March 20, 2020

Hannah Graves

How To Make Money From Photography During The Covid Crisis

Photo: Sam Forson

Ensuring photographers can protect their photos and earn revenue from them is front and center to what we do here at Pixsy. Every day we speak with hundreds of you and we feel the collective anxiety of our community. It’s no secret that with the current corona emergency, times are quickly becoming difficult for photographers and other visual creatives. We want to ensure we pull through this crisis together and keep our industry thriving.Making a living while the crisis continues is a very real concern to all of us. It’s important though to stay positive and productive and to see where and how this situation allows you to focus on other areas of your business which can help you generate revenue.Here are our suggestions on how to make the most of your time and how to continue making money during the corona crisis.

Sell prints of your photos

People, in general, are sensitive to how stressful this time must be for freelancers and many would like to offer their help and support. One way you can allow them to do this is to make your work available for purchase as prints. If you already have a personal website it should be easy to integrate a sales tool. If you don’t - now is the time to build one!Selling prints though your own website has the following advantages;

  • You control how the prints are presented
  • You set the pricing
  • Depending on your payment service, there are very low transaction fees and no commission

To get this revenue stream open quickly you can also consider using sites from popular photo industry giants such as Zenfolio, Photoshelter and SmugMug. Integrating with a platform that completes the order and mails the print makes this project a dream.Once you’re set-up, these sites offer the following benefits:

  • You can focus on your marketing and these platforms can help
  • The entire sale and process is managed for you
  • Once set up, you can step away and trust your print sales completed

Offering to sell limited-edition or time-bound prints is a great incentive to encourage buyers. Everyone is spending excessive time in their homes. They have plenty of time to consider what new image could look great on their walls. Make the most of this!Here are some useful resources:

Digital Downloads of your photos

You can also make your work available to paying customers by offering your work for digital download. Platforms like SmugMug and PhotoShelter offer the option to make images available to your customers either individually or as gallery sets. This is a great way to sell personal or commercial licenses and a link to an online portfolio is a great resource to have and to keep updated.

Find out more here:

Manage your copyright and pursue infringements for payment

Your work may already be in use in places that you are not aware of. More than 64% of professional photographers have had their work used without their permission. If a company is using your work without a license, you can and should be paid for these uses.You can discover these uses by performing a reverse image search. Using an advanced reverse image search platform such as Pixsy allows you to search your whole portfolio at once.Pixsy also offers end-to-end case processing to recover lost revenue for you. Our service is supported by an international network of legal partners ready to pursue your global infringements. Many photographers have opened up a healthy revenue stream through post-licensing and legal settlements.Actively monitoring your work with a platform like Pixsy offers you the following benefits:

  • Control the spread of your work online
  • Discover use quickly, so you can take action
  • Recover revenue from unauthorized use at the best price
  • The evidence and all correspondence is handled for you
  • You don’t have to handle the stress of dealing directly with infringers
  • No lawyers or tricky legal terminology to deal with
  • No win, no fee

You can also choose to take matters into your own hands. If you discover a commercial use of your work online you may choose to engage a lawyer or send a request for payment to the infringer directly.Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Gather any evidence, documents and review the way it's used
  • If you don’t have your own rate cards for licensing your work, refer to a pricing calculator such as Getty’s pricing calculator or the NUJ to price your work
  • Identify the correct point of contact/the host of the website where you discovered the use of your image, and make notes of their contact details
  • Send a licensing fee request
  • Prepare to follow up/negotiate

This is also a good time to see if clients are adhering to the terms of past licenses that you’ve issued. You can also spend time organizing your sales records. Both of these things are important in properly managing the copyright and value of your images. Make sure you aren’t losing crucial revenue from image theft.Here are some useful resources:

Image Theft - What to Do?

Offer online workshops and tutorials

Many people are seeing this time as an opportunity to invest in themselves. You may also be considering brushing up on or learning new skills. It is time to rethink your skillset for when the market turns around, but also ask yourself what you can offer to others. Offering online, guided teaching events gives you an opportunity to share your knowledge with a paying audience.You could offer portfolio reviews or insights specific to your individual style or focus. Here are the steps to take:

  • Research photographers and the workshops or tutorials they offer and where
  • Get started by asking your followers if this is something they would be interested in. Start a poll on Instagram and ask who would be interested, or use your mailing list
  • Pick a platform to host on - many have integrated payment tools (our recommendations are below)
  • Build the itinerary for your workshop, set the time, date, and registration details

This is the perfect time to play to your strengths. Try new approaches in engaging with people interested in what you do.Useful resources:

Calendly - allow people to register and collect payment at the time of registration

Zoom - registration forms, payment collection, and group video calls

Google Meet - host group video calls without installing any extra software

Apply for grants

There are numerous chances throughout the year to apply for grants, from many industry and creative bodies. Here’s how to get started:

  • Do some research into the type of grants you may be eligible for
  • Put together a calendar of application dates and deadlines
  • Get together a strong portfolio of work
  • Work on your artist statement

Take the time to know in advance which opportunities may open up for you and when. Release the stress of an application by getting prepared now.Here are some resources to get you started:

Importantly, stay safe and stay sane. These are difficult times. Staying connected and focused on the future is important. It is inevitable that the photography industry will be impacted by this crisis, but there are steps you can take today to minimize the damage and to continue to make money during the corona crisis.

Other good resources:

PPA Resources - Webinar -

Hannah Graves

As Pixsy's Product Marketing and Community Manager, Hannah is always keen to start conversations and she loves to make connections! With years of experience working with and advocating for visual artists, she is passionate about fair pay for fair work and enjoys helping to get artists paid, and heard.

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