What are the best ways to make money from photography?
With great difficulty, there are really three ways about it: artwork sales, stock and services.
Artwork sales means selling your photography as printed material or similar products on your own. This could be online, at a gallery or craft fair. While this can be rewarding because people are buying the work you choose to make, it's a slow grind and is difficult to sell a high volume of work. 500px and Society 6 are two popular sites that will take care of the hard stuff like printing, framing and shipping. You simply upload your image.
Stock Photography supplies everything from blogs to text books. Whenever someone needs a photo for an article or a banner they can go to a stock photography site and buy what they need. Your job is to take photos that a wide variety of people can find useful, but that’s easier said than done. There is a lot of competition and you make money from selling a large volume of images instead of one big sale.
This is where the real work and money comes in. Photographic services is any job where someone pays you to shoot something. This can be: events, corporate jobs, weddings, sport, news/journalism, portraiture or any number of jobs.
To succeed in selling your services you’ll need to focus on two things.
Finding your style and developing it.
It’s better to be the best “event” photographer then just someone who's good at taking photos. When a person is looking to hire a photographer, they want someone who specializes in the thing they need photos of. You wouldn’t hire an underwater photographer to shoot your wedding.
It’s important to narrow down your talents and interests so you can market yourself correctly and start getting jobs. The best advice for a someone starting out is to shoot everything. Landscape, portrait and even underwater until you find you niche.
Making money as a photographer is a business and needs to be treated like one. You're only as good as your last job and most of your business will come from referrals. So, it’s important to network, be professional and always try to deliver the best product. If you focus on those things, word of mouth will continue to land you jobs.
Regardless of what route you take you need talent, dedication and practice. You need to be good technically as well as creatively. You need to be a good salesman and a good marketer.
You need luck and will have to work very hard.