I talk with many photographers that look at product photography as a small-scale business, accepting assignments for a few products at a time. I suspect that may have something to do with working through the freelancing sites, bidding jobs for 10 or 12 products that are shipped to the photographer, photographed and then returned or, in some cases, kept as a partial or "bonus" payment. That's one way to go about it.
I also know several photographers that generate substantial income from their product photography, often with only a few local clients. The difference is that those photographers take their services to the client and in terms of potential earnings, it's like night and day. It's also not hard to do, with the right equipment.
Let's take a local jeweler as a potential client. They need photos for television and screen ads, brochures and websites on a regular basis. Why not offer to provide the business owner with professional-quality photos taken on-site, with no merchandise ever leaving the store? The question of where you're going to set up all your lighting equipment, backdrops, props, etc. is bound to come up.
Your answer could be, "I've got the whole studio in one box and I only need a space about the size of a card table." What's more, you don't have to custom-make anything to make it so, because one of my favorite setups has everything you need for just that scenario and more. Take a look at the MyStudio® MS20J Tabletop Studio:
It doesn't take much more than a quick look at that image to see that this kit has everything needed to shoot jewelry or, for that matter, any other products right in the store. There's a 20" x 20" x 12" seamless cycloramic background, a 5000K continuous light source with a tabletop stand and reflector, bounce cards, and all the display props you need, including a mirror.
If you need a little more insight as to how this setup can work for you, watch this video from Pro Cyc, the manufacturers of MyStudio products:
Simple, very portable, versatile and extremely effective. All you need to add is your camera and those skills you've been honing. Trust me when I tell you that with a little bit of practice, you can quickly build a portfolio of product shots that will convince prospective clients that your services are worth the investment.
Best of all, this setup isn't going to make you take out a second mortgage on the house. In fact, the studio is on sale right now and you'll be amazed at how little it costs to be completely mobile with your product photography. Imagine the possibilities. Ebay photos? Craig's List? Estate Sales? You've got that and much more covered. Go get yours today and expand your business tomorrow!