When I first started uploading photos to an online stock agency I had no idea how it would change my life. I had stumbled on stock agencies while looking for a photo for a small design job. But once I saw how much money people were making from their photos, I realized I could do the same. A year after I started, I was making $600 a month. And my best-selling photo has now earned me more than $3,500.
You simply upload your photos with a stock agency and each time someone wants to use it, they pay a small fee. After a while, the money really begins to mount up.
Photography was always my passion. But I hesitated making it my “job” because I did not want to ruin the joy it brought me. I was one of those people that thought art was a hobby, not something that could sustain me. So I went off to college, got a Bachelor of Science (in psychology, sociology, and anthropology), and emerged into the “real world” with a career in social services.
Although I loved the children I was working with, after 10+ years in the field I was burned out. But I had no idea what to do next. Then I thought, “Why not return to my first love, photography?”
Uploading photos to stock agencies was easy and a great way to get started in making money from photography. And in a very real sense it gave me freedom. Eight years after I first started, I am free to photograph who I want, what I want, and where I want…and above all, I’m free to travel.
Whether it’s riding a camel in Egypt or an elephant in Thailand, swimming with the giant tortoises of the Galapagos, standing on the Great Wall in China, walking the ancient paths of Ephesus, visiting an island tribe in Panama, or enjoying the street life of Paris…the truth is I would be taking photos anyway, so why not turn those memorable moments into an income?
In the past eight years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to 13 different countries, several of them on multiple occasions. I can go anywhere in the world for any length of time taking pictures to upload later…and enjoy life while my existing portfolio continues to generate sales, with designers and media folk all over the world paying for my images every time they download them from the agency.
Sometimes I stay closer to home, flying over the glacial peaks and Inside Passage of Alaska in a small Cessna or warming my toes in the sun-drenched sands of Kauai. I always have my camera with me and take every opportunity to take more photos for my portfolio.
But you don’t have to take grand adventures to build your portfolio and make money. About 75% of my best-selling photos were shot right here in my hometown. Photos of family and friends, kind enough to sign a model release, will sell to stock agencies too.
That means you can build a photography income stream before you move abroad. It might even enable you to go sooner than you expected once you get into it.
Whether it’s making a full-time wage, supplementing your income, or financing your adventures abroad, there has never been a better time to reach a worldwide audience. The Internet has leveled the playing field and made portable incomes possible. More and more people are joining the ranks every day.
The portable income that I’ve created over the past eight years is through stock photography, but there are a few other ways to make money online with your photos—such as fine art prints or marketing direct to magazines. Stock photography is what works for me.
It all starts with you and your camera. You don’t have to be a master photographer, but you should acquire some of the basic photography skills.
Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 6 Portable Careers.