Stock Photography Income Streams

Stock Photography Income Streams

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

Lets break down the photo business into two camps. The service side (portraits, headshots, events) and the stock side.

We need to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each. Like a yin and yang, one helps the other! Lets find out why It’s important to operate a service business AND a stock photo business. This can save you!

The “Problem” With Stock Photography

Ask any photographer who has tried (and maybe failed) in the stock image business why it’s so hard to earn money, they’ll probably 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.

Keep in mind. You are not selling images. You are licensing images. Don’t let short term thinking scare you off! Keep reading!

Service Photography Can Save The Short Term

Operating a service business solves this short term problem.

  1. 1. You Shoot Photos With A Client
  2. 2. Edit & Deliver The Images
  3. 3. The Client Pays For The Photos

Done. Cash in hand!

BUT service photography comes with its own set of problems!

The “Problem” With Service Photography

The service business is saturated with a TON of photographers.

The cost of entry is really low. Anyone can purchase an amazing camera and lens for under a thousand dollars. Extremely low cost of entry compared to other industries and businesses.

On top of that, the price for photo shoots are plummeting. It’s getting harder and harder to turn a profit.

Service photography is a “what have you done for me lately” type of gig. Your business is only as strong as your most recent shoots and your upcoming booked shoots.

Combine Your Stock And Service Photography Businesses

Gone are the days where you can settle for just a service OR just a stock photography business. With some thought, you can do them both, and profit!

On one hand, 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.

On the other hand, I’ve known brilliant photographers who’ve never set up income streams in one or the other.

The answer for us? Learn to use your service business to feed your stock business! And vice versa.

Focus your energy on where the two businesses overlap. Combine these two for a payday!

Stock Photography Income Streams Are Residual And Long Term

Photographers all over the world are setting up residual income streams. Passive photography revenue!

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

The idea is to keep plates spinning 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.

A $100 contract with a local band for an entire night’s work PLUS 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 can save the day! A way to turn nearly every photo shoot, 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.

But what’s most important for you is now you have 50 (probably more) images to submit to all of your stock portfolios. You will earn on these for years.

Photo Income Streams In 2021 & 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!