Making money with landscape photography is a dream job for many budding photographers today. That’s why you’re here, right? You want to learn how to sell your work while traveling. You can’t just carry a truckload of prints and products everywhere you go to sell at galleries, craft fairs and flea markets.
But don’t worry. It turns out that there are a ton of ways to sell your work as you travel light from country to country. The internet combined with today’s digital technology are your keys to success, so take a look below for five ideas to help you launch your career as a traveling landscape photographer. These ideas will take a good amount of research, experimentation and hard work up front to get them set up, but once you get them up and running, they will generate mostly passive income for you around the clock while you get to enjoy high levels of financial freedom, time freedom and location freedom.
1. Sell Landscape Photography Prints
Selling prints is a great way to make money with your artwork. But don’t limit yourself to traditional photographic prints. Any kind of physical merchandise has great profit potential. You can sell photo prints, postcards, giclee wall art prints, tote bags, notebooks, key chains, T-shirts and more. If you are already an influencer with a large following, you might be able to approach a distribution company to license your products and start manufacturing on a decent scale. But if you are starting from scratch, then you might want to sign up with a print-on-demand (POD) service like Zazzle or CafePress.
POD services have websites that display your products for zero cost to you. They don’t even manufacture products in advance or build up an inventory. Instead, they just produce one product at a time when a customer orders a product from your account. You can share your product links on your social media platforms, and once you start your own blog or photography site, then you can set up an online store where your followers can browse all your products and images and then go to the POD site through your links to make a purchase.
The POD company handles all customer service, production, shipping and returns. All you do is slap your images on their blank products on their site, funnel traffic to your products on their site and receive commissions as sales are made. Then you can receive payment when the minimum threshold is reached.
2. Work For Outdoor Companies
There are tons of companies that would love to use your images to promote their products and services. Think about camping and sporting goods manufacturers and retailers like Coleman, Sports Authority and North Face. Some will use landscape images alone, while others would actually hire you to take their products out into the field to get shots of their products in action, either with models or simply as still-life images.
Outdoor service companies and adventure tourist attractions might also pay you for your services, either as a staff photographer or as a freelancer. Is there a zipline tour in your area? Do any companies offer ATV and dune buggy tours nearby? Or could you shoot images to promote kayaking and canoe tours? The options are nearly endless. If you can also provide high-quality video and graphic design thumbnails for social media posts, you will find it that much easier to acquire clients.
3. Sell Stock Photography Online
The first place that many photographers turn to in order to make money with their photos is a stock photography website. There are a bunch of them out there such as Shutterstock and Pixabay. To make a decent income with stock agencies, you’ll need to produce a ton of high-quality photos. But you also need to understand the importance of tags and search engine optimization (SEO) to make this work. You aren’t just a photographer. You’re a marketer too, so put your thinking cap on and learn the ropes of digital marketing.
When a client comes to a stock photo site, they’ll use the site’s internal search functions to find photos relevant to their needs. They’ll type in various tags such as “Bryce Canyon, Arizona, landscape, desert, sunset, silhouette, color, black and white, hikers, female,” etc. Then they’ll browse through the search results to find an image they like for their campaign. They’ll purchase usage rights to the image, and then the photographer will receive a commission.
Commissions could be anything from 50 cents to 50 dollars per sale, maybe even more for certain commercial projects. When your account reaches the minimum payment threshold, then your payment will be sent to your PayPal, debit card or bank account. If you are living abroad or constantly traveling, then you might also want to set up deposits or automatic transfers to ensure that you get timely access to your funds wherever you are in the world.
4. Become a Landscape Photography Influencer
A social media influencer is simply someone who has an online following of people who trust their opinion about a particular subject matter. Many influencers enjoy a sort of mini-celebrity status within their niche. As a traveling landscape photographer, you can actually make a living as an influencer and run a business with nothing but our social media accounts, a website, a laptop, smartphone, camera gear and an internet connection.
You can get started with zero up-front investment by putting your work out on various social media platforms and building your audience online. Eventually, you’ll want to build a blog to showcase your work and sell merchandise, but you can start immediately with social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Research Facebook marketing for landscape photography for tips on how to build a business on that platform. If you are already comfortable and proficient with social media, then you can build your business across multiple social platforms from day one.
Eventually, you will receive business offers from companies who want to publish sponsored content on your social feeds. Make sure that the sponsor and their products make sense and will offer real value for your followers. You can make money this way by charging $50 or so per sponsored post and then increase pricing as your follower count increases to tens of thousands and beyond.
You can also use your social media accounts to promote your own products and services. Keep reading for some ideas on that. The point is that you should learn to become a social media influencer while also applying other ideas in this article, since you won’t make money just by posting pics online. You need to monetize your platforms for actual income to be generated.
5. Freelance for Travel Photography
Lastly, you could do freelance work and submit to publications that use landscape, outdoor and travel photography. There are hundreds of magazines and blogs that pay freelance photographers for images. If you can also write article copy to go along with your photos and video, then you’ll have a much easier time breaking into this market. Pick up a copy of this year’s annual Photographer’s Market at a local bookstore or on Amazon to access thousands of listings of businesses seeking photographs from freelancers.
If you have a blog, you can also include a page listing services that you offer for businesses. Include only your best work when setting up your online portfolio, and be sure to include logos and testimonials from any clients you have worked for in the past. This social proof will go a long way in helping you secure future work.
You might even consider offering some free photos to local outdoor tourist attractions in exchange for testimonials and a credit line or link from their website and social platforms. This exposure might help you gain some momentum and build a reputation to impress paying clients later on.
It’s amazing what you can do with nothing but your photo gear, a laptop and an Internet connection. Throw in some writing chops and graphic design skills, and you’ve got the makings of a career as a travel and landscape photographer. Follow these five tips to help you launch your photography career and enjoy a lifestyle that others only dream of.