(The following is excerpted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)
Photography can be an unstable business. You often never know where your next job is coming from. That’s why many photographers turn to teaching at least part of the time; it’s a way to turn knowledge into cash and create a secondary income stream.
If you’ve never taught a class before and are wondering whether you’re up to it, start the teaching process by learning. Take a photography workshop yourself, and pay attention to how the teacher interacts with the pupils and what the pupils are looking for. Then think about what you would have to offer if you were the instructor.
Local College or DIY?
To teach at a local college or adult education center, start by scouting out the options and then check online for instructions for applying. Or just call the college’s information office and ask.
Keep in mind, though, that part-time college instructors are not highly paid (the average part-time self-enrichment teacher made $16 per hour in 2006), so you may find the application process more trouble than it’s worth — particularly if you have no prior experience.
The alternative is to organize your own workshop.
One of the big benefits of a DIY course or seminar is that you have complete freedom in how to market it — and in selling your photography books and prints to supplement the fees from attendees. Many photographers make the bulk of their workshop income from the products they sell to students.
But you will have to market the course yourself, something you’ll have to do with flyers, press releases, advertising and networking. It’s not that difficult — but it does take time and effort.
What to Teach
Unless you’re an old pro hoping to teach to photography newbies, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of workshops that focus on the basics. Lots of people know what an f-stop is, how the rule of thirds works and how to change a lens. That sort of information they can read in a book for themselves.
To build audiences for your workshops, it’s better to focus on a particular subject. If you browse through subjects offered in adult education centers, you’ll find subjects like “Indian Vegetarian Cooking” rather than just “Cooking,” and “Romantic Poetry” rather than just “Literature.”
By keeping your workshop focused, you will reduce the size of your potential market — but you’ll also have fewer competitors, and students with a real passion for the subject.
So shoot images of your specialization. Show them to your class as a teaching tool. And then have them available in book form so that your students can buy them afterward.