Book review: 99 Ways to Make Money From Your Photos


If you’re a half-decent amateur photographer, making a few extra pennies on the side from your photos is always gratifying. It might not be enough for a holiday in the Maldives, but it’ll buy you a few sundowners on the beach when you get there. Have you considered all the different ways that you could make money from your pictures, though? Apparently, there are at least 99…

99 Ways to Make Money From Your Photos has been produced by the editors of Photopreneur. The title is fairly self-explanatory, but what did I think?

What did I like about it?

Well, most importantly for a book trying to give you ideas for making money from your pictures, some of its suggestions were things that I’d forgotten you could do, never considered, or even heard of. How about bartering your pictures or photographic services? Turning your pictures into colouring books for kiddies, anyone? What about helping people looking for love online present better images of themselves? Yep, some of these ideas were pretty original.

However, it also started in the obvious place—selling pictures to stock houses—and explaining the difference between royalty free and rights managed sales, which is fundamental, I think.

I also appreciated that each idea was laid out so clearly, with a summary box, a series of tips, and a getting started box. The book gives you practical advice and points out things you really ought to consider before taking on a project. It also allows you to judge if the elbow grease that you’ll have to plough into an enterprise will justify its overall return by rating the difficulty, earning potential, and competition for each idea. That’s all rather neat.

What didn’t quite do it for me

A great gift, but probably not a book you'd buy for yourself

There’s a bit of a difference between selling the odd photo that you take in your spare time, and embarking on a career as a professional photographer. This book doesn’t draw that distinction, and mixes up quirky small-time stuff, like selling on Etsy, with serious photographic challenge, for example becoming a forensic photographer. For me, making it a bit clearer for whom each idea is intended would improve the book’s usability.

Obviously, 99 ways to make money is far more enticing than 45 ways to make money from your photos. However, I thought that some of the ideas were scraping the barrel. I wasn’t convinced that using doctors’ surgeries, local cafes and restaurants, and hair-dressing salons as potential sales venues for your photos warranted three individual entries. How about combining taking school photos with dance school photos? What about one entry for the different types of stock photos? The title might not be quite so exciting, but the book will be easier to navigate.

The final thing that I found very odd: for a book about photos, it doesn’t contain a single one, save for the front cover image. Curious.

So what do I really think?

I think it’s a great book to buy as a gift for someone you know who takes great pictures and could make some money from them. It has creative ideas and is honest about how much you can expect to make turning your photos into greetings cards. But at £21.87 (US$34.95), I’m not sure I could justify it for myself.

99 Ways to Make Money From Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur. Published by New Media Entertainment Ltd and available in lots of places that sell books.