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Working in the creative sector is exhilarating, full of new challenges and allows you to express your passions, however, when the job markets are tight, and you find yourself unemployed as a photographer it can be difficult to know what to do next.
Across the USA, more than 2% of photographers are currently unemployed although the true figure is probably far higher than the official figures state. There are many people who are working in other jobs to make ends meet even though they consider themselves to photographers. They may do some occasional gig work as a photographer to feed their real passion but this would not be enough on its own for them to get by.
One of the great things about being a photographer is that you actually have a highly versatile skill set that incorporates many different fields. You might have been taking it for granted, as many photographers, videographers and creatives so often do, but you already have a wide range of marketable talents!
Every aspect and element of the production process is in high demand so there are always options if you are a photographer who is out of work!
5 Ways You Can Make Money as an Unemployed Photographer.
The following are some of the ways you can make money:
If you’re a skilled photographer but have found yourself unemployed, or underemployed, then you can still work in the industry as a teacher. There are many ways that you can teach photography, both on and off line. Working as a teacher you can leverage a good salary that can range from $30,000 a year right up to $50,000 and more – depending on the hours you work, the level you teach at and the type of students you have.
You can work directly, one on one, with students and teach them highly tailored materials to suit their precise requirements. Alternatively you could teach a class at a community college, university or school. This will give you less flexibility but the work will be more reliable and structured – which may suit some people better than others, depending on their other commitments.
If you want to create a passive income stream you can build your own course and promote it on various websites. When students pay for your course you will receive a share of the money. This is a fantastic option if you’re unemployed and can offer a unique insight into an aspect of photography.
You can focus on something very specific, such as ‘Macro Photography for Beginners’ or you could create a complete course that guides your students through the basics of photography. Usually though it’s better to create a course which is pretty specialized – ‘Wildlife Photography’ for example. To get started a quick Google search will deliver a whole list of places where you can set your courses for free.
Bear in mind that creating a course can be quite complicated and is a serious undertaking although the potential financial rewards can be enormous if you strike a chord with potential students.
You’re going to need to make sure that your course stands out from the others which are available and make sure that your own portfolio is looking good because potential students will certainly want to see what you can do before they pay for a course. It’s also worth creating a preview video for your course which you can use to market it on social media and on the teaching platform itself.
Sell Posters, Prints and other Products.
If you’ve been a photographer for a while and recently found yourself unemployed then the chances are that you have a large back catalogue of past work. Provided you legally own the copyright to the images you can use these to create an income stream to help you through the hard times.
With the advent of print on demand publishing the overheads have dropped to nearly zero which means that you can easily create photo books, calendars, posters, T-shirts and many other types of merchandise to sell on and off line.
You can host your creations on sites such as Etsy as well as promoting them through your own social media accounts. When you’re posting a product on a site like Etsy you need to take care to tag it well so that potential customers searching for an item will find yours before they find your competition’s!
Facebook is a very useful resource if you’re trying to promote your products. You can create a free business page and use it as a hub to direct people to your products as well as to build up a loyal following of fans.
Fine Art America is a much more specialized site where you can sell your original photos as prints and home décor.
This is a very enjoyable way to earn money and you’ll find that you meet many other interesting people in your field which can also lead to future work opportunities. The initial investment is very low as well in terms of finances and you’ll only have to put in the hours to get it all set up.
Review Photography Related Products.
Your knowledge about photography gear and the accessories that are needed is extremely valuable to people who are looking to spend their own hard earned money! Most people will look through reviews about the products they are planning to buy – particularly if they are as costly as a new camera.
You can create a blog or a YouTube channel and review products. The most important thing to remember is that you are building up a brand that is based on trust so honesty is certainly the best policy.
Once you have created a YouTube channel that is getting some traction and viewers then you can start to monetize it through YouTube Ads. This can rapidly become a sizable passive income. You can also promote affiliate products – where you receive a percentage of the sale price if people follow your link and buy the products.
If your channel is getting a lot of viewers you can also arrange paid sponsorships with photography brands who are always on the lookout for knowledgeable people to promote their products. You can use websites like Famebit to search for sponsors by category, including photography. Alternatively you can contact companies directly to strike up new sponsorship deals.
It will take some time for your channel to build up an audience so you shouldn’t consider this to be a quick fix for financial problems but with a bit of patience you can reap some excellent rewards.
Work as a Freelancer.
With the growth of websites such as Fiverr and Upwork you can advertise your services as a freelancer. This is a varied and enjoyable way to earn some money while you’re unemployed as a photographer.
As a photographer you have a broad range of skills and these can be used in a highly transferable way. You can offer your services in many genres of photography, including but not limited to; product photography, food presentation photography, advertising and company promotional work.
Much of your work will be one off gigs however once you build up a good reputation and have positive reviews under your belt new clients will seek you out. Keep in mind though that the platform you are working on will take a cut of the money – usually at a rate of about 20%.
Photo Editing and Restoration.
If you are comfortable working in the post production aspects of photography then you can offer these services to other photographers and clients. This is a great way to earn money from home while you’re unemployed and you can often strike up long term relationships with your clients.
Make sure that your own portfolio is extremely polished and well edited because any potential client will want to see proof that you can deliver the goods.
Retouching photos is also a fast growing market and mainly involves adjusting the colors, lighting and tone in the images. Although there are apps available, such as Facetune, which can be helpful for people, many still prefer to employ a photographer to get this done for them.
Working as an editor or in the restoration business is very flexible and will let you control the hours you work. This means that you can fit it around your schedule and leave you enough time to look for other opportunities as a photographer. That said, may photographers fall into editing work while they are unemployed but find that they enjoy the work and stick with it!
There’s a massive demand for photo editing so you’ll always have a handful of clients although if you don’t have a good portfolio you’ll struggle to get your foot in the door.
There’s A World Opportunities for an Unemployed Photographer.
As a photographer you have an invaluable skill set that is highly transferable, not only in the general industry of photography, but elsewhere too. Take a close look at your own experiences and try to list all the different marketable skills that you already have – you’ll probably be surprised by how many you do have. Once you have established the types of skills you would like to market then formulate a plan of action to start turning those skills into dollars in the bank.
It can be tough to find yourself out of work however as a photographer you have more options than most to earn some serious money in other ways! If you do find yourself unemployed then look at the experience as an opportunity to strike out into new areas of the industry.
How did you manage when you were unemployed as a photographer?