YouTube Monetization for Photographers: From Passion to Profit
October 19, 2023
In addition to creating beautiful portraits and headshots, Miguel Quiles also makes significant revenue from his YouTube channel, primarily through sponsorships. He says he turns down the lion’s share of the offers he receives, but that good partners do come through. (Scroll through to see images from Quiles’ portfolio.)
“But can you monetize it?” is a question photography YouTuber Miguel Quiles regularly hears, and his answer is a resounding, “Yes!” He recently caught up with host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about how he made the switch from his corporate job to headshots, portraits and photography education on YouTube, sharing insights for how YouTube can be a significant part of a photographer’s income.
In the early 2000s, Quiles’ interest in photography was sparked while he was working in an electronics store. He learned everything he could about cameras and shooting so that he could better sell them. Fast forward to 2011, and he was on a corporate career path but was passed up for advancement. He knew it was time to take his career into his own hands.
At first Quiles shot everything, but content from educators like Sue Bryce made him realize he needed to specialize to be a success. He chose headshots and portraits and never looked back. Being in New Jersey, close to New York City, gave him networking and teaching opportunities, and he landed a coveted role as a Sony Artisan. He also started creating educational content for Adorama TV.
As his family grew, Quiles moved back to his hometown, Orlando, Florida, right when the global pandemic hit. Finding a studio was a challenge when realtors didn’t want to show spaces in person, and shooting clients was also hampered by people’s hesitation to take the risk. Quiles decided to start a YouTube channel for fun. A friend of his was making $15,000 a month on YouTube, so he also knew it could be lucrative.
Now, YouTube is a significant part of Quiles’ income. YouTube’s ad money, at only $5 or $20 for every thousand views, contributes a small share. The bulk comes from sponsors, who reach out to him at a rate of four or five emails per day. He also makes money from affiliate revenue – simply by sharing Amazon links to items featured in his videos. Another possibility he hasn’t exploited is using his channel to sell digital products like presets.
Quiles says, “I would highly recommend to anybody who is a creative, get started on YouTube. Even if you think you don’t have anything to contribute, the world and your community need to hear your voice and your outlook on things, and it’s the best platform to be able to do that.”
Not only is it a great way to connect with your community, but it also has great potential for monetization.
The Portrait System Podcast helps portrait photographers navigate the world of photography, business, money, and much more. Hosted by Nikki Closser, the podcast is powered by The Portrait System, a comprehensive, online educational platform that teaches all aspects of running a successful portrait photography studio. If you’d like to be a guest on The Portrait System Podcast, send them a voice message.