What could you do with an extra $1,000?
What about an extra $3,000?
You could do a lot.
There are times when you need cash for something you want, but you don’t have a pile of money sitting around to make it happen.
Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite, little-known ways to use your photography business, to generate the cash you need to buy what you want.
I get what it’s like to live on a small budget.
When I had three kids under three, I had just left my career as a marketing director at an ad agency and my husband left his good job to start his own company.
It was hard, but I had an abundance mindset.
I wanted to have more.
Using N+1 to Make Money With Photography
In both of my businesses, when we need cash, we employ a theory called N+1.
I learned this back in 2010 through a blog post by one of my favorite humans, Seth Godin.
He said the N+1 theory states that there is always one more of anything.
“I’ve found that most of the time there’s always more where you think there’s nothing left. You may have to look a little harder or deeper, but it’s there.”
I find the N+1 theory very inspiring.
It is pure optimism sprinkled with tenacity, and we need that in our work and our lives.
This theory hit me hard because I realized I was giving up too easily when there wasn’t an obvious solution.
There’s always another way.
My team and I have made N+1 into a verb.
If we’re short on revenue for the month, we N+1 it.
If we need to replace gear that broke, we N+1 it.
This is how to N+1 your way into more cash for whatever you need in your life and business.
Now let’s get to it: 6 Little Known Ways to Get Cash For Your Photography Business.
#1 Use Your Camera
There are many ways to make fast cash with my camera.
I don’t want you discounting your boutique portrait photography or offering high-res digital files, but how else can you use your camera?
We occasionally do commercial work.
That includes headshots or images for businesses and their websites.
It’s extra money.
If we can do it, we say yes.
Think about someone you know who’s in business that has poor-quality images on their website.
Reach out to them.
Most people want digital files for their website and they’re not wanting to print the images.
When you’re doing this service, you become a commercial photographer.
It doesn’t devalue your portrait brand because it’s completely different.
Scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to find local businesses that might need better photography.
Think about your life.
The vet that you go to, law firms, hair salons, car dealerships, or anyone in the financial sector.
Reach out and say,
“I was on your website, and knowing that you’re such a reputable company, I think your images could reflect that better. I am a photographer and have a window of opportunity where I could shoot for you. Is there someone there who would be interested in chatting with me about that?”
Everyone needs professional photos for their business.
This will bring in the extra revenue you need.
#2 Sell Old Equipment
Selling your old camera equipment is a simple way to make money with photography.
Think about all the photography equipment you’ve compiled over the years.
Do you have an old camera body, lens, or posing stool sitting around?
Maybe you went through a phase where you bought a bunch of backdrops that you don’t use anymore.
Look in your home, too.
Do you have a treadmill that’s now a garment rack, or a closet full of clothes your kids have outgrown?
There are so many things that you can sell.
Post these items on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
#3 Drive and Deliver
If you have a car and insurance, you can sign up for delivery services like DoorDash, Instacart, Uber, Lyft, and Postmates.
One of my students, Vinnie Lawrence, did this and said,
“On a Saturday, if I do breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I make about $650.”
Have the tenacity and work a couple of weekends so you can make money with photography.
#4 Manual Labor
Here’s the thing about labor.
People always need it.
They need their yard mowed, dog poop scooped up, or plants watered.
I know it’s not glamorous, but what are you willing to do to build a life you love?
If you’re saying,
“I don’t have the time to commit to a traditional job,”
go walk dogs, pick up poop, or clean for people.
If you need childcare, trade for it.
If there’s a will, there’s a way.
#5 Photograph Buildings
Reach out to a commercial real estate developer and say,
“What if I photograph all of your employees, and every month, photograph the buildings that you’re listing so that your website always has fresh content.”
When I first started my business, I photographed the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
It was cash flow early on when I was learning and investing in myself.
Did I like it?
But it helped me move toward my dream of being a professional portrait photographer and having a studio, and gave me the flexibility to be with my kids.
Why not do a little work that you don’t love to finance your dream?
It’s a beautiful concept.
#6 Reach Out to Past Clients
Have you done some sessions of people that were wanting to order, but never did?
Create something from their images.
Offer them a book, album, or create holiday cards for them.
Here’s the thing. N+1 means no idea is a bad idea.
Whatever idea you come up with, get it down on paper and reach out to people who can help.
Is it going to be tough to make money with photography?
If it was easy, everyone would do it.
I was working full time, getting my MBA, raising my three babies, and running my photography business while using N+1. If I can do it, you can too.
The key to winning at business is to keep moving forward.
That is what you have to do.
When you look back on your life and all the things you’ve done, you are going to say that your business allowed you to make the money you deserve with photography, put your family first, and build a career that adds meaning and impact to other people’s lives.
I know you can find a way to invest in yourself.
It is worth doing.
Put your best self into the world and do the work.
I believe in you.