Purple dollar sign.

How to Monetize Your Photography

To make money from photography, my suggestions:

  1. Monetize your services (service of shooting pictures for your client like shooting commercial or weddings, or a service of consulting like education in photography, or the service of helping empower photographers)
  2. Sell your photographic products (selling your pictures, selling photography books, or selling photography equipment like bags, straps)

DOWNLOAD PDF: How to monetize your photography 2


Since the time of Herodotus, humans have mostly made our living selling our services and labor.

For example, we will sell our labor to till the land, to maintain things, or to sell the products of others. Nowadays, the service industry is huge — consider the huge demand for waiters, waitresses, coffee shop baristas, and runners for Amazon warehouses.

The sad thing about selling your labor: it is not “scalable”. Which means, you can only theoretically work 12-14 hours a day maximum. If you have a fixed wage, you have an upper limit of how much money you can earn from selling your time.

Selling Products

Selling products is more “scalable”— because in theory, you can sell a million photo books. You cannot sell a million of your hours in life — there is an upper limit with your time and life, but no upper limit to how many products you can sell.

But the problem is — it is very hard to sell products on the internet, or to sell products in general. It is very hard to build up a sense of trust with your follower, to have them actually pay real money for your products.

For example, Cindy built HAPTIC INDUSTRIES: a platform for selling empowering tools for photographers, which include books, straps, and other photographic tools. Even if we sell one product a day, we are very happy.

Also, there is this myth of “passive income”— selling products online is very hard and requires a lot of labor as well. For example, if we want to sell any products, I need to heavily market and promote the products.

The saying, “Build it and they will come” is false. And in today’s world, just because you have your own photographic book or product, you cannot sell it without heavy marketing or advertising.

Therefore to succeed as a modern photographer and entrepreneur, you must become a master marketer.

To monetize either your photographic services or products, you must charge money for it. You can use a simple platform like PayPal or Square to accept payments.

You also need to have faith in yourself, and your services. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to sell yourself or your services. To make money from photography, first overcome this silly notion that if you’re making money from your passion, you’re “selling out”— the truth is, you must charge money for your photographic services, because your labor is not free.

In terms of selling yourself, put yourself in the shoes of your potential client or follower.

For example, when I designed my workshops, I made a workshop that I would love to attend myself:
– Fun
– Engaging
– Practical
– Philosophical
– Hands on
– Lots of time to shoot on the streets

I wanted less theory; more practice.

Even when we made HAPTIC PRODUCTS, I made products that I wanted to use on the streets, like Henri neck strap and Henri wrist strap for Leica/Fuji/mirrorless/film/ rangefinders, and ERIC KIM STRAP for RICOH GR II.

It is impossible to please 100% of people out there, or even predict what others are gonna want.

So once again my simple suggestion:

Make products and services that you would like to use.

100% money back guarantee

I don’t know about you, but I always get “buyers remorse” when I buy stuff. I often return stuff.

To sell yourself and monetize your photography, I recommend giving and offering a 100% money back guarantee. This will clip the risk of your client. They are more likely to book you, because they know they have very little downside.

I’ve taught workshops from 2011-2017 (6 years) and have only had two students ask for a refund.

To me the idea of a money back guarantee is good — because you had more skin in the game. If I teach a workshop, I’m gonna hustle my ass off, to make sure the student has the best possible experience— because of course, I don’t want them to be dissatisfied and ask for their money back.

To monetize your photography, you must have an audience. You need potential clients.

The mistake a lot photographers make is this:

  • They don’t have an audience yet, and try to immediately start monetizing their photography.

For me, I had to blog and build an audience for at least a year, before I had people interested in attending my workshop.

For HAPTIC INDUSTRIES, we had to build up a following for around 5-6 years, before we were able to have a substantial following of street photographers who trusted us, before buying our products.

Therefore if you want to monetize your photography,

First build an audience, then sell yourself, your products, and services.

To build an audience, I think the easiest way is through “content marketing”— write blog posts, YouTube videos, and offer free information — then later charge premium prices for your paid services or products.

This is the “barbell” theory of pricing:

Either give it away for free, or charge a lot of money.

If you charge “medium” prices for your services, you will go broke. In a world over saturated with photographers, you need to appeal to the extremes. Make lots of free ebooks and information, to build an audience. And when it is time to monetize, don’t sell yourself for cheap. My suggestion: charge 25% more for your services and products than you think you should (because we tend to undervalue ourselves).

For example, if you’re thinking of charging $1,000 USD for your photographic services, quote your client $1,250 USD.

It is hard


The last thing I wanna share with you — realize that monetizing your photography is very very hard. It ain’t easy. You gotta hustle your ass off, and you need some luck.

I work 12-14 hours a day, and am a typical workaholic American. I’m also #1 on street photography on google. Yet, I’m only making a middle-class income by American standards ($200,000 a year combined income with Cindy), yet our expenses are high with medical insurance, and travel expenses.

I am personally a huge fan of Tim Ferriss, and read the four-hour workweek like a bible. But the problem I had was this —

I got suckered by the concept of “passive income”.

To make money, you must be ACTIVE! You must nonstop, work, advertise yourself, your products, and push yourself 10x beyond what your limits are. You must keep shooting for the moon, constantly iterate, and evolve.

Aperture eye. Yellow and red.

It ain’t easy, but with enough hard work, persistence, and dedication— yes, you can monetize your photography.


To learn more how to make money from your photography, buy MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER >


The Modern Photographer: Tips, Strategies, and Tactics to Thrive as a Visual Artist in the Digital Age


Marketing, Branding, Entrepreneurship Principles For Success

MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER is your new philosophical and practical primer to succeed as a modern photographer in today’s digital world.

Why Become a Photography Entrepeneur?

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

Take control of your own photographic destiny:

  1. Photography Startup Manual


Photography Entrepreneurship Articles

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Table of Contents

Learn how to make a living from your passion:

Photography Business 101

How to Make Money with Photography


Photography Marketing 101


How to Hustle.

Entrepreneurial Principles

How to be a Full-time Photographer

Photography Blogging

How to Teach Photography

Social Media

How to Save Money


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