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How to make money from your photographs

Do you love taking photographs… but haven’t done much more than share your pictures with family and friends? Well, there’s good news for you: You may be able to use your photography hobby to launch a profitable side business! Here are 5 steps to help you find the best creative outlet for your work.

Step 1: Sell prints via the web

Girl with a camera

If you have you always wanted to sell reprints and enlargements of your best photos — but the logistics of taking orders, processing payments, getting the prints made and shipping them out was way too much hassle — we have some good news for you!

There are several companies out there that give you an easy way to sell any of your pictures via the web — and they will handle the transaction, the printing and the order fulfullment. You just set up shop with them and upload your hi-res image files, then collect commissions on any sales.

Find out: 7 tips for better photography

To start selling prints of your work online, look into the professional accounts available at Printroom, SmugMug and Shutterfly Pro Gallery.

Step 2: Take pictures of kids for parents to buy

Most parents can’t resist great pictures of their kids — especially if you get a fabulous action shot or a photo of Junior making that all-important goal or stage debut. So set yourself up on at sporting events, school plays and award ceremonies. Pass out a web address where you upload your pictures, where moms & dads can browse and buy your pictures from the comfort of their homes.

Companies like MorePhotos, Printroom and FotoMoto all offer integrated solutions, allowing you to sell your pictures and outsource the fulfillment.

Step 3: Citizen journalism

A few major news services want you! The downside: The usually don’t pay for photos by “citizen journalists,” as they’re called. So what’s the point? Having your work appear on CNN or Yahoo news will at least offer some exposure for your work — and a nice line item for your resume… which could potentially lead to paying jobs.

For details, check out iReport from CNN and First Person from (a joint venture between the NBC TV network and Microsoft).

Step 4: sell your work as art

Why not sell your photography work like commercial fine art? You can mat and frame your own prints and enlargements, or get your best shots printed onto wood-framed canvas. See some canvas printing options at CanvasPress, Mpix and Pephoto.

Also see: How to create your own product line

Step 5: Stock photography

If your photos have commercial appeal — for instance, could be used in sales brochures, advertisements or product packaging — you might want to give some of the microstock photo agencies a try. These services allow photographers from around the world to upload their photos to a large photo index on their sites. When someone purchases a copy of one of your pictures, you get paid.

Unfortunately, many photos sell for only a dollar or two… meaning you can make as little as 25 cents per sale. On the upside, once your pictures pass the stringent review processes and are accepted, they can sell over and over again — and you can earn incremental revenue for years without any more work on your end.

Some stock photo agencies to look at: Shutterstock, Dreamstime, 123RF and iStockphoto.

Step 6: Dive in!

Now you know some ways to sell your photos online, you can actually make money from your photographs! Even if it’s just a little extra cash at the end of the month, every little bit helps… and the rewards from knowing others appreciate your work might even be the best part of all.

More photography information and tips

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