Starting an online photography business is challenging. Plus, there's also a lot of work that you have to do offline.
But if you're determined and stick with it, an online photography business can be financially rewarding and give you a lot of freedom in life. Just know that it's not a cakewalk, and you may feel like you're spinning your wheels at first because the results tend to come later on after front loading a lot of the work.
With that out of the way, here are five online photography business ideas to consider.
1. Stock Photography
If you want to make money online with photography, stock photography is a decent way.
Unfortunately, stock photography doesn't pay that well, so it's best to pair it with other online photography business strategies. The good thing is that you may already have done a lot of the work — i.e., taking photos — which means you have a catalog of images ready to go. All you have to do is upload them to the stock photography sites. From there, you should start to see sales trickling in, and the earnings are pretty passive, which is nice.
Once you have some time to see what types of photos sell well, you can keep that in mind for future photos. Then, when you're out in the field taking photos, you can use that information to create images that would be more likely to sell.
The great thing about stock photography is that it's very hands-off after taking the photos.
Here are 4 sites for you to start selling your photos today:
You can choose to submit your photos as Exclusive or, as non-Exclusive. And Once your photos are approved, you will be able to earn up to 60% royalties on your Exclusive licensed photos on 500px. Exclusive means that after you submitted your photo as the photographer, only 500px and their distribution partners will be able to license the image(s) commercially, and you can not submit it anywhere else. Keep in mind that memberships is starting from 3.99/month.
Here you can earn up to 50% commission. Also, they are non-exclusive, and will not make you sign a long-term contract.
Click A Snap
Here you can get paid when your photos are viewed on the photo-sharing platform. You will get 0.7c paid per photo view, and you will be able to take the payout from as little as $15. Or you can sell your photos and earn cash (there is a fee you will have to pay). And there is a membership of about £3.20 or £4.80 /monthly, depending on your choice.
Make your hobby even more profitable, you can simply upload your videos and photos and they will share the profit with you 50/50.
So, Why wait? This is a great way to turn your photos and videos into cash dollars you can spend on improving tour equipment and becoming even a better photographer.
2. Sell Your Prints
Selling prints is a great way to earn money online with your photography. People value prints, so it's much easier to make a legitimate living with photography selling prints than compared to stock photography.
Like stock photography, though, selling prints is great because if you've been doing photography for a while, you probably already have many photos that you could sell as prints.
The issue with selling prints is that you need to build your own audience, which isn't easy. To attract an audience, you need to put yourself out there in some way and promote your work. Some ways you can do that include being active on Instagram and other social media, creating content on YouTube, and blogging on your own site/guest blogging.
3. Product Photography
This one takes more legwork, but product photography is a great way to work behind the scenes. By that, I mean you don't have to take photos of clients as with portraits or wedding photography. You can scale a product photography service into a high-earning business.
There are tons of eCommerce brands out there who need professional-quality images of their products. Many eCommerce brands are small operations that don't have the time, resources, or expertise to do their own product photos in-house. That means there's a big market for serving these clients and they're businesses, so they have the budget to pay you.
Head on to Upwork, and with a quick search for jobs that are looking for “Product Photography” as a skill, you can find more than 600 jobs.
Product photography is appealing for photographers who aren't too keen on the stress that comes with photographing people. With portraits, you have to direct your subjects to make them look flattering, and usually, you're in a time crunch. Likewise, with weddings, you have to work within a very fast-paced wedding day environment, and you only get one chance to get things right.
With product photography, you have the time and unrushed environment to dial in the lighting just how you want it.
4. Monetize Your Online Presence
There are many ways you can monetize your online presence as a photographer. The first step is growing an audience through a combination of social media, a website/blog, a YouTube channel, podcast, or any other media channel of your preference.
From there, you have a plethora of options as far as how you monetize your content.
Here are some ideas:
Sell Photos / Merch
Regardless of what platform you choose to build your online presence, you always have the option of monetizing it with your photography work itself in the form of prints. If you build a loyal following, you can also sell them physical products such as branded merch in the form of things like apparel and coffee mugs.
YouTube channels or podcasts where you create photography-related content can lead to sponsorship deals where brands compensate you for mentioning their brand or products. This doesn't require much additional work on your part if you're going to be creating this type of content anyway.
Create a Course
If you've mastered a field of photography, other photographers will be happy to pay you for your knowledge. This takes a lot of work, but you get to help fellow photographers, and it can be very financially rewarding.
Affiliate Marketing / Advertising
If you like talking about photography gear (and most photographers do!), you can use affiliate links when you mention whatever product you're reviewing or discussing. To do this, you need to be accepted into an affiliate program offered by a store like Amazon, Adorama, or B&H. You can also work directly with product brands to promote them and earn commissions.
Similarly, you can earn from ads on your photography-related YouTube channel or website. It's not much, but it can be nice to add to your overall income.
5. Photo Retouching
Most photographers get to the point where they're at least somewhat skilled in photo editing. If that's you, then it's possible to earn money in a few ways through photo editing.
You can freelance on sites like Fiverr or Upwork, where you can find one-off gigs. Many established photographers are busy photographing and tending to other aspects of their business and don't have the time to edit their photos. As a result, another option is to market yourself to these photographers.
Below there's an example of over 1,100 job opportunities on Upwork that include: Photo Retouching, Photo Editing, Photo Color Correction, and Product Photography.
As you can see, they are all related, and you can literally start earning money today!
Last Thoughts on Online Photography Business Ideas
Hopefully these online photography business ideas give you some inspiration for bringing in an income from photography. It's really not an easy task to successfully build a business in the photography industry, so keep that in mind and know that it takes a lot of perseverance. But, if you stick through the hard times, it is possible to succeed with photography.
Being successful with an online photography business may require you to have multiple income streams rather than having just one. Best of luck with your online photography business endeavors, and stick with it.