Monday, November 3, 2008

How to Develop A Photography Business (2)

Identify your Income Streams

If, like me, you’ve made the leap into full time freelance photography work – or you’re at least thinking about it, you will need to also think about where your income will come from.

(Cue Homer Simpson impression) DOH! From photography, stupid!

OK, well then, what kind of photography? What will you specialise in? Will you be a jack-of-all-trades (some might add…and master of none)? Or will you find your niche in the marketplace and become a specialist in a particular strand of photography?

But that’s not all I’m referring to here – there is a bigger picture (pun intended) to look at before deciding on what sort of photographs you will (and will not) take to make a living.

First of all, you need to consider where all of your money will come from – and that can mean being, as a photographer, more than someone who takes photographs. What would happen if your single source of income - taking photographs suddenly dried up? Say you had a bad month because no one was getting married (I know a wedding photographer whose work ceases every October 31st until the following April) or the newspaper you freelanced for went bust? If you'd put all your proverbial eggs into that one basket, where would your next omelette and fries come from?

It was only when a good friend, with many years of experience in corporate banking – and huge savvy with regard to writing business plans – sat me down to consider from where my total income would be derived, that I began to consider the notion of “income streams”.

It was then that I realised that photography per se, might only account for a proportion of my income as a photographer – and that work could be further divided into several income streams (more of that in a future post).

I gave a lot of thought (and, it has to be said, I’m still thinking) about where my skills lie, and how those skills can be utilised to form a series of income streams that come together to form the river that becomes my monthly salary as a freelance photographer.

This is what I've come up with (so far):

I can Take Photographs to a Professional Standard that People are Prepared to Buy

Possible income streams

1) Identify my photographic Specialisms and potential markets and sell my photographs directly to those markets

2) Contribute stock images to one or more reputable and effective photographic stock agencies and sell my photographs to other unidentified markets, indirectly

3) Hold Photography exhibitions and sell my framed prints directly to the public

4) Build a website and sell my unframed images (either as prints or downloadable digital files) directly to the public.

I am a qualified teacher in the adult education sector

Possible income stream

Developing and running evening classes and day workshops on various aspects of photography from beginner to advanced standards.

I can write

Possible income streams

1) Producing articles on ‘spec’ for magazines & Newspapers.

2) Seeking commissioned articles by producing salable proposals for editors

4) Writing a photography advice column for a local newspaper, magazine or webzine.

5) Writing a Blog for an existing magazine and/or commercially sponsored Blog.

6) Writing my own Blog and Monetizing it (including through advertising and sponsorship .

This is an unfinished work in progress, but it certainly gave me food for thought – and I have already made some headway into developing – and reaping an income from - a number of the income streams on the list.

I’ll come back to discuss each of these streams in greater detail, in future blogs. But for now, I'll be thinking hard about income streams to ensure I don't drown in the choppy waters of freelance photography.

How to Develop A Photography Business - Part 1


  1. Thanks Stephen for these ideas. It certainly gives some insight on how to think about photo biz and how to develop our own way on the market. Waiting for more :)

  2. Well, the great thing about this is that your approach can be applied to any business - so simple and so true. It sure gave me something to think about, thanks for another valid input.


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