How To Monetize a Photography Blog

Hey there sea changers… Today continues my journey aiming to assist those who already have a website up and running and are looking to make a little money from it with my post on how to monetize a photography blog. Photography is definitely one of those very lucrative hobby niches where those with an interest in this area start themselves a website where they can share/journal their own experiences and show their photos. Then, as time goes by they find that they are getting a healthy inflow of traffic and interaction and suddenly wonder how they can make some money from it.

Before we begin however it is important to note that you may not want, or need to set all of these up right now. Some may not be viable for your site and some may not be accessible if your site is new, or not generating a lot of traffic as yet – but you can certainly keep these options in mind as your site starts to grow.

So grab a drink, a notebook and let's see how we can make some money…

Note: This post is assuming that you have a working a website, blog or social media account within the photography niche (or any niche for that matter really) and are looking to generate income from within it. If you need assistance with the development of an affiliate marketing or online business website, click here.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Our first method, affiliate marketing, is the process of earning commissions based on the promotion of camera equipment and other photography products that are sold directly via the vendor. In this case, you can utilise your website or social media account to provide information and solve the problems experienced by your readers as they use their own devices.

There are a good number of photography affiliate programs available and to find them, simply type a search along the lines of “affiliate: photography” into your search engine (of course can can substitute the word ‘photography' for any subject that you are looking at such as cameras, stock photos etc.):

How To Monetize a Photography Blog - affiliate programs

From here you can search through and find programs that:

  • Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
  • Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality product.
  • Have solid payment and customer service arrangement.
  • Pay decent commissions.
  • Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.

How is revenue earned?

As mentioned above, the trick here is to attract readers to your site via the provision of information and solving problems. Within the photography niche, this can be undertaken via the inclusion of:

  • Product reviews
  • How to‘ posts and lists – such as “How to photograph animals”, or “8 best lens additions for Cannon cameras”
  • Products rankings and comparisons of cameras from different companies etc.
  • Process information outlines – e.g. discussing camera settings, tripod use or night shooting etc.
  • Tips, tricks, hints and other general information.

Money is then earned by placing affiliate links to merchant/vendor sales pages within these posts. If your website visitor then chooses to make a purchase, they click on the link for redirection to the vendor site which processes and manages the sale, delivery and customer service requirements. Commissions are then paid to you as the website owner based on that sale.

When to action

Affiliate links can be loaded to a website as soon as it has been setup or a post written. Some affiliate merchants however will not accept you into their programs until your site generates a certain amount of traffic. Others, such as Amazon, will accept you immediately but on a trial basis which is terminated if you do not drive at least 3 sales to their site within the first 180 days.

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2. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is another method that you may use to sell products via your website if you are looking to play with pricing. This process is similar to affiliate marketing in that you are generally promoting the products of others without the need to actually hold any inventory. With affiliate marketing, you are paid a commission on whatever price the vendor sets but do not manage any customer service, sales processes or post sales requirements. The main difference with dropshipping, is that you perform the following (there are a number of variations to this but this is the guist of it):

  • Strike a relationship with a wholesaler.
  • Promote the product for whatever price you see fit – often via a marketplace site such as Shopify, Amazon or Ebay.
  • Manage the sales processes and customer service.
  • Send the final order and payment to the wholesaler for packaging and shipping.

The money that you make is effectively the difference between whatever you managed to sell the product for and the wholesale price that you owe the vendor. The other advantages of dropshipping over affiliate marketing is that:

  • You own the customer list – which is another means of building an effective email list (see option 5 below).
  • You control the cost of the product and hence the profit margins.
  • You can control when you put things on ‘sale’, group them in packages or increase the price for high demand items.

The disadvantages however are the extra workload in handling payment and any ongoing customer service requirements.

To find dropshipping suppliers online, you can enter searches such as “dropship: photography” into your favourite search engine:

How To Monetize a Photography Blog - dropship programs

Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location.

From here you can search through and find programs that:

  • Offer dropshipping services – Not all product suppliers offer dropshipping as a service – this may just mean that you need to organise the shipping yourself after it is delivered to you.
  • Have experience and are helpful – If they are not helpful and/or appear inexperienced then you can expect the same when you are trying to process sales.
  • Have acceptable fees – most dropshipping wholesalers will charge a small fee for the dropshipping service – just make sure it is not so high that it eats into your profit margins.
  • Provide fast shipping – One disadvantage with dropshipping when dealing with vendors is that the customer is yours, not theirs hence sometimes shipping priorities are not where they should be – make sure shipping times are acceptable.
  • Have quality products – as with affiliate marketing, don’t sell rubbish.
  • Have a good name – do your research and see what others are saying about them.

How is revenue earned?

In general, the process here is the same as affiliate marketing in that you attract readers to your site via the provision of information and solving problems. The difference then is that you direct them to internal sales pages within your website rather than directly to the vendor – although some sites such and Amazon and Shopify will handle this for you.

