To make money from photography, my suggestions:
- 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)
- Sell your photographic products (selling your pictures, selling photography books, or selling photography equipment like bags, straps)
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 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.
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:
– 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.
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?
Take control of your own photographic destiny:
THE MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
- 5 Practical Photography Career Tips and Advice
- 10x Thinking
- How to Hustle as a Photographer
- How to Become Your Own Master Marketer
- The ‘T’ Technique of Success
- Go Ahead and Sell Out
- What is Your Unique Voice?
- Why You Must Self-Promote Yourself
- What is Your Unique Angle as a Photographer?
- Photography Content Marketing 101
- Why You Must Become Your Own Publisher
- The Art of Cross-Pollination in Photography
Photography Entrepreneurship Articles
- Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Pictures to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Flickr
- How to Make Money From Your Photography
- Photography SEO and Blogging: How to Become Number One on Google
- Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Now is the Best Time to Be a Photographer
- What Is The Value of a Picture?
- Your Photographic Labor is Not Free
PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS 101
- Chapter 1. How to Make a Photography Blog
- Chapter 2. How to Price Yourself
- Chapter 3. How to Find Your Market
- Chapter 4. Why Teach Workshops?
- Chapter 5. How to Build Trust
- Chapter 6. How to Market Yourself
- Chapter 7: Why Should Someone Attend Your Workshop?
KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Why You Must Be a “Personality” in Order to Succeed
- THRIVE OR DIE.
- Impatience is a Virtue
- Create Your Own Category
- HOW TO DREAM BIG.
- Will Not or Cannot?
- Why Not?
- How to Think BIG
- How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
- How to Invest in Yourself
- The Two Camera Rule
- MEANINGFUL DIFFERENTIATION
- Advice For College Students
- How to Thrive in Uncertain Times
- CANNIBALIZE YOURSELF.
- DO AND GROW RICH
- Does Fear of Punishment Hold You Back?
- HOW TO GET MORE FOLLOWERS
- How to Innovate
- How to Build Your Own Empire
- YOU ARE ENTITLED TO HARD WORK.
- PICK YOURSELF.
- OWN YOUR PLATFORM
- 10 KEYS TO SUCCESS
Table of Contents
Learn how to make a living from your passion:
- Preface. BRAVE NEW WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY
- Chapter 1. How to Create Value
- Chapter 2. ZEN CAPITALISM
- Chapter 3. Scarcity
- Chapter 4. How to Brand Yourself
- Chapter 5. How to Build a True Following
- Chapter 6. The Blueprint to Success in Photography
- Chapter 7. HOW TO BE BOLD
- Chapter 8. How to Sell Out
- Chapter 9. GO AGAINST THE GRAIN
- Chapter 10. EXTREME ABUNDANCE
- Chapter 11. Photography Experience Economy
- Chapter 12. Why You Should Make Money for Your Photography
- Chapter 13. How to Become a Famous Photographer
Photography Business 101
How to Make Money with Photography
- How to Charge More Money in Your Photography
- Why You Should Not Pursue Photography as Career
- Can Photography Make You Rich?
- How I Earn $200,000+ a Year From Photography
- How to earn $10,000 a month as a photographer
- Why you must be an expensive photographer
Photography Marketing 101
- Why Have More Followers?
- Why You Should Do Photography Work For Free
- How I Became an Internet Famous Photographer
- Photography Blogging Ideas
- Why You Should Promote Your Own Name
- How to Build a Following
- How to Stand Out as a Photographer.
- HOW TO GO VIRAL AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
- How to Master Marketing
- How to Sell Yourself
How to Hustle.
- Entrepreneurial Advice to My 18 Year Old Self
- How to Become Insanely Productive.
- 5 Lessons From Hesiod on Hustling
- It is Better to Beg For Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission
- The Free Way to Become Rich
- JUST DO IT.
- 7 Steps: How to Make a Living From Your Passion
- How to Do What You Love for a Living
- How to Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- How to Fail Big
- How to Invest in Yourself
- How to Be Bold in Photography and Life
- Mission: Cover Your Rent and Food
- 1,000 True Fans
- The “10x Principle”: The Only Difference Between “Success” and “Failure”
- Make More Value Not Money
- We Live in a Photo Utopia
How to be a Full-time Photographer
- How to Make a Living From Photography
- The 3 Principles of Making Money With Photography
- Advice for Aspiring Full-Time Photographers
- Don’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography
- How to Brand Yourself as a Photographer
- Trust: The Most Important Thing You Need to Succeed as a Photographer
- How to become rich from photography blogging
- How to Make a Living with Blogging
- 50 Blogging Tips For Beginners
- How to Start Your Own Photography Blog
- A Photographer’s Guide to SEO, Blogging, and Social Media
How to Teach Photography
- How to Become a Photography Teacher
- How to Teach a Street Photography Class
- Why I Teach Street Photography Workshops
- Why I Deleted My Instagram
- The Social Media Blackbook for Photographers
- Why Do You Need More Likes or Followers?
- Instagram is Going to Be the Next Facebook
- Don’t Trust “Free” Photography Social Networks
How to Save Money
Unleash your creative potential:
- April 10-11th, 2021: BOSTON / Discover Your Unique Voice in Photography Workshop [Register Intent Here]
- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.