Why You Should Sell Lightroom Presets for Passive Income

Are you looking for a way to make passive income on the side from your photography? This photographer shares a complete guide on how he sells and markets his Lightroom presets.

Lightroom presets are immensely popular. Nearly every photographer has purchased a package of them at some point, but few sell them. I think the apparent reason for this is most photographers don’t believe that others would have enough interest in their style, but perhaps that’s not exactly true. In this video, Chris Hau gives a complete guide on creating, selling, and marketing Lightroom presets.

The question you need to ask yourself is if your editing style is unique enough that people will look at it and wonder how you did that. Lightroom is not an overly complicated program, and styles are easy to duplicate. Additionally, the majority of photographers probably purchase from the same couple of popular preset companies and therefore have similar looks. However, if you can create something that looks great but isn’t exactly what everyone else is doing, you might have something that is marketable.

In Hau’s video, he takes care of the rest as he shares his experience and tells you exactly what website to upload your presets to and offers some great tips for selling them to interested buyers. If you’ve thought about selling a pack of presets of your own, this video is a must watch.

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17 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

It's depressing that so many professional photographers depend on other sources of income beside their photographs but it is what it is. The redeeming thing about selling tutorials or youtube videos is, you're helping someone to improve their craft. And, in fact, that's the whole point for the majority of photographers who do something else during the day but wish they were out shooting. Selling presets, in my opinion and maybe only in MY opinion, is different. You're not helping anyone learn anything. You're taking away their incentive to learn, by doing, and reducing their expensive gear to a point and shoot camera. Sure, their photos look better but as a recent American President once said, "you didn't build that."

Michael DeStefano's picture

I think diversifying your income sources is a very important way of insuring you don't put all your eggs in one basket. Plenty of businesses don't rely on one income source and its often the key to success for not working yourself into an early grave.

16mm Camera's picture

Easier said than done. If you have no audience you won’t make any sales that will impact your lifestyle in any meaningful way.

What happens when there are too many presets out there because people who have no audience are mislead to believe they to can make income (passive) that will have any sort of impact?

There is already an Instagram account that brings to light the homogenization of shots you see on that platform.

As an entrepreneur in anything you have to bust your ass all the time to avoid an early grave (still no guarantee). Selling presets with no established loyal audience is a complete waste of time and imho can be destructive to your photography brand.

Timothy Daniel's picture

This .. ^ .. (16mm camera)

Anything said by someone who is successful is automatically considered "wise words", but really doesn't apply to most people's situations.

If you have a follower base that's large enough to sell to and you haven't thought of this you probably going to last long.

If you don't have a following that's large enough it's irrelevant.

Michael DeStefano's picture

I disagree plenty of people have built a brand and an audience off of doing something because they thought it would be helpful to others. Like releasing a preset, tutorial or youtube video. If you put out good content or can communicate your info in a unique way there is an opportunity to build something new from nothing. Maybe you wont succeed and maybe you wont get rich but the vast majority of people educating or selling in the photography market today didn't get massive followings because they were experts, successful or taking amazing photos. Its because they put something out there early on that others picked up on and found useful. You dont need to be an expert to have something useful or wise to offer.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I have mixed feelings about presets.
On the one hand, I’m all for photographers diversifying their revenue.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel it promotes laziness and leads to copycats and can result in a lack of originality when used incorrectly.

I think it would be more beneficial to sell something closer to a tutorial on how to achieve certain looks. That way the person is actually learning how to use Lightroom.
You know, teach a man to fish, and all that stuff...

16mm Camera's picture

I can't watch Chris personally, but did he mention having an audience of some sort is critical to the success in sales for your pre-sets? Building a loyal audience is much more difficult than setting up pre-sets and I think you need the first before you can be successful at the other.

THAT said, I personally haven't ever purchased presets as a photographer. I've always enjoyed the experimentation and learning that comes with tinkering with my photographs myself. I also don't apply a uniform look to my photos, each is edited in a specific way given what inspires me at the time.

Passive income is fine, but at what expense? Compromise my "look" for a little extra money? I'd much prefer how to achieve certain looks through tutorials than a copy and paste job, both from an educator level and a purity of craft level.

The only reason I'm commenting on this video at all is because I'm firmly against presets for the reasons above plus a bunch of others.

