If you have an eye for composition and a steady hand, plus a little marketing sense, you can travel the world as a photographer or videographer. I did and still do. As a nomad I continually travel around the world. Part of my income is produced by what I shoot, both photos and video, as I travel. Early in my career, I worked as a freelance videographer for several Fortune 500 companies. These companies hired me to shoot and edit marketing videos, company overviews, training videos and financial quarterly reviews. They would not only pay me a daily fee for my services or a flat fee for an entire project, but also all my travel expenses. I literally traveled all over the world on their dime. It’s a nice gig if you can get it. I have also produced and sold documentaries and television programs. I have even directed, written and produced several motion pictures which were shot overseas. Again, I traveled the world on the studio’s or network’s dime.
There are several ways to make money off your photos and videos.
- Freelancing – This model is based on finding someone, usually a company, to hire you to travel and shoot photos or video. Many international companies have divisions and customers over the world. Often, they need marketing, training or communications photos or video shot for various projects they are putting together. Look for the director or vice president of marketing, human resources, or corporate communications in each of these companies. Larger companies may have their own in-house video production division. Don’t shy away from these workshops just because they have a stable of internal videographers and photographers. Many times these divisions will have overflow work that requires that they use freelance shooters. You should also look to ad agencies, marketing companies and public relations firms for work. These workshops produce massive amounts of commercials, marketing and communication projects. You should also look to other video production companies, producers, and photo houses for work, even if they have their own in-house shooters. Many times they will be offered jobs that are either too small that they can pass on to you or they may hire you for their overflow work. These firms hire freelancers year round and can be a great source of work. To work as a freelance cameraman, you must have a portfolio of finished projects. Most potential employers do not understand how to look at raw footage. Your work should be in the context of finished projects. I suggest an online demo reel or portfolio. There are plenty of very cool website templates for photography and videography. I should only take you a day or two to develop your website. The real issue is marketing you website, so potential employers see your work. Not only do they have to see and like your work, they have to see and like at the moment they are considering hiring someone like you. This is called “inbound marketing”. It is a very cost effective way to market your services if done correctly. Look to websites like hubspot.com to learn about different inbound marketing techniques.
- Production Company – Although I started as a freelance videographer, I quickly learned that most potential clients preferred to hire a production company to handle an entire project. Now days, most projects can be edited on a laptop. Professional voiceover artists can be hired online through freelance job sites and will usually have their own in-house recording booths and even cut together their own voiceover track for you. Animation and graphic artists can also be found online and usually provide all their own equipment. Starting your own production company has never been easier and can be very lucrative. It’s a little tougher to travel while running a production company because clients usually want to meet the producer, however it can be done through teleconferencing or by simply jumping on a plane when you have a big potential client. The other advantage of having your own production company is that you can produce your own projects. You will be expected to have a lot more gear than a freelance videographer, but you will usually make a lot more money if you provide your clients with finished projects soup-to-nuts.
- Stock Libraries – Most stock libraries allow photographers and videographers to post photos and videos on their websites. They take a hefty percentage, but they handle the marketing and distribution, plus they already have an established network of customers that buy photos and videos. You can set up a stock shot business and start earning income very fast using stock houses. The trick is to learn what stock shot customers are buying. Sometimes it will really surprise you. Most stock houses are royalty free, so you will not get residual income from your photos and videos if you use them. They also require they you secure all legal permissions and releases required to sell your photos. Using pre-made website templates you can set up your own stock shot house online with very little effort. The stock shot business is very competitive. However, it is massive market that can supply a great source of income for a talented photographer or videographer.
- Sell a Project – Although a bit more difficult than some of the above, you can also sell a project that requires you to travel around the world. More likely than not, these types of projects are going to be a type of documentary or possibly a television series. Think “Amazing Race” or “Survivor”. A documentary might be something on global architecture, world history or a social issue. The buyers for these types of projects are public television networks like PBS or specialized cable channels like the History Channel. Your best bet is not to pitch the project yourself unless you have a strong track record. Instead find your a veteran producer that becomes a fan of your past work and your current project. The producer will know where to pitch your project and is a lot more likely to get a pitch meeting at a network because of his or her track record. You can also try for a documentary on a band doing a world tour or a sports team. The most lucrative project would be something that a movie studio gets behind, but I will warn you now, the movie business is a dog-eat-dog world with an incredible amount of competition. The other problem with type of business model is that it takes a huge amount of time and a large amount of logistics to set things up in advance of and during your journey. You’re not going to have much time to see the world if you are too busy working on your project. Still, I have traveled extensively working on various projects for networks and movie studios. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun!
- Internet Business Model – This last model can be very lucrative if done correctly. But it is also a tremendous amount of work and requires a keen sense for marketing. You can set up an online business that either sells your finished video or photography projects or uses them to attract traffic, so you can sell other types of products or services. You can even set up a subscription service that gives you monthly or yearly income. Podcasts usually fall into this category and can be done from anywhere. Thanks to laptop and phone cameras, a person you are interviewing for your podcast does not need to be in the same room or even the same country for that matter. Again, ready-made theme templates are available at online template factories like monstertemplates.com, themeforest.com and ElegantThemes.com. Personally, I use the template “Divi” from elegantthemes.com for most of my websites. It’s modular, fairly easy to use and very flexible. You can also find great podcasting software for very little money. The best podcasting software will even help you with your marketing. Check out www.smartpassiveincome.com to explore the world of podcasting for money. The websites creator, Pat Flynn, is a master at making money through podcasting.
I suggest using several of the above models to create a steady source of income while you are traveling. The great advantage of the above models is that for the most part they are non-geocentric, so you can develop and maintain the model you select from anywhere on the planet. Right now, I am on a train from Brussels, Belgium heading to Munich, Germany. When I am done with this article I will be editing a documentary on street artists that I shot in Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. I will create a short edited version for You Tube and one of my websites. Later, after I have shot some more footage, I will be creating a longer, more polished version that I will sell to a distributor. I will also be writing and creating a coffee table book of the photos that I have taken of street art from around the world. With each project you do and in each place you travel try to develop material that can be used for several different types of products. Combining all these sources of income from your photography and videography will allow you to live a nomadic lifestyle.