You love travel photography, but you don’t just want to take photos for yourself. You’re ready to turn your passion into a business. It won’t be easy — but then nothing worth doing ever is.
And while it’s unlikely that you’ll make a lot of money, it’s perfectly feasible to make some money on the side and turn it into a full-time income over time.
There are many options available to make a living from your travel photography, and here are eight of the best.
1. Create a Course
Creating a course is one of the most popular ways to make money online in almost any niche. And there is no reason why you could not make money by setting up an online travel photography course. If you have skills to share, there are probably lots of other people who could benefit from them.
Set up a course in Teachable, or just put together some lessons on your own website. Spend time constructing something of value until you have a product worth selling, then spread the word and get people to sign up.
An alternative could be to set up an in-person course. This would involve hiring a space and advertising in your local area, but it may suit you better.
If it works out, you can create other courses, perhaps focusing on specific types of photography or courses for more advanced photographers. If you enjoy teaching, this could even turn into a rewarding career.
2. Build an E-Commerce Brand
You could set up an e-commerce business just like any other, but selling your photos rather than other items. However, you could always branch out into other photography-related items as well. You could even include affiliate links to Amazon products for items that you do not sell yourself.
You’ll need to drive targeted traffic and convert visitors into sign-ups and buyers — all the things any other e-commerce store has to do to make sales. Start off small, and consider doing it as a side project for some extra income. Then grow it over time and build your reputation.
The fact that you are a keen photographer will give your store a different angle. You’re not just selling something for the sake of it, you are passionate about photography — let that show. People need to see what makes you different.
You should also build up a social presence on Facebook, Instagram (definitely), Twitter, and others. Use these to share tips as well as your own photographs, connect with photographers, and drive traffic.
3. Sell to Stock Photography Sites
One relatively straightforward way to make some money is to sell your work to stock photography sites. This is more suited to a side income, but if your photos are good, you could do well out of it.
There are many stock agencies, with Getty and Shutterstock being two of the most well known. You could sell exclusively to one site or to many. People always need great images. If you can provide them, you can make a regular source of income this way.
One tip: Research the sites first. What is missing from their collections? If you can spot something that is missing, you could fill a gap.
4. Sell via Print on Demand or Dropshipping
Print on demand is where you sell via another store rather than your own store. People make orders of photos from the store, and the store prints them out and sends them. They take care of the orders and the shipping, and you just supply the photography.
Sites like Redbubble are a good place to start. Just upload your photos, and when someone orders one, you get a payment. It’s similar to stock photography, and it could become a good source of passive income.
Alternatively, you can try dropshipping, which is similar to print on demand. In this case, you need to find a company that will print and send your photos out for you without any branding of their own. You are responsible for selling your work, finding customers, and marketing your business. When someone makes an order, you send it to the printer, which then takes care of each order.
There’s a lengthy account of this on Reddit that is worth reading, and it could well be a good way to make some extra money.
Finally, you have the option of combining the two to run your own PoD store that uses dropshipping for fulfilment and shipping. Check online marketplaces like Flippa, Exchange, or Empire Flippers — there are notably some print on demand websites available through Exchange with detailed analytics histories so you’ll know what you’re getting into. Just be careful to do full research before you commit to a purchase because people have highly varying reasons for selling!
5. Sell to Publishers
You could also sell your work directly to publishers. Magazines, websites, newspapers and blogs buy photography, but you might have more luck selling via a dedicated agency.
Research different publications and find out what type of photography they publish. When you get more established, you could pitch them directly, and you could even pitch whole stories with photos included.
6. Create a Book
You could even create a book of your best work, perhaps one focusing on a destination or a theme. If you create an ebook, you could sell it via your blog, e-commerce store, or on Amazon. Alternatively, you could self-publish a physical book and sell it to local bookshops, or attempt to find a publisher.
7. Launch a City Tour
If you live somewhere with good photography spots, create your own tour. You could launch a tour for tourists teaching them how to use a smartphone to take better travel photos, or you could launch a history photography tour of your local city.
There are many niches you could choose from. You could even link your tour up with your store and blog and simply offer it as another service. You could even sell your photos to your tour customers.
8. Buy an Existing Brand
One final option is to buy an existing brand. If you have the funds available, this could be the easiest route to making money from your business.
A business that already has a customer base, email list, products, and a marketing strategy will save you a lot of time. So you can cut out all the initial work of setting up and then start selling your photographs alongside other products.
Be Creative and Make a Living
As you can see, there are many ways you can make a living as a travel photographer. And these are just the start. For example, you could enter photography competitions to get money and exposure, offer your services to local businesses as you travel, and even sell your work to galleries.
Think outside the box and get creative. While not everyone gets to be a National Geographic photographer, you can still make a successful living from your passion if you have the creativity and drive.