There comes a time in a photographer’s journey when a busy hobby tilts into a serious passion. It’s at this point that it makes sense to start getting paid for doing the thing you love. But it’s a long road from opening a Flickr account to being a Trey Ratcliff or a Chase Jarvis.
That said, all the greats started somewhere and it’s likely that they got to the top because they took the business of photography seriously. As in, REALLY SERIOUSLY. They were, of course, prepared to be apprentices in order to learn from the masters, but they also weren’t afraid to bust out and put a value on their own work. And if you don’t do the same, then who will (the answer’s nobody)?
In other words, they treated it as a business, not a hobby or a sideshow. That’s the strategy. Here come the tactics!
Their first move to start charging money for your work. So if you’ve been practicing by photographing and printing photos as favours for friends and family,that show’s over. You’re a photographer now. By all means work for free, but only if you’re calculating a long-term benefit for you. A really, really smart move would be to start earning money as a photographer even if it’s not the ‘fine art’ of particular niche of photography that you want to be known for. That’s the long game.
In the meantime, you can start earning a living as a wedding photographer, a real estate photographer or even a stock photographer. If you do that, you’re in the business, and that’s half the battle. Your gear becomes tax deductible and your business card says ‘Photographer’ on it. Progress. Now here’s the fun bit.
Your ultimate goal is to create a brand — a position — in the marketplace that people can remember. You need control over what people think about your work and the more specific you are, the more successful you’re going to be. Drill down to exactly what it is you want to be known for, sum it up in a few words, then go to town on one, two or all three of these brilliant websites.
The Blurb: Upload your pics. Choose your price. Change it whenever you want.
An open-to-all image market, controlled by you. If someone wants to use your pic, you get paid. Keep all copyright, and get what you ask for. If your pic costs £5, that’s what you’ll receive.
The Cost: FREE
The Blurb: Present your photos professionally and run your entire online business from one convenient site. Includes a portfolio website, client proofing, custom shopping cart, integration with print labs, fulfilling your own orders, and much more.
The Cost: From £100
The Blurb: Photos, meet money. The easiest way to sell your photos online. We’ve optimized your website for selling, and made order management simple and headache-free. Pick the photo products you want to sell, price your inventory, and keep 85% of the markup. We cover credit card processing and customer service.
The Cost: From $5 (US)/month