I've also taken a look at Chris instagram and it's evident he relies HEAVILY on the post process to render his pictures "presentable". They almost look cartoony which is a pretty big instagram trend right now. Since he's in most of his own pictures I'm assuming a lot of what he does is in the post process vs the behind the camera process.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Yeah, I'm in the same boat. I clicked on one of his videos and it started with like 30 second of meaningless B-roll and took like 7 minutes to get to the point, which was completely useless. Basically seemed like a Peter McKinnon clone. But to each their own, I guess some people like that.

Another thing a lot of people seem to ignore is that a majority of YouTube "photographers" appear to think everyone is already as successful as they are, so half of the time I'm like, "sweet, that advice will come in handy when I'm already famous", and they are always recommending gear that is absurdly expensive. The only big photographer I watch anymore, is Thomas Heaton. Everyone else I watch has around 1000 subscribers or fewer.

16mm Camera's picture

Peter's content doesn't get shared around here any longer, I wonder why. Chris is part of that "squad" (dope squad they call themselves) which are really just derivatives of the same thing. It's popular amongst a subset of youtube users many of whom want to be famous youtubers themselves. It's fine, to each their own, but is it really sharable? I would highly disagree given some of the other quality of the content dropped here.

Makes me wonder if Chris has some sort of influencer deal with the authors here, his content gets shared here more often than it should given the audited QUALITY of the content IN his videos.

I feel like Peter was replaced by Chris, new fresh face, but almost identical shooting style and content tropes.

Most of the sub 1000 subs have some of the best content, they're not appealing to the masses (or what's "trending") and giving you in many ways a more relatable and informative look at how to improve your craft.

I would like to see some of the authors here look into some of these guys instead of sharing the same "influencers" over and over again.

Just my opinion, not worth a lick but this is a discussion after all.

PS: Teaching shortcuts isn't helping anyone improve their business oriented photography game. In a world where you have to show people why YOU can offer the client something others can't..Chris is telling you how to buy/build a look everyone can copy.

I don't think its a secret anymore, this is paid advertising. What is going on is Peter Mackinnon owns, controls, or hired this guy chris h and matti h and they are just cycling through who they are promoting. They are also repeating a cycle of content. The goal of this content is not to teach but rather promote and inflate themselves rather than help the people watching. Essentially appear to be successful so that you can become successful. Cart before the horse.

damn... that's cold, honest observation right there... even if part of it ins't true the over-all message you're saying is very much evident in the way these guys conduct themselves.

Agree about Peter McKinnon etc. Tried watching his recent After Effects Basics tutorial but I couldn't sit through it. A 25 min video which should have taken no longer than 10. If you watch these types of Youtubers you'll spend more time watching them than actually learning.
I'm glad we don't see them appearing on Fstoppers but of course Lee and Patrick are a lot smarter than that.

Can I ask an honest question for the discussion here.... What photographer is thinking they should sell LUTs for passive income? Is this something you really want to do or will do? As an enthusiast who loves to take photos and better my skills for my own personal gain, LUTs provide no value to me both in purchasing or the prospect of selling... I can't imagine why it would matter...

My only suspicion is LUTs are the youtuber cine/photo-tutorialist's version of a 100% profit-margin equivalent to youtuber merch. They can't design (as evident by Chris' typography), so a LUT is just a cheap t-shirt that costs way more than it's actually worth.

16mm Camera's picture

Good points and I can’t help but agree with you on this.

Not a passive income if you're marketing it constantly through Instagram stories.

David Love's picture

Wait, there's more than one preset for sale? Then why is everyone using the same wedding preset on most of the pics I see on social? How about a Photoshop action that comes with mysterious sun glare?

16mm Camera's picture

Homogenized photography it's an epidemic. It's fine for the instagram seekers out there who don't have an actual career yet, but to this audience I feel like this kind of post (given the content of the comments I may not be far off) is WAY off base for this market. That said I don't know what f-stoppers market actually IS, but I don't see how Chris is adding to it. Matti either, the same way Peter did. iT's super generic stuff that is as vapid as it gets content wise. I honestly don't feel like any of them have a lick of experience enough to be teaching much of anything expect derivatives of tutorials they've memorized from the platform.

The irony is with people like Matti is he's a proponent of "don't go to school, learn on youtube" train of thought which is unbelievable to me.