I’ve been making money with my camera and Internet connection solely now for about two years. I quit my Day Job to pursue photography — mostly wedding photography to begin with, which I still do — but during the winter months I sort of fell in love with figuring out other revenue streams.
Because there’s not a better feeling on the planet than randomly making money while you’re in your PJs watching Netflix. And that’s the power of passive income. Needless to say, I’m a fan. So here are 10 revenue streams that I use and make money from. And you can too!
This post contains affiliate links.
1) BlackBox — Stock footage made easy. Like. Seriously easy.
The Blackbox Guild is a fantastic thing to get involved with. You sign up for free (it’s all free!) and upload your clips. Then Blackbox distributes those clips to the top 4 stock footage agencies around. You upload once, and get four-times the reach for the same amount of effort. This pleases me because each stock agency has slightly different requirements and Blackbox takes out all the hassle for you.
You can upload anything, really. My fist 350 clips were just stuff I’ve already recorded on holiday etc. and for my youtube channel. I took that stuff from my hard drives and it started making me money. Woo! To show you that really just about anything goes, these are some of my sales below:
a clip of disco lights going out of focus slowly at a party
drone footage from a holiday
someone pouring a drink at a party
And how much did they sell for? I think photos can speak a million words…
How cool! The Blackbox emails are some of the most exciting I get each month. I make a steady, modest, monthly income from Blackbox, and I only currently have 418 clips online. Imagine when I add more!
2) Fat Lama — gear rental site that’s safe and actually makes you money
If you’re anything like me, you have lenses and equipment gathering dust a lot of the time during the month. Some things like my GH5, I use all the time. Some things, like my gimbals or drone, I use only once or twice. So when they’re not in use, I can rent them out.
I use Fat Lama, which I believe works in UK and US. You take photos of your gear, upload them, and set your price. I’ve earned a decent amount through this, especially with my gimbals during the summer months last year. I had constant bookings at around £27 a day on average.
The transaction is insured through the site, though thankfully I’ve never had any issues.
3) Redbubble — Have even a basic grasp of graphic design? Get involved!
I’ve been a part of Redbubble foreverrrrrrrr. It’s ace. You don’t have to promote yourself or make friends etc. The search engine over there does all the work for you. You can make T-Shirts, stickers etc on anything you love, and like-minded people will search and buy. On my new account (I always intended to make some Micro Four Nerds stuff but haven’t gotten around to it! I ended up uploading random things and Doctor Who stuff instead lol) I have had 197 sales and made several hundred quid. Without really trying.
Just make, upload, tag, and forget about it.
Now, just a cautionary tale here. There’s a lot of fandom stuff on there, which routinely breaks copyright and gets taken down. So don’t be illegal, yeah? Be creative and cool and you’ll make money. And it costs you nothing!! That’s my favourite kind of income.
My “Write Until The World Makes Sense” has sold over 60 times in various forms. The stickers might make me a few pence, but the T-Shirts make me about a fiver a sale, and you can change your commission to suit yourself if you want to make more. It’s a lovely feeling getting a random email during the day to say I’ve made money through RedBubble.
3) Youtube Adsense — youtuber pennies
With the Micro Four Nerds channel I’ve been able to use Adsense since it started in March 2017. Adsense ain’t much to write home about, but it’s better than nothing. At over a million views and nearly 14k subscribers right now, with 4 video uploads a month, I make about £150. This fluctuates depending on the time of year, and can double or more if I upload more, but generally speaking between £100 and £200 a month is what I make from YouTube alone.
So if you have your heart set on being a Youtuber, then definitely take note of some other, much more profitable ways, to make money with your platform alongside your channel.
4) Amazon Affiliate links — a Nerd’s dream!
If I’m making a blog post about how amazing the DJI Osmo Pocket is (I have no idea right now, it just came in the post today and it’s charging beside me and I’m so excited arrrgh!) I can add an Amazon link to that product. I don’t have to plug, sell, or pressure. I can just mention something and if you, Dear Reader, are interested, you can click and have a mooch. And if you buy, I make a small percentage in commission.
These links work brilliantly on Youtube, and great on this here website too.
For example. True story. I have the weirdest keyboard ever but I really recommend it if you type a lot. I suffer from repetitive strain injury and this keyboard saves my life.
I love Amazon affiliate links because I can write an article about anything I please and if there is an applicable product on Amazon, I can add the links into my content and potentially earn a small bit of money. The commission ain’t great at Amazon — it’s usually like 2-5% — but it’s better than nothing! Because honestly I’d wax lyrical about the things I love regardless of whether I could monetise it or not because I’m a damn Nerd.
5) Other affiliate links — more commission, more complicated.
If you love a product, or a piece of software, the chances are they have an affiliate program. Get enrolled, get your own codes, and get writing/filming your thoughts.
