#64 Passive Income & Making Photography a Sustainable Career


In this episode of Oh Shoot!, Cassidy Lynne answers the question: is photography a sustainable career in the long run? She shares her answer in this episode and shares how to make passive income from photography! 

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Is Wedding Photography a Sustainable Career? 

The first question I’m answering in today’s episode is, “Is wedding photography a sustainable career in the long run?”

When you work a 9-5 job and retire at 50 or 60, obviously that is guaranteed stability with income and retirement. When you own your own business, you take the risk of not having that stability. You take the risk of not knowing. There is no guaranteed income. You take much more of a risk when it comes to sustainability and stability. Owning your own business can be worth it in the long run. You just have to be ok with the fact that some things may not be as stable as you hope.

Photography Through Life Stages

I view photography as something that grows with you as you go through different life stages.

  • When you’re a senior in high school, you book senior photos
  • When you’re engaged, your friends get engaged too and book you. You naturally grow into wedding photography and couples. 
  • When your friends get married, you photograph weddings. 
  • When you start a family, you photograph more families. 

Photography follows your stage of life because that’s where your heart GOES as you experience different life stages. You experience the same things as the people you’re capturing, so you feel more drawn to capturing those moments and those stories. 

Your photography business needs to be adaptable. 

During the pandemic especially, photographers learned a lot about adaptability. Your photo business needs to be adaptable and it is key to making it long-term.

For example, think about Instagram reels. The photographers who were able to adapt to reels were able to grow exponentially faster than those who did not. I’m not saying photographers who don’t do reels won’t succeed. However, being able to adapt your business to what’s current and what’s going to help you keep your business sustainable is so key for a photo business. 

You have to be willing to pivot your business when the time is right. Having a fluid & adaptable photography business will set you up for success in the long run.

How can you make your photography business sustainable? 

  • Seeing a need or a gap in the industry, and filling it. This can look like a lot of things! 
  • Understanding trends, but not living by trends as a rule book.  Just because everyone is posting reels or editing a certain way, does not mean you have to do the same. You need to know at the core what your photography brand is, not just what is trendy. 
  • Creating timeless photography. Whether it’s timeless edits or keeping your RAWS so you can change your edits throughout the years. Or having a style that is timeless.
  • Going outside of your comfort zone. You can get caught up doing the same thing over and over again in photography. At the end of the day, creating photos you love is what’s going to keep you motivated and inspired. You can create photos everyone loves, but if you don’t love them yourself you’re going to burn out and are not going to be passionate about what you’re doing. Know what your passion is and follow it through your photography career. 
  • Creating a team of photographers. You can create a team of photographers under your brand where you offer associate weddings. You’re outsourcing the shooting and the editing, and you run the business. The more you can branch out and do less is a good thing in the long run. 

Increasing Your Revenue Streams as a Photographer 

First, what is passive income?

Passive Income is income you make on the side, without much effort or even no effort at all. I like to think of it as, making money while you sleep. 

Benefits of Passive Income as a Photographer

The main way passive income benefits photographers is by not putting all of their eggs in one basket. The pandemic is a really good example of this when wedding photography went down the drain. Diversifying your income as much as you can as a wedding photographer is huge for sustainability. You’re able to save more for the future and generate more income overall. 

How can YOU start making passive income as a photographer?

#1 Print Shop Sales

Do not sleep on print sales! You can have a print shop connected to your gallery like in PicTime. 

  • You can create a print shop workflow with marketing emails, sales, etc.
  • You can offer unique prints to your clients and mention that you have a Print Shop on sales calls. 
  • You can offer discounts for your print shop on specific holidays. 
  • You can encourage your clients to send their gallery to their friends and family. Then they’re also able to buy prints from you. 

#2 Honeybook & Affiliate Referrals

  • Educate your audience and other photographers by promoting Honeybook or sharing an affiliate code for other products you use in your business. You can have a Honeybook code and send it to photographers you know who might be interested. 
  • You may find in doing this, you like education. 
  • You can also reach out to Honeybook to be a part of their educator team.

Do this with pure intentions, don’t be fake and only do it for the money. Do it because you use the product and love it. Promote the things you actually think your audience will love!

#3 Create a Shop.

  • This can be targeted towards clients OR photographers. 
  • You can use Shopify Lite to post products such as: merch, templates, wedding planning guides, or wedding timelines for clients. 

Sell what you get asked about A LOT. Whatever you get asked about, that’s what you have a demand for. 

#4 Set Up an Associate Team 

  • Create associate packages within your photography business. 
  • Find associates who you trust to shoot for you. 
  • Offer associate packages when you can’t be there and you’re already booked. 
  • Outsource the editing. 

Then the only work you have is client communication and making sure clients’ needs are met. Having a great associate and editing team is killer for building a team for your photography business!

How Cassidy started making passive income:

  • Honeybook referrals are one of the first things I started doing. 
  • Pic-Time print sales have been huge. 
  • My shop: I set this up early on in my business and I’ve generated a lot of passive income from that. 
  • Mentorships: It’s passive in the way that it diversifies my income. 
  • Now, merch. My merch is not priced to make money, but it’s a small amount of income from merch. 

Now, after about two years of working on it, I have passive income from print sales, Honeybook & brand referrals, my shop, my podcast, Tik Tok, and sponsorships.

The main takeaway: Be adaptable in your business. This whole episode is focused on diversifying your photo business in a way that you can adapt in the future and try new things. Don’t get stuck in your ways as a photographer. Be fluid with your thinking. Accept change. Step out of your comfort zone to help your business grow and thrive.

Show Notes

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