10 Ways to Make $100K a Year with Your Camera

The dream is that you can do what you love and make money doing it. For a lot of filmmakers and photographers this is actually quite possible nowadays. There are plenty of opportunities to start making money with your camera. 

In fact, Jake Weisler from Parker Walbeck’s Full Time Filmmaker has 10 ways you could make $100,000 a year using your camera. It’s a comprehensive list of opportunities and industries that shooters and editors can start working with to find jobs. There are probably a few you have already thought about and a few you haven’t. If you are looking to make a career of this you should watch this video.

Before we even start, it should be made clear that you do need to be a compentent filmmaker. Being able to produce and create quality video is going to get you further than many other skills—though getting out there and promoting yourself is critical for success.

1. Commercials

Commercial filmmaking goes beyond just those basic commercials. The idea of making promotional videos for companies to showcase their products and services is a great way to start making money. Businesses have a growing need for video content across all types of platforms and jumping into this area is a way to make good money.

2. Real Estate

A more specific business is real estate. Realtors and homeowners need to advertise their properties to sell them and online experiences and websites are increasingly popular. Shooting homes and properties is a growing area.

Plus, if you make relationships with realtors you can create reliable contacts for consistently making money. You can also do different types of videos or provide upsells in the form of alternate videos, such as narrated walkthroughs or social media versions.

3. Social Media Content

This is blowing up. Brands need to have a presence all over the web and they try to connect with people on social media platforms. Content creator is now a full-time job for many simply creating a variety of videos for use across a ton of different formats.

To succeed on your own you need to have a distinct look and doing something like delivering quickly, say in the same day, is one way to do this. For sucess here a good place to start is to make content on your own social media and get it in front of people.

4. Product Filmmaking

People need to sell things. I’m talking about real, physical objects. Product photography and filmmaking is an important area of commercial photography with its own unique challenges and skillsets. Tons of businesses are out there and they all need videos to showcase their products. Think about how even every Kickstarter needs a killer video to draw people in.

Image Credit: Sony

5. Weddings

A classic is going into wedding videography. People need photos of their weddings and now people are adding video to their list of needs. There are tons of them around and it is an easy way to enter the industry if you can find your way out there doing some lower-paid gigs or as an assistant.

The better you get and the more work you are able to show off to prospective couples the more you can make. It’s popular and lucrative and word of mouth after a good job can pay dividends. Be good to worth with and deliver a killer product.

6. Music Videos

This is a fun area but if you are able to break in with big clients you can make serious money. It’s certainly tougher since there are a lot of low/no-budget projects to even get started. As you develop your style and hopefully grow your name you can end up making good money since the budgets do go up and up. Though, there is still some money if you want to do these as a side gig.

Image by Jon Shard

7. Events

Similar to weddings, there are more generic live events like concerts that need coverage. Going back to the earlier points about how everyone needs videos, a lot more companies and events are looking to record their conventions or meetings to make sure they can deliver all forms of content later on. It could even be just recaps for use as commercials later. It’s promotional and it is important.

8. Action Sports

Another super fun industry is action sports. There is a lot of money in sports, especially professional leagues. You may start smaller by shooting local colleges or clubs, but if you grow in the industry you can make serious money. I would say that you should have a real interest in the sports you want to shoot since that is a hugely important skill to getting killer action shots.

9. Travel

The dream is doing travel videos. It’s also the toughest. Travel agencies and businesses and even governments want to convince people to head to certain locations or stay at specific hotels. The difficulty here is that if you want to get hired you are going to need a solid portfolio.

The guys at Full Time Filmmaker actually used budgets from other projects for travel and while it cost them from their takeaway cash it was a way to build a collection of videos to show their abilities to others. They also benefitted from having a large following that will bring in a lot of guaranteed viewers.

Image by Jon Shard

10. Narrative Films

While travel is a dream, the hardest is getting into narrative filmmaking. This is a small area where skill and getting in the right circles. Big-budget films can pay high rates for a DP. However, even short films can collect decent budgets or sponsorships to make money. There is a way to make money via other channels like film festivals or YouTube.  It’s tough and a long journey.

Tip: Free to Fee

One of the most difficult parts of making money in a creative industry is that the starting point is usually in making content for minimal to no money. It’s not a great practice since there is the whole aspect of businesses not providing proper value to creators, aka working for exposure. However, when handled right, the idea of making independent content on your own and on your own dime to build a portfolio can be the best place to begin.

Creating free work to enhance your portfolio is the best way to get your foot in the door and with hard work you can make a good living using your camera.

[source: Parker Walbeck]

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