I think less is definitely more when it comes to this stuff. I only ever recommend and work with companies that I love. There are enough affiliate programs out there that you could make a trash site that reviews a new thing every day just to make money. But don’t do that. That’s silly. You want to build an audience that likes and most importantly trusts your opinions.
If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know I love small and dinky cameras. I love bargains. I love things that are great value for money and accessible to as many people as possible. If I suddenly started recommending Canon 5Ds and 800mm, £10,000 lenses I think my audience would be majorly confused!
So be true to yourself, speak from the heart, and above all: don’t. be. a. shill!
6) Pic-Time — Make money after you’ve delivered your gallery
Pic-Time is my lovely photo gallery delivery service, which I use for weddings and commercial work. I send the client the gallery of images and they can get prints, downloads, calendars, etc etc from the online store. It’s all drop-shipped so I have nothing else to do but press send and count my commission.
On a smaller job, it might not make me anything. On a wedding with 500 guests I could easily get my day rate again in print sales. And it’s pretty. Did I mention it’s pretty?
7) Selling my Presets and digital assets online
I never intended to sell my presets. I really didn’t. I’m really, SUPER not money-minded, despite how this article might read! I just had a lot of messages and comments from people saying they’d love to know how to achieve my “look” and that they’d also buy them.
So I made them!
And people actually buy them!
Selling your own digital assets — whether that’s a PDF, a LUT, a preset, or an ebook — is very simple to do. And once your products are up for sale, your job is done. People can shop and buy and you can make money for the long-term, because you’re not exactly going to run out of stock, are ya?
I’m so grateful for the postivie feedback I’ve received from my preset packs. I like to keep them affordable and I always do a little squeal of delight when I notice someone has bought them. I get a much bigger squeal of delight when someone tags me on Instagram and I get to see how they’re being used in the wild!
You can also list these digital products on Etsy and hope the search engine helps you out. It’s very competitive over there though, so it’s probably better to build your own platform and sell them directly to your audience yourself.
8) Getting things for review… and selling them when you’re done.
Please note I’d never accept a review just so I could flip the stuff, and you shouldn’t either. That’s super shady!
But, honestly guys. Not bragging or moaning here at all. Just stating the facts. In the last 18 months alone I’ve been given no less than eight gimbals to review. Eight. And I haven’t sought these out, either.
It all started with a review I did very early on for the Zhiyun Smooth Q, which I bought myself and I just reviewed it because I was a fan. The video did moderately well — it’s just about to hit 100k views — and Zhiyun saw the review. They sent me some more amazing things to review, and after a while other companies followed. I’ve absolutely loved it, to be honest! I get to learn more about equipment I could never have justified buying for myself. I get to share my geeky knowledge with others because I have had experience with loads of different gimbals now.
I love them all dearly, I really do. But with all the will in the world how on earth can I genuinely use eight gimbals?! I’ve given one away in my 10k giveaway celebration, and given two to my close friends. I’ve kept 3 — which is a bit excessive still! — as a main, a back up, and a back-up-back-up? And I have sold a few of them after I’m sure I’m completely finished reviewing, comparing, and using them as much as I can.
I want to make sure the companies have gotten a return on their very generous investment in me.
But sometimes, if you review stuff, you get sent stuff. Sometimes you get sent Lots Of Stuff. And sometimes, when all is said and done, you don’t need to keep it all. So you can make money this way. But never ever ever set out with this in mind, please, for your integrity’s sake. Anyway. Onwards!
9) Selling prints. It works.
If you’re a photographer you can always sell your prints. I used to have a gallery on here (provided by Pic-Time, which I mentioned earlier) but I’m looking into a better way to provide this. Pic-Time is great for a single event, like a wedding, or a photo shoot, but if I want to add different images over time, in different categories etc, it isn’t the best solution.
So I have sold prints, and made some money (yay!) but I’m looking into a better service to achieve this. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments.
Instagram, as much as I love it, can sometimes make photography feel quite throw-away. You’re bombarded with a thousand amazing images an hour, all dazzling and brilliant and free to view. The truth is, photography only has as much value as you give it. If you value your art, your creations, then be proud to sell it for what it is worth!
10) Share your expertise. Seriously, you can do it!
If you are good at something — no matter how niche! — the chances are someone out there would love to pick your brains. You can sell online consults, or in-person consults. If you’re really good you can present talks on what you know.
I’ve had more than a few people ask me for some workshops. The first DM I got made me smile no end! The twelfth finally made me realise that maybe there’s an audience for this! I have been plotting and scheming, so who knows. I do know some pretty wonderful places we could go… and I have some wonderful models… hmmm!!! It’s a big, scary jump to make but I think it would be brilliant fun.
Basically, Dear Reader, if people are willing pay this Nerd to run a photography workshop, I’m sure you’ll be able to find your niche and your people too.