Wouldn’t it be great if you were paid to travel for a month?
Most of us would love a chance to leave our normal life behind and see more of the world, but who can afford to take a month off of work? Plus, between flights, accommodation, and transportation you’ll need to start out with a massive chunk of change.
Or, you could try what I did and turn your vacation into work experience by taking photos during your trip. By selling these photos to corporations, local businesses, and stock photo sites, you can end up earning enough to make your trip fun, productive, and even free.
If you’re ready to learn how to make money and travel, try these easy tips to get started. All you need is a sense of adventure and some time away from home, and you could earn $5,000 in just one month as a travel photographer.
What You’ll Need To Get Started
The great thing about travel photography in the modern era is that you don’t need hundreds of pounds of expensive equipment to get great shots of your surroundings. I started with an inexpensive camera in addition to my iPhone and found that some of my best photos came from the latter.
But what really made me successful with my travel photography pursuit was building a professional website. You want to have a place to share your portfolio with prospective clients, and with your own photo site, you might even have people finding you. I set up a simple website with WordPress and then used Bluehost to get a free domain and hosting. For an affordable price, I was able to get my site live almost immediately and have unlimited space to upload as many of my photos as I like.
I needed to be able to update my site and photos on the go but didn’t think my current computer would likely make it through my travels. I picked up a gently used but much newer version of my current laptop at Swappa and found that my ability to work from anywhere let me focus on getting the best pictures possible instead of scrambling to find internet cafes.
Finally, you’ll want to consider getting some inexpensive business cards printed. You can make your own by purchasing pre-cut cardstock and use included templates as an easy way to give out your information to prospective clients when you’re on the go.
How To Decide Where To Go
Any professional photographer will tell you that you need to figure out a niche that your skills are best suited for. Before I took my trip, I went through hundreds and possibly thousands of my old photos to see where my successes and failures were. Because I didn’t have a full professional setup, my nighttime pictures always seemed to be the least successful, while my photos of bright, sunny days tended to work best.
How did that information help me figure out how to make money and travel with my photography? I decided that going to Iceland in the middle of the winter, when there was no sun to be had, would not suit my skills best. However, if I wanted to spend a month shooting photos of Caribbean beaches and culture, I’d be more in my comfort zone of success. Not to mention, I found that traveling off-season to the islands would cut my typical costs in half for any other time of the year.
Ask yourself these questions to help figure out the right destination for you:
- How much do I have to spend upfront on travel and accommodation?
- Do I know anyone in a place I’d like to visit?
- What kind of photos do I usually take? (e.g., portraits, outdoor scenes)
- How much effort am I willing to put in to get to secluded areas?
How To Make Money And Travel With Photography
You should now have an idea of your particular niche and plans for where you want to go. If you are going to be in that location for a month, you have an opportunity to share your skills with the local and tourist communities. Plan on spending your first week, or even two, seeing and snapping everything that catches your eye. I decided to start my photo tour of the Caribbean on the west coast of Puerto Rico, where I was lucky enough to have family to point me to the must-see places. After that first week on my own, I began showing them new areas I had discovered.
You can do the same on your trip. After exploring on your own, see if you can link up with a travel company and offer photography tours for visitors who want to get the best shots. Help travelers find lesser-known areas and give them advice on how to take their best photos. Your website and business cards will help show your legitimacy and get your name out there.
You don’t need to charge an arm and a leg for your tours. Even just $10 a person can earn you close to $1,500 after a couple of weeks, and if you do a good job, you can even expect more in tips.
Where To Post Your Photos
As you travel, you need to be posting your photos in as many places as possible. Make sure they go up on your website and consider writing a quick blog post about that place or your experience shooting it.
Social media can also be your best friend if you are looking for how to make money and travel. Use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to try to reach a bigger audience than just your immediate network. If you have a sizeable following on these sites, there’s a chance that brands and companies will pay you to use your photos, or even better, will negotiate or cover your costs for travel and accommodations in certain places. Focus on portraying hotels and local businesses in their best light, and they might just catch wind of your promotions.
How To Keep Earning Money When You Get Back Home
Once your trip is finished, you still have options to keep earning money based on your experiences and photos.
1. Teach a course: With Udemy you can teach a class on any topic you like. There’s no reason to offer a photography 101 course as there are thousands of these available. Instead, try and be as specific as possible – I would have chosen a course like “How to Shoot Caribbean Beaches in Bright Daylight” rather than a broader theme like “Photographing Beaches.”
2. Build your blog: You figured out how to make money and travel, so don’t just abandon your website after your trip has ended. Keep building up a blog about the places you saw, the people you met, and of course, the brands you engaged with; these resources can be monetized for years to come. Plus, the next time you travel, you may find that more and more locations want to compensate you for coming to photograph their area.
3. Sell your photos to stock sites: The great thing about selling photos to stock sites is that you can have ongoing passive income for years to come. When you sign up to sell your pictures, you’ll get a royalty payment whenever one is purchased. In this case, again, the more niche your content is the more likely it will get seen, and the higher the quality, the better. The best stock sites to look at include:
4. Submit to travel publications: From magazines to blogs, there are plenty of places that want your photos and stories and are willing to pay for them. Become familiar with different submission requirements and target publications that best suit your skills.
5. Look for contests: Many travel publications also run contests that allow aspiring photographers to earn cash and other awards. For instance, Travel + Leisure magazine offers an ongoing competition to be featured as their online Photo of the Day and possibly in their print publication. While you won’t make money off of this, you will have an established credibility in the photography world almost immediately.
By following these tips, you can start to plan out travel that lets you make some money while enjoying new experiences. All you need is a camera, some gumption, and a willingness to see things in a new way.