Making a living as a nature photographers requires you to wear many hats and be diversified in many directions in the beginning stages of your business. I call this diversity my streams of income, and I use about fourteen streams that all drain into my bank account. If I tried to live off any one of these streams it would be impossible, but by gathering a little here and a little there, it all adds up to enough money to make a good living if you work hard.
I have listed some of the ways to make money as a nature photographer
Sell your prints through, art shows, art galleries/gift stores, art consultants/decorators, website.
Sell articles and images to magazines
Selling images through stock agencies
Write a how-to book
Write a how-to e-book
Produce a how-to video
Present at camera club/photo conventions
Open a gallery
I use all but three of these ways of making money.
Prior to my photography business which became full time three years ago, I owned two business which spanned over twenty years. First was a custom woodworking business that lasted seven years until I became tired of it, and then started a home improvement company which became Pro Painting Inc. that lasted sixteen years. I liked the painting business and had four employees until 9-11 hit, and it was at that point when the economy started to slowly grind to a halt in the Detroit suburbs where I did all of my business.
In my two previous business I had to be diversified and offer as many options that I could as each business was starting out. As the business grew I could cut back on some of the services I offered that were not as profitable, or jobs that I didn’t care for. But in the beginning the more services I offered the more opportunity for work.
A good analogy is if you have a job you go to everyday and you don’t earn enough to pay the bills, then you get a second job, and if that doesn’t cut it, then you get a third job. So if your business offers one service and it’s not paying the bills, then you offer another service, and another, and another, and the more services you offer, the more opportunity for the business to make more money.
Now no one can offer all of these services that I’ve listed above in the first year. I started with a few in the first year, and at the end of each year, I would decide which ones to tackle next. In my first year it was just a part time business and after two years it was doing well enough to give up the painting business and do it full time. The first full time year was tough, but as with any new business you expect it will be that way. Each year the business income goes up, and I expect it to keep going up each year. Even in this bad economy, by the third year of being a full time nature photographer my personal income has reached the level of my painting business at it’s peak.
So start out part time and build each year until it becomes profitable enough to give up your day job and do it full time.
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