10 Ideas to Create Passive Income for Creatives and Photographers

Most small business owners start their business for freedom, right? They want freedom to work when they want, with whom they want, and to control their income. I know those were my goals when I started my photography business. But what ends up happening with a lot of small business owners is that they trade time from money, meaning they have to be working with a client to earn the income, which is where passive income can be a game changer.

And I just really, really quickly want to say about passive income, if you’ve ever spent any time online, you’ve probably heard these gurus talking about passive income and make money while you sleep, and it kind of feels like too good to be true. But passive income actually does exist. It’s not something that you literally 100% set and forget, but you’re not trading time for money anymore. Meaning you don’t have to physically be somewhere and do something to earn money. You can be on a date with your spouse and make some money. You can be watching a movie with your kids and a deposit hits your account from something that you created. So I just wanted to share that the term passive income has almost kind of gotten a bad reputation. So I want to talk about what passive income actually is.

Basically passive income means that you can create something one time and sell it over and over. You should add some kind of a digital product or something like the things that we’re going to talk about today to create passive income if you want an additional revenue stream to your business without taking up more of your time each week. And with a digital product, you can stop that trading time for money and make money while you sleep. I know I just said that sounded cheesy, but literally that can happen.

And it takes prep time and maintenance, you’re not just setting it up and forgetting it, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. But it really does take a small number of hours compared to the client work. It works really well for creatives.

10 Ideas to Create Passive Income for Creatives and Photographers

The ideas that I came up with are mainly for photographers, mainly because I’m a photographer and I know a lot of you are photographers, but if you’re not, I want you to ask yourself:

  • What part of my business is fun and easy?
  • What do I do in my business that doesn’t feel like work?
  • What is something that you do that other people in your industry say, “Wow, how do you do that?”

And if you’re in a place where you can scribble down some ideas or write some things down in your notes app, that would be perfect. Just to sort of start thinking about what you could create a digital product on.

Those are all signs that someone might be willing to learn this skill from you.

1. Creating Presets or Actions

So the very first idea to create passive income, for photographers specifically, is with a preset or an action, anything that will speed up photographers’ editing time. So if you have an eye for editing, and you know how to use Lightroom and Photoshop to get great results, why not sell those skills? It’s serving other photographers and making you some passive income because photographers love making that simple one-time purchase to improve the look of their photos through presets and actions.

So this is just a super simple one that if you have like a look to your photos, that you know you could turn into a preset or an action that people would love, that’s a super simple, quick, easy way to make some passive income.

2. Creating Posing Guides or a Session Workflow Guide

I remember when I was first starting out with photography, I would always Google posing ideas or session ideas for whatever I was about to shoot. Do you have a knack for posing families or un-posing where everyone is not necessarily looking at the camera, but they look natural? Do you do that well? And what are some tips and tricks and ideas that you could put into a guide or a workflow that other photographers would benefit from?

I guarantee you, I was not the only photographer out there and probably still am not the only photographer out there who would Google posing ideas or look on Pinterest session ideas, theme ideas, and all kinds of things.

What kind of guide could you put together? Maybe maternity posing? Maybe you really have an awesome maternity workflow or newborn workflow that you could put into a guide? Create that and you could sell it on your website, on Etsy, or something like that.

3. Creating Business Templates

Something that I see people asking for photographers, but also a lot of creatives are brochures, business card idea, or how to design or a pricing guide or a welcome guide. Those things are requested frequently. So do you have one that you created that your clients love and that you think that other photographers might also love?

When it comes to the idea of templates, I could also think about logo design, brand boards, or just different kinds of downloadables like digital backdrops on Etsy or what kind of things are people searching for on Etsy that are downloadable, that you could create once to sell over and over?

4. Affiliate Commissions

Basically, this is money that you earn when somebody else uses your link to purchase something. Big companies, like Amazon, do this. To give you an idea, you could make a blog post of what’s in your camera bag and link to everything on Amazon with your affiliate link. So it’s not a ton of money, I’m not totally sure of the percentage, but a little here and there with affiliate links will add up. So if you make several blog posts like that linking to different things that you use in your sessions or your gear or things that your clients might like and use your affiliate link, you do need to disclose at the bottom of that blog post just quickly and say, like, “If you purchase something on this page, I’m getting a small commission,” but that’s super quick, easy way that you could make a little bit of money.

Also consider when you’re thinking about affiliate commissions, consider the software that you already use in your business. Honeybook is one I use, Dubsado, MailChimp, or Acuity – think of the software or programs that you pay monthly for, and then find out if they have an affiliate program and how you can get that information out into the world.

Something affiliate marketers do often is they’ll do a review. So they’ll say like, Dubsado versus Honeybook, Which is Better? And then they’ll link to their affiliate links to those, so people who are organically searching for “Which is better, Subsado or Honeybook?” And then you have your affiliate link in the description of that video.

So there’s a lot that you can do with affiliate commissions. And like I said, usually with affiliates, obviously you’re going to make more money if you have a larger audience, but it’s one thing that you could just add to what you’re already doing to bring in some extra passive income.

5. Host an Online Workshop

This would be similar to an in person workshop, but you’re doing it online. So for this, think about what’s something that you could teach on video like newborn posing or family posing for photographers, or if you’re not a photographer, maybe you’re a home organizer and you want to release a short online workshop about how to organize your craft closet, and you just video your process for doing that. Or if you’re like a CPA, do how to do your own taxes and just walk people through how to do that. Record yourself teaching a group, how to do something workshop-style, meaning you’re pausing so that they can do the work with you in real-time, and then you can sell that workshop over and over.

So a lot of times when we’re good at something, we think everybody is good at it because it comes easily for us. I know that I have fallen into that before. And so a lot of times, you’re really good at something that you don’t realize because it comes naturally to you. You can even ask the people around you like, “Hey, what’s something that I’m good at or what’s something that I do well that you wish you knew how to do those kinds of things.

6. Coaching or Mentoring a Group

This isn’t passive because you actually have to be present to do the coaching, but it is an additional way to bring in more revenue. So if you have something that you’re really good at or people ask you about often, consider doing some group coaching for three to six months around that topic.

7. Digital Course

Here’s why I love digital courses:

Quicker way to learn. As a student, I love digital courses because I can learn something really specific quickly. 10-20 years ago, there were a lot of trial and error involved if you wanted to learn something that took a lot of time, but now someone can hop online and find an online course or training and learn something that it may have taken someone else a lifetime to learn and they’re going to teach it to you in about 6-8 weeks.

Isn’t that so cool? I just love as a student, how I can get on pay a little bit of money and get somebody’s lifetime knowledge for like 500 bucks or whatever, and start implementing it or less, depending on what you’re buying. So as a student, I love digital courses and I buy them all the time as a business owner.

Cost-Effective and Easily Accessible. Digital courses are exploding right now, especially with COVID, more and more people are at home and trying to learn at home. So even if you’re not teaching people how to make money, even if you’re teaching people a hobby or something like that, those are still things that people are willing to pay for. More and more people are choosing to learn those specific things through online courses because they’re easily accessible and they’re actually cost effective when compared to college courses. And usually you have access for a year or more to complete the work on your own time.

Great source of a passive income. Also, as a business owner, I love digital courses because I can make it one time and sell it over and over, which I have done with my two online courses. You spend the time upfront creating the course, and then you can sell it over and over with a lot less effort than it takes you that first time.

So if you’re listening to this and you’re wondering what kind of digital course can I create, check out my mentor Amy Porterfield’s quiz called what’s your personal path to creating a profitable digital course. You can take that quiz for free at taviaredburn.com/quiz

8. Selling Stock Photography Images

You can sell your images for commercial use to places like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, or there’s a bajillion others. Photos of people, landscapes, cityscapes, people working at a desk or those flat lays that are super popular right now. Photos of food, photos of tools – all of those things sell. So this is something I have never done, but after I researched a little bit, I was like, “Oh, this actually looks kind of interesting.” So as of now, I’ve never done that, but you can certainly look into that if you’re a photographer.

9. Print Shop

So this is a similar idea to selling stock photography, but instead of digital, you could sell physical prints of your photos. Now, chances are, if you’re a portrait photographer, people aren’t going to want to purchase portraits of people that they don’t know, but you could create an Etsy shop or a page on your website where you ship and sell physical prints of landscapes specific to where you live. Think about palm trees, beaches, country sides, city icons, cityscapes, iconic things in your city, sunsets, those kinds of things. Or even fine art prints like florals, food, fruits, vegetables, wildlife, and space.

If you’ve got like a really awesome tripod, you could take awesome space and sky photos, sports – there’s so many things that you could sell in a print shop. So I think that’s a really another awesome, and again, that’s not totally passive, but it’s somewhat passive because you’re taking the photo one time and selling the print.

10. Teach an In-Person Class

And then the final idea is to teach an in person class. Again, this is not totally passive because you have to be present to teach it, but it is a way to bring in additional revenue as well as you can create it one time and even though you’re teaching it in person, it gets easier and easier because you’ve already created the materials for marketing that course and that class in-person, as well as the slides and everything you need to teach that class.

It’s the same as an online workshop, except you’re doing it in person. And this is exactly what I did when I created the Oh Snap photography course in person to teach moms and doulas and other people how to use their camera.

Next Steps

If you have an idea, hopefully this got your wheels spinning and your brain excited about different ideas that you could do with the, the talents and the skills that you already have and feels natural and easy to you and might not come easily to other people.

If you have an idea for something like an online course or a digital product, and you’re wondering what to do next, take that quiz I told you about by my mentor, Amy Porterfield, to point you in the right direction. It’s called What’s Your Personal Path to Creating a Profitable Digital Course.


  1. […] in the previous episode I shared 10 Passive Income Ideas for Photographers specifically, if you have not listened to that, […]

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