Money is then earned as per the process above where the reader pays you for the product and you then pay the vendor for the product, shipping costs and processing fees etc. Your profit then is obviously the different between the payment that you receive and the total amount you pay the vendor to ship the product.

When to action

Again, as with affiliate marketing, sales pages and links can be loaded to a website as soon as it has been setup or a post written. The prerequisites of drop shipping companies however are similar to affiliate merchants in that they may not accept you into their programs until your site generates a certain amount of traffic or if they don't feel that your site truly reflects their brand.

3. Whitelabeling

Should you prefer to control all of the sales and shipping process yourself, or have a good supplier, then maybe you could try whitelabeling. Whitelabeling is the process in which you purchase ‘brandless’ equipment and/or consumables (frames, small equipment, lights, shades, SD cards etc.) from a vendor, add your own label and then on-sell them via your website. This process works really well if you are looking at the smaller items within the photography niche and with a large array of wholesalers available there really are some great opportunities here.

To find these, simply search for “whitelabel: photography” for results as follows:

How To Monetize a Photography Blog - whitelabel photography

How is revenue earned?

This process requires much higher setup costs as you will need to purchase your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment to mirror basic retail operations where you:

  1. Source your products and add labels.
  2. Write about the products, their benefits, uses and problem solving capabilities.
  3. Provide links where customers can purchase them via sales pages on your own site or marketplace sites (Amazon, Shopify etc.).

The disadvantage here over affiliate marketing is that you will need to do all of the work in regards to packaging, shipping, sales and customer service. However on the plus side, you do hold the ability to set your own price meaning you can increase and decrease as demand rises and falls.

When to action

Obviously this method can be organised at any time that suits you and your website. Some actually create their websites with their own products ready to sell whilst others add to established blogs. The choice really is yours here but I guess the thing to keep in mind is that you may not want to, or have the financial means to keep a lot of stock on hand until your site starts to make some cash.

Tip: One method that can be very effective in driving online traffic and sales is via the implementation of more traditional sales methods such as kiosks and market stalls etc. As people see and try your products, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.

4. Sell your own products

Alternatively, if you are a little talented on the handy side of things then you can make and sell your own products via your site. There is a huge market in this niche for those special and/or individualized items that can really improve the photography abilities and/or output of your readers. This can include:

  • Instructional guides
  • Camera bags
  • Cleaning kits
  • Shades
  • Light refractors
  • Frames

And that is just off the top of my head… But you get the picture. If you make something – especially if you are getting a lot of inquiries about something on your site that you have made – then why not add it to your site to make some money.

How is revenue earned?

This process is similar to our whitelabelling outline above in that you will need to create your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders. Although if you are starting out you can work this on a ‘make as you go' scenario in order to utilise customer payments to source base requirements and parts.

When to action

Again as above, this method can be organised at any time that suits you and your website.

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5. Placing ads on your site

Should you not wish to actually sell products on your site, placing advertising on your pages and posts can be a good way of making some passive income if your website has some decent traffic. The trick here obviously is to have enough advertising on your site to make some income, but not so much that your site just becomes annoying or worse, unreadable. There are a number of ways that you can make money from advertising on your page, including:

Pay per click ads

Pay per click ads are placed on your site or within search engine results based on the interests, internet use/search history, search behaviour and/or location of the reader. These can be utilised in one of two main ways dependent upon whether you are selling products via any of the methods listed above or not:

1. If you are not selling products on your site then you can try Banner ads. Banners are placed on your website and are shown to readers as they view your page and posts. You, as the owner of the site can generally determine how many ads are incorporated and what they look like but not on what types of ads they are. You are then paid a commission each time a reader clicks on the ad.

2. If you have products to sell, then you can pay for links to your site to be displayed at the top of search engine results pages based on the searches undertaken by the reader. If their searches match your chosen keywords (e.g. “Canon 5D settings”), then your site will be placed at the top of search engine results. This option really only works if you have saleable options on your page as unlike banner advertising, you will be charged a fee every time a reader clicks on the link to access your site – anywhere between $0.01 and $100 depending on the popularity of the keyword and competition.

You can also load these ads onto your YouTube channel for extra exposure and earning capacity. Companies that manage this form of advertising include:

  • Google Adsence – Google's website ad product.
  • Microsoft Advertising – Bing and Yahoo service.
  • Infolinks – Offers both website ads and in post ‘text' ads – these are where they place ads within your posts on relevant keywords – keyword ads are usually double underlined.

Selling page space

These ads work in a similar fashion to pay per click ads however in these instances you are actually selling space on your site for more permanent advertising. These ads pay a higher commission but do not change based on the online behaviours of your readers. Companies offering this type of advertising include:

Social Media Advertising

This can also be a good way to increase traffic to your site and sales pages as well. Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest will allow you to place advertisements to boost your online presences and drive sales.

How is revenue earned?

This one is simple – each time a reader clicks on your ad, you either get paid or redirect a reader directly to your purchase (money) pages to increase your chances of sales. Banner ad options however are generally a set-and-forget type scenario as they really do not generate any real income until your site starts to generate serious traffic.

As an example, on one site I placed 3 ads from Google adsence once it reached abut 200 monthly viewers and it made about $1 per month. However, for another (currently running at about 3000 views per month), I paid $25 to place my site at the top of search engines and generated an extra 2000 clicks per week generating an extra $230 in sales.

When to action

Generally, the advertising brokers will not accept your site unless you are regularly adding decent content and there is some traffic generated to it. I started at 200 monthly viewers but it is really up to you when you start. My main recommendation however would be to really consider where you want to have ads placed on your site – especially if it is new and you are still tweaking the set out.

How To Monetize a Photography Blog - girl in camera

6. Email lists

Email lists are one of the most effective means of generating revenue for you and your website. This is because once you have the ability to send your readers a direct email, you are able to then promote products, promotions and special deals directly to them without the need for them to search and locate your site. In general, you will need to do the following (in extremely abbreviated steps):

  1. Set up your email autoresponder and email list. Common Autoresponders include Aweber, Constant Contact and Mailchimp.
  2. Add an ‘optin' to your website with an incentive to join (many sites give away products, e-Books, information guides etc. for free in return for their email address).
  3. Send emails to your list with extra information, bonuses and sales offers/promotions.

Note: It is critical that you only send emails to those who have ‘opted in' to your email list via your website or social media. Unsolicited emails are known as SPAM and generally not accepted or appreciated by those who receive them and can do your website and brand irreparable damage. Autoresponders will also cancel your service if they think that you are spamming.

How is revenue earned?

Revenue is not actually earned via the emails as such rather provide the opportunity for higher sales due to the ability to market directly to your reader list.

When to action

Most seasoned online marketers will tell you to wait until you are generating a decent amount of traffic before setting up this type of marketing. This is usually for two reasons:

  1. The cost of the autoresponder software – If you have a new site that is not earning any revenue then this might be a cost that you don't really need at this point. There are however some free ones out there with limited functionality.
  2. You don't yet have anything to offer – With so many websites and social media platforms out there, readers are becoming more and more hesitant to give out their email address information for fear of receiving yet another raft of emails. Unless you have a pre-prepared product such as a book or training materials – such as on how to shoot landscapes at night for example – you may not have the necessary means yet to lure someone to sign up.

That said, as with all other traffic reliant revenue raising methods here, if you feel your site is ready for it, give it a shot.

7. Offering coaching/assistance

Online coaching is a booming industry and one that you can certainly use to monetise your photography site. Within this market, this can include:

  • Use of particular tools.
  • Overarching photography techniques.
  • Camera maintenance.
  • Choosing the right lenses.
  • Travel requirements.
  • Use of editing software
  • And so on.

Online coaching is generally offered via website posts, banners, popups or via your email lists with offers one on one or group coaching or mentoring. You may want to investigate the establishment of a YouTube channel here as well.

How is revenue earned?

Revenue is earning by way of once-off training or recurring membership within your coaching program.

Note: This section refers to coaching and mentoring programs that you personally undertake with your readers and not affiliate marketing links that you may have to the coaching courses of others.

When to action

I once saw a post in an online Facebook marketing group that went like this:

“Hey guys, can anybody tell me how I could promote my new course on FaceBook marketing?”

Online coaching is all about credibility. Unless you are already an expert within your niche/field (especially within this niche where you are dealing with outputs that stand out if they are not right) then it is probably not feasible to set up an online coaching course if you are just starting out in your online business. You need to have good quality content, high levels of knowledge and the runs on the board. However if you do have that expert knowledge at your disposal then this could be what sets you apart from the rest.

How To Monetize a Photography Blog - lenses

Conclusion

So there it is. Some fairly solid methods that you can utilise to monetize your photography website. As always, keep in mind that making money online is a long term process so just because you have some of these revenue earners on your site, it doesn't mean that you will see any immediate income. As always, patience is the key.

Have you tried any of the above methods? What worked well for you? What didn't work so well? Please share below.

Do you need some extra assistance with the right ways to monetise your photography website or do you need help in creating your very own affiliate marketing website?

If you are looking for a comprehensive training platform that can give you step by step tuition with the tools to develop and host your very own website, help to identify a good niche, content or keywords, assistance with managing affiliate programs, 24/7 support and access to some of the best affiliate marketing minds on the planet, then click on the graphic below to access your free starter membership – no credit card required.

Want to know more first? Then click on the following link to read more about Wealthy Affiliate.

Until next time

Have fun

Paul

Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price. This may include sales made via Wealthy Affiliate.

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Hey there, my name is Paul and I am the owner and founder of Make That Sea Change.  I spent 30 years in a cubicle working the 9 to 5 grind and just wanted to live at the beach.  I was lucky enough to achieve that with the help of my wife and our new Pilates studio.

Then I decided to help fund my new sea change with some affiliate marketing.  I joined Wealthy Affiliate, and as they say, the rest is history.

Let me know how I can help you fund your sea change today!

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