Almost anyone can manage vending machines with a bit of money to invest or drive Uber if they have a car. However, photography as a side hustle will require not just the right equipment but the proper training, experience, and marketing ability. But if you have a creative and confident mindset and some experience in photography, this could be just the right venture for you.
If you want to become a full-time photographer, consider side gigs as necessary training sessions. Only hands-on experience can teach you how to work with various clients. Don’t be wary if you don’t feel like a professional before you start; you don’t have to be! You can only get better with experience.
Photography is a tricky business to make good money in. Almost all successful photographers begin selling photoshoots on the side because it takes time to accumulate experience and build a clientele base. This article is not focused on learning photography or what gear to buy, but on how to begin marketing skills you may already have developed.
Find Your Niche
Whether you took some online classes, have a degree in photography, or are entirely self-taught, you probably have some idea of what type of photography you’d like to market. Before compiling a portfolio for clients to browse, you want to have a general direction in mind.
Interests and skills develop and change over time, so it’s entirely typical to pick one style you are confident in and change direction later. You might be an excellent dog photographer but have trouble working with people or love portraits but have problems directing children. Other areas to consider are children’s photography, portraits, still life, architectural photography, wildlife photography, architectural photography, and photojournalism.
You may have a wealth of knowledge as a hobby photographer, but it’s essential to learn what professionals in each field do that makes their work desirable and financially viable. For example, you might have developed a unique way to photograph dogs in action. But many owners prefer to pay for a posed photograph of their pup. Building both skills makes you more marketable.
I am a firm believer in the school of YouTube. There are so many professionals out there that supplement their income by providing in-depth tutorial videos in the field of their expertise. I highly suggest starting there and seeing what tips and tricks you can pick up. Beyond YouTube, there are so many free photography courses, many of which focus on a specific professional niche. If you’re willing to invest, you can certainly pay for a professional approach, but see what you can learn for free first.
Build a Portfolio
A photography portfolio is a digital collection of photos used to showcase your artistic expertise. It is not a collection of every picture you have ever taken, but rather a brief sneak peek into what you are marketing to clients.
It’s important to curate your portfolio with the style of photos you intend to sell. If you want to sell portrait photography packages, don’t include ten experimental landscape photos you took while camping. A better place to upload pictures you like could be a blog or Instagram account.
Use a free website maker to host your portfolio. Wix, Squarespace, Canva, and Format are all user-friendly and highly customizable options that make for great portfolios. If your side hustle grows into a full-time business, you can always purchase a website domain to upgrade your degree of professionalism.
Choose your best photos for your portfolio, ones you feel confident in recreating to some degree for clients. This process may be easy if you have an abundance of photos, or you might want to get back in the field for some fresh shots. Ask friends or family to model for you if you’re doing portraits, or connect with a local photography Facebook group to find models.
While a digital collection is all you need, it’s great to have a handy physical book of high-quality prints. Keeping this in your car may land you a client by chance. It’s also an excellent tool for impressing clients during consultations.
Business cards are old school, but they are still great tools for working your services into casual conversations. Best of all, they are cheap. You can order hundreds of personalized business cards for only a few bucks. If you don’t have any experience in graphic design, websites like Zazzle, Canva, Vistaprint, and Moo have templates that make it easy to create a sleek business card. Leave a stack at your favorite restaurant, hand them out to friends and family, and always keep several in your wallet.
Regardless of what type of photography you do, you will want a solid social media presence. Instagram is an ideal platform for photographers, but Facebook and blogs are useful too. Building a social media following doesn’t happen overnight. You must research and experiment with different apps, posts, hashtags, and captions to fish for traffic. Instagram and Facebook offer cheap and simple ads that can boost your following, but if your photos are good, they will speak for themselves.
When self-promoting your side hustle, how you advertise depends on what type of photos you take. It makes sense to promote pet portraits at some adoption or rescue event or to leave flyers at a local pound. Photojournalists can benefit from sharing their portfolios with local papers and magazines. For more unconventional photos like still life or landscapes, several websites like Shuttershock and Alamy will pay for freelance photos.
Keep At It
Get creative with advertising and make a spot for yourself, even where it seems there is no room. People are only inclined to take you as seriously as you take yourself, and often less so.
When I began practicing portrait photography, I had to promote my human-interest Instagram from scratch. On a whim, I decided to make a sign with my Instagram tag and show up at a local parade with my camera gear. The sign read “Free Photos, Follow My Instagram!” I spent all day taking event portraits for strangers and amassed hundreds of long-lasting personal followers in the process.
The point is that unless you’re employed full-time with a photography company that lands you clients, you’re free to be as bold as you want to be with your photography side hustle! Keep at it and believe in your brand, and others will too.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Pixabay.