Your schedule is full of weddings, family portraits, social events, and newborn sessions. By Monday you are exhausted because you had to work all weekend to meet your monthly income, plus you have a pile of photos to edit and prepare for your anxious clients throughout the week…does that sound familiar?
I’m a former photographer, and I’ve been there too, I know you love your work, but who doesn’t want to take a break some days knowing that your expenses are already covered? And what if I tell you that you could be making extra money while you are sleeping? Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Today I’ll cover six ways to create passive income as a photographer.
After selling digital content online for 10 years with Birdesign, I can safely suggest that investing in creating your own digital goods shop is the best thing you can do today for your future self. Selling digital content means that you put in your time, knowledge and energy once to get paid for it multiple times over the years…isn’t that amazing? Like, some days I receive earnings for illustrations I made in 2008, and every Christmas I make profits from templates I designed for previous years’ collections. So believe me, if you ’ve been thinking about how to make extra income in a passive way, this could be the answer for you.
Maybe you think your clients are limited to those who want a portrait or need an event covered. But the truth is that you could be followed by other photographers and creatives that admire your work and they could potentially become future clients, in case you decide to dive into the digital world. Today I’m going to share with you some ideas on how you can make extra income offering the best of your work online. This could be an entirely new world for you, and it might be overwhelming at first, but I want you to read these possibilities and meditate on the ones that resonate the most with you, your skills, and your lifestyle.
I’m writing this option first because it may seem very obvious, but I want you to think about stock photos in a new way. Think about the pictures you need when trying to publish a blog post, or the images you don’t have in hand when you’re posting on social media, or the photo you need to include in an email campaign. What if YOU offered that to others? How can you help them by providing pictures that solve their branding or marketing problems? It could be mockups, desktop scenes, lay flat pictures, landscapes, screens, mugs, blank cards, and much more. Let your imagination soar! (A great place to sell images and get good revenue is Creative Market)
You may be thinking you don’t have anything special to share with the world, but as a photographer, you already have a lot of experience that you actually take for granted. Surprisingly, the things that may look so simple to you could be a whole new world for the non-savvy in your field. You can serve your photography community by sharing your knowledge on topics that they might need help with. Take a moment to think about the topics you’d wished you had known about being a photographer several years ago and the skills you have now in the same areas. You can create posing guides, tips for specific sessions, tutorials, how-to guides, even topics about your experience building, branding, and marketing yourself as a photographer. The content could be delivered in PDF format or video, whichever is better for you. Check out my PSD and INDD templates to create your own PDF Tutorial and Step by Step Guide (commercial use is
Chances are you’ve been saving your custom presets to have a better workflow and be cohesive with your sessions. I’m sure you have a great taste while editing, so what if you put those pretty presets out there? It’s probably that some of your photographer friends and fans will love to have your secret recipe in their Lightroom library. If you haven’t created your own presets yet, you can try playing around with your most favorite image adjustments, I’m sure as a photographer you will be successful at it.
Take a look at this tutorial on how to create them.
It looks like this is one of the most profitable trends in the online market nowadays. Online courses are generating millions of dollars online every year! So, what are you waiting for? Remember that you don’t have to be a guru to teach something, you just need to have some steps ahead of your students, and be passionate about the topics you want to teach about.
Creating an online course requires more planning than other digital products, but the value of your knowledge and the credibility it generates among your niche is totally worth it. Think about the things you love doing most as a photographer. What are the areas you are best at and how can you help others on those topics? You could approach topics as simple as “How to Start a Photography Business” to more complex issues like Mastering Newborn Photography.
Getting into affiliate programs is a great way to earn extra income. The very first thing you have to do is to build trust with your audience so that when you recommend a product or service, they will be more likely to click through and make a purchase. You can begin by just sharing the products you love, can’t live without, and make your life or job easier. This should be authentic and with the primary motivation of serving your people.
Think about those products and services you have been using for a while and can definitively recommend to other photographers or business owners. Research if those sellers or platforms have affiliate programs and get signed up. Also, you can reach out to small brands you like to see if they might be interested in exchanging promotions for store credit or products (this doesn’t sound like passive income at first, but could be the first steps of creating one).
Remember to stick to your values and beliefs while choosing what to share with your audience, so that they trust you are sharing products you really believe in. From photography gear to online subscriptions, products for your sessions, software, apps, to courses you’ve taken. And don’t put a limit on your demographic. You can share valuable content with photographers, business owners, or your studio clients as well.
As a photographer and small business owner, chances are that you’ve already created a system to make your workflow easier and your customers’ experience better. You may not even realize that you already have business tools in your niche you can share with the world. Let me name some examples; planning sheets, checklists, client questionnaires, calendar plans, email templates, posing guides, clients’ welcome guides, accountability documents, session timelines. Any useful document or process you have created for your business could be a helpful tool for others in your niche who are struggling with those things that you’ve already figured out.
These are just some ideas to begin with. I could stay here for weeks talking about the possibilities, I mean this is my favorite topic when talking about business. My obsession with digital products is based on the fact that the actual investment is time and knowledge, you don’t have to spend a lot to create a digital product since you are using the tools you have already in your home and office. Plus, you can get paid multiple times over the years for just one product. Isn’t that a good deal?
Lastly, but the most important of all: TAKE ACTION. Begin by crafting your idea. What excites you the most about these options? What fits the best with your photography studio and style? What tools and resources do you already have that you can share with others?
After working through your idea, ask your followers, fellows, and friends if they would like to get a free sample of the product you have in mind. Offering a freebie or small version of the product is a great idea to test the waters before diving into this new market.
So my friend, what ideas came to your mine after this brainstorming session? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you are new to the topic, check out this: Passive income for Creatives 101
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