7 Ways to Make Extra Money With Your Photography Business

by Jamie M Swanson

7 Ways to Make More Money With Your Photography Business

Let’s face it: We’d all like more money.

So I thought I’d compile a list of 7 ways to make extra money besides just booking more typical sessions, because most people I talk to still don’t have as many clients as they’d like.

I’m just going to dive right in. Here are my 7 ways to make extra money with your photography business.

1. Amazon Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are links that pay you a commission every time someone uses them before making a purchase. It doesn’t cost them anything more, and it doesn’t look any different, but you can make 4-8% of their total purchase through Amazon, even if they purchase more than what you linked to.

So why Amazon? What does that have to do with your photography clients?

If you shoot weddings, you can suggest things like cute hangers for the wedding dress instead of that cheap plastic thing they come on, gifts for the wedding party or groom, solemates to keep those high heels from sinking into the grass, all sorts of things.

For portraits, you might suggest cute newborn headbands, picture frames, really anything that might be related to your photography session or a neat way to show off your photography.

It’s also FABULOUS when people are asking what camera to buy. Link them to your suggestion, and if they buy it you’ll get a nice commission.

Just know that you have to disclose that your links are affiliate links, and that it only tracks sales made within a few hours of clicking on the link. You also are not allowed to use your own affiliate links for your purchases or they will kick you out of the program. Affiliate links are how I make enough money to justify all the time I spend on this site sharing all my secrets and business advice, so if you shop on Amazon I’d love it if you’d use any of the links I just posted to go shopping if you’re already looking for something anyways. Want to sign up or learn more? Head on over to Amazon, scroll to the bottom, and click “Become and Affiliate”.

2. Increase all your print prices by 5-10%

Making small jumps is easy. Very few people are going to complain about a print price going from $10 to $11, and if you sell a lot of those prints throughout the year, you’ll make a lot of extra money. 10% can add up quickly.

3. Plan for seasonal mini sessions

Not everyone wants to have a full photo session if they’re just looking for a nice photo for their Christmas cards. So offering mini sessions are a great way to make extra sales. Not only do they take less time, but you have the opportunity to blow their socks off and have them fall in love with their photos, spending more than they initially were planning to because they just have to have the images. Here’s some great tips about booking mini-sessions (written by a boudoir photographer on a boudoir marketing site, so it may not be safe for work, but it applies to portrait photographers as well.)

4. Fill a need for a gift

People are looking to buy gifts for family and friends around the holidays, so sending out an email to past clients reminding them that prints or your products are a great gift can yield lots of sales. Pair this with a special deal (not too much less, but just a bit off and for a very limited time) and you can pull in a LOT of extra money.

5. Archive Sales

Give people one last chance about 9-12 months after their session to purchase prints, possibly at a reduced cost, before they are archived and not available for purchase in the future. This is a great way to sell physical proofs from ordering sessions, or an extra disc of images one last time (that they may have lost).

6. Offer a limited-time exclusive product

Add a specialty product to your lineup for a limited time only, and tell all your clients from the past year about it. For example, offer metal prints, slideshows, iphone cases, or some other specialty product for 2 weeks only. People love something unique, and when they can only get it for a limited amount of time, they’re more likely to buy it now. Just make sure not to lie to them and only make it available during a certain period of time.

Starbucks does a great job of this with their Pumpkin Spice Latte. People buy more of them during the fall season because that’s the only time they can get them. People who love them drink far more lattes than they should during that time of year because that’s the only time they can get them again until next year.

7. Offer a special promo for sessions that take place during your busy season but are scheduled within the next two weeks.

This will help you book sessions for your slow season. Just make sure that you have them put down a deposit and sign a contract stating that the sessions cannot be rescheduled outside of that time period or transferred. Setting expectations up front is the way to go and will give you a great experience.

Caution: Don’t call these “gift certificates” – in many places, it’s against the law for gift certificates to expire, so you’ll want to actually schedule the session when they call and book in order to keep them from having the right to use it at a different time of year.

