Yes. I got rich from photography (Cindy and I earn over $200,000 USD from photography), and I will share with you what worked for me:

1. Become #1 on Google.

Okay, the sad reality is that Google owns the world. Because Google owns the internet, and we are so dependent to the internet, if you rank #1 on Google, you will become rich.

For example, I’m #1 on Google for “street photography” and now #1 for “photography entrepreneurship”. That means people instantly trust me, because people have a mental shortcut that anyone who is #1 on Google must be the #1 authority.

The reality is just because you’re number one on Google doesn’t mean you’re the smartest, skilled, or the most expert person. But in the world of Google and modern times, it does.

For example, there are hundreds of street photographers far more capable than me. My friends Josh White, Sean Lotman, Charlie Kirk, Junku Nishimura, are all far more skilled than I am. But because I am a prolific photography blogger, I rank higher than them in Google. And therefore, I can charge a lot of money for workshops, and sell a lot of expensive HAPTIC products, and also promote my own products (ERIC KIM STRAP).

To become #1 on Google, it will take you at least 5 years, publishing 1-2 blog posts a day, 7 days a week. I published 2,700+ blog posts from 2011-2017 before I took the throne for street photography on Google.

What you need to do is this: find a niche that hasn’t been blogged about a lot yet.

For example, when I started this blog, there were very few sites on how to shoot street photography. I got lucky with timing.

Let’s say your passion is street photography — perhaps you can become #1 on Google for “medium format film street photography”– something a bit more specific and niche. And over time, you can build your name.

The best tip I have is this: blog about whatever you are personally interested in, but you can’t find any useful information on Google.

For example, everything I blog about is to help my 18 year old self. I recently started to blog about “photography entrepreneurship” because I wish I could have gotten no bullshit, honest advice on how to make money from photography.

The most popular post I did was how I make $200,000+ a year from photography. Why I wrote it: nobody is open, transparent, and honest about their finances. And for some reason, everyone is scared to share. I just wanted to share information which I wish I had access to.

So once again the strategy is this: blog about a very specific niche in photography which interests you. You probably won’t become #1 on Google– but to be honest, if you write 2,700+ blog posts on any topic, how can you not make it to the first page of Google?

2. Charge a lot of money

Rolls-Royce Torpedo
Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

My theory: better to give away all your information for free, and charge a lot for your services and products, than to charge “middle prices”.

For example, I give away all my blog posts, ebooks, videos, and information for free– but when I teach a workshop I will charge $5,000 USD. Rather than charging $20 on ebooks and trying to “nickel and dime” people and charging them for every small cost.

I don’t know about you, but it annoys me when I have to pay luggage for flights. I would prefer to pay more for my flight, and have a “free” checkin.

Therefore the strategy to making a lot of money is this:

Free or very expensive.

For example, give away all your advice for free. When you sit down with a young photographer at a coffee shop, give them advice for 2-3 hours for free. But if you get a company to ask you for advice, charge $1,000 an hour.

3. How to build trust

Of course you’re probably wondering how to charge a lot of money. The secret is building trust.

The stupid buzz word nowadays is “branding”. That means nothing. To build a “brand” means to build trust.

For example, I will spend $10,000 on a Leica, because I trust the heritage, history, and quality of the products. I will trust that I can use the camera for 30+ years (film Leica MP). I will spend $3,000 USD on a lens, because I trust it will be hand machined to perfection, and inspected by some quirky German guy in Wetzlar with a white lab coat, and preferably a handsome mustache.

To build trust, it takes a long time. Companies often have to show their quality for decades before building trust.

For example, when Toyota first entered America, it was seen a cheap, unreliable, Japanese brand. Over 20 years, Toyota is one of the best selling cars in America– because they built trust with the American public, by having reliable cars that have stayed on the road for 20 years, 200,000+ miles in a Corolla is not uncommon.

For myself I had to write 20+ free books, 500+ YouTube videos, and 2,700+ blog posts, over 7 years. I seriously work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I’m a self-professed AMERICAN HUSTLER.

I grew up poor, so I knew if I had to become an entrepreneur and make a lot of money from my passion– I needed to hustle, hard.

And to be really honest: you might hustle for a decade and still not make a living from your passion in photography. Fate can be cruel. But the truth is, the harder you work, the luckier you get.

If you’re reading this, and you think photography is your passion and you want to become rich, you probably won’t. But if you have an insane burning passion in your heart, a strong work ethic, the ability to overcome adversity, to live below your means, to eat eggs and peanut butter to sustain you, and drink lots of black coffee, you can make it.

And as my buddy Ryan Holiday say:

You can control the effort, not the results.

So contort the effort you have in your photography entrepreneurship. Cancel your Netflix, smartphone plan, and build your own blog. Build an audience over a decade, and work everyday, 14 hours. How can you not succeed?

Be strong,
Eric


Photography entrepreneurship 101

ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP // Portrait by Benjamin Thompson

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Photography Marketing 101

How to Hustle.

How to Make Money with Photography

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

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How to Save Money

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