If you asked a group of photographers one thing they don’t like about their job, what do you suppose they’d say? My bet is that it would have something to do with the unreliability of income.
By that I mean, there are times when it seems like every day is booked solid with clients. And then there are days or weeks where things slow way down. The key to protecting yourself from those kinds of ebbs and flows is to diversify your income stream.
Expand Outside Your Niche
If you’re a wedding photographer, why not offer portrait services in the off-season?
If you specialize in sports photography, why not venture into wildlife photography?
The point here is that it’s great to specialize in a niche and build a reputation as a phenomenal photographer in that area. But adding another niche to your repertoire will help you deal with the changing demand of your primary type of photography.
In that same vein, there is money to be made by expanding the products and services you offer as well.
Think about this: If you’re a wedding photographer, add engagement shoots, maternity, and newborn photography to your list of services. Doing so gives you an opportunity to get repeat business from your wedding clients, and it also opens you up to getting new clients that might just need one of those types of photos.
Quick Tip: When expanding your niche, products, or services, be purposeful about what you offer. You don’t want to give clients so much choice that you’re spread too thin or that the quality of your work suffers.
Get Into Stock Photography
Sure, stock photography isn’t going to be a huge breadwinner for you, but it could turn into some nice side income.
With stock photography, all the work is upfront. You obviously have to take the photos and edit them, but then you need to upload them, tag them, and describe them such that they can be easily found by consumers.
The nice thing about stock photography is that you can photograph just about anything you want – plants, dogs, food, landscapes, people – you name it. These are all popular subjects, and things that you can photograph when you have a spare 10 or 20 minutes.
After that, assuming you’ve nailed the keywording and your image is spot on, you can get repeated income from your images for months or years to come!
Quick Tip: Do some research regarding what types of stock photos are hot right now. If “American flag” is popular, find ways to take interesting photos of the American flag to capitalize on its popularity. Mix trending needs in with old standards (i.e. landscapes and portraits) so your stock collection has good variety.
Work with Local Businesses to Photograph their Products or Services
A great source of income for photographers rests in other local businesses that require occasional photography work.
Often, small business owners need a photo of their storefront, their employees, or a few products, but don’t have the photography skills to do it themselves and don’t want to hire a professional product photographer because of the cost associated with those services.
But since you’re a master with the camera, you can enter this niche and offer professional services for a reduced price.
What’s more, if you work efficiently, you can build a reputation amongst local businesses that sing your praises for the quality of your work and the quickness with which you complete each job.
Another attractive feature of this type of side gig is that you get your name and face out there in the community. Taking photos of the new facade a the downtown theatre and the new coffee blends at the local coffee shop could get you additional work through word of mouth.
Plus, if your name is on the photos, you get free advertising too!
Quick Tip: Try to schedule your shoots with local businesses during times of day when you typically have down time, like the lunch hour or after 5 pm. That way the work doesn’t interfere with your regular schedule. Also try to schedule these shoots back-to-back so you can minimize the time spent travelling to and from the locations.
Work as a Second Shooter
If you find that you have some free time on the weekends, why not offer your services as a second shooter for wedding and event photographers?
Many photographers are looking for high-quality second shooters, and if you’ve got the skills already, they might be willing to pay a premium for not having to train you or worry about the quality of the photos you’ll take.
Better still, if you’re a photographer that keeps more traditional working hours, taking a gig now and then on the weekend won’t interfere with your normal work schedule. That means you can add additional income to your monthly ledger without sacrificing time you need to tackle your own work.
Photograph Local Events
From the county fair to Fourth of July celebrations, carnivals to church events, just about every community has a wealth of activities that provide photographers with opportunities for extra income.
Documenting these events shouldn’t just be left to the local newspaper photographer. If you offer your services, anyone from businesses that sponsor or take part in the event to individual event-goers could take you up on purchasing a print or two (or even just a digital file).
In fact, just like photographing local businesses, photographing local events like those outlined above is a great way to connect with people in the community and increase your visibility. In that regard, taking photos of local events could lead to other side gigs, or even score you a few clients for your primary photography business.