According to a recent survey by the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors (NAPFA), nearly three-quarters (70%) of Americans are considering adding another source of income after the recent times, with 37% considering selling products online and 36% considering offering independent or contractual services.
Despite the challenges of the past year, 2021 promises in some ways a time of renewed creativity and optimism. In the last few months alone, we’ve seen photographers get creative with their businesses; some have updated their businesses and others have built new customer bases. Many have launched unique products and inspired us with their entrepreneurial spirit.
Whether you are an established professional or an aspiring photographer, there has never been a better time to start a parallel business and expand your brand. Here are some ideas to reorganize and improve your photo business, inspired by some of the exceptional photographers of the 500px community.
Publish a practical guide
Dina Belenko has been creating finished still lifes at home for years, but amid the lockdown restrictions, she had the idea to share some of her secrets behind the scenes with other photographers. His book is full of guides on how to recreate and reinterpret 31 of his most impressive images, including those with levitation and gravity-defying stunts.
All the great configurations of Dina can be created in 15 minutes to an hour following simple instructions. If you have a unique skill and perspective, you can do something similar by tapping into your niche and showing others how to follow in your footsteps. Share your tips, design the eBook and promote it on social networks.
Leading a workshop
This month, Ueli Frischknecht will organize a workshop in a small group on outdoor photography and landscape hiking on the beautiful lake from Berg seealpsee to Wasserauen valley in Switzerland, with assembly sessions, dinner and overnight at a hotel in the mountains. If you have a special knowledge of a niche topic or an unconventional place, you should conduct a workshop. You can rent a studio or work with local vendors to create a unique experience.
Become a trainer
If you like to share your passion and expertise with aspiring photographers, coaching is another way to explore. Anne Geier, for example, offers half a day, a full day, and online coaching for other dog photographers, covering everything from image editing and portfolio reviews to marketing and social media tips.
Mini photo films with new or existing clients can be a great way to supplement your income without wasting too much time. A mini-session can last from 20 to 45 minutes, and you can offer them on a seasonal basis, such as family photos for the fall or graduation sessions for students. Consider making it a limited-time offer to attract customers. You can refine your mini session packages and prices based on duration and performance, such as high-resolution portfolio or impressions.
Sell Prints Online
Get inspired by Los Angeles-based outdoor photographer Ryan Locknecker and start a printing business. Ryan has created more than 50 photographs, many in his home state of California, available as prints on paper and canvas in a variety of sizes. It also offers special prints on wood, metal, glass, acrylic, etc. on request.
You can open a print shop through your website if it supports e-commerce, or you can organize flash print sales through social media or Etsy. Alternatively, you can list your photos with an on-demand print market like Fine Art America.
Market your presets
In addition to prints and products, you can also sell Lightroom presets to photographers in the hope of imitating their style. This approach works well if you have a recognizable aesthetic, like Tristan Zhou, known for his fimly images in urban metropolises. He sells a pack of five presets that he uses himself, and encourages shoppers to share their edited photos to have a chance to be featured on his Instagram stories. Tips for making and selling your own presets can be found in our guide.
Create and organize your own shop
Photographer and educator Jovana Rikalo is known for her surreal and fairytale scenes. In its online store you will find a range of prints and presets, but you will also find products such as photo calendars and wardrobe items such as dresses and floral wreaths, all used in photo films and purchased by the artist. When you purchase your own garments or accessories or create your own backgrounds, you should make them available to customers with a highly organized and purchasable collection.
Provide Retouching Services
As a photographer, you may have marketable retouching skills that you can offer to other photographers and brands. Take Kalle Lundholm, who is not only known around the world for his surf photography, but also works as a freelance photo retoucher. In this role, he specializes in machining for the automotive industry and color grading. If you have a talent for publishing, research the types of brands that need your services and appreciate your unique skills and start nurturing your talent as a retoucher.
Connect with a brand you admire
Specializing in travel and outdoor photography, Sam Brockway has teamed up with leading outdoor brands such as Columbia Sportswear and Cairn to showcase products to his audience that he loves through compelling visuals.
You can do something similar by teaming up with a company that fits your niche and area of expertise and posting about them on social media. Most brands are looking for photographers with an established audience and community; start by looking for brands that might be suitable and cultivate your online presence. Read our article on improving your presence for tips on how to do this.
Podcasts are usually offered to the public for free, but if they are good, you could attract sponsors and contributors on the go. For example, Martin Bailey, who has one of the most popular and oldest photography podcasts, has had some excellent sponsors over the years, from DxO Labs to Squarespace. Subscribers can also support his podcast by contributing.
License your photos over 500px
Licensing your photos for commercial use is a great way to earn passive income because you can keep selling your photos to different customers over the years. 500px allows anyone to delete photos in their profile, and those who do it successfully have hundreds or even thousands of photos in their wallets. 500px distributes photos through Getty Images and Visual China Group (VCG), so they offer some of the best exposure in the company. If you want to get started with licenses, read our tips on how to make the most of the opportunity.