Ah, the life of a photographer! There's nothing quite like making a six-figure income doing what you love, right?
If you identified with that opening paragraph, you can probably just close this article now. If, on the other hand, your income from your photography isn't quite enough to keep food on the table and a roof over the family's head, don't be discouraged; you're actually in the same boat as the majority of good photographers out there. It takes more than just skills and creativity to establish yourself in today's photography markets and for most of us, quitting the day job doesn't become an option for a long time.
On the positive side, for a dedicated "shutterbug", there are some camera-related sidelines that might replace that day job or at least help keep the bank account afloat while you're building your business and reputation. Let's take a look at three alternatives that can help:
As mundane as this may sound, it's one of my favorite ways to generate some extra money and it involves taking simple property photos, along with a very small amount of paperwork. It also involves some regional travel, which is an added bonus for many photographers.
In a nutshell, you'll sign on as a contractor with one of a few national companies that hire inspectors. Some require that you attend an online training session and most will pay you for that time. After training, you'll receive lists of jobs in your assigned area, with a time frame as to when your report is due. You'll be expected to travel to the properties, take a required list of photos, fill out a simple report and submit everything via the Internet. You'll be paid a flat fee for each successfully completed report.
Your time is your own as long as you can deliver the reports in the allotted time, so your excursions can provide plenty of opportunity for any other photographic adventures you want to take while you're in an assigned area. If you're a good organizer and enjoy finding new places to shoot, this can be a fun and profitable venture.
Check your local Craig's List ads for property or insurance inspector positions. The hiring companies advertise constantly, so chances are you won't have to look too hard.
This is a surprisingly good way to generate income with your camera. It's not exciting or glamorous, but there are a surprising number of businesses and individuals that need good shots of their products. Whether it's taking photos of top items at estate sales, shooting items for ebay sellers or doing on-site photography for retailers, you can find steady work in this field with a little effort.
It's best to have a portable studio that you can set up quickly in a small space, and we like the MyStudio line from ProCyc. Their MS20 TableTop Studio Kit, for instance, gives you everything you need for shooting almost anything almost anywhere and there's a great line of accessories available. Take a look at the demo video below to see how easy and versatile this setup is.
This is one of those photography types that literally lets you just hand out business cards, post ads, etc. and let the clients call you. You can then either take your studio to them or bring the products into your own. Just be sure you can deliver high quality photos that make the products look their absolute, enticing best.
Stop rolling your eyes. No, stock photography isn't want it used to be and it's a very controversial subject for many. The truth is, though, you can still generate ongoing income with stock photos and it's something that requires very little additional time and effort if you're already out there taking pictures.
The key to making stock photos work for you is taking the kind of pictures that advertisers are looking for. Keeping up with trends is important and there are a few that have been popular for years, in particular: food, sports, travel and humor.
One common mistake made by inexperienced stock photographers is submitting their "junk" photos – those technically good shots that just didn't quite make the cut for other markets. Stock photo buyers are looking for your best, not your rejects.
These three "sidelines" can work separately or together to bring you that extra income you need to keep your head above water while you're not out shooting what you're really passionate about. They may not be the most fun ideas, until you compare them with that day job. Give them a try.