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Turning Pro: Part 4 – Money making ideas

Image: Image by Romain Guy

Image by Romain Guy

This post is the final installment in a series of posts on Becoming a Professional Photographer. See previous posts at How to Become a Pro Photographer Part 1, Part 2 (Getting Started) and Part 3 (Marketing).

Making Money

There are several factors to consider when deciding how to price your work:

A) How much is your time worth by the hour?

B) How difficult is it to achieve?

C) Will it lead to future commissions?

D) What does your customer want and how much will it cost you to achieve?

E) What is the market rate for what you have been asked to do and how will your service compare?

A good way of knowing where to begin is to weigh the uniqueness of your talent and photographic abilities against how high the demand is for it. You don’t have to have a set price structure – and you can differ what you charge on a case by case basis (as long as you haven’t advertised otherwise).

Getting your prices right can take months of honing – gently testing what you can and can’t charge with each and every inquiry. Whatever you do – don’t be pressurised into cutting your costs drastically to make a sale or get a commission. Be sure that you are 100% comfortable with the fee you have quoted. If you are getting paid less than you think you should for a job then this will only affect your images and work ethic in a negative way. Generally speaking if you are good enough – people will pay what you ask.

To help you get started, here are our ten top ways to make money as a professional photographer:

  1. Sell your prints through your website: Many website packages allow users to add in a ‘shop’ facility which you can easily link to a Paypal account. Therefore all a customer needs to do is choose an image they like and pay for it, and all you need to do is send them the requested file or post a print and receipt.
  2. Sell your services as a photographer: There are hundreds of options here – whether its photographing  newborns, weddings, businesses,  bar mitzvahs – there is plenty of avenues to choose from.
  3. Sell your images to a stock site: With a sensational amount of choice, all genres of photographer will enjoy the benefit of selling images to stock site as everytime someone selects your image you get paid. Read the terms and consitions carefully as each site varies its payment and rights policy.
  4. Sell your images to online and magazine publications: Purchase a freelance writers  handbook to discover contacts to a wealth of publications. Alternatively use an online search engine to generate results. Email the editorial or design staff introducing yourself and your business and attach a few thumbnails of your best work. Then follow up with a phone call after a week or so to see whether they would like to hire your services as a photographer.
  5. Competitions: You may not think it but people can actually make a solid living from winning competitions. There are many high-ranking photography competitions out there that reward winners with huge cash prizes and top-end kit – what is more this may mean you can pursue individual or personal projects to fulfil the briefs. One of the most resourceful websites to find active competitions is: www.photographycompetitions.net .
  6. Become a photography tutor: If you are very talented photographer and have a good way with people, why not set up your own line of workshops? Depending on where you live in the world you may need to get a license for this line of work. Tailor-make courses to suit: various levels of user, preference of genre, gender or age. Furthermore you can run one-on-one courses or teach in larger groups, likewise you could do short courses that run for a couple of hours to one day – or provide training over longer periods of time such as a week.
  7. Create an exhibition: What better way to show off your art and attract attention then holding an exhibition. You don’t need a prestigious art gallery to achieve this – it could even be held within a local library or cafe! Use this opportunity to sell framed photographs to the  visiting public and don’t forget to alert the press! We will be running a how to exhibit guide very soon – so watch this space!
  8. Self-publish a photography book: This is a great way of showing off your own work and you can sell the product to friends, families, local stores and even online. Visit  websites like Blurb www.blurb.com and LuLu www.lulu.com for more ideas and ideas – and watch this space as we will soon be running an article concerning self publishing soon.
  9. Create a range of products such as greeting cards and calendars and sell these online or approach specialist card/calendar companies to sell these for you.
  10. Attend events – whether it is a yacht race or gymkhana – and sell the images after or at the event to those photographed. Taking photographs of people and the things they are passionate about is big business. Just be sure to get permission from the event organisers and approach people, especially children, with careful thought and consideration.

Once the commission start to roll in you’ll need to channel time management and hone your organisational skills to meet the customer’s demands by their deadline. Once this has been achieved send an invoice and never ever forget to do your taxes. All the best of luck!

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Natalie Denton (nee Johnson)

Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) Natalie Denton (nee Johnson) is the former editor of Digital Photographer magazine, and is now a freelance journalist and photographer who has written for dozens of photography and technology magazines and websites over the last decade. Recent author and tutor too.

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