Ideas For Increasing Your Income as a Small Business Photographer

We all know how up and down the photography business can be, so branching out into different potential streams of revenue is always a good idea. Check out this list of ten ideas that will help you grow your revenue and increase your income as a photographer! You can also view this as a graphic!

1. Shoot for free

Seriously! In most cases, I yell “never shoot for free!”, but this is a good exception. Find non-profits with a mission you believe in and volunteer to photograph their events or staff portraits. It will increase your visibility in the community, create networking opportunities and make you feel good, all at the same time! Make sure you have your logo on your images, and don’t forget to ask the non-profit to tag you every time they use the images you shot for them for free!

2. Learn to upsell

A huge potential income stream missed by a lot of photographers is selling prints and products. The idea of being a “salesman” isn’t very appealing to some pro shooters, but it can generate an incredible amount of revenue. Learn to educate your clients about large-scale wall prints or custom materials, and you’ll soon be wondering why you never sold prints in the first place.

3. Offer “mini-sessions”

A mini-session is a quick, low-hassle, low-cost shoot. Many potential clients would be happy to pay your full rate but are hesitant to pull the trigger. A less-expensive mini-session gives them a chance to get great shots at a reasonable cost and “try you out”, and mini sessions are small time investments for you that will often lead to full price bookings from them in the future.

4. Offer volume discounts

Clients can save money by buying a pack of photo sessions, or by paying for a yearly photo program – they save money on each session and you get more income up front. These types of packages work great for kids in school (”milestone sessions”, I call them), clients who want to document their family over the years, anyone who has regular events or even just people who love photography.

5. Have contests and giveaways

These are great ways to generate potential client leads – you can often get hundreds of “hot” contacts (people who are definitely interested in your services) and the single portrait session or prints you give away are a small price to pay for the new leads. You can also offer a discount on sessions to people who entered but didn’t win, and that may result in new sales.

6. Volunteer at school sporting events

Whether elementary, junior or high school, sports team events are great lead generators. If you capture great action shots of their kid while playing, you can hand out business cards and get emails, and often that free shot you gave them will lead to paid portrait sessions or future hired events.

7. Partner with local businesses

Find out where your target clients shop, work or play, and then build a working relationship with those businesses. Offer to do staff portrait sessions for the business or cover an event for them if they’ll refer you or allow you to leave flyers/business cards in a visible place. For example: wedding photographers can partner with wedding planners or local salons, event photographers can partner with local clubs or conference centers, etc.

8. Expand what you offer

Consider offering themed or holiday-based sessions. A military family might respond well to a “Stars and Stripes” session, boudoir sessions are popular among the married (or newly single) segment, Christmas sessions where you provide an actual Santa go over well with families…the sky is the limit!

9. Build a referral program

This is a very simple way to generate new income – offer rewards in the form of discounts or free sessions for clients who refer you to others who end up booking. Photography is absolutely a referral-based industry, so anything you can do to encourage your clients to share the work you did for them with their friends, family and co-workers is worth your time and effort.

10. Sell your photos

The stock photography industry is massive. It can be hard to break into, but very lucrative. You can also connect with local newspapers and organizations to see if they need on-demand photography, where they contact you to rush out and cover an event or story. Finally, you can also photograph an interesting community event and contact news outlets to see if they’d like to license any of the images.

Namu Williams is the owner of Namu.Love, a professional event and portrait photography company based in central California, serving the greater Los Angeles area, the central coast and the SF Bay Area. He has photographed the likes of Gwen Stefani, Sting, King Felipe VI and Vice President Al Gore. He has also covered events big and small all over California and provided beautiful portraits to both CEOs and families alike. You can follow Namu’s work on Facebook, Instagram and on LinkedIn.