What other ideas do you have for making extra money?

Leave a comment below and share! Then go plan out at least one of the above and bring in some extra money! WOOT!

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Jamie M Swanson is a Madison Wedding Photographer with her husband Brandon. She enjoys photography, loves the business side of things, but truly comes alive by helping others grow their own businesses. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Heather K September 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Great tips!! I need to look into the Amazon affiliate thing for sure. I already do an affiliate link for my hosting company that I love, but I never thought of also being able to use an affiliate link for items my clients want to buy!

I guess another idea would be to look into selling photographs for stock? I would think that needs a whole ‘nother article, though, haha. I’m tremendously curious but wary- seems like there would be a lot of dangers in selling client session photographs for stock? Anyway…

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

I thought about stock, but I certainly don’t know enough about it to recommend it, especially not with client images. Maybe there’ll be a reader here who can speak to it. That’d be an interesting post for sure.

Christy Peterson September 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

I would love to look into selling stock images also, but I never thought of selling images of clients. That would be a great blog post! ;)

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 10:58 am

Well, I would totally be open to a well-written guest post about it if someone could write it. I clearly can’t since I haven’t got a clue about it. :) Here’s the info on how to get a guest post published on the site in case someone is interested: http://www.themoderntog.com/submissions

David Walters September 25, 2012 at 6:11 am

Tip #8: Assist

The young photographers know this one. Not only will you making extra cash, but you will be learning. Never too old or too good, to see how another photographer may do it. A different perspective may jar those cob webs, leading to better photos for your own business. Who knows, you may even make a new friend (network) which could lead to even more jobs (MORE MONEY).

Assisting = More Money
1.Cash in Hand
2.Knowledge / Experience
3.Networking / Job Leads

Thanks for a great post. Keep them coming!

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

Gosh David, that’s SO true. Can’t believe I forgot that one! Thanks for laying it out – what a great comment to add to the list! Thanks!

Annie September 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

I do, well actually did, stock photography for a while. As I said, did because I haven’t contributed for a couple of years but my images are still up and I am still making a bit of money from them. You can google me: http://www.dreamstime.com/Takingpics_portfolio_pg1
This is one of the angencies that I am on.
Stock Photography is very technical oriented because a lot of the time it is graphic deisgners that are purchasing the use of your image. Because you retain the rights to your images, the images can sell over and over again.
Unless you are a techy or Photoshop wizard, it may take a little getting used to but it is so worth it once you catch on.
As far as using your current client’s images, you would need a model release. There are some people that will jump at the chance to be in your portfolio and some that will really shy away from the idea. It just depends on the person.
There is so much more that can be said about this subject but this is a small comment box and not my own personal soap box. Long story short, stock photography can be a means to extra income.

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

Good to know, Annie. I suppose wedding photographers could easily add detail shots from weddings, though, without any worry. Not sure how they’d sell compared to photos with people in them, though.

Lea September 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Ooo! Good tips! I especially like the idea of selling proof copies at the end of the year before archiving!

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Lea!

Lea September 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm

P.S. Some states, including mine, are not eligible for becoming an Amazon affiliate. Such a shame because I send people there all the time!

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

True, although I know some states like California just overturned their ruling about that recently, so maybe it’ll come back.

Hayley September 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Great post as always :) such an inspiration pond even for little ole me all the way down in NZ! I always look forward to your posts and ones like this especially help when it comes to keeping things interesting in my tiny town of 5000 people. I am always looking for ways to gather new customers from such a small demographic.

Jamie M Swanson September 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Glad it’s useful to you! Best wishes in your business!

Karen Cooley September 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Hmm, affiliate link… How do you let them know that it is one without seeming pushy?

Jamie M Swanson October 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

If you glance all over this site, you’ll see lots of places where I talk about how my links are affiliate links, so perhaps that will give you some ideas. :)

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