How to Make $2,000 a Month as a Travel Photographer

travel photography
Brendan van Son on Facebook

Are you a hobby photographer? Do you know how to pick just the right lens and aperture for every subject? If you’ve ever wondered if you could make a little money off your skills as a shutterbug, keep reading — because you might be inspired to turn your flash into cash through travel photography.

Petapixel recently published a first-person essay from a travel photographer who makes $2,000 a month snapping beautiful views and gorgeous vistas. The photographer, Brendan van Son, explains how he combines multiple freelance client relationships to give him enough cash to keep him on the road, snapping pics as he goes.

“The Octopus Approach”

This travel photographer keeps his business afloat by using what he calls the “octopus approach.” Instead of finding one client willing to pay him $2,000 a month, van Son looks for smaller clients who can each contribute to his overall income, the way each individual arm helps an octopus.

As van Son explains in his Petapixel essay: “Essentially, if I can have 8 different sources of income at $250 each a month, I’ll make my $2000. And, if I lose one source of income, it’s not the end of the world.”

His clients include sites like ShutterStock and iStock, which we’ve written about as great places to publish and sell photos, as well as direct sales clients and magazines. He also finds clients through his active social media accounts, including “a major car brand, a rental car company and a couple tourism boards.”

If you’re interested in travel photography, you’ll definitely want to read about this guy’s strategy for landing clients and building a freelance business.Tell Your Story Along With Your Photos

How does van Son get clients on social media? He presents himself not only as a travel photographer, but also as a person with an interesting story to tell. As he writes: “The truth about travel photography in 2015 is that the quality of the images produced is often less important than the person that shot the images.”

Given the choice between two photographers, many clients will choose the one who appears most interesting — and van Son wants to be that person. “For better or for worse,” he explains, “the wealthiest travel photographers in the world these days are not necessarily the best photographers, but the ones who are the best at marketing themselves.”

So the next time you set out to take that great photo, think about the story you’re telling along with the picture you’re taking. After all, a thousand words can land you that client who wants to pay for that really great photo.

Want to know more? Read the full story at Petapixel.

Your Turn: Have you ever earned money from your photography? What advice do you have for other freelancers?

Nicole Dieker is a freelance copywriter and essayist. She writes regularly for The Billfold on the intersection of freelance writing and personal finance, and her work has also appeared in The Toast, Yearbook Office and Boing Boing.