Making money as a freelance photographer has never been easier than it is today. The Internet has opened doors of opportunity for any photographer who has an eye for photo composition and a finger on the pulse of the stock-photography market. There are several stock-photography Web sites that purchase photography outright or offer a percentage on sales, as well as market guides that point freelance photographers toward paying markets. If you have a talent for taking pictures, you can make a living in the world of freelance photography.
Build an extensive catalog of work. The more professional-quality photographs you have, the better your chances of making a living with them. This means monitoring the stock-photography markets to see which types of photographs sell well and which categories are flooded. For instance, customers can easily find pictures of computers and office equipment; stay away from taking these kinds of pictures unless you can put a twist on them. Pictures with people, especially in a variety of settings, are always hot sellers.
Get a copy of Photographer's Market. This book is a comprehensive list of markets that purchase freelance photos. The listings will let you know where and who to send your photographs, what types of photographs to send, and how to submit them. The guidelines also state rights purchased and how much you will be paid. Regularly submitting your work to markets from this book can result in a lucrative freelance photography career.
Bookmark and actively submit work to some of the big stock-photography Web sites. (see Resources) These companies will often buy photographs outright; some offer a percentage of sales for each photograph sold. Either way, stock-photography Web sites offer freelance photographers consistent markets for their work.
Always follow the guidelines closely when submitting your photographs after consulting a market guide.
Consider whether you want to sell all rights to your photographs or reserve the right to sell your images elsewhere. Some companies will offer larger upfront payments for all rights, but you lose the right to make money from future sales of the work in question.