaller goals and targets for yourself, each with the aim of driving you towards hitting your big target.
So, write down your big, ambitious, specific goal and state when you are going to achieve it by. Then, you will clearly know when you have made it!
4. A Product And Clients
You have the commitment, enthusiasm, determination and a passion for photography. Great. You also have the ability to be the best. Perfect.
Next you need a way to make money. Without that you still have a hobby. There is nothing wrong with photography as a hobby, but we need to turn it into a business.
Identifying a way to make money is perhaps the most challenging aspect of setting up a photography business.
Broadly, you need to understand:
Who is your photography for?
Identifying a set of people who want your photography is key to your business success. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. Find a set of customers that you can delight with your work.
What problem does your photography solve?
People only pay money to get a problem fixed, or make their life better. So work out, exactly, what solution your photography provides. You need to be clear on why anyone should pay you, instead of paying someone else, or not paying at all.
Who are your ideal customers?
Create a caricature of your ideal customer, and write down every detail of what they are like.
Approximately how many potential customers are there for what you do?
You need to understand that there will be enough customers for what you do. So you need to find a niche, but not one so small that there is not enough business.
How will you find these customers?
There are 4 ways you can find customers: 1. direct outreach by email, phone, face to face, 2. generating inbound enquiries by getting found on the web or by advertising, 3. generating awareness for what you do through PR, social media and networking, 4. creating partnerships or selling through third parties.
Is the type of photography you want to do going to be profitable?
The best types of businesses know how to find clients cost effectively. They have repeat customers, who recommend them to a wide network. And as a bonus the images you create for them will create exposure for you by being shared or published.
What products and services will you sell? How much will you charge?
You need to work out how much money you need to make from each job to be profitable, and don’t forget you will be taxed on what you earn, plus you’ll have expenses like insurance, travel and equipment.