How to Make Passive Income in Photography

For a myriad of reasons, it’s always good to have multiple streams of income with photography. Not all of these streams need an equal amount of effort, however, and in this video you can learn five different ways to make a passive income with your camera.

Chris Winter has five ideas to get you started with making a passive income using your photography or film work in the video above. These range from the classic stock photo and video tip to a bit of a peek into Winter’s own YouTube channel income and how it was monetized.

If I would add one of my own to the list, it would be to sell prints through Etsy. The problem most people have with selling prints is that they try to do it through their own website. Getting people to come to you is an enormous task, and on top of that your visitors need to be swayed into spending their money on a complete stranger. Because people are already heading to Etsy to shop and have spending money on their mind, it’s a much, much easier sell. I do virtually no maintenance and just drop ship prints using BayPhoto to my customers which takes a couple minutes of time to order.

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9 Comments

AC KO's picture

From my experience, Chris Winter is wrong about making good (passive) money from royalty-free stock licensing, as it can take lots of work and investment to generate penny licensing sales.

Foremost, stock photography is "licensed" and NOT "sold" or "bought".

The ONLY folks who benefit from the stock photography business are Getty/iStock, Adobe Stock, ShutterStock, and other stock libraries AND those end-users, like textbook and other publishers, Walmart and other media/corporations--they all get to *exploit* your photographs (commercially) for pennies!

In addition, there are just way too many photographers contributing images to the massive growing stock image libraries, resulting in lower licensing splits for photographer contributors.

Three photographers share their experiences with licensing their stock images:

1) “I Sold a Photo on Adobe Stock and… Earned Pennies”: https://petapixel.com/2017/12/11/sold-photo-adobe-stock-earned-pennies/

2) “Frustrations in Stock Photography”: https://petapixel.com/2019/04/25/frustrations-in-stock-photography/

3) The Truth About Stock Photography: Conclusions After 3 Years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=g1NZqWi_dOo

I no longer contribute stock images to Getty. Instead, I offer exclusive stock images verses pursuing volume licenses via Adobe Stock and others. Post/Market your images via your web and social media sites and grant licensees some exclusivity (per time, geography, platform, etc.). Now, you retain 100% of the licensing fees while clients/licensees get a “peace of mind guarantee” that they won’t be embarrassed seeing the same royalty-free images appearing in a competing company’s media!

C Fisher's picture

What kind of media do you make prints on? Been seeing these metal plate prints pop up more and more lately, they're kind of cool, don't need a frame if you don't want one.

Ryan Mense's picture

I just do “regular” Kodak Enduro luster paper prints. I think if you’re selling in person through a gallery or art fair than the more extravagant printing mediums can work better, but it’s a hard sell online.

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

I just made $0.71 on Adobe stock. It's a great passive income stream. This took me just a year to achieve

Desmond Stagg's picture

Hey, congratulations. You earned "less" than I did!! At the beginning if this year Adobe Stock sent me a mail. The only thing that was missing were the flags flying and the trumpet fanfare.
The punch line they wrote, "we sold one of your images, your commission $0.99", yes, 99 US$ cents.

My account with Getty? A massive $28. It is just NOT worth the bother!!

The horse has bolted, it is pointless uploading images to any of these stock platforms. I have left my images on them rather than erase them. Perhaps I can earn another 99 cents??

Ryan Mense's picture

Welcome to the big ballers club

Tim Hopper's picture

BayPhoto (typo)

Simon Woodcock's picture

The only stock agency that are worth looking at nowadays is alamy. They only take 50% commission, which is WAY better than adobe, getty et al.

I'm still making good monthly money with them, although it is much less than the old days!