The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual salary for a photographer was just over $42,000 last year. The average hourly wage was $20.50. So, what about the lucky ducks in the 90th percentile income bracket? They’re taking home just over $76,000 per year.
Consider this: You’re a salesperson. No matter who you are, no matter your job title. By human nature, you work in sales. Everyday, it’s estimated that we make 35,000 decisions. With every decision, there is a selling point. The art of making money is no different than pitching the best spot for dinner to your girlfriend. You have better practice than you think. You just need a little dose of confidence and a few steady pointers.
- Now that you’re a salesperson, know your pitch. How much experience do you have? How much is your equipment worth? How will the client benefit from your work? For how long? Your value proposition should always come first. Secondly, ask the client about their budget! You already described your value, let them decide the price. If you feel lowballed, don’t be afraid to negotiate. However, keep in mind that accepting a job with a joyful attitude is better than whining with no job at all.
- Make the investment that determines your worth. Are you tired of shooting graduation pictures and headshots? Do you think you’re worth someone giving you a better opportunity? Make your own opportunity. Design a shoot, as if it were a real campaign for a brand. If you want someone to invest in you, invest in yourself first. Then you’ll really know what you’re worth.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees, so find your people. Decide that your goal in life is to make a lot of friends. We’re all working toward something and we need each other to get there. Reach out to anyone and everyone. Do not underestimate social media, your parent’s friends, or your local barista. Don’t be afraid to ask for a favor. That being said, no one likes to be used. Offer to help someone with a connection through The Hub, or find a way to pay it forward.
- If a job is there, claim it. Even if it’s not the job you want, book it. Even if it’s not the pay you want, take it. Getting paid for your skill, no matter how you’re applying it, gives you credibility and a chance to practice. Every opportunity has something to offer, so push your ego out of the way. Until you’re making bank at what you love, just decide you’re going to be a “yes” and “thank you” person. Even then, there’s always something to be taught and therefore something to learn.
The art of making money at photography, believe it or not, doesn’t involve a Ponzi scheme or a hand-out. Making money is about validating your inner salesman, hustling for your worth, fostering authentic relationships, and stepping into every opportunity with a mindset of servitude. If you find yourself broke, you probably need an attitude adjustment, new connections, or a new career.