February 9, 2021

Top 3 Ways To Make Money As A Beginner Photographer In 2021

Today I want to talk about the good stuff, the real good stuff that most photographers are interested in, and that’s money, specifically, how to make $1000+ fast as a beginner photographer.

Believe me or not, it’s actually not very hard. You just have to know what to shoot. So, I’m going to give you some ideas of what you can shoot, and you can shoot these things in volume, so even if you’re not charging a lot starting out, you can still make a good amount of money.

Quick background on me: I’m a portrait and wedding photographer. I’ve been doing photography for about 5 years now. My wife and I actually run our photography business together. I have a YouTube channel where I give photography tips and tricks & I also teach photographers about the business side or photography. If you’re interested in that type of content, head on over to my channel and be sure to subscribe and hit that notification bell so you won’t miss any upcoming videos: CLICK HERE to go to my YouTube channel.


1. Shoot for Free

I know some people may not agree with this, and it sounds paradoxical, but something you can do to make money fast is to shoot for free. As a beginner photographer, you’re not going to have many clients and your portfolio isn’t strong. Building a strong portfolio is something that you may not see the impact of right now, but you’ll see it later on when you have something to show potential clients. When you’re pitching and trying to sell yourself, you need to have work to show for people to trust you and want to invest in you. So, for now, you can shoot for free.

But here’s the thing, you can actually make money from shooting for free.

What you don’t want to do is give away all your images. Put a cap on the number of images you’re giving away. For example, you can give away maybe three or five images, but if you do a great job on the photo shoot – if your client loves the photos – most likely, they’re going to want to buy more.

After you deliver the photos as promised, you can upsell the rest of the images within the gallery. This is a way that you can still shoot for free, but you can make money once you wow them with their photos. When we first started, we would upsell the rest of the gallery for $250, so technically it’s not a free shoot; you’re still getting some kind of money. And as a beginner photographer, some money is better than no money.

This is just something you can build upon. It’s not something that you always have to do, but when you’re just starting out, this is a quick way to make money.


2. Themed Minis

The second thing you could do is host mini-sessions. Nowadays, mini-sessions are very popular. A mini-session is pretty much a smaller session, so very quick sessions, and they’re cheaper than your full session. You could do mini-sessions for 30 minutes and give away five images. Let’s say your full price is $300. You can do them for $150, so you’re still getting half of your full price, right?

I’m seeing so many people who are just killing it off mini-sessions. It’s something you can do year-round. You can do it with the change of seasons, back-to-school time, holidays, Valentine’s mini-sessions, Christmas mini-sessions, Easter mini-sessions, or anything you could think of. Themed mini-sessions are really popular.

These are not hard to do and you could shoot a bunch of these in one day. If you can book a good amount of clients, you can make some decent money from hosting a series of mini-sessions. I’m speaking more so for photographers who are just starting out, but let’s say you’re charging $100 per mini-session and you book 10 clients. That’s $1,000. These are quick sessions – shooting shouldn’t take long if you’re just giving three or five images, and editing shouldn’t take long, either.

Another great thing about doing minis is that if you do a good job, these clients will come back for your full sessions. Focus on giving a good client experience and delivering great work, and these could be return clients for you in the future.

Just like shooting for free, this is an investment in your future. You’re not just building your portfolio but you’re building relationships.


3. Headshots

The third thing you can do is headshots. This is an underserved market. In this day and age, so many people are starting businesses. You’ve got so many entrepreneurs, people with brands, people starting online businesses. All of these people need headshots.

The first thing you can do is just go to your friends who have a business and offer them headshots. You don’t have to charge a lot. If you’re just starting out, you could do $50 per headshot, or maybe you could go a little bit higher and do $100 per headshot.

This is something else that is not hard. It’s something you could do quickly. You could even do these from your home. I shoot headshots from my house in the garage. If you don’t have any friends who are business owners, you could go to some of your favorite businesses in town and offer them headshots. If they have headshots already, offer them updated headshots. Getting connected with a manager, HR, or the owner might even help you get set up to do headshots for the entire staff.

Being a beginner photographer doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the ability to make money as you learn. Know your capabilities, build your portfolio, and keep building relationships.

Leave a comment and let me know if you tried any of these things when you first started photography and how they worked for you. Is there anything you would add to this list?