It’s something that a lot of people who are passionate about photography dream of. These days even more photographers are making the leap and calling themselves semi-pros (me included) and are trying their hand at making photography a part-time gig. Today I’ll share with you some of the things that I’ve learned and how I approach the subject.
Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to work for themselves? I don’t know anyone who would want to spend the rest of their life answering to a boss. If there is such a person, I would say they’re crazy. People do and try all sorts of things in an effort to achieve the so-called “financial freedom” that you hear so many people talking about. There are even photographers out there who get rich make their living teaching others how to get rich with photography. Heh.
The great thing about being a “semi-pro” or shooting part-time is that you don’t have to depend on it for an income. Sure, any passionate photog would love nothing more to make a full-time living with their photography. However, it takes a lot of time, practice, and networking to get to that point. Not depending on photography as your primary source of income removes the stress factor of trying to put food on the table and allows you to be more creative and take some risks. Instead of always playing it safe you can experiment and work more towards developing your own style. Think of it as putting money in the mattress.
There are many different ways that you can turn your hobby and passion into a little profit. You can sell fine art prints through your own Zenfolio site, you can shoot high school sports and sell prints to players and parents, you can shoot portraits, weddings, stock, and just about anything else you can think of.
Something very important that you have to keep in mind is that your level of success depends on more than just your photography skills. You also have to be business-minded as well as a sales person. You have to TALK to people, which for some can be a little scary. If no one knows about your part-time business, you’re not going to make many sales. The great thing about doing all of this yourself is that you can control how busy your business is. The more you’re involved with your marketing, the busier you’ll get. Therefore you only need to do enough marketing to keep you as busy as you would like to be. You can always increase or decrease from there depending on your needs and ambitions.
For myself, I stay pretty busy with my career in the Navy and therefore have to limit how much photography work I do on the side because I don’t want to become overextended and burn out. I also have a wife and kids that need my time and attention too. So I choose the types of jobs that don’t take me away from home for too long and try and maintain a good balance. That’s mainly why I’m not shooting weddings. They’re a great source of income but they take a lot of time. Once you shoot one (and if you do a good enough job) the work will come flowing in and I’m not prepared for that yet. So I mainly stick to portraits and a little commercial work as well as selling a few prints and that way I can continue to build my photography business at my own pace.
The bottom line is that you have to choose a path that will work best for you. I can’t tell you exactly how to do it, because it probably won’t work for you. My hope is that by sharing my own thoughts and experiences you can use some of what I’ve done and mix it in with your own ideas to create a plan that works for you.
A blog that I refer to often that talks only about the subject of making money with photography is Photopreneur. It’s a great blog with a lot of great info. so be sure to check it out!
Be sure to hit me up in the comments and tell me about your own thoughts, ideas, and successes when it comes to turning your photography into a part-time business.