Some hobbies will never make good side hustles or freelance opportunities. No matter how good you are at Japanese paper folding, there are good reasons why you are unlikely to make any money doing origami. Some hobbies can become amazing sources of income for the top 1% of 1% of the people who try it, like sports.
Then, there are those hobbies that are shared by so many people, it is hard to convince people to pay you to do it for them. Photography can fall into this category because many people have access to quality gear. Their needs are not great enough that they require a professional. The other side of this hobby is that to go freelance, you have to find a creative way to rise above the crowd and get noticed. It may sound like a daunting task. But many people manage to take photography from hobby to freelance. It wasn’t easy for them. It never is for anyone. Still, it can be done. While it is not fair to say that just anyone can do it, you certainly increase your chances of success by doing the following:
Find the Right Niche
It cannot be said often enough: Cornering the market is about finding the right niche for you. In photography, weddings are probably too big of a niche in a big city. You might want to narrow it down to Jewish weddings, or same-sex weddings. Find a group that is underserved and super-serve them. Travel photography can be narrowed down to vacation photography. Nature photography can be narrowed down to bird photography in the North East. The point is to identify a niche that works for you. These are some of the characteristics of a good niche:
* Profitable market
* Knowledgeable market
* Underserved or ignored by bigger players
* A group with whom you can identify
* A market that is logistically feasible for you to serve
Many hobbies never make the leap to paying opportunity because the hobbyists never identified the right market for their skills. You don’t have to be the best photographer in the world. You just have to be the right photographer for a small but profitable market. Figure out what that market is and you are well on your way.
More Professional Gear
Even if you think your smartphone photos look pretty good, no one is going to higher you for professional work if you don’t show up with professional gear. Start with a well-reviewed shooter and the following suggested lenses:
* 70–200 mm f/2.8 zoom lens
* 24–70 mm f/2.8 zoom lens
* 85 mm prime lens
* 35 mm prime lens
* 100 mm or 60 mm macro lens
You also need a lighting rig because many of your engagements will be indoors where the lighting is notoriously bad. You need to be well-armed with the weapons of fighting lighting. That is a battle a professional can never afford to lose.
You will collect accessories over time. Of course, you will need to start out with a quality gear bag and tripod. Over time, you will collect much more. There will be specialty lenses, and filters, and stands, and things you never heard of.
Photo Editing Workflow
As a pro, you can no longer edit by the seat of your pants one photo at a time. You are going to need some organization for applying the same color edits to hundreds of photos at a time. You will need some equivalent to Photoshop whether that is what you use right now or not.
You are going to need a high-end laptop. The mid-range machines don’t have color-accurate displays. You will need 16 GB of ram for the big jobs. And you will want a big, fast SSD to hold all those huge projects you will be working on while on location and in transit.
There is no doubt you have talent. Just look at those pictures from your last trip to the zoo. If you want to turn that hobby into something for which people will pay you money, you have to find the right niche, get more professional gear than what you have, and develop a professional workflow including a professional, mobile workstation.