Passive Income: what it is and why you want it...
Since I started incorporating passive revenue streams into my business I have made $9.564.19. WOAH.
Passive income, otherwise known as “mailbox money” (my personal favorite term) is when you continue to get paid for work you’ve already done. Sounds great, right? For photographers, that can mean generating a regular income from the photos you’ve already shot, talking about the gear that you use, or teaching others. In order to create a passive income for yourself, there is a big investment of time upfront, but in return this ultimately frees up time for you to do other things. This is not a short term strategy, but there is a long term reward in it for you if you do the work!
1. Sell Stock
This one is such a missed opportunity among so many photographers I know. When I was offering one on one coaching this is one thing I recommended other photographers get set up with immediately. Especially for those who’ve built a solid portfolio and have tons of really beautiful unused images collecting dust on a hard drive.
I shot personal projects when I first started with food photography - which were obviously for free. I photographed cakes, veggies, herbs, farms, and so on. Once I got to a place where I had what felt like was a good online portfolio of work, I had so many additional images that were not being used or licensed for anything. I started looking into stock and was really fortunate to have been contacted directly by a few different companies. Ultimately, I chose to go with Offset for a variety of reasons (pricing structure, copyright ownership, artist support… to name a few) - but there are several great stock companies to choose from! Make sure you do your research and compare them all so you can feel good about what you will ultimately be taking home from selling the images.
2. Become an affiliate
What is an affiliate? An Affiliate is someone who attaches themselves to a larger organization for the purpose of promoting or selling their products. Affiliate marketing is using your online platform (blog, social media, courses, etc.) to recommend products and in turn earn a commission from it. Simply put, it’s a referral program. Ideally you’re recommending products that you use and that you love. If you’re recommending crappy products, folks will catch on and lose faith in you - and the trust of your audience is worth a lot more than a one time commission.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to get paid for doing things you would not otherwise make money from. For example: of all of the questions I get, the most popular one is “what camera/tripod/lighting/equipment would you recommend?” So, you know what I’m working on right now? A blog post that has all of my favorite gear recommendations with affiliate links. And anytime anyone asks me that question moving forward I’ll be referring them to that post.
Things to know about affiliate marketing:
The FTC requires you to disclose to people that you are making a commission from the links you are providing. In fact, it’s the law. Typically people just add in a line or two on their site. For example, mine is in my blog with the links and states:
“Transparency: We may receive a small commission on sales of items linked above. That's how we are able to continue to create these posts and share this with you for free!”
You do not need a huge following to become an affiliate. You can just apply! Just a quick google search of with your favorite store along with “affiliate program” will turn up some results. It is up to you to sell their products to make your commission so it’s a minimal investment for a company to make you an affiliate. This does not have to be limited to photography either! I have an Amazon affiliate shop where in addition to camera equipment I recommend food styling tools, props, etc. Once you set up shop you can recommend anything you’re passionate about, love, or makes your life easier!
What are people asking you about your photography? Do they want to know about your camera? Your lighting techniques? Settings? Lenses? What niche or special thing do you do that you could share?
The way I teach isn’t 100% passive but that’s because teaching is one of my favorite parts of my business - mostly because it allows me to be around other folks who are excited about photography and are ready to learn. It shakes up my day to day and opens up even more travel opportunities (and travel is something I always jump at). Teaching requires you to develop all of your materials up front but then allows you to use the same materials over and over again. For the last couple of years I’ve been traveling around with an organization to several conferences and teaching food photography using the same materials for each one. I repurposed those same materials for a one on one setting and offered mentorships for a while. And then I repurposed the materials AGAIN for small group setting workshops. This allows me to take the travel gigs, teach for a few hours, and explore/rest/make connections the rest of the time I’m somewhere new. I’m actually heading to D.C. and taking the whole family for another teaching gig in just a few months. We’re extending our trip and making it a vacation (that pays for itself!)
You most certainly don’t have to be as hands on with teaching as I am. If you aren’t able to commit to travel or in person teaching and want to make this method 100% passive you can automate your educational materials and sell it as an e-book or digital download!
For more on passive income and food photography join us in our private facebook group where we discuss all things photography, creative business, offer feedback, answer all of your burning questions, and provide good 'ol encouragement and community!
You may also be interested in our FREE guide - 5 ways to immediately improve your food photography
Make sure to pin this one - so you can reference it later!