It’s really an opportunity waiting to happen. With several million users, hundreds of millions of images and the sort of market-leading status that has long had the photography world buzzing, Flickr should be raking in the cash for photographers.
But it isn’t. In fact, you have to work pretty hard to turn the photos you upload into cash. That’s because Flickr was set up as a photo-sharing site, not a photo-selling site. That doesn’t mean you can’t make money from Flickr, it just means you have to be clever about it.
Here are five ways to do it.
1. Market A Book
Creating your own ebook these days is very easy. You don’t have to be Hemingway and you don’t have to produce something the length of War And Peace. People will be quite happy to download sixty-odd pages explaining how to do one thing, whether that’s photograph birds, buy a camera or improve their workflow.
Set up a group. Give some practical tips that let people try out your niche. And keep reminding them where they can download your ebook if they want to become experts like you.
2. Sell Your Photos.
It does happen occasionally that a buyer will contact a photographer on Flickr about using an image for a commercial purpose. But it doesn’t happen often and the image has to be pretty exceptional. If you’re going to sell your images on Flickr then, you’ll have to be proactive. Look for organizations or businesses that will need the sort of photos that you sell and invite them to look at your photostream.
So if you like taking pictures of your local soccer team, contact a soccer magazine and tell them that you have a bunch of images ready for them to use. Keep the prices relatively low and with some careful marketing, you should be able to sell a few pictures to a select market.
3. Offer Microstock Freebies
One of the difficulties of selling photos on Flickr is that there are so many images available for free. But that also means that there’s no shortage of potential buyers browsing the sites, many of whom would be prepared to pay a buck or three if it cut their search for quality.
Post a few old microstock images in your photostream, and place a link on your profile to others on your favorite microstock site. Let the microstock buyers browsing Flickr see what you have to offer and where they can pick it up.
4. Create Products With Flickr’s Partners
Flickr itself is pretty simple. The real creativity now is coming from people like MOO, Zazzle and Blurb. Don’t turn your nose up at these easy ways to move your photos onto cards, t-shirts, cups and books. More people buy coffee mugs every day than digital photos.
5. Give Your Portfolio Some Extra Reach
There’s always something a little strange about seeing someone’s wedding photos on Flickr. They’re the sort of images that are only interesting to the couple and their families — and to other couples thinking of getting married and wondering what to expect.
Putting your best pictures on Flickr is no replacement for a professional-looking online portfolio. But it can bring people into that portfolio… and that portfolio can win you jobs.