Stock Photography Income Streams

Stock Photography Income Streams

In order to set up stock photography income streams, you may need to change your thinking about photography as a business.

The “service” business (portraits, headshots, events) does not pay what it used to. On top of that, the stock photo business is a long term game. Something that most photographers haven’t had to deal with.

Lets talk about why it’s important to operate a service AND stock photo business at the same time.

There is money to be made where these to businesses overlap!

The “Problem” With Stock Photography

Ask any photographer who has tried (and failed) in the stock image business why it’s so hard to earn money, they’ll give you this answer:

“Commissions are too low. I’m not selling my photo for 50 cents!”

This is true. Commissions are low. The average stock photo sale (across agencies) is somewhere between $4 – $6. Your commission as a photographer will average around 10% of that. Roughly 40-60 cents. Give or take a little, depending on the agency you work with.

25 cent to 75 cent commissions for photographers are normal. Unquestionably a low commission. In the short term, this is not an income stream.

But don’t let short term thinking scare you off!

Service Photography Saves The Day

So, in the short term it’s important to operate a photography SERVICE business model. Operating a service business solves your short term problems. Also, we’ll find out in a minute that it can feed a money-making stock photo business!

Examples of service photography businesses include shooting portraits, headshots, lifestyle, products, weddings and more!

As a service photographer, you will get paid right away for the work you’ve done:

  • You Shoot Photos With A Client
  • You Edit & Deliver The Images
  • The Client Pays For The Photos

BUT service photography comes with its own set of problems!

The Problem With Service Photography

The cost of entry into the photo service business is really low. There is more competition from other photographers than ever before. The price for photo shoots is plummeting!

It’s hard to turn a profit. To say nothing of paying rent, buying food & having a life outside of your photography.

On top of that, service photography is a “what have you done lately” type of gig. Your business is only as strong as the recent shoots and your booked shoots. Past shoots matter very little. Cash flow becomes a real problem.

So, is the photography business dead? Far from it!

Combine Your Stock And Service Businesses

You can not settle for just a service OR just a stock photography business. You need to do them both!

Now to be fair, I have good friends who support themselves just fine with one or the other. It’s possible. However, these people are few are far between. I’ve known brilliant photographers who’ve never set up income streams in one or the other.

Do Both WITHOUT Increasing The Workload

Learn to use your service business to feed your stock business! And vice versa. To put it another way, combine these two businesses for a payday!

Focus your energy on where the two businesses overlap. This is where new photography income streams are available.

Stock Photography Income Streams Are Residual

Photographers all over the world set up residual income streams. Passive photography revenue.

You can keep getting paid for photos you took in the past!

The idea is to keep the plates spinning the the long run. Keep your photos alive and generating income for years. As long as your photos are available, time is truly money.

Music Income Stream Example

To illustrate, lets use music photography as an example on how to do this.

A $100 contract with a local band for an entire night’s work and a morning of editing is not a whole lot of money. Nevertheless, some photographers take these jobs. $100 is not zero!

This is where stock photography comes in. A way to turn most photo opportunities, no matter the contract amount, into a profitable business.

By all means, take the $100 and photograph the band! But you are there for more than just that.

Shoot their equipment, the instruments, the microphones, the drums, the speakers, the stuff up at the bar, all of the decor, the stage, the room, the ambiance. EVERYTHING!

Undoubtedly, the band will love all the B-roll images you offer them. They’ll hire you again and tell every other band they know to hire you.

What’s most important for you is now you have 50 (probably more) images to submit to all of your stock portfolios.

Photo Income Streams In 2020 & Beyond

Of course, music photography is just one example. This system can work equally well in other genres.

Basically, you want to earn money on BOTH ends. In the short term and the long term. Instead of having a hard drive full of photos you’ll never use, put them to work! It’s critical to monetize them.

It’s most important to think of stock photography as a doorway to residual income.

This is why EVERY photographer should be doing this!

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