What does it take to turn your photography hobby into a business? Many have tried and failed, but by following a few simple guidelines you will be able to take a hobby you love, and turn your photos into cash.
1. Find Your Niche
Whether you enjoy landscape, wedding, or indoor photography–there is money to be made. Finding not only what you’re good at, but what you enjoy is critical in turning your photography hobby into a business. Personally I love indoor photography, so I spend a lot of time learning about studio and portrait photography. Do all you can to research the genre in which you are interested. Then, you’ll want to build up your portfolio.
2. Build A Portfolio and Market Yourself
Building a strong portfolio of whatever niche you want to specialize in will be key in attracting the right type of clientele. Creating dedicated Instagram and Facebook account for your work is easy and, best of all, free. A pitfall that many people fall into is overloading their profiles with sub-par images. Even if your portfolio isn’t large at first, always lead with your best images and the images of which you are most proud. Look at your own work with the same critical eye that a client would look at it with. Remember, your portfolio is what clients will judge you on.
3. Finding Clients
Once you have started to build a following, it’s time to find someone who will pay you for your work. In my early days, I found myself searching through job boards, like Craigslist, to see if anyone wanted to hire a photographer. I ended up working all sorts of jobs, from golf tournaments to art gallery openings, and eventually landed a weekend gig shooting for a nightclub in San Francisco. Sometimes you’ll find jobs that are TFP (Time For Print) where you’ll be able to gain some exposure, capture images to add to your portfolio, but won’t get paid. TFP gigs are a great chance to build clientele, especially if the job entails a subject matter that interests you.
4. Sell Your Work
For those more interested in art, landscape, or stock photography, there are a number of great companies that will pay you for your images. Adobe Stock, iStock Photo, and ShutterStock are all great options for those not going down the path of an event, portrait, or wedding photography. There are also many services online that will allow you to sell prints directly to your customers. SmugMug, PhotoShelter, and ZenFolio are all great services that help you set up an online store as well as take care of the printing and shipping.
5. Play The Waiting Game
One of the hardest parts of turning your photography hobby into a business is realizing that there is a long road ahead of you. Building up a portfolio and social media presence, forming relationships with clients, and selling your images all take time. However, if you have the dedication and determination to push through the hard times, you will have created a business out of what you love to do, photography.