There is a tendency to think that you need to be an artist to make money editing photos. Of course it’s great if you are. But the thing is, it’s not necessary. Nowadays, we’ve got access to such a huge pool of free and paid tools that photo editing has never been easier.
In this article, I’m going to provide you with ways and ideas to make money online by editing pictures.
Start by picking a right set of tools.
Obviously, Photoshop is the best. But Photoshop is expensive, and you need to know how to use it.
There is a free alternative, GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP.
Gimp is free to use, and open source, which means you can edit it’s source code and distribute the changed version. The thing about gimp that makes so amazing is that it is very easy to learn.
You see, I like Star Wars very much and since I was a little kid I’d love to have a photo with a real lightsaber, so I found gimp and followed a tutorial. It took me literally 10 minutes to learn such a high value skill like drawing a real lightsaber onto a photo, and my interest in gimp has skyrocketed since then.
I recommend this software to anyone who’s willing to sacrifice some time to watch YouTube videos and learn Gimp’s basics.
In order to get gimp just google ‘Gimp’. The first website that pops up should be an official gimp website and you can easily download it from there.
There are also tools like CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator which are used for vector graphics – a kind of computer graphics that is infinitely scalable without losing its resolution, however it looks a bit different – it’s rather supposed for drawing and design than for photo editing, so I’m going to skip them in this article.
(Although be sure to check Adobe Illustrator speed art on YouTube, It’s so mesmerizing and satisfying)
There are also online tools for removing the image background like Clipping Magic. I am going to talk a bit more about it later on.
How to actually make money editing photos?
There are a number of ways you can approach it but I’m mainly going to focus on 3 of them.
Advanced Photoshop (or Gimp) picture editing.
Have you ever seen a photo of someone photoshopped on an image with Beyonce? I bet you have.
This requires a good feel for photoshop, since it’s pretty complicated stuff.
Nonetheless, it’s the job that pays the best on this list, averaging around $20 on sites like Fiverr and Upwork per order. If you’ve always liked to play around editing some fun stuff on pictures, then it might be a great opportunity for you to jump into.
But what if you don’t have any experience in photoshop or gimp? Or you’ve just never really edited any pictures? Well, I guess you’d have to learn.
And I know what you’re thinking, but look, unless you win the lottery, there are no easy ways of getting rich. You can make some side cash here and there, but in order to make The Big Bucks, you’ll always need to master a high value skill that you can sell later on.
And those kinds of photo editing software aren’t really hard to learn. Of course, If you’d like to learn everything it would take some time, but I am sure (because I’ve done it) that you can learn some valuable skills in photo editing just by watching YouTube tutorials.
You see, most people think you have to be an artist to work with photoshop. And that’s not the case, not even close! You have to be a decent artist to design good logos in photoshop, draw illustrations like a pro and animate stuff. But to be honest, photo editing requires more knowledge of the software, than it does having a talent to draw.
Most photo editing includes things like slight color correction, retouching, or fun stuff like face swapping (trust me, it’s a hell lot of fun to swap faces in photoshop). Those are easy skills that you can learn within a few YT videos and maybe some practise on your own pictures.
How do you make money?
Although you can go and pitch for some blog owners that could definitely use a fresh touch on their theme, I think the best way to make money with this strategy is to head on to sites like Fiverr or Upwork (Peopleperhour is also good and there is much less competition).
Go ahead and sign up for all 3 of those and list your ‘gigs’ there.
What kind of gigs?
Basically, anything you can think of. And if you don’t want to think, type ‘photoshop’ in Fiverr’s search bar. You’ll see what people are already doing and making sales off. Retouching, correction, face swapping, photoshopping with celebrities and many more.
Just be creative when it comes to coming up with a service. And make sure you’re doing your best. You never know when the fate smiles upon you. There have been cases of freelancer who were hired by companies and did such a good job that they actually ended up working for them on a long term contract.
Freelancing is a great way to make a decent amount of money online. If you wish to learn more about freelancing, I recommend you check this article next.
- High value, a lot of money to be made
- Freelance work, work at your own schedule
- Easy, once you get the hang of it
- Can be very fulfilling (it feels amazing when you complete a great piece of artwork)
- You don’t need to have a talent.
- Anyone can do it, even if you’re broke (Gimp is free – land a couple gigs and you can afford Photoshop)
- Requires good knowledge of the program.
- You need to invest time to learn the skills you need.
- It might be hard to get through the competition at first, but it can be overcome.
- You have to be really good at what you’re doing or you won’t get hired (bad performance affects your ranking)
It might sound silly, but once you get a wider look it’s actually brilliant.
Think of how many sellers are there on Amazon alone. Then, think of all the other shopping networks out there. Now, consider how their photos look like. They all have a transparent background.
Removing the background from a picture is incredibly easy even if you do it manually, and there are tools to automate it. If you’re fond of using Gimp or Photoshop to remove the background manually, just type it in google or youtube and see how easy it actually is.
However, if you want to make things even simpler, there is a tool called Clipping Magic that allows you to remove the background with just a few selections and lines. This tool is paid however, $3.99 , $7.99, $14.99 /month depending on what plan you choose.
‘Yeah, cool, but why would I pay 15 bucks/mo if I can just do it manually?’
Convenience? I think.
You see, I don’t recommend you purchase the subscription unless you’re already getting orders and making sales. It just makes things a lot easier if you have plenty of orders rolling in.
Once your work starts to bring some income, it’s always a good idea to invest some of it back into the business.
‘Okay, if it’s so easy, why can’t people just do it themselves?’
And why don’t you cut your own hair? Because you either don’t know how, or there is too much fuss about it. That’s why you pay people to do this for you. If a merchant introduces 50 new socks to the market and needs to have background removed for every single item, and each item has 3 photos, they’d rather outsource the work.
This is another example why it’s a good idea to invest some money into Clipping magic, since it speeds up the process, and 150 photos is a lot of work.
How much money can you earn?
Not much, to be honest. It’s almost a microtask, so the pay is pretty low. It always depends on the picture, because if you have to manually cut out the hair from the picture you may charge a bit more, but usually it’s really cheap.
I’ve researched Fiverr and there are people that are processing 100 photos and charge $5, but I bet they use Clipping magic or other software. I have also found people charging $40 for 100 pictures and $5 for 20 pics.
Most people however offer background removal along with photoshop editing and retouching, and charge around $5 for one or two. This is a very good idea, that allows you to increase the amount of money you earn per picture, but requires you to possess extra skills.
Keep in mind that as a beginner you’d have to offer lower prices since you’ll have no rating.
How do you make sales?
Again, Freelance work. Fiver, Upwork, Peopleperhour or some other Freelance based websites. People come to those sites every day to outsource their work. Just make sure your gig looks fine and stands out, and you should be good to go.
- Easy, like really, really easy.
- Free (unless you want to speed things up)
- Freelance work, again, your own schedule
- What prohibits you from trying? It costs you nothing.
- Anyone can do it, it’s free (if you use gimp, for instance)
- Competition on Freelance websites
- Low pay, sometimes ridiculously low.
Photo optimization and editing
Many people who have online shops need their photos not only backgroundless. Most of the time they’ll need a photo optimization and editing.
This is a type of photo editing where you don’t focus on changing the color of somebody’s eyes (which, again, is super cool) but you focus on making the picture suitable for business.
In fact, it’s not only e-commerce that needs those types of photos. People doing some important presentations, product descriptions or review might need all kinds of edits done to their pictures.
Oftentimes it’s not an overly complicated photo montage. It includes things like drawing arrows, highlighting certain parts of the text or image, cropping, maybe color correction or other simple edits, or perhaps resizing and changing names.
The thing is, you have to know the basics of marketing psychology. You have to know what actions have what impact on people. I think you might have heard that red color is usually used for call to action buttons, since red creates a sense of urgency in people’s minds and usually stands out on the page. That’s this kind of ‘psychology’. It sounds intimidating, but it’s not that hard.
You’ll need to learn how to edit photos that are being used in some business ways. They need to serve some purpose, and you have to know how to make them outstanding.
For instance, how to layout a page so that it is readable. How to correct the colors of a picture in a way it’s more appealing to a customer.
You have to learn the way human psychology works when it comes to buying or committing to certain actions.
I’m sure you’ve browsed through some online shops or blogs and saw a picture of an item for sale or a diagram and thought ‘What an unreadable and repelling picture!’ (or more likely ‘wtf, that’s bad’).
That’s why those people need you, a Freelancer who will help them with optimizing their photos so that their are the most suitable for their purpose.
How to optimize photos?
There is this thing called SEO which stands for search engine optimization. SEO is a very important factor every website owner must take their best shot at. It basically allows the site to rank better.
How does this compare to editing photos?
Look, most people who run online stores don’t have time to learn a huge chunk of information that SEO includes. They are busy running their business and taking care of other stuff.
If you learn what it means to optimize pictures for websites, that’s a high value skill right there.
From what I have researched there are a few ways to optimize a photo. And I can honestly admit I am using all of them to optimize photos on this blog.
Name it properly
Apparently search engines look into an image name. If an image is just some default camera name like DCIM01046689.JPG it’s less likely to get recognised as an appropriate thing.
Instead what you want to do, is to name the image accordingly to what it shows. If a client sends you an image of a pencil to edit, when you save it after the edits are done, simply name it pencil_orange_2B.jpg
It’s a simple detail but allows for better performance when ranking in search results.
Speaking of performance,
Mind the size of an Image
Bigger images take longer to load and low loading times for web pages are surely a good thing to have. When saving an edited photo for your client, save a couple of different sizes.
Make sure to inform them that it is better to use a smaller image than to scale it in the website backend.Tell them that you provided a few size variations and that in order to achieve the best performance they should use small ones if there is no need for a picture to be big (i.e. thumbnail)
Of course there have to be big pictures on the page, but just make sure they don’t scale them down, just use the ones scaled beforehand if they need a smaller pic.
Generally speaking, .JPG or .JPEG are the best formats to save resized images as they preserve the best quality in reltion to size when compared to .BMP or .PNG. For more advanced details I’d recommend you read more about resizing pictures for websites, but you get the general idea I suppose.
Mind the compression.
Compression makes the photo weigh less, but decreases the quality.
If a photo is low to no compression then it looks perfect, but weighs a lot.
If a photo is high compression then the quality is noticeably worse.
If the photo, however, is in a kind of medium compression it can be pretty lightweight and still preserve much of its original quality. It’s your job to experiment and find a sweet spot where the picture is as lightweight as it can be but loses the least quality. You can oftentimes find a good balance between them.
I personally use Optimizilla. It’s free and simple to use. Just upload the photo you want to optimize and click download, or adjust the quality with live preview if you want it to be some exact file size.
There are many more factors to consider, so if you choose to follow this business model make sure to read about it. There certainly is much more to be learned.
How do you make money?
Once again, photo optimization is done as a freelance service. It pays a decent wage I’d say – somewhere around $5 per picture (or a small bunch) on Fiverr.
If you don’t feel like using freelancing platform, you can always resort to pitching, which I have mentioned earlier.
Pitching is basically reaching out to people directly and trying to convince them to use your service.
How to utilize it?
First, you’ll need to gather some information. Search for some websites online which could use a hand of an expert in picture SEO.
Reach out to them, pitching your service. Be sure to outline the benefits they could acquire when they hire you, or else they just wouldn’t bother.
Make sure the email is personalized, don’t sound like a copy & paste guy, and mind all the pitching rules I covered in this article: (soon).
- Relatively easy to learn
- There will always be the need for a photo optimization
- You can establish a long term cooperation with clients if you’re good at what you’re doing
- You can easily expand to SEO audits
- Requires you to get out of the couch to research and learn some stuff
- Might not take off right away
- It might be tough to get through the competition since apart from photo editing niche, it’s also SEO
Have you ever heard a phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’? Yeah me neither, That’s why I suggest you utilize all three strategies.
Jokes aside, frankly speaking, these ways are relatable and all in the same niche.
Remember when I said it could be tough to get through the competition on Freelance websites? What if you utilized multiple strategies, and Instead of simply removing a background from a photo, you’d not only remove it, but also correct the colors, resized to a couple fo different sizes and optimized for e-commerce websites?
I think that one of the best things you can do right now If you don’t possess any skill, is to learn to optimize photos for web.
I mean, that’s what I would do if I were to become a photo editing freelancer. There’s a ton of businesses online and many of them could use your expertise.
Enough of me talking, it’s time for action. Go and research the topic that caught the most of your interest. World is out there, for you to take it on.
If, however, none of these strategies seemed appealing to you, be sure to check out these 10 more ways to make money online (spoiler alert: you won’t need any money to start)