1. Wedding Photography
The most money in photography is definitely in wedding photography, there is a reason it is so competitive. High end wedding photographers will charge up to £6,000 for a single day cover and often have additional costs. I personally advise you to cover a few weddings for free potentially assisting an official wedding photographer to understand how the day works and where to be at certain points. After this it is good to carry on assisting for free to help build up an amazing portfolio. Now how to do you go about getting the work? Wedding fairs. These are often day events held around the country throughout the year where hundreds of brides attend looking to book their wedding photographer, hairdresser, etc. Wedding fairs do often have a “cap” on how many tables can be wedding photographers so book ahead! Another alternative to getting wedding work is to work on your site SEO for wedding photography related keywords. Much more costly and complex I will admit.
2. Stock Photography
I personally have only ever given this a half hearted try, I applied to several agencies – got declined and never pursued it any further. I did actually find a stock photography site which you didn’t need to be approved to submit too, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name. However, I have heard that although there is less money in stock photography these days there can still be some (plus there is no harm in making money from photos that you’ve already taken right?). It was only a few weeks back I read about a photographer who makes $600 every month from stock photography. Also, something to bear in mind is stock photography sites often want images that have been edited minimally so the buyer can do it themselves.
Snapwire kind of falls into the category above, but it’s just so much more awesome. Snapwire is a site as well as iphone app where companys post a loose criteria for an image they want (such as: university student) and you submit your images. These pay anywhere from $10-$3,000+. You do have you be approved to be able to submit to paid projects (which I still haven’t…) but if you do it’s an incredibly easy way to make some spare dosh.
3. Photo Editing
Now I personally have tried this and not made much money, but I have read it’s a very lucrative business. Do bear in mind (might be stating the obvious here) but you will need an awesome photo editing software (photoshop being ideal or GIMP is a decent free photo editing software) and a seriously good skill set. A few website’s you can sell your photo editing skills are: fiverr, elance (now upwork) and there are many other micro job sites you can do this. I personally use fiverr as I really like the easy to use interface, but bear in mind if you sell a skill for $5 you only get $4 (which works out to be about £2.50) you can also only charge over $5 once you’ve completed 10 gigs. Fiverr is also great for SEO related things.
4. Fine Art Photography
So if you take beautiful images of landscapes or nature a great way to get your name out there is to sell fine art prints. I don’t sell prints of my photography anywhere but my main website, however I have had pretty good success selling prints of my art on etsy (a site I completely adore). Do a little research on etsy SEO and you are all set. I personally don’t like having much money invested in my stock (i.e you could upfront purchase a bunch of prints and try to sell those or you can do what I do and buy the prints as they get ordered). For prints I love photo box (UK based) but I also hear snap mad is good (and offers free UK postage unlike photo box).
Some other sites you could look at:
Red Bubble (very similar to Society6, I site I personally use which also offers more range in products) – An attractive website with growing popularity, more art/illustration based but there is no reason you couldn’t sell your photography on here.
Imagekind.com – One of the biggest print websites online
Very similar to my category above, but you can potentially offer your photography on a huge range of merchandise and not do anything except submit images of your work. Most companies (listed below) do all the work for you: make it and ship it, and then deposit a small percentage of money into your account
Society6 – my personal favourite, you have to upload your art/photography in a range of sizes (I personally have photoshop actions set up to do this all for me) and they make it into all kinds of things: shower curtains, totes, mugs, prints, cards, etc. They do keep a very high percentage of your profit, but you don’t do anything except sit there so it doesn’t really bother me. I earn about $4 per print sold.
Red Bubble – something I’ve never personally used. It is very similar to society6 with a little less range, prints seem to be the main focus here.
Smug Mug – If you create a website with a hosting company that specialises in professional photography, such as Smugmug, you can integrate your page with a printing company and give your clients the option of having your work printed on mugs, t-shirts, key chains… you name it. Often you are free to put together packages that suit your clients’ needs, and you keep a major percentage of the markup.
You can sell greeting cards on some of the websites listed above, but I personally like to get them printed myself and sell them too. Moo is a printing company I absolutely adore (based in the UK and US) which may be a little more expensive than your average company but it has this fantastic thing called “printfinity” which allows you to have a different image printed on every business card/postcard/greeting card or whatever you order! It’s beyond awesome and the quality is incredible. You could also contact local cafes/coffee shop and see if they will sell them for you.
6. Property Photography
Property Photography. Again something I’ve never done, but a lot of photographers talk about this being an easy source of money and not very competitive.