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How to Make Money with Travel Photography?

Matic Broz profile picture By Matic Broz Updated April 4, 2022
How to Make Money with Travel Photography featured image

There are many travel photographers who are not earning enough to make it a sustainable career. That’s because they never invested time and resources into learning how to make it profitable. It’s pretty easy.

But to make money with travel photography, it’s important to establish several income sources. This way, you’re safe if one of them dries out.

What Exactly Is Travel Photography?

Travel photography is a type of photography that involves documenting people, customs, cultures, and landscapes. Many travel photographers have adopted the style of National Geographic photographers like Steve McCurry.

It’s a good career choice where you get paid well for capturing unique and memorable moments with your camera. Yes, it’s a hard profession. It requires extensive knowledge and commitment, but the job is very creative. It’s also a marvelous job to promote your work in magazines, in the tourism industry, and on social media channels or online media platforms.

How Much Do Travel Photographers Make?

The average annual salary for travel photographers in the United States is $22,066. Travel photographers earn an average of $1,838 per month or $424 per week.

But this isn’t easy to determine. Travel photographers aren’t always paid on a monthly basis because they receive financial rewards for each task or activity they perform.

Few professions offer you the freedom and flexibility to travel and earn a living at the same time. Living a life that allows you to travel to different parts of the world is a privilege. Meeting new people and learning about their cultures is an important part of the journey. It’s a prestigious and exciting profession to be in. I’d now like to explain how you can earn money from travel photography.

10 Tips to Make Money as a Travel Photographer

1. Use high-quality equipment

2. Sell stock photos

3. Sell directly to customers

4. Create a travel photography blog

5. Teach photography courses

6. Affiliate Marketing

7. Start a YouTube channel

8. Create An Online Community

9. Sell prints

10. Publish in travel photography-related magazines

11. Create a web page

12. Publish eBooks

13. Involve brands in your work

14. Take every opportunity to learn something new

All travel photographers use several income sources to travel. Of course, most of them already sell prints. But what else can you do to earn some extra money?

1. Use high-quality equipment

To take your travel photography to the next level, you must first meet some important technical requirements. With a quality camera and lens, you can minimize noise, increase low-light performance, achieve consistent sharpness, and produce a wide range of image types. By using a tripod, flash, and camera cover, the range of creative and adaptable possibilities expands even more.

I also recommend familiarizing yourself with post-processing. You will sell more photos if you edit them to the best quality.

2. Sell stock photos

Monetization is a challenge if you’re new to stock photography. But the money will flow as your portfolio and fan base grow. Upload your photos to various stock photo sites, including relevant keywords in your descriptions. Photo categories like portraits, cuisine, and lifestyle have the best chance of success.

You should consider stock photography to make money. Although it’s a fantastic way to earn passive income, you shouldn’t rely on it alone (at least not in the beginning). At the same time, you can also focus on other aspects of your business.

To be successful in stock photography, you need to publish as many quality photos as possible, consistently. It’s a numbers game. Especially if you focus on microstock, where each photo can be downloaded by many customers at a cheap price. Some examples include Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Depositphotos, and Dreamstime.

Macrostock allows you to sell your image to a smaller audience at a much higher price. This may be the more attractive choice, but it’s much more complex to get started and to get accepted. A good example is GettyImages.

3. Sell directly to customers

Selling directly to a client is a special way for a professional photographer to earn a living. Even if you’re traveling, it can work. Start by doing research about who could benefit from your services. Then, attempt to contact them and explain how you can help them.

Many businesses, including hotel chains, local brands, restaurants, and expert groups, can benefit from general photography work. Of course, this can also be a good way to pay for your photographic adventures.

The more relationships you make, the more clients will come to you. If they find you impressive, your efforts will be rewarded with a commission to create graphics for their specific needs. Depending on the company, you may even get a monthly salary for taking a few photos each month.

Customers

4. Create a travel photography blog

Travel blogging is an excellent method to establish an audience and bring visitors to your website, where they can learn about the services you offer. As a result, the travel business will thrive on ensuring that people have what they are looking for.

Produce blog entries relevant to the needs of internet users who are looking for information. This is an excellent method to show off your skills and get noticed by tourist boards seeking to hire a travel blogger with a large following.

For those that put in the time and effort, you can even end up filming YouTube videos.

5. Teach photography courses

All you need is a computer and an internet connection. To learn more about a new area, you can enroll in a course for at least two months and then teach others what you’ve learned. You can also teach video courses and offer a course in travel photography.

You should create online courses for beginner photographers that are easy to learn. If you have a travel blog, as I mentioned earlier, you can use it to promote your courses.

Teach students about photography basics and post-processing. This should include techniques such as cropping, leveling, and changing the colors, contrasts, and shadows of an image to create a piece of art that sells. Audio and visual enhancements, including voiceover and graphic effects, are part of the process.

Let’s say you want to get many people to sign up for your course. Here, you’ll need to invest in a high-quality camera and work with local newspapers to produce short introductory videos.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Consider taking photography lessons from some of the best instructors in the business. Do a subject search on the course platform and select only the most popular courses.
  • Refine your online presence, including your CV and Instagram feed. Potential students will want to check their work before signing up for your course. Set up your website or Instagram page properly before you start your course.
  • Teaser videos should be engaging. Before they buy your course, potential students should be able to see a demo. Avoid giving away too much information—make them want to know more.
  • Make your point. Don’t just say you’re a photography teacher, but be specific. Think about whether you can photograph animals better outdoors or in the studio. Maybe the mechanical part of photography appeals to you more than the artistic part.

6. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of partnership where a business rewards you with a commission for recommending its product or services to a customer. When someone clicks on your unique affiliate link and buys a product, you get a percentage of that sale.

However, affiliate marketing requires quite some effort. First, you need to find a product to promote. Then, the owner must accept you as a part of their affiliate program. And last, you need to promote it to your audience. You can do it with a YouTube channel or with a blog.

7. Start a YouTube channel

Every year, the number of people using the internet to share videos grows. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing network, allows users to profit by uploading popular videos. It’s possible to turn high-quality photos and clips into online videos that can be shared. Creative photographers can add themes and music to their videos to make them more interesting.

You should offer the viewers meaningful, which in today’s society often means imparting knowledge. Tips and tricks, hacks and tutorials, and videos shot on location can earn a channel hundreds of dollars per month.

The downside is that you need a big audience to make money, which means months of hard work that doesn’t pay off instantly. So if you like filming, consider starting a YouTube channel.

Start a YouTube channel

8. Create An Online Community

If you want to make money selling travel pictures, you don’t have to be the best photographer in the world. The most successful photographers are simply skilled at self-promotion and marketing, rather than being talented photographers.

Influencers on social media have become an important resource for businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries. If you have a large following on social media, it’s possible to make a lot of money with sponsored posts or commissioned work. Instagram is undoubtedly a big contender in this area.

Building a large following can take some time, but if you can do it, you can turn your passion for travel into a successful sideline.

9. Sell prints

Selling prints of your travel photos is another way to make money from your passion for travel photography. You’ll almost certainly have a collection of stunning landscapes or holiday destinations. How many times have you heard someone say: “I’d like a print of that” or something similar? Why not take them to your local print shop?

However, photographers can sell their prints in a variety of ways and should be careful that the terms of the licensing agreement don’t conflict with the terms of their printing agreements.

10. Publish in travel photography-related magazines

There’s no reason you can’t share your story with everyone on the planet. Many publications that focus on travel photography accept submissions. If you’re a holiday photographer, you won’t have a physical address. So your first step should be to subscribe to their online editions so you can see what they often publish.

Make sure you’ve read and understood the entry criteria before you put your best foot forward. Make sure you’re selling to reputable companies who’ll pay you for your work and never give away ownership of the images you submit.

Over time, you’ll gain so much clout that you can even sell informed articles to publications (and even local tourist boards). This method is time-consuming, but has a high chance of success and will bring you a lot of attention. Getting your name out to the masses of online travel photographers can also help you get published.

11. Create a web page

Your new travel website could include all the details customers need when visiting different places. Your website should have a catchy domain name and compelling photos you’ve taken to attract a large audience.

It can also give the general impression by including attributes like attractive hotels, restaurants, and destinations.

These links can be added to restaurant and café websites. This can lead to partnerships that can help you earn even more money. You can also advertise to convince as many people as possible.

You can post the most outstanding picture you took while visiting the website on your social media pages. People who want to learn more about photography can take courses on the same website. This way, you can gain many fans from all over the world.

Not only can you upload your images, but you can also view images from other sources. This increases the number of visitors to your website and helps them make better buying decisions.

12. Publish eBooks

At some point in our lives, we all think about writing a book. It takes a lot of work and time to be a conventional writer. It’s a blessing that these days it only takes a few days to self-publish a book.

E-books are a great way to make money on the side while you sleep. Unless you publish hundreds of e-books, you shouldn’t expect to make a living from it. A full-time job is required.

Those of you who’re currently writing about your experiences and adventures are already 90% done. These are all things that you can easily put together, package, and publish as an e-book. Reusing and recycling used materials isn’t as easy as it seems.

eBook

13. Involving brands in your work

Working for a travel magazine is almost as hard as we’ve already noted, and the situation is only getting worse as fewer and fewer publications will pay their photojournalists.

In the meantime, you can still try to get paid by companies! Many small travel businesses around the world need the services of photographers, including hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and even Airbnb hosts.

If you decide to go this route, you’ll need a strong portfolio, a few years of experience, and published work that shows off your photography skills.

14. Take every opportunity to learn something new

The quality of your pictures depends not only on your camera equipment, even if you’re traveling and taking action photos. If you haven’t done it yet, take a photography course.

As a photographer, your journey is far from over once you’ve taken esthetically beautiful pictures. You need to keep at it and practice so that your skills don’t diminish, but get better and better.

FAQ

Is It Possible To Make Money As A Travel Photographer?

If you keep up with the recent changes and adapt to the market, you’ve several options. As a company, you’ve to do the same. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it can be a significant source of income. The quality of your performance is a combination of hard work, your strategy, and, yes, a bit of luck. Your primary job is satisfying. Keep your side business and grow it until it can support itself. It’s a great feeling to be in charge of your future, whether you work as a travel photographer, an event photographer, or a freelancer.

What Can You Do To Increase The Profitability Of Your Travel Photography Income Streams?

Spending too much money while traveling is a bad idea. Even when traveling, one should not expect a steak dinner to be cheap. That is why it is more economical to think of travel expenses as daily living expenses rather than holiday expenses; that way, you will have more money in your pocket.

Can you get paid to travel and take pictures?

Many travel photographers get paid to travel and take photos, but it takes a lot of effort and time. The best ways are stock photography, selling prints, YouTube vlogging, and paid promotions.

Is travel photography a good career?

Travel photography is a difficult but rewarding career path. It requires full-time dedication, adaptability, and people skills. But it’s a good career path that can take you around the world with your camera, which is a dream for many photographers.

How do travel photographers get clients?

The best way to get clients is with an online portfolio. You can think of it as your image CV. Some photographers also create YouTube channels, blogs, or promote themselves on social media platforms to find potential clients.

Where can I sell travel photos?

The top places to sell travel photos are your online portfolio, Instagram account, and stock photo sites. Among online portfolio builders, I recommend Pixpa. It’s easy to use, minimalistic and doesn’t require coding. Good stock photo sites for you are Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Dreamstime, and Depositphotos.

Do you need to be rich to travel?

No, you don’t have to be rich to travel. In fact, most travelers have below-average salaries. But they know how to be thrifty and earn money with their photos. If you want to be a successful travel photographer, you shouldn’t live in 5-star hotels anyway, because you won’t experience the culture. And finding unique and charismatic shots is what you should aim for.

How much do Instagram travel photographers make?

The number differs a lot between influencers. As a rule of thumb, they make $10,000+ per post per million followers. The actual number depends on their contracts and sources of income.

Summary

You’re now ready to start implementing the tips you’ve just learned in real life. You’ll see that becoming a full-time photographer is not as difficult as it seems when you know the basics. You need to know that persistence and knowing how to make money are key.

About your guide

Matic Broz profile image
Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire, Skylum